Letter from the Editor

Dear Reader,

Sometime in late January 2021, I forced my freshman-year roommate (turned beloved friend) JoJo to sit under the fuzzy yellow orb of my desk lamp and comb through 10 pages of my creative, non-fiction, and academic writing to decipher what was bad, what was really bad, and what was good enough to share with the world outside of my computer. I was preparing writing samples to include in my application to be a staff writer for the Tufts Observer

I first learned about the Observer during the summer of 2020. As a freshly graduated high school student with a quarantine-sized amount of time on her hands, I spent my days at home envisioning the person I would be and the activities that would become me when I set foot on my college campus in September. I found the Observer during a deep internet dive for the sites of arts and culture at my school-to-be. These were the types of spaces that shaped me in elementary and high school—where I was an intermediate-level flutist in the concert band, an editor and frequent contributor to the literary magazine, and a writer for the school newspaper at different points in time—and I was eager to find them again as a college student. 

In the process of this investigation, I came across my first ever Observer article—a moving, well-written personal narrative reflecting on the life of Naya Rivera and the significance of her character Santana Lopez on the television program Glee—and was immediately hooked. I read poems that unmoored me and lingered in my memory long after their last lines. There were whole pages dedicated to the exploration of cultural phenomena that kept me up at night and investigative articles that set the wheels of my sociology-minded brain into motion. Most of all, I was so excited to be learning from the research and perspectives of people not much older than or different from me. 

As children, we are encouraged to shoot for the stars. I have long since been of the opinion that it is slightly easier to shoot for the stars you can see—and here my stars were, spread out over the pages of a college magazine. 

I pored over the O’s online archive like it was one of the YA novels I routinely devoured by bedside lamplight as a child. Each issue unfurled like the most magical book I had ever read. Imagine my joy and delight when I received an email later that January informing me that the student publication of my dreams wanted to let me in on some of the magic. 

I’ve learned more about the Observer, the craft of writing, the art of editing, and the value of student journalism than I ever could have conceived of when I anxiously and excitedly wrote my first article as a staff writer during the spring of my freshman year. From the beginning, though, I was immediately struck by the value and true gift of paying attention—and being paid attention to. 

The close consideration of someone’s words, those written, half-written, and those almost-there, simply in need of a conversation or probing question to actualize a vision; the collaboration between artists, designers, and writers to produce visuals that help words jump off the page in print: this is a form of love I have both expressed and received countless times throughout my journey with the Observer. I truly believe everyone deserves to experience the attention to detail and support of one’s voice that goes into our articles. (Shameless plug: write for the O!). 

When it comes to the Observer, the thank-yous I have to share are endless. Thank you to Emara for being such a wonderful partner in navigating the world of our beautiful magazine; thank you to my forever editors-in-chief, Aroha, Sabah, Melanie, and Amanda, whose leadership, journalism savvy, and passion for the magazine have inspired and influenced me more than I can say. Thank you to every friend who has shared a knowing glance or word of encouragement as I headed off to a night of layout, or who read something I wrote or edited and let me know what they thought of it (always giving a more glowing review than I could have ever asked for). Thank you to every contributor who has ever written or submitted to the Observer–you make our magazine great. And to everyone who has ever picked up a copy–including you–thank you so, so much. 

Senior year Juanita feels so lucky her freshman dreams came to fruition. 

With appreciation, 

Juanita Asapokhai