The Highlander March / April 2018 Vol IX Issue V
Carlmont High School — Belmont, California
Leave your bubble
Studying abroad creates personal growth and independent strength
Mackenzie O’Connell Staff Writer
For some time now, you may have been living in a bubble. Gays? Obviously accepted. Liberals? Almost everywhere. Opportunities? Basic. Yet, many find comfort in this bubble while others are trying to pop it. They are running after the floating bubble, hoping it will pop and as a result, they will be able to see the rest of the world. The good, maybe the sad, and even the unusual. A new perspective. For young adults or students, many have sought new opportunities by choosing to study abroad. Students pick a destination, or multiple destinations, and study the culture and build on the academics they have already started. Statistically, taking a leap and leaving the bubble of safety and normality has positive effects on students. According to a University of Maryland Study on IES Abroad study, alumni found that 97 percent of students have increased maturity. University of California Merced also found that academically, 100 percent of students have a higher GPA when studying abroad. For many if traveling around
the world and exploring new places earns an increase in GPA, that would be a good deal. Remy Borneo, a junior at Penn State University, decided to study abroad and has not regretted it as she is still in Spain for the rest of spring semester. “Traveling to new cities and staying in hotels almost forces you to be more social, you learn so much about people and the cities you’re visiting. Academically ,if you can take classes that work with your major It’s actually very interesting to learn from a different point of view. My teachers are also the best source of learning about the city and where the best places to eat are and what other cities to visit,” Borneo said. Seniors at Carlmont also aspire to study abroad sometime in the next four years. After already traveling around Europe, Sophia Gunning, a senior, is very excited to spend a semester abroad sometime during her college years. “I want to go abroad because I love traveling and living in a different country for a year would be an amazing learning experience. It would also help me learn a language, and I would meet a lot of new people. College is about getting an education and I think seeing the world is an important part of that,” Gunning said. Learning a language can also
Photo Illustration by Cath Lei and Jordan Hanlon
be a gateway to having more opportunities for different jobs and interacting with a diverse amount of people. According to The American Field Service now known as the AFS-USA a nonprofit organization which works to build a more just and peaceful world through international education and exchange, 70 percent of surveyed AFS program participants achieved foreign language fluency while abroad. As a result, there is a direct relationship with job opportunities, intellectual focus and delayed mental decline. Having the advantage of being bilingual also allows communication with more people and an insight to other cultures. UC Merced has also performed studies showed that 80 percent of people who study abroad are more inclined to adapt to a more diverse work environment. For others, studying abroad invokes fear as it promotes more independence, and becoming comfortable in a foreign country, and adapting to a foreign culture. If communication skills are weaker and being around the unknown triggers fear, it could be harder to
which is issued in over 130 counstudy abroad. Kiana Philip, a senior, said, tries. It gives cardholders dis“The future and independence is counts on any product, service, something that really stresses me or experience relevant to student out to think about so as of now life and doubles as proof of stuI am not sure if I would want to dent status. There is also cheaper study abroad but my mind might airfare and one can choose a deschange as I start adjusting to be- tination based on the price. “I would 100 percent recoming alone and see new things in college. It’s also scary to think mend going abroad to anyone you’re so far away from your fam- and everyone, even if it’s just for ily with no one you’re familiar a month, it is the experience of a with. I don’t know if I could han- lifetime that everyone should experience. Never again in your life dle that.” Other students may argue that will you have four free months studying abroad is too expensive to travel Europe and experience and either can’t afford the trip or all the cultures that are here. I’m feel they can save their money halfway done with the semester and use their money for other life ,and it’s so sad this has been the best two months of my life and I’ll expenses. “It’s just honestly such a waste probably never stop talking about of time and money. I can put my it,” Borneo said. time and money someSee more topics covering subjects where else,” said Austin around the world. Leary, a senior. According to Forbes, studying abroad, on av- - Universal Health Care erage costs $31,270 per Page 3 semester. However, there are - Cultural attitudes about school unfamiliar resources to Page 13 reduce the price, such as the International - LGBTQ stigma around the world Student Identity Card, Page 14
In This Issue
Studying abroad costs Is studying abroad worth spending thousands of dollars? Page 9
Culture and Sports American culture shapes sports teams Page 12
Life with Mixed Cultures Feeling not part of a culture based on mixed heritage Page 16
News Lifestyle Features Center Community Sports Campus Opinion Back
2-3 4-5 6-7 8-9 10-11 12 13 14-15 16
March / April 2018
Foreign aid takes new approaches
Community development focuses on sustainability
