“We” Are Not Winning The War

A prelude: For months I debated whether to publish this. I ask over and over again: Is the information current? Is it balanced and palatable to every position? Does it have to be April 1st? The answers inevitably return to a resounding “no”.  I must settle with that fact. Moreover, I speculate that publishing this is a way to sidestep people who will disagree with me instead of initiating conversation. I’ve seen these mistakes made in the past. I could simply ignore these hesitations and hit send, but no consideration is a luxury. 

Nevertheless, as guest speakers visit to inform us, and faculty host discussion rooms, I can only view these months as a historical moment for Olin, for which the most recent physical artifacts around the school are the advocacy flyers, whose messages boil away the nuance around the most complicated social issue I am forced to contend with. April is when the conversation has become relevant, and so this is when I will publish.

Preparing for my bar mitzvah, I planned to wrap candies in the Israeli flag as a thank you gift. My mother prohibited it. I didn’t understand at that time, but that was my first experience learning about the difference between embracing Judaism, my religion, and embracing the state of Israel. 

While I stayed in Edinburgh for a semester, I tried to reach out to the Jewish community in Scotland. I was not exceptionally active, but I went to one event. It was a Friday night Shabbat service, gathering Jewish societies from universities in the area. It was a pleasant service, and they invited an interesting speaker, a Scottish politician whose job it is to advise on Jewish affairs. He was an elegant speaker. Deceptively elegant, for he wove messages in his sentences that festered discord within me. He spoke about the success Scotland is making fighting hate crimes and hate speech. Then he said, “Right now, we are all fighting a war. And we are winning!” to a standing ovation… but that statement did not inspire applause from me. 

This ‘war’ refers to multiple conflicts, while similar, are separate in their goals. The first war is likely the one you are thinking of, the attacks in Israel and Palestine. The other ‘war’ is that of antisemitism, and the historical prejudices that perpetuate anti-Jewish sentiments. While both are systemic in nature, and the two are heavily intertwined, there are important differences. 

Israel is a country. Its actions should be treated as such, instead of pretending it acts on the will of the Jewish people. I, as a Jewish individual, do not necessarily align with the actions of Netanyahu and his cabinet simply because they head a predominantly Jewish state. My traditions and the way I was raised have little to do with Israel, if at all. My approach to antisemitism is never related to Israel. Not because of my alignment with the state, and not because I  strategically decide against invoking Israel. The fight for Israel is not the fight against antisemitism for me. 

This politician fused these two ‘wars’ together. He used the war in Israel to represent antisemitism at home and abroad. However, victory in one war does not necessitate the victory of the other. This is a common conflation, and a deliberate one. Israel the political body, the US, and other allied countries make this logical leap to expedite political support. They do this also to handwave political criticisms of Israel as bigotry: Align with Israel, or align with antisemitism. But I don’t need to agree with a government’s actions to advocate 

for my religious pride. I began learning this idea when I was thirteen. However, as I sat in the room with over 100 other Jews, I got a strange feeling that the sit-down from my mother is not one shared with the rest of my community. 

I thought I didn’t need to publish this for Olin. As I proofread these words, I speculate that I’m preaching too heavily to the congregation. Surely, I hoped, the people of this institution would equally make the distinction. However, I am confronted with flaws in that assumption. For many Jewish people, Israel is not a political entity, but a cultural entity. When interpreted from this view, an attack on Israel is an attack on the place that honors Jewish history in ways I cannot conceive. In this way, the tie between antizionism and antisemitism is recontextualized. I do not agree with this perspective, but I have learned it must be taken seriously.

After the service, I told a friend how the speaker’s words hit me so hard. Someone walking by missed the context, and asked what words they could have been. Providing the context, I repeated, ‘we are fighting a war, and we’re winning.”She paused, and replied, “No you’re not,” as she put a cigarette to her mouth. 

I don’t know what she meant by that. She could have referred to any of the things I talked about. But it doesn’t matter. I know it’s true regardless. 

Sure, Israel will win the ground war, no doubt about that, but Israel fights another war in the public eye. They are losing support from allies, with public support for Palestine in the US higher than it’s ever been. The UN condemns Israel’s actions, and now the country is under pressure for a ceasefire.‘We’ arenot winning this war.

