Blog

Abbot Inkwell, Community Features, Uncategorized

10 Questions with Ryan Saboia ‘22

By Kiran Ramratnam ‘22

By Joy Kim ’23
  1. Where do you call home? 

I actually had to do an essay at the start of the term about “what is home?” for my English [300] class [with Brace Adult Advisory Board Member, Ms. Staffaroni]. I don’t exactly have one place I would call home. It sounds kind of cliche, but home is where your heart is: wherever you feel comfortable, accepted, and embraced.

  1. How would your answer differ if instead asked: where are you from? 

I would probably say automatically, “I’m from Brazil. I’m from Rio,” but there’s much more than that. Every single person represents much more than simply the place they come from. [Belonging] is way more than a single country or a physical place. 

  1. How did you get introduced to the Brace Center? 

I got one of the emails and was very interested because gender studies were something completely new to me. I had [researched] them myself, but I never had those at school; the closest we got to gender studies was sexual reproduction for health. [I was especially interested] when I saw that students could engage in discussions and research [by] themselves. 

  1. Tell us about your experience being a remote student and a new upper. 

It has had upsides and downsides because at some moments I feel that [my ability] to manage my time is good, but I’m not a very self-organized person[…] Being new is strange considering there are not many new students. More often than not [in class], I [am the only] new student, and everyone else is a returning upper, so I’m kind of just there. 

At the same time, one day we had to do a project in my math class. It could be a group or individual, but I didn’t know anyone so I was planning to do it individually. [Later], I got an email from one of my [peers] who asked me if I would like to be part of her group. I was like do you even know me? I didn’t even notice that I was noticeable in that class. You are not just existing. People are caring for you. 

  1. What is the most important thing you learned last term? 

It has a lot to do with self-knowledge.

Specifically, in my English class, we studied The Book of Delights [by Ross Gay] and our mission was to post an essay each week talking about delights.  [In our essays,] we reflected and expanded. What is the definition of a delight? When is it  not necessarily a good thing?

When you sit down to write, you end up learning about yourself. You end up reflecting. Who are you? Who are your friends? Who are the people you hang out with? 

[Before Andover,] I had been in the same school for the last five years. I had built a community and now I don’t have it anymore. But at the same time, people [from my old school] are supportive. I’m still in their study groups and we chat all the time.

When I sat down to write, I noticed that I am very privileged to have people who care about me. They are always there for me. 

  1. Are you involved in any extracurriculars on campus? 

I actually [started the] Portuguese club with another new upper named Emilia [Fonseca ‘22]. We do want to teach a little bit of Portuguese, but we also know that people will not be as committed because it’s not a class. [Additionally,] Portuguese is a complex language.

Our goal would be to talk about the culture in Brazil [and in other] Portuguese-speaking countries. [We aim to focus] on history, fashion, art, music, and literature. We think that even though we have a movement of Latinx people as a whole, Brazil still has a very different and particular culture. 

One of the things [Emilia and I] have reflected a lot on this term is [as Brazilians], are we Latinx or not? 

[Before Andover], we had never classified ourselves as so, and then suddenly we had to. It’s not that we don’t agree or that we don’t feel comfortable. In fact, every single Latinx person I’ve met so far has been very nice, warm, and [in] solidarity. They really want to make you feel part of the community, but at the same time, it’s strange to get labeled from one day to another. That is something we are still digesting.  

I’m also part of the GSA [the Gender and Sexuality Alliance]; I went to pretty much all their meetings. I’ve also been engaged in the Spanish Club because I love languages.

  1. What do you enjoy doing most in your free time? 

I enjoy chatting with my friends and listening to music. I’m very into pop music, like Ariana Grande, Anitta, and mainstream pop artists. I’m also fond of Little Mix. I have been a fan of theirs for the last three years or so because I really love their music. They just sound perfect. 

  1. What is something that most people do not know about you? 

One thing that most people do not know about me, and that I’m not exactly proud of is that I used to attend a single-gender school. 

There was a lot of sexism and homophobia[…].

Even though Andover has its problems, I think it is kind of a break from [everything that happened] in those last five years, which were definitely rough. But at the same time, I feel proud that I was able to handle it. I know that I am not the best “role model” that I can think of, but  I know many people looked up to me when it came to discovering and accepting themselves. Being queer in a place where you’re totally kept from being yourself is very hard. When [others] saw me and my friends being so open about ourselves, I think a lot of people found the strength they needed to actually move on. 

I’m actually sad that I left because I think [our openness] would be important for [new students to see], but I am proud when I look back. I see some legacy. It is interesting to see that people got something from my presence there. I’m very happy about it. 