Talia Fine Staff Writer The present Kristine Chan, a junior, has a job to earn her own spending money, but her parents pay for her necessities. Yarah Meijer, a junior, doesn’t have a job, but an allowance from her parents has to cover every expense she may have. Both young women are being assisted financially by their parents, but they both acknowledge that someday they will be supporting themselves. Isn’t independence the goal of international development? Humanitarian aid from parent countries hasn’t worked that way. Without even accounting for the contributions of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), according to the Congressional Research Service, total spending for U.S. foreign assistance was about $49 billion in 2015, about 1.3 percent of the federal budget. There are projects to bring water to rural African cities, food to victims of war in
Syria, toys to poor children in Russia, vaccines to impoverished nations in Latin America, anything imaginable to help people in need all over the world. However, rich great powers have been attempting humanitarian, economic, and political foreign aid since European colonialism, yet U.S. spending on foreign aid is almost as high as it was directly post-World War II, when much of the European continent needed rebuilding. It’s ongoing and America isn’t alone. In 2016, the United Kingdom spent £13.4 billion on overseas aid for developing countries as well, and according to the Canadian International Development Platform, Canada’s international aid spending totalled CAD $5.4 billion in 2016. One could argue that the reason many nations are still entangled in humanitarian aid is that needs can change, therefore a situation can be regularly readdressed and yield different results. This would be the equivalent of getting more bills as you get older and your parents are still paying all of them. Supporting an entire nation forever would be like living in your parents’ basement for the rest of your life. In theory, assisting a less-developed nation should allow it to participate in the modern world on its own someday, and maintain itself. The aid would end at some point, rather than readdress similar needs every few years. However, the projects that have been implemented by various organizations by their very nature do not create lasting change, as they are unsustainable in the country that the project is implemented. Because projects have required advanced maintenance and specialized tools, the community itself often doesn’t have the resources to keep them functioning, and the initial purpose of the project is lost.
David Damberger, founder of the Calgary chapter of Engineers Without Borders, illustrated this issue when he addressed the water problem in Malawi in his 2016 TED Talk. He recounted how the World Bank stated that 80 percent of people in Malawi had access to fresh water sources through gravity-fed water systems. However, when Damberger went to Malawi, he found out that 81 of the 113 water systems had broken and the people didn’t have the technology to repair it. And, a lot of the systems had been placed near older systems with the same technology, built by another country 10 years earlier, also broken. Not only was the technology too advanced for a small rural community to maintain, resulting in a loss of that resource, this situation brought to light another issue in foreign aid: communication. NGOs compete in giving aid. There are approximately 1.5 million NGOs in the U.S. working to bring about some sort of change. This many organizations, each with a slightly different agenda and rivalries with each other, can yield misevaluation of needs in a rush to get to the problem first, resulting in ineffective assistance and diversion of resources from a needy source. Then, later, there is rarely communication about what has been done, what went well, and what didn’t work, so there is little learning from the experience. To illustrate: 10 years ago, geographer Elizabeth Dunn conducted a research project about how refugees from the GeorgiaRussia conflict used humanitarian aid from government agencies and NGOs to rebuild their lives. She lived with over 2,500 people in one of the resettlement camps and observed that large boxes full of used stuffed animals were frequently delivered, even though the average age of the camp residents was 54. The stuffed animals ended up being useless for a majority of the residents and they kept coming. Aid providers had failed to communicate with the refugees they were trying to help, which resulted in unusable support materials while the refugees were still in need of aid. Plus, the standardization of processes prevented the flow of unused teddy bears from stopping, which is another issue that organizations face: not every place can solve its problems with a standardized solution. The issue It happens over and over and over in the Middle East, in Africa, in Latin America. It happens for each and every government
with a foreign aid budget and every single one of the nearly 3 million NGOs across the world. The situation is recounted in book after book, written by someone with good intentions who ended up locked in the system of ineffective aid—and it keeps happening with every imposition of technology and the disconnections among need, realism, and communication. The future So what do we do if we’ve failed? What do we do when the projects we implement are unsustainable and the technology we give isn’t working? We stop giving it. According to recent research regarding foreign aid, the technology that is given does not focus on the assets within the country that allow it to help itself. Currently, foreign aid is an imposition of highly advanced technology from a theoretically better nation. So, we modify it. Instead of giving countries in need what we think they need, they tell us what they need, like how Meijer’s allowance pays for what she thinks she needs. Then, instead of implementing our technology to solve their problem, we let them create the change they deem necessary, like how Chan has a job to get her own spending money. It’s as easy as