The war against antisemitism persists, in stranger ways than you may expect. Of course, the anti-Israel voices are chock-full of antisemites, but Netenyahu protects them because he likes it this way. With these enemies, he can maintain the state’s image as the bastion against antisemitism, and he can pin dissent on alignment with Nazis. But there is antisemitism among zionists as well. John Hagee was a speaker at The March for Israel from last fall. He’s a televangelist, and his wikipedia has a whole section about his thoughts on Jews. My favorite line states, “[Hagee] claimed 

that the persecution of Jews throughout history, implicitly including the Holocaust, was due to the Jewish people’s disobedience of God”. It would take another 1200 words to explain why there are such prominent antisemitic zionists, but suffice it to say there’s more evidence to distinguish the two wars “we” are fighting. And we are not winning the war against antisemitism. 

But there’s one more war. It’s a war that I am fighting. I’m fighting for Jews and non Jews alike to thoughtfully continue the dialogue. I have seen the hostility from Oliners that keeps me from initiating more of these conversations. I’ve seen others fight this battle and lose their Jewish community over it. I’m scared to risk that. There are already so few Jews in the world to share solidarity, and every relationship like this is harder to find after one is destroyed. But this is a fight I must face, alongside other Jewish people who are torn between their nation of Judaism and the state of Israel. I hope I accurately described the difference between these battles, and how their conflation harms the success for Jews everywhere. And if I haven’t, well… 

then I’ve already lost this war.

The Damnedest Mango 

you always cut the mango wrong

      without peeling off the skin

      slicing it square from the top

you always cut the mango wrong

      getting your knife stuck in the seed

      pulling your knife out of the seed

      cutting your palm with the knife

you always cut the mango wrong

      never telling me how much it hurt

      instead telling me

      how “they don’t grow mangos like they do back home”

you always cut the mango wrong

      watching your blood seep through the mango 

      lamenting and pleading 

      “But kanna, please, I’m trying my best” (meanwhile, the yellow fruit turns vermillion)

you always cut the mango wrong

      trying to cut apricot instead

      like everyone else

      just to please me

you always cut the mango wrong–

Opinion: The Excavator

You would think that in your senior year, you wouldn’t expect the volatile shock of not belonging – a small thing that everyone seems to snicker at that has the floor crumbling out below you, the smiles around you jilted, the accents foreign.

That happened to me the morning I walked into the dining hall and saw the sticky note mural of an excavator with the heart around it. Let me try to explain why.

An excavator is a construction machine that has an immense variety of usages. It is used in digging holes and trenches, landscaping, demolishing houses, dredging rivers, mining, and so much more. I’m stating this dry obvious stuff because I want to note something important here – the excavator acquires different meanings, especially depending on who decides what is being excavated.

To me, the excavator didn’t represent whatever it represented in the sticky notes. Whether that was some sort of wonderment at seeing our well-disguised infrastructure buried below the ground, an appreciation for the sheer power of the machine, a kind of engineering curiosity I never got the memo about, or something else – to me, none of those feelings rushed up. What did rush up was a hot steam of fear, a fear of violence. What stops the excavator from turning around and clawing out West Hall? From clawing out me? What happens if someone falls into that hole? 

I agree that I’m being stupid, oversensitive, irrational – and that is emotional baggage I would have kept to myself if it wasn’t for the sticky note mural with the heart around it. A heart that signifies love, intimacy, acceptance, “this is us”.

Now imagine a heart around a drone. Cool? Maybe for some people, drones are awesome. We love them at this school. You can use them to film cool videos, to automate in cool ways, to just feel the joy of seeing something in the air. For others, particularly those who come from communities where drones are routinely used by military and police forces for following people, shooting people, etc. – not so awesome.

Now imagine a heart around a missile. I mean, why not? Our school’s resource allocation certainly seems to condone it. Missiles are security. They can vanquish savage, extremist populations abroad. They ostensibly keep lots of people safe from all sorts of threats. The trajectory calculations are fascinating. Heat-seeking technology is so cool. But this feels a bit more uncomfortable, doesn’t it? We wouldn’t say that particularly represents the ethos of the school. It’s okay to develop technology to make missiles, but that doesn’t mean you would put a heart around it.

