When I signed up for The Workshop, I didn’t imagine it to be a conversation” with people from the past. Yet that’s precisely what it became as we traversed alongside the mills in Lawrence, Mass., delved into weathered scrapbooks in Andover’s Archives, and stared at the monochrome photographs at the Addison Gallery of American Art.

Before the Workshop, I’d always considered myself good at learning from reading textbooks. I could absorb the contents at my own pace, grasp concepts through annotation, and commit the material to memory with relative ease. I thought that thorough textbook reading was the key to learning, understanding, and mastering any subject. However, the past few days have proved me wrong.

During our excursion with poet and artist Dariana Guerrero on the first day of the Workshop, she led us through Lawrence, offering insight into its industrial evolution. We stood before the once-thriving mills, now repurposed as apartment buildings. They were along a shallow canal with stagnant water and sprinkled with some trash. It was only a spinning wheel next to the canal that proved the existence of a mill a hundred years ago. Dariana recounted how the canal once powered the entire mill with hydroelectricity, a stark contrast to its neglected state today.

While I’ve read about the Lowell mills in history class, it was nowhere close to being on the site and experiencing things firsthand. I could picture the water in the canal draining over the years and how it turned from a place of prosperity into an unsatisfactory location that people avoid. Dariana told us that now the canal is privately owned, the corporation is unwilling to spend the money renovating it and putting it to use for the community. Such a vivid experience taught me a lesson in injustice that no textbook could convey.

Our visit to the Archives the following day allowed me to talk” to the Andover community from 1995. In files dating back thirty years, I uncovered a facet of Andover’s history previously unknown to me — the controversy surrounding housing for the partners of homosexual faculty. At a time when same-sex marriage was illegal, Andover only permitted legal partners of current faculty to reside on campus, excluding same-sex partners. Surveys revealed faculty support for same-sex partners in faculty housing, yet reluctance to allow them in dormitories. I was so shocked upon finding this because I couldn’t imagine something like this was happening just thirty years ago. In the box were also Phillipian articles written by former students to voice their dismay with the school policy and urge the head of the school to do the right thing,” and a letter from a former teacher who was openly gay (and Ms. Greenberg knew her!) arguing that prohibiting the partners of homosexual faculty from living on campus would indicate to the students that PA is not a place where they can feel free to be themselves. I was blown away by how raw, emotional, and powerful these writings were, and with these slightly yellowed papers in my hand, I was struck by the passion, conviction, and bravery of those advocating for change.

These immersive experiences lie at the heart of experiential education, and it is through these activities we get to learn, understand, and reflect on the history of our communities. As I continue with the project on inequality this term, I aim to integrate such hands-on learning into our modules and presentations, recognizing its profound impact on fostering understanding and empathy.



Each spring term, The Workshop welcomes approximately 20 seniors to this interdisciplinary, project-based course. With an eye toward reimagining what school can be, the Workshop is the senior’s only academic commitment for the entire term. Instead of splitting their time and attention into units of distinct courses and fields of study, they work closely with peers, faculty, and community and global partners on a series of linked, interdisciplinary projects that revolve around a single theme. Within the theme Experiments in Education, students explore areas of personal interest.

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