ABCD, according to DePaul University, Chicago. They have a whole institute devoted to ABCD: Asset Based Community Development. The model focuses on building a sustainable environment in a community that addresses its specific needs, using strengths and assets already available in the community. According to ScholarWorks.gvsu, ABCD will be the end to the current and ineffective methods of foreign aid that create dependency rather than solutions. The change The change has already begun. Engineers Without Borders has taken a very public step in admitting shortcomings in the current aid model by publishing an annual fail report. Foreign Affairs Magazine has even promoted books about ineffective global humanitarian aid. Blockbuster books are coming out, such as “Dead Aid” by Dambisa Moro, detailing failures in the psychology of aid as well as aid process. However, in order to completely change the direction of foreign aid, the acknowledgement of its shortcomings can’t stop with just talking about it. It’s about believing it. “Being a catalyst for social change, opposed to simply being an American providing help, you leave a lasting impact on the community you’re assisting. You can create a project using the community’s resources that will directly benefit them and will be sustainable,” said Lizzy Hall, a junior and a participant for AMIGOS de las Americas. “Learning this process shaped me into the person I am today.”
March / April 2018
Global aid targets resource security Ben Balster Staff Writer
As the world progressed into the 21st century, the populations of first world countries looked beyond their nation’s borders into the undeveloped regions of the world and rallied behind their cause. The discrepancies between preindustrial and industrial living became causes for humanitarian aid organizations and charity. At the 2012 U.N. conference in Rio de Janeiro (Rio+20), an outline of international goals to address global issues was created, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which now guides international efforts in humanitarian aid. One of the most prominent of these humanitarian crises is securing access to food and water for everyone in the world — a concept denoted as food security. However, even as the industrialized, global powers work to implement solutions in Africa and Southeast Asia, the number of food and water insecure people continues to grow. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a specialized U.N. agency, “World hunger is on the rise: the estimated number of undernourished people increased from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2016.” With current technology, the world is more than capable than producing enough food to sustain the global population, yet nearly a billion of people remain without their basic needs fulfilled. At the Rio+20 Conference, SecretaryGeneral of the U.N. Ban Ki-moon said, “In a world of plenty, no one, not a single person. But almost one billion still do not have enough to eat. I want to see an end
to world hunger everywhere within my lifetime.” There are several major regions of the world that face food and water insecurity, the most prevalent in recent years being regions in Africa and Southeast Asia. Alexander Derhacobian, a junior, said, “Food insecurity affects a wide array of states, from developing countries like Nigeria to war-torn countries like Somalia and Yemen. It is also a pressing issue in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Southeast Asia.” Unfortunately, the setbacks these countries face are far more complex than limited water sources and poor soil. The Global Water Partnership, a NonGovernmental Organization (NGO) global action network, attributes growing food and water insecurity to unimproved water and land use, increased consumption of meat, climate change and natural disasters, and governmental interference and restrictions. The extent to which water scarcity impacts the global populous can be seen in the 2017 study by the World Health Organization and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) that states, “2.1 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services; 4.5 billion people lack safely managed sanitation services.” For example, in Bangladesh, a combination of suboptimal farming techniques, natural disasters, economic unbalance, and climate change has plagued the country’s progress toward attaining food security for the past several decades. To combat such a variety of problems contributing to food insecurity, the United Nations created a number of committees
to assess the levels of food security of the world’s countries, promote the plight of food insecure regions, and directly provide humanitarian aid in conjunction with various NGOs and government programs. “The U.N. is generally successful in their humanitarian and relief efforts; they have set up various agencies and programs to tackle food insecurity,” Derhacobian said, “As always, there is room for improvement. Increased cooperation between respective governments and NGOs and the U.N. could possibly be one solution to the problem.” While many have been influenced by the work of UNICEF, the FAO, the World Food Program (WFP), the World Bank, and the Salvation Army, more recent developments in technology have allowed for even more progress to be made in many food insecure countries. Disaster resistant food storage and modern farming techniques implemented in Bangladesh by the World Bank (in addition to other organizations) has greatly improved the country’s production capabilities since the 20th century. An article from the World Bank said, “With one of the fastest rates of productivity growth in the world since 1995 (averaging 3 percent per year, second only to China), Bangladesh’s agricultural sector has benefited from a sound and consistent policy framework backed up by substantial public investments in technology, rural infrastructure and human capital.” Recently, the approach toward food security has adopted the use of technology to improve four primary areas of food security: food availability, food access, food utilization, and food stability. The U.N. Economic and Social Council (UNESC) conference in 2017 focused on