That’s the context of the excavator for me. To countless communities, especially Black and brown, especially low-income, around the world, the excavator means violence. It means displacement. An excavator strikes terror in the hearts of I’m sure millions, if not hundreds of millions (or billions) around the world.

Me, personally? I haven’t ever had an excavator staring down my home, digging up my mountains, or tearing down my forests. But I think the moment that got me feeling so incredibly lonely was the realization that – wait, almost none of these people have seen a road dug up before right next to them. It’s not a common occurrence in many Oliners’ lives!! Which is mindblowing to me. Roads in Bengaluru, where I grew up, get dug up all the time. I’ve been minorly injured falling into a dug-up road. People get majorly injured all the time. A road being dug up is something disappointing, something common, certainly not something to be fascinated by. Have people not had pipes break or things leak or roads dug up or regularly seen a drill or utilities workers in visible action?

Every day, I have to expand the scope of things I need to take for granted in this country in order to fit in. This one completely caught me off guard. I’m sure things break in wherever you call home and you’ve seen roads being repaired, holes being dug, etc. But it doesn’t seem like you’ve seen it enough to feel resigned toward it, fearful of it, just anything but fascinated and endearing.

To wrap up, I guess I should clarify that my point is not that we should take the mural down. Or that it never should have been there. If it brings joy and a feeling of home to some folks, we should celebrate it. But I do want to interject with my own annoying qualification that these symbols that can seem harmless and quirky do have other interpretations. The excavator gets to be adorable for reasons that don’t exist in a political vacuum. 

Why Are Oliners Allergic to Walking?

I’ve conducted a study of about one singular Oliner, myself. 

The subject in question has had the following as their top three bucket list items for 2024:

  • Make a Babson friend
  • Make a Wellesley friend
  • Make an MIT friend

I’m no networking mastermind (cough Pauline Petersen) but I’d like to think I’m a pretty friendly person. So these shouldn’t be terribly difficult goals, right? So how is it I’m nearing the last month of the semester having accomplished none of them? 

Ignoring ESA grind and the general sophomore year struggle, I attribute my failure to a chronic but curable illness I call ‘it’s-too-far-itis’. It is my profound belief that, like myself, many other Oliners suffer from this illness as well. But, honestly, can you blame me? Even if something is just a 10 minute walk away, I’m already doubling the time for the walk back and now its 20 minutes which is basically a half hour gone so really it’s just not worth my time because I still haven’t finished my ESA homework and not to mention all the late DSA and– Guess it’s pointless huh?

Obviously the better option is to sit in my bed and doom scroll YouTube shorts. Yes. Far wiser. Certainly not embarrassing whatsoever.

Thankfully a rapid and familiar knock strikes loudly on my door. Amanda Chang drags me out the door to go on a walk. 

I ask “Where to?” and she shrugs. 

I ask “Trim?” and she starts bolting. 

So I follow suit. 

As we hand our ID cards to the lady at the desk we are haggardly gasping for air. I can feel the color red expanding and retracting in my ribs. 

“Holy crap I need to do more cardio!” I breathe out. 

So why don’t I?

As suspected, it’s another case of It’s-too-far-itis!

So now what? We flip the script. We shake it and flail it around until we find an angle that works. 

Personally, I’m very food oriented. People oriented too, but food foremost. (Original, I know). Caffe Néro is an entire 40 minutes away by foot (doubling that its 80 minutes!) but once I’m there and I have a little coffee and pastry in hand…Well maybe it’s pretty worth it. My best friend at UCLA walks 30 minutes for class every day. This isn’t so horrible. And if I’m worried I’m not being productive enough in those 80 minutes, maybe I could listen to some Indian dude on youtube explain what the master theorem derivation is. Or spice things up and call my parents. And if we’re getting really crazy, restart my streak on duolingo. There’s got to be a way to make it work.

Besides, how much longer can we justify a dining hall churro as our daily treat? If you plan to indulge yourself at least have the due diligence to get what you want. Let me be the first to enable you and all the little indulgences you can’t justify on your own. Go get that donut from Babson’s Dunkins! Go get that plate of pastries from Lulu! Go take your hot girl walk!