  1. Who do you look up to? 

I look up to my mother. She is a very strong woman. She had me when she was 22. She had a dream of going to college, and I was seven or eight when she got in. She was a wife and a mom, a housewife, and also working part-time. She was so dedicated and finished her courses with honors. She had the highest grades [out of] everyone in her class, and I’m proud of her. [My mother] has gone through some [hard times] like when her father, my grandpa died when I was five. It was a difficult period for her, and she went through depression. But somehow she found the strength to move on. She was able to [bring] her life back up again, and I’m really proud of how strong she is. 

10. Who is your feminist ancestor*? 

I have a friend who founded a group here in Rio [that I’ve become] a part of. We have been working on a project that aims to include tampons and pads in what we call food baskets here in Brazil. Food baskets contain the [essentials] needed for one month. They include items such as rice, beans, oil, salt, and sugar, but here, [menstrual products] are considered cosmetics and not hygiene products. 

We have been granted some very nice money and are still waiting for some more. We have already donated three baskets to a girls’ orphanage [and we are going] to donate more. We really want to impact more people. 

While I’m doing some of [our project], it was pretty much [entirely] elaborated by [my friend]. It was she who came after [our partnerships]. [My friend] is a very driven person and I definitely look up to her. She is someone who is very dedicated and committed to [social justice] issues. 

*Note from the Editors: 

We use the word “feminist ancestor” instead of “role model” or simply “someone you look up to” to signify our roles in continuing, adding to, honoring, and learning from the gender and sexuality justice work of those in our life and/or before us. Brace Faculty Advisory Board Member, Ms. Engel, introduced us to this term, riffing off of the “Call Your Girlfriend” podcast episode on “being a good ancestor” — an interview with adrienne maree brown.

Abbot Inkwell, Reading List

Suggested Reading

From Intergenerational Trauma and Trust by Sakina Cotton

2020 Partnership with Native Americans. “History and Culture: Boarding Schools.” Northern Plains Reservation Aid, edited by 2020 Partnership with Native Americans, 2020 Partnership with Native Americans, http://www.nativepartnership.org/site/PageServer?pagename=airc_hist_boardingschools. Accessed 22 Oct. 2020.

“American Indian Boarding Schools Haunt Many.” NPR, written by Charla Bear, NPR, 12 May 2008. NPR, 2020npr, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16516865#:~:text=The%20federal%20government%20began%20sending,developed%20in%20an%20Indian%20prison. Accessed 22 Oct. 2020.

Hatch, D. J., and D. R. Watson. “Hearing the Blues: An Essay in the Sociology of Music.” Acta Sociologica, JSTOR ed., os, vol. 17, no. 2, 1974, pp. 162-78.

Rugal, Mike. “Uncensored History of the Blues.” Blogger, Blogger API, 24 Jan. 2009, uncensoredhistoryoftheblues.purplebeech.com/2009/01/show-40-boll-weevil-blues.html. Accessed 22 Oct. 2020.

Other 

Mark Gevisser. The Pink Line: Journey Across the World’s Queer Frontiers. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2020.

Kate R. Petty. True Story. Penguin Publishing Group, 2020.

Peggy Orenstein. Boys and Sex. Harper, 2020.

Charlene Carruthers. Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Social Movements. Beacon Press, 2018.

Abbot Inkwell

Letter from the Editors

Dearest Readers,

Welcome to the Abbot Inkwell! We are absolutely thrilled to be the first news outlet dedicated to the Brace Center for Gender Studies and the work of gender equity and justice around campus and beyond our Andover bubble. COVID-19 may have disrupted some of our plans, but this is our effort to keep you updated with and connected to the Brace Center virtually for now, and hopefully, at home on our beloved Abbot campus in the near future.

In this first issue, we’re still finding our footing and figuring out how best to communicate and to get you involved. We would love to have your voice contribute to our commentary section or our upcoming art section. For commentary articles, we’re looking for opinions and personal narratives related to gender. This could be regarding events, media, pop culture, anything! Our art section will be a space for student artists to communicate themes related to gender justice through their work. There’s room for visual art, poetry, short stories, photographs, and more! We want you to hear your voice.

This year, our overarching goal, which we share with the Brace Center, is to uplift the experiences of trans and genderqueer people. Though stances against homophobia have been growing in popularity, society has yet to combat transphobia and the gender binary perpetuated by harmful gender roles. We stand with all gender identities. To deepen our understanding of and thinking about these issues, over winter break, the Student Advisory Board will be reading and discussing The Pink Line: Journeys Across the World’s Queer Frontiers by Mark Gevisser. We encourage you to read along with us or to take a look at any of the other pieces in our suggested reading list. 

We also would like to bring your attention to the legacy of Abbot Academy on the Andover campus beyond the name of the Abbot Cluster. Abbot’s contributions to Andover’s current traditions and co-curricular offerings include our literary magazine – the Courant, the newly announced sport option – Abbot Walks, the bagpipes at graduation, Abbot Grants, our dance program, the Fidelio Society and so much more. Our name, the Abbot Inkwell, is our way of honoring the voice of the women of Abbot whose contributions to our school, we so often forget.  