the theoretical implementation of scientific developments in the fields of biotechnology, agriculture, and computer science to enhance crop yields, nutrition and dietary habits, irrigation, and natural disaster and climate change detection. The agenda from the 2017 UNESC meeting in Geneva states, “New, existing, and emerging technologies can address the four dimensions of food security […] The convergence of a number of emerging technologies, such as synthetic biology, artificial intelligence, tissue engineering, threedimensional printing, drones and robotics, may have profound impacts on the future of food production and food security.” In addition to the actions of the international community and global agendas, contribution to the issues of food and water security can be made at even the most local scale through volunteer work, donations, and advocacy. UNICEF and other international organizations sanction high school clubs that link local volunteer efforts to the global stage; although Carlmont does not have UNICEF club, both Key Club and Red Cross exemplify a community’s work toward international humanitarian issues. According to the FAO, “Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” With the combined might of modern technology, international organizations’ humanitarian aid, and local volunteering, the world hopes to reverse the influx of food insecure people and fulfill one of oldest humanitarian goals and achieve global food security.
Helicopter parents impede abilities of their children Less freedom from parents causes dependent students Nicole del Cardayre Staff Writer
counseling centers reported an increase of anxiety disorders in their students. Furthermore, 58 percent of college counseling centers reported an increase in clinical depression and self harm among their College. students. The moment where a high school student can no “Throughout the college process I tried to stay longer rely on their parents to do their laundry or make pretty independent and do it on my own. I did their lunches. end up getting a college counselor to review The moment where being an adult becomes real my applications. However, I researched all the to both parents and their children who are about to schools on my own and did not seek parental help,” embark on the first steps of truly said Eric Swanson, a senior. becoming independent from one Technology has given helianother. Instead they will have to copter parents a complete tool fend for themselves and learn to set to monitor their child’s every Children need to learn sew the holes in their clothing and move all throughout their colmanage their time efficiently. early how to take charge of lege life. GPS tracking, email, Or is it? social media, and text messaging themselves and complete College professors and all equip parents to stay very intasks that they do not want volved in their child’s life at coladministrators have recently begun to complain that their students are to do. lege. increasingly less independent than Kayla Reed, a doctoral candigenerations before. date at Florida State University, Maureen Tillman “These children don’t have the found that often times helicopconfidence they need,” said Robert Psychotherapist ter parents don’t consult their Neuman, a retired associate dean for children when making decisions student academic development at for them, especially regarding fiMarquette University. nancial affairs. Tara Haelle, former professor Will Mahar, a senior, reflects at Bradley University, stated that about how he enjoyed the space she would receive more emails from parents regarding he was given from his parents. grade disputes and attendance than from her students “My parents have always been very chill regarding themselves. my social life, I get my homework done and would be Helicopter parenting has started to affect the considered a ‘responsible child.’ Because I have been independence and mental health of students all very independent in high school, my parents did not throughout the nation. intervene with my college applications and I am confiA study in the Journal of Child and Family Studies, dent they will let me be independent throughout colfound that helicopter parents can increase their students’ lege as well,” Mahar said. risk of developing anxiety disorders and depression. To break this trend of dependent students, journalThe study discovered that over 89 percent of college ist Arlene Weintraub stated that parents should not
make executive decisions for their children. Instead they should help educate them on problem solving techniques and how to manage their time efficiently so they can become independent and successful adults. Additionally, Maureen Tillman, a psychotherapist, recommends that young teens create their own schedules. This will enable them to figure out how to fit in all of their classes, chores, and activities. “Children need to learn early how to take charge of themselves and complete tasks that they don’t want to do,” Tillman said. “Both my kids were very independent in the college process, we raised them to make smart decisions and to think for themselves. They both thrive at what they do because they have an inner drive that moves them towards their goals,” said parent Gary Swanson. Psychiatrist Marcia Sirota suggests that parents encourage their children to follow through with their actions. “The kids need to learn that if something is hard, they have to try harder, and stick with it. That’s the only road to real success,” Sirota said. Sirota further suggests that in order for parents to empower their children to make their own decisions, they should ask them guiding questions in place of given answers.