Expanding Community at Olin

Here at Olin, we love the word “community”. We find importance in talking about and holding “community events”, open to ostensibly everyone who plays a part in this school. Yet in our time here, we’ve also been struck by the people we don’t remember when we say “community”. The dining hall workers who come here early in the morning and leave late at night, during holidays, snowstorms, and more, to make sure we have food. The facilities workers who clean our floors and maintain our buildings in the middle of the night, to maintain the illusion that the buildings magically keep themselves clean. These people arguably work some of the hardest on campus and inarguably have been here for the longest, yet we don’t invite them into our version of community.

We wanted to change that, in our own small way. A few weeks ago, Mari spoke with three dining hall workers – Joselyn, Catalina, and Ana. What follows is a transcript of the conversation, edited for conciseness, where they talk about their lives and perceptions of students. It doesn’t represent everyone, but it’s a start, one that we hope others will follow. Enjoy reading!

The conversation below has been translated from Spanish to English.

Mari: Where are you all from?

Joselyn: We’re Dominican, all of us.

Mari: How long have you been working here?

Joselyn: I’ve been here 15 years.

Catalina: I’ve been here 6 years.

Ana: I’ve been here almost two, yeah two.

Mari: And how did you all end up working here?

Joselyn: Well someone who worked here brought me on, and they brought me on because they needed people, and I liked it. I do my work, and I’ve stayed here – I’ve stayed here all these years.

Catalina: I was also brought on by someone who works here, and its the first time I’ve worked since I got here [to the US, Boston], and since, I haven’t worked anywhere else, I like it, and I’ll be here until I don’t want to anymore. [laughter]

Ana: Well she [Catalina] brought me here [laughter], its my first job, I got here, I liked it, and here we are.

Mari: Do you have your families here?

Joselyn: Yes, my mom is here, my sisters, I have two sisters here, my daughter, and my grandson, too.

Catalina: I have my son here, my husband, and a lot of my family. My son works here, too.

Mari: Oh! Who is he?

Catalina: Luis – 

Joselyn: The cashier, the cashier.

Mari: Ohhh. James and his mom both work here too, right?

Joselyn: Yes, and his aunt, too. [laughter] We’re all family.

Catalina: Yes, we’re all family.

Joselyn: And you, Ana?

Ana: I have my kids here, my husband, and my sister.

Mari: Have your kids come to see where you work? Well, the ones who don’t work here? 


Joselyn: No, my daughter has never been here.

Ana: My kids have come, but only to drop me off.

Mari: How do you get to work? Are you dropped off? Do you get a ride?

Ana: A ride, yeah.

Joselyn: Well, I spend a lot of time, almost all these years I have gotten rides, but now I have learned to drive. And I have a car now, thank god.

Catalina: When I started, I got a ride, then my son got me, but now my son is somewhere else and now he only comes in the evening. In the morning I get a ride, but at night he picks me up.

Joselyn: And you guys leave together?

Catalina: Yeah.

Mari: I don’t know how to drive either, it scares me.

Catalina: I’m also scared.

Joselyn: I was also really scared, but then one day I said, “No, I have to drive, because in this country” – besides, we live far.

Mari: Where do you live?

Joselyn: We live in Dorchester. It is a bit uncomfortable to come in public transit, and I said, “No, I have to drive.” And I drove. And I’ve told them, but they don’t- [laughter] – and I lost my fear.

Catalina: I had my driving permit before her, but I’m really scared.

Mari: How is the work culture here? I see that you guys seem like really good friends.

Joselyn: We get along well because we’re like family. Everyone here gets along well. I’m not going to tell you it’s perfect all the time because we’re human, but sometimes…

Mari: Yeah, yeah.

Joselyn: But we always get along, we always resolve, besides, we love our jobs, and we are .

like family because we are together more than we are with our actual families. We spend more time together, so we are family.

Mari: Well that’s good that you guys get along well.

Catalina: We try to get along because we practically live here, like some might say.

Mari: What hours do you work?

Joselyn: I work from 6:30 AM to 3 in the afternoon, Monday to Friday, but now since the cashier, Johnny Chu, is sick, I’ve been covering these last few Saturdays until he can return.

Catalina: I work from 12 noon to 8 at night. I work from Tuesday to Saturday.

Ana: Me too.


Catalina: I have to talk for Ana.

Mari: I understand, I am also timid. Well, what do you know about the school? About Olin?

Joselyn: Well, I think that I know everything, because I know everything about what happens around here.