At the Abbot Inkwell, we commit to being not only an accurate source of news but a creative outlet and a tool for activism for students. We share a commitment to intersectional gender justice with the Brace Center. We strive to feature diverse perspectives and complicate the single-story, but only if it is in keeping with our commitment to fight for gender equity and justice. That being said, we want to encourage you to engage critically with the writing and have discussions with your peers and adults in a safe way. We take responsibility for everything that is publicized through us, though what is shared may not reflect our editors’ personal opinions or experiences. Please reach out if you have any questions or concerns. 

Thank you for all of your support. The work has just begun!

With love,

The Editors

Abbot Inkwell, brace fellows, Events

Brace Student Fellow: Koki Kapoor ’21 on ‘Queer Identity in Pre- and Post-Colonial India’

By Koki Kapoor ’21

This summer, because of the Brace Center for Gender Studies, I had the opportunity to research and analyze queer identity in Pre and Post-colonial India and look at how the British Colonial Regime worked to colonize sexuality and enforce heteronormative ideals through legal instruments such as Section 377 of the British-introduced Indian Penal Code as well as a reconstructed education curriculum. Throughout the research process that took place during the end of Spring term and the start of summer, I was intent on creating a bibliography that centered South-Asian voices.

Alongside reading gender theory by Western academics such as Michael Foucault and Judith Butler, I read theory by South-Asian Post-Colonial scholars such as Gayatri Spivak. However, finding and accessing the works of South-Asian academics was not the easiest task. But with the help of OWHL, specifically Ms. Goss, as well as Dr. Vidal and Ms. Driscoll, I was able to scourge through the depths of JSTOR, Internet Archive, Amazon, Hathi Trust, etc. to find books and articles that emphasized the South Asian voices that have been trampled over by the world of Western academia and colonization and highlight them in my bibliography. Though this process was difficult, I never once had to worry about being unable to access any resource and I’m so grateful to everyone at the Brace Center for making me feel seen as a South Asian woman of color in academia.

Abbot Inkwell, Commentary, Events, Speakers

Intergenerational Trauma and Trust

By Sakina Cotton ’24

(pre-pandemic photo)

What goes around comes around.

Think back to the ASMs of fall term which highlighted people of the past who endured oppression or people of the present making history. The idea of historical pain being carried through generations emphasizes the need for conscience minds and allyship. When we heard from ASM guests Dr. Bettina Love and Dr. Megan Red Shirt-Shaw, we were given examples of youth’s potential to help in this way of learning about and then changing our society.

Dr. Love supplied historical analysis on the effect of music on the Black community. The Black community traditionally uses music as a way to escape pain, to convey morals, and to call for action. A prime example is the evolution of blues from the emotional spiritual songs of enslaved or oppressed Black people. In “Hearing the Blues: An Essay in the Sociology of Music”, authors D.J Hatch and D.R Watson explain that improvisation as well as certain chord progressions played fundamental roles in historical country-blues (Hatch and Watson, 168). The blues genre along with hip hop, as Dr. Love explained, have roots in West African musical styles. Their use of improvisation, leading and chorus stanzas, drums, and proverbial lyrics demonstrates this connection. It is a style which a group of people propagated through multiple generations to help cope with outside struggle; but, sometimes a community alone can not fully heal itself from the intergenerational trauma inflicted upon it. 

Dr. Megan Red Shirt-Shaw gave insight into how the government employed racism to neglect funding for Indian Health Services, to break treaties, to increase factory production in predominantly BIPOC communities, and to establish harmful residential schools for Native people. From the 1870s until the 1970s, young children were stolen from their families and forced to attend these boarding schools where most faced abuse, torture, cultural shaming, and unforgettable dehumanization. (NPR; Northern Indians Relief Council). People are still healing  wounds from this intergenerational trauma. The persistence of these schools throughout a century calls for a stronger front of allies working to prevent another system like this. Allies, including myself, must utilize their privilege and hold one another accountable in order to effectively create positive change.

Outside and historical factors take a toll on the youth’s mental health. That is why, as the next generation, we must do our own work in perpetuating positive, inclusive ideals that will transcend our generation. Are we not tired of accumulating intergenerational trauma? Let’s build intergenerational trust. I think it is possible to accomplish this by accepting people for who they are, not how we expect them to be. We are able to shape our rules and regulations. We can listen to and learn from each other’s pasts to create a better future. We have to talk about the hardships of everyone in our community to understand each other. That means start talking about our different traits, keep talking about the fluidity of spectrums, and never stop talking about people’s humanity.

Works cited can be found in our Suggested Reading List