March / April 2018
Social media stars affect today’s teens Katrina Wiebenson Staff Writer
Almost nine out of 10 millennials are on social media. This may be the root of some of the problems in today’s society. According to Pew Research Center, 69 percent of United States adults use at least one social media site. 88 percent of the 74 million millennials in America are using social media. No matter what age, most of the population has likely noticed that social media is a new norm for people across the globe. Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter have taken over most lives, whether they like to keep up with different influencers or to put out their own life for others to see. It is common knowledge that social media sites are popular with the youth around the world, especially high schoolers. “I feel the pressures of social media on a daily [basis]; I feel like I need to be up to date. It is such a big part of our society now and if you are not keeping up, you are considered ‘out of the loop,’” said freshman Kaetlyn Chen. America’s new celebrities are not from movies or television anymore, they are from YouTube, Instagram, Vine, and other forms of social media. These influencers are known to have a large income from ad revenue and sponsorships. This income is based on the views the influencers get. To get these views, social media stars tend to do challenges to shock their view-
ers, therefore getting users to click on their Sarah Stulbarg. posts. This is exactly how these influencers Many viewers were enraged because get the money to afford items they flaunt in Paul has such a young audience and instead their content. of being sensitive to the subject and others’ Famous YouTubers, such as Logan Paul, feelings, he used the event as “clickbait.” Jake Paul, and Lele Pons, have done such “I guess if you are going to be that big of a things to get viewers to view their videos, person and you are trying to promote youralso known as using “clickbait.” self, you should try to keep it positive, espeOne of the most popular cases occurred cially when you are open to such a young in the beginning of this year and involved audience at the same time,” said Jayden Logan Paul, a youKuhn, a junior that tuber with over 16 has recently logged million subscriboff of social meI’ve noticed that social media ers, most of these dia because of the subscribers being affects friendships, as some can be amount of time 14-year-olds. The that was being 22-year-old posted used for money because they’re held spent on it. at a higher status compared to one a video of a dead Some of these body in Aokigaviewers are imthat doesn’t have much, who are hara, Japan, more pressionable adoheld at a lower status. commonly known lescents that tend as the “Suicide to look up to these Tehlya Brown Forest.” influencers, lookJunior Paul seemed to ing to them as not show any symtheir idols as they pathy or sorrow seem to have the for the victim, as he and his friends were perfect lives that everyone dreams about. laughing and filming the body, causing a lot Although others might just look at these of backlash. YouTubers for the entertainment value in“I don’t think he should have gotten stead of looking up to them, these people hate for his reaction. People can’t really talk tend to be more mature. about what they would have done because “A lot of famous people, mostly YouTuthey have never been it that situation them- bers or Instagram comedians, start trends selves. A lot of us usually laugh when they with people doing stupid stuff to get attenare uncomfortable or do not know what is tion and to get views. They then have their going on because they can’t get a hold of the followers or fans to do the same thing so it exact feelings they have,” said sophomore catches on,” said senior Brendan Sweeney,
a photographer using social media to promote himself. This is the cause for the trending, dangerous challenges that take over the internet, such as the “Tide Pod challenge,” the “cinnamon challenge,” and much more. This can also lead to many other trends, whether it is clothing, shoes, or makeup, these young people will rush to get their hands on the products that their favorite influencers use. “I think a lot of these teenagers tend to try to follow these trends to seem superior or ‘trendy.’ Honestly, most of these trends tend to be negative and dangerous, which can hurt others and possibly give youth the wrong idea of ‘success,’” Sweeney said. The teens that use social media and can flaunt their possession of the new trendy items can be held at a higher standard and are respected more in our society, especially in a high school atmosphere. “Although they are the same type of person, people look up to these trendy people because they can afford nice items that they flaunt in every post,” said Teyhla Brown, a junior that has recently deleted her Instagram account because of this negativity. This may also affect high school relationships with peers, as status is a very important component to some teens. “I’ve noticed that social media also affects friendships as some might be used for money because they are held at a higher status compared to one that does not have that much money, who are held at a lower status,” Brown said.
