Senior ally shares adventure stories
Heather Arvidson embraces the unexpected in every aspect of her life. A native of Andover, MA, Arvisdon spent her junior spring abroad in Botswana. “I like to advertise Andover as 35 minutes outside of Boston, not the stereotypical 20,” Arvidson said, laughing. In her four years at the College, the energetic senior has found more than her fair share of adventure both on and off the Hill.
Arvidson played for the women’s volleyball team for four seasons and is a talented middle hitter. She’s hard to miss on the court, and off the court her white-blonde hair and six-foot height, along with her many campus involvements, keep Arvidson from ever blending in with the crowd. Alongside the many hours she clocks in the admissions office, Arvidson is an active ally in The Bridge.
“It’s awesome,” she said, “I’ve met some incredible people through [The Bridge].” Arvidson recalled canvassing in support of Maine’s equal marriage bill two years ago and attending the rally for equal marriage in Augusta. Accompanying her social and political work, Arvidson has helped organize many Bridge dances on campus, and is excited for the club’s Drag Ball that will take place this upcoming weekend.
On April 11, Arvidson participated in a protest on Miller steps. Last year, Bridge members put rainbow posters on the pillars of the library entrance in recognition of pride week, but this year the administration did not allow posters on the pillars. Arvidson joined other students wearing rainbow colors on the steps.
Arvidson and fellow Bridge member Hannah DeAngelis ’12 recently visited Waterville High School and spoke with a health class about sexuality. “Students were really receptive,” Arvidson said. “They asked a lot of really good questions and were very willing to open up to us, and apparently a couple of students joined [the school’s] gay-straight alliance afterwards.” Arvidson appreciated the opportunity to engage with younger students and cited the benefits of entering the classroom without the title of educator. “It’s really great to talk about social issues with younger kids,” she said, “ and they were very receptive to [our visit] rather than having their teachers preach to them.”
Arvidson is enthusiastic about the inclusive nature that is at the heart of The Bridge.“What I really like about The Bridge is I think it’s actually the most inclusive club on campus, and they’re really active,” she said. “I think it’s actually one of the truly safest places on campus, and in an environment where that isn’t always possible, it’s nice to have that [place to go]. And the couches are incredibly comfortable,” she added with a smile.
Arvidson chose to leave the comfort of the couches, however, and studied abroad in Botswana through a Pitzer College cultural immersion program. She lived with three different host families, in a small rural village, a larger village, and then in the city of Gaborone. Arvidson was in Botswana for the World Cup and watched the Ghana-USA games at a fan park in Johannesburg, South Africa. She blew her vuvuzela the whole time, and the giant noisemaking-horn has come in handy back on the Hill.
Arvidson is an anthropology major, and she recently applied to the Peace Corps. She would eventually love to get back to Botswana, but, in her words, “[Botswana is] actually such a stable, healthy country that I don’t think they need the help as much as many neighboring countries.”
Arvidson is looking forward to her next adventure. “For the past 21 years of my life I’ve known exactly where I’m going next, and now for the first time I actually don’t know at all,” she said. “This time next year, I could be in Africa or in my parent’s basement. It’s terrifying but at the same time it’s the start of the next adventure.”