Joselyn: Yes because I have been in all that, because I help when you guys have events.

Mari: Oh yes, yes.

Joselyn: I see that you guys do a lot of projects. A lot of nice things. What I had never seen that I saw last week was that, in the library, that you guys had like a room for sewing.

Mari: Yeah, yeah.

Joselyn: On Saturday I noticed that.

Catalina: I didn’t know that.

[Mari describes different parts of Olin]

Joselyn: Sure. I didn’t know that either. I thought that you guys studied here and that was it. I didn’t know you had to get off campus for projects.

Mari: It’s fun, and well, you wouldn’t see it at other schools.

Catalina: [laughing] Only here.

Joselyn: No but its good because that way you guys clear your minds.

Catalina: you have your minds focused on what you have to do, and you have fun, too.

Mari: And since Olin is so small, and we’ve all gone through first year courses, well we know  that, well, that’s why they’re doing these things. Are there students with which you talk regularly?

Joselyn: Oh yeah. I talk to a lot of people. Im very talkative.

Mari: [teasing] I’m noticing!

 Catalina: I talk to people who speak Spanish, because I don’t know English. So, there are a lot of people I say hello to, but with those who speak Spanish, i talk to a little more.

Joselyn: Sometimes students are going through problems, and they come here and their faces look upset, but we always have smiles on our faces, and we always try to make you all feel better.

Mari: That’s very beautiful.

Catalina: Yes.

Mari: When I got here, I missed — In Los Angeles everyone speaks Spanish, and I always had places – like if I wanted tacos. And well here, its been more difficult to find a Latino community. 

Joselyn: There is community, but its a little further way. LIke East Boston. There’s this really good restaurant, it’s mexican, but honestly they have all kinds of food, and everyone speaks spanish – La Hacienda, it’s called. They have great food.

Mari: –La Hacienda.

Joselyn: But here [in the dining hall] you can speak Spanish with everyone, because we all speak Spanish here.

Mari: Would you want to talk more with students? Or talk to more students? Get to know them more?

Joselyn: Well I talk to everyone. Sometimes they [Catalina & Ana] are more shy, but at the very least “How are you? How was your day? Have a good day” At least that. Yeah, I’m always talking to everyone. Well, I had never talked to you, but –

Ana: For me, sometimes I think that they won’t understand me, you know. So maybe that’s why I don’t talk more.

Joselyn: No yeah.

Mari: Sometimes there are tables, like – they send out an email “we’re going to host a language table where we can speak different languages” and there are a lot of people who, since they learned Spanish in high school, want to talk to people in Spanish. It would be nice –

Catalina: Yes!

Joselyn: When someone like that comes through, they say – well I’ve been here so many years, imagine, there have been so many people who have come through, but there was this one young man – he was chinese, but he knew a lot of languages – and he’d say, “I want to talk to you to practice” but he knew so much Spanish, he knew so many languages. He always talked to me. So, sometimes when I meet people like that I say “You can speak Spanish here, we all speak Spanish” She [Ana] is so shy. She doesn’t like talking to anyone. When she got here, she didn’t speak at all.

Mari: We’re working on it.

Ana: Yeah, I’m timid, too. I don’t talk a lot.  Now [I’m talking]  because I’m here with them, who are part of my family.

Joselyn: Yeah.

Ana: But yeah, I’m also timid.

Mari: Well our school is so small, and well, we know our professors and staff very well, but not you.

Joselyn: And us who you should know more!

Mari: Yes, yes!

Joselyn: Look, when students form Babson come, they don’t like to swipe, and I have to tell them. And they ask me “How do you know that we’re from Babson?” and I tell them “Because I know everyone here!”

Catalina: Of course, we know all the kids here.

Joselyn: They ask themselves a lot “How do they know that I’m from Babson” and theres a lot of students, but I know everyone. “Everyone?” Yes, Everyone. I know who’s from here, and who isn’t. 

Mari: There’s been more [Babson students] this year, right?

Joselyn: Yes, yes. But before, before, so many students would come. At night, I used to work nights, we would have up to 150 Babson students. 

Mari: Wow.

Joselyn: And that was –

Mari: Tough?

Joselyn: It was very tough.

Catalina: There are night that many many many students come.