High schoolers struggle to find a work-life balance Alex English Staff Writer A student ends the school day and rushes to work. He leaves work four hours later and rushes home, beginning his homework. At 2 a.m., he finally goes to sleep. As stress begins to overwhelm him, his grades slip. This is the reality for countless high school students around the country, but many are choosing to forego this reality. As a result, high school employment rates are dropping drastically. “I worked at Waterdog Tavern over the summer and for the first month of school, but I then quit to focus on academics,” said Trey Chock, a junior. “I quit because the time constraints of having a job, especially during my junior year, were a major obstacle for me. I had to sacrifice time to do homework and study in order to work,” Chock said. According to a study by The Washington Times, from the 1900s to 2011, the percentage of high school students with a job has decreased from 32 percent to 16 percent. This drastic reduction is due to the increasing need for students to do well in school because “it has never been harder to get into college — or pay for it,” according to a Miami Herald study. “I will not be getting a job within the school year because I would be under way too much stress, and I would have no time to rest. It would give me less time negatively affect my grades,” said Ben Pasion, a sophomore. Pasion had a job over the summer as a child caretaker at a volunteer center but didn’t continue his job during the school year. “I did not continue my job into the school year because jobs take a lot of time and effort,” Pasion said. Jobs can be very taxing on students, and with school-
work, the stress can overwhelm students and influence their decision on whether to get a job or not. Students who do take jobs may face many challenges, and these challenges can make a negative impact on their life. However, jobs, under certain circumstances, can be beneficial to a student as well. The BYU Employment Services published a study that showed that students who worked under 15 hours a week had little to no negative effects, whereas students that worked over 15 hours a week faced many negative effects, like a decline in their social life, grades, lowering of academic goals, and a lower likelihood of attending college. The study reported that one reason for this is because many students who worked more than 15 hours a week had to work to support their families, making them less focused on school than those who worked just for personal gain. The study also showed that some students that worked under 15 hours a week had better grades because of the strong work ethic they developed through their job. “I knew I would be getting my license soon and I would want a car, so I started working and saving to buy one. It hasn’t been much of a challenge at all because I make sure I get my school work done on time so I do not have to worry about it when I am working,” said John Griesbach, a junior and an ACE Hardware employee. “I just have less time with friends on the weekends.” While students who work less than 15 hours a week experience some negative effects, like less time, many of these students manage to use their time efficiently and have been able to deal with the stress and workload that comes with a job. This makes the job more beneficial than it is harmful to them. Jobs can be appealing, especially with money being an incentive. Money is a key motivator for students to take a job, and it convinces the students to accept the stress that
may come along with the job. “For most high school students, I feel that taking a job has to do with earning money for a car or making their resume seem more appealing,” Chock said. Despite the pressure they may cause, jobs provide benefits to students and stress valuable skills needed later in life. Griesbach said, “The reason I got a job is that it is an easy way to have an income instead of waiting for birthdays or asking parents.”
