Yeetang ’20
May 26, 2020

The Workshop: Yeetang ’20’s Mid-Term Reflection

Reactions to the New Mode of Life
by Yeetang ’20, Workshop student

The Workshop at Andover is an immersive term-long learning experience. Spring-term seniors stop all traditional academic courses and instead work closely with peers and faculty on a series of linked, interdisciplinary projects that revolve around a single subject. This term the subject is Community, Class, and Carbon.

The following is a student reflection from the midpoint of the program. (Also read Ogden ’20's mid-term reflection.)

Yeetang ’20 is busy in his workspace in a rental home in Florida.

The beginning of this term felt much more subtle, not in the sense that it was bland, but in the sense that there was something missing. There was no packing of the bags, arriving at Logan Airport, or hailing a taxicab back to Andover. There was no excitement of seeing friends at breakfast or getting new books for class. Nevertheless, I still felt great anticipation and curiosity for the Workshop, an experiment in schooling piled on a new way of learning. Strangely, this term of uncertainty began with the mundane turning on of my laptop.

I feel that the rituals and check-ins with advisors have slowly filled the void that the beginning of spring term brought. In the mornings, I am eager to hear and see what the others have planned for their days—whether it be Davis in his ’80s vintage Mercedes or Ogden checking in from his porch. The Flipgrid platform has allowed us to show a glimpse of our altered lives, even for just a brief minute. It’s been fascinating to see how the Workshop community took shape over Slack, Flipgrid, and Zoom.

Outside the Workshop, I have been trying my best to keep up with the news. Every morning, I ask Alexa for updates and read newsletters from the New York Times. To be honest, it has been hard to maintain a clear picture amidst the overwhelming amount of information consisting of exponential graphs, hour-long press conferences, and dire testimonies. Yet once in a while, a sense of normalcy creeps into my daily life. Eating breakfast this morning, I forgot that we are living in a worldwide pandemic and fell back to thinking my family was just having a normal break in Florida. There is something so grave yet “invisible” about the coronavirus pandemic. Contrasting with other generational moments such as Pearl Harbor or 9/11, this feels like a slow, painful march.

I am really grateful that the Workshop has allowed us to delve into this crisis and try to make sense of it on a community level. Being tasked with assembling and creating an “artifact” from this time as part of our first project has been very interesting. I had a goal for its effect. In an interview with poet Bei Dao, fellow poet Steven Rattiner described Bei Dao’s work as being able to “remain like a still-point amid the tidal forces of politics and history.” My artifact does not have to be complex but needs to present something that can stand the test of time and filter out the noise within.

These past couple of weeks have been unprecedented and uncertain. Over the course of the Workshop, I’ve been embracing this ambiguity, connecting with others in a new way, and seeking meaning in an artifact.

To learn more about the Workshop, read Tang Institute Director Andy Housiaux's recent update here.

*We look forward to updating you on the ways we are (re)imagining the Workshop, our connection with students, and our approaches to teaching and learning. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Medium. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter, Notes on Learning.

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