Joselyn: For example, Tuesdays –

Catalina: Tuesdays, the tacos –

Joselyn: They like the menu. When they like the menu [they come]. Besides, they say that our food is better than there. They say that, I don’t know.

Mari: I’ve never gone. I’m scared to. Better if I just stay here.


Mari: Well, it’s been very nice talking to you. Thank you for giving me your time.

Joselyn: It’s been a pleasure. Now you know that whenever you or your friend want to speak spanish, we are at your service.

Mari: Thank you!

Catalina: It’s been a pleasure talking to you, nice to meet you.

Mari: Likewise!

Catalina: thank you for the conversation, have a nice day!

Mari: You too, thank you!

A Brief Guide to the Dolomites

So you are in Italy and want to go to The Dolomites. An ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS PLACE  where life becomes complete. Well then do I have just what you need. Follow me along this journey and we shall reach paradise.

In Octobere, dal 13th al 16th. Io e la mia amica Marta siamo andate alle Dolomiti. 

Prima ci siamo incontrati a Venezia. (Side note: prima di questo ho mangiato in un restaurante che si chiama ‘La Tana di Oberix’. Maammmaaaa mmiiiiaaa! I was really GOOD!!! I had the best shrimp tomato pasta in my entire life there. 🥰 Not only was the sauce fire but the pasta itself was a delightful discovery for me. I loved the size of the thick square yet tubular pasta. The size of the pasta really helped me enjoy the dish much more as it encouraged me to eat much slower. And good lord not only was it really good but it was really filling. After having this meal around 12pm I was set for the rest of the day. Although the fusion between a seafood sauce and tomato sauce is not quite traditional from what I have read this modernization is to die for. If i had to guess, the use of the butter really helped bring together the flavor of the tomatoes and the shrimp. The name of the dish was called ‘Paccheri pomodorini,mazzancolle, e burrata’ which translates to Paccheri pasta with cherry tomatoes, shrimps, and burrata cheese. This restaurant is actually located on the mainland in an area called Mestre which is right outside the Venezia Mestre train station which is the last stop before going into the famous touristy area of Venice with a train station called Stazione di Venezia Santa Lucia.)

Pasta 1: Paccheri pomodorini,mazzancolle, e burrata. Best shrimp tomato pasta one can ask for.

(Also at this restaurant I also ate the Tiramisu al pistacchio which was pretty dense but good. Would recommend having some water with you. Now I remember better that after eating my lovely pasta I was essentially at full stomach capacity and having that tiramisu definitely put me over the top. I dont know if i would have gotten it if i have know that before i ordering it at the beginning of the meal but I am still happy I was able to experience it.) [hehe now we end this side note] 🙂

Dolci 1: Tiramisu al Pistacchio

Drunk Horoscopes (Rhyme Edition)

♈ Aries: March 21–April 19

  • Take a ride on the Gender Corkscrew. You might end up somewhere new.

♉ Taurus: April 20–May 20

  • My father is a Taurus. He works on planes. A 737 Max goes up in flames.

♊ Gemini: May 21–June 21

  • A balanced dinner of peanut butter cup. It has two food groups: peanut butter and cup.

♋ Cancer: June 22–July 22

  • I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. Litter again, I’ll break your fucking knees.

♌ Leo: July 23–August 22

  • I’m Big Bud Dean—if it’s in your way, I’ll make your day.

♍ Virgo: August 23–September 22

  • You go and walk into the bathroom. The door wacks the 55-gallon oil drum. (You’re in Massachusetts; those words rhyme.)

♎ Libra: September 23–October 23

  • New! CORe-funded sauna, outside West Hall. Come get hot; come one, come all.

♏ Scorpio: October 24–November 21

  • Throat hurts and all that crap. Not sure whether strep or strap.

♐ Sagittarius: November 22–December 21

  • You do a shop training. You almost die. Metal with great velocity. Goodbye.

♑ Capricorn: December 22–January 19

  • Double the roommates, triple the fun. Double the first-year class, I’m done.

♒ Aquarius: January 20–February 18

  • Your Apple watch will tell you you have tachycardia. What the hell do you rhyme with tachycardia?

♓ Pisces: February 19–March 20

  • Oh boy, oh boy, I can’t feel my teeth. I’m growing underground, I’m going beneath.