March / April 2018
Hobbies catalyze character development Sarah Cheung Staff Writer
You’re filling out a college application, reflecting on your experiences, and thinking: did I make the right choices in high school? Did I join the right clubs, meet the right people, and discern my plans for the future? How do I even know what the right things to say are? Hobbies help many high schoolers discover themselves. They are what make people intriguing and unique by shaping lifestyles, relationships, and visions of their lives ahead. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as an activity pursued out of desire and enjoyment, rather than something forced to do out of necessity. Some people dedicate their lives to a single hobby from a very young age, and some prefer to experiment with many over time. While sticking with just one adds tremendous value to a person’s character growth and goal setting,
the latter can be just as beneficial in helping someone uncover their true passions. There are mutual advantages for both types of people. According to Business Insider, a study by therapist Betsan Corkhill found that extracurricular activities relieve stress by giving the brain a chance to focus on only pleasurable activities or to go into a meditative state. “It’s become a natural reflex for me to dance. When I’m upset, I put on a song and choreograph to it and it makes me feel so much better,” junior Holly Koda, a dancer, said. Hobbies also increase opportunities for social interaction when one is surrounded by those who share common interests. This is where the experience for those with one interest and those with multiple interests differs. People with one hobby engage with the same peers in that organization, developing deep bonds over the years. Partaking in team activities has its own advantages,
a study at the London School of Economics found. Dr. Chia-Huei Wu, an assistant professor who participated in the study, said, “This can be explained by the social interaction and feelings of identity that comes from being a team member, which are not as present when [someone] pursues their own individual goals.” However, spending all of one’s time on one hobby can take away from life outside of it. For instance, Koda has been dedicated to dance for 13 years. She stumbled in that dedication when she felt she missed out on other activities. Koda said, “When I was younger I used to get upset because I couldn’t go to school dances due to having classes on Fridays. It’s a huge commitment and there were days where I didn’t want to go.” In contrast, those involved in multiple groups may find that they are exposed to a variety of types and more opportunities for potential friendships.
Joe Bazarsky, a junior, participates in a number of pastimes, such as Carlmont’s theatrical productions, Jazz Ensemble, Mock Trial, and Debate Club. “Having many aspects to one’s character tends to make an individual more interesting, and participating in everything I do allows me to interact with a diverse group of people,” Bazarsky said. Lastly, having hobbies boosts people’s confidence and helps them envision their goals. Kyla Orthbandt is a sophomore who has stayed focused on soccer since she was six years old. She realized it was her passion when she made it onto a team that plays the highest competitive level in America at age 12. “Playing soccer for so long has shaped me into being very determined and confident. I always tell myself to be positive so that it’s a lot easier to achieve different goals in my daily life,” Orthbandt said. “For right now, my main goal is to get a scholarship to a Division I school by the next coming year.”
Bazarsky has discovered through his own experience that spreading his time amongst many crafts lacks that degree of goalsetting: “Leading a life with many hobbies makes it difficult to attain mastery over one hobby, seeing as I have to distribute my time and attention between multiple tasks.” There are drawbacks to a onehobby lifestyle as well. Like Koda, starting a single hobby at a young and naive age can cause a person to bar themselves from other activities that they might love but haven’t tried. Senior Amy Yolland participates in a range of different sports, including water polo, lacrosse, and softball, just to name a few. She has found this allows her to decipher which she really likes and which ones she doesn’t. “A benefit of trying out many is that you figure out what you like to do best,” Yolland said. “I’m most passionate about water polo because it’s a sport like no other and it has such a great community.”
Playing soccer for so long has shaped me into being very determined and confident. I always tell myself to be positive so that it’s a lot easier to achieve different goals in my daily life. Kyla Orthbandt Sophomore
Having many aspects to one’s character tends to make an individual more interesting, and participating in everything I do allows me to interact with a diverse group of people Joe Bazarsky Junior
It’s become a natural reflex for me to dance. When I’m upset, I put on a song and choreograph to it and it makes me feel so much better.
Holly Koda Junior
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Lily Bakour Ben Balster Maya Benjamin Sarah Cheung Riley Collins Samantha Dahlberg Nicole del Cardayre Talia Fine Daniel Friis Kaylee George
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The Highlander is a newspaper dedicated to providing Carlmont students, staff, and the community with high-quality news, features, and opinion articles. We want to keep our readers informed on important issues ranging from events at Carlmont to international news, and want to engage them with unique stories and images. The Highlander is a publication completely run by the students of the journalism classes at Carlmont High School. Story ideas are generated by the students and the published content is up to the discretion of the editorial staff. This month’s editorial was written by Connor Lin and the editorial cartoon was drawn by Nina Heller.
March / April 2018
Freedom of sexuality remains an obstacle
Homosexual acts are forbidden in some countries around the world Cath Lei Staff Writer Each year in June, rainbow colored flags wave in the wind in major cities across the world. It’s pride month. But not for everyone. All 50 states officially legalized same-sex marriage on June 26, 2015. As the LGBTQ community celebrated their victory, many in the community recalled their struggle; older queer folk had been fighting for this victory their entire lives. Jay Clark, a senior, said, “I was completely overjoyed when I heard about it and I just thought ‘Yeah, this is how it should be. This is justice.’” On May 18, 1970, University of Minnesota students Richard Baker and James Michael McConnell applied for a marriage license. The clerk, Gerald Nelson, denied the application. Baker responded by suing Nelson. However, Minnesota’s law on marriage did not specify gender. The court agreed with Nelson and decided that the denial of marriage licenses to same-sex couples did not violate the Constitution of the U.S. Throughout the last decade, the tides have shifted. As of February 2018, Guyana is the only country in the Americas where homosexual acts are explicitly illegal. Oliver Golden, a senior, said, “While it’s good that more countries are making progress, I personally feel like there needs to be more effort to protect queer people. Legalization isn’t enough if people are still uneducated about what it means to be LGBTQ.” Despite an increase in societal acceptance, there are still hate crimes targeted towards the LGBTQ community; on June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen shot and killed 49 people inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando. This act is the deadliest incident of violence against LGBTQ people in the history of the U.S. Outside of the U.S., being gay comes with deadly consequences; in Afghanistan,
Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Somalia, Mauritania, Iran, and Yemen, it’s punishable by death. In many others, simply participating in homosexual acts can result in a sentence ranging anywhere from 20 years to life. On Feb. 9, Sinar Harian, a Malaysian newspaper, published a “How to spot a gay” checklist. According to the list, gay men are easy to identify because of their love of beards, going to the gym, and branded clothing. Lesbians enjoy being alone and hugging other women. These are traits that many Carlmont students and teachers share, but that doesn’t make them all gay. But stereotypes, regardless of whether they are accurate or not, remain a relevant factor in societal and cultural beliefs. Jade Margolis, a junior, said, “Stereotypes have to come from somewhere, but just because someone fits into a set of stereotypes doesn’t mean they’re automatically one thing or the other. In the same way, if someone doesn’t fall into one
stereotype, it doesn’t mean they’re excluded from being that thing.” In June 2017, Malaysia’s Health Ministry offered money to citizens to create videos that discuss treatments for being homosexual or transgender as part of a video contest. In response, activists Jared Lee and medical doctor-turned-comedian Jason Leong, started a pro-LGBTQ film contest through their independent film company, Grim Film, hoping to fuel more acceptance and discussion. It’s possible that this intolerance for the LGBTQ community stems from a fear of being seen as gay or transgender, or even fear of being seen as feminine; homophobia and sexism often go hand in hand. Judith Butler, a professor at University of California, Berkeley, first approached gender as a social construct in 1990, when she released her book “Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity.” She asserted that for heterosexuality to
remain stable, it demands the notion of homosexuality. According to Butler, binary genders are categorized by stereotyped activities and traits. When sports like football are regarded as an emphasis on masculinity, men who choose to go into dance or theatre are often labeled as gay because of the feminine association. Homophobia, therefore, stems from insecurities about masculinity. Butler said, “When we say gender is performed, we usually mean that we’ve taken on a role or we’re acting in some way and that our acting is crucial to the gender that we are and the gender that we present to the world.” While people in the Bay Area may be more open and accepting, these stereotypes about being queer can be dangerous to those elsewhere. “The way queer people are treated in other states or even other countries isn’t something that I saw affecting me directly,” said Golden. “Up until recently I didn’t really acknowledge the impact of these differences.” Caleb Orozco, a 44-year-old gay man in Belize, lived almost exclusively inside his home since he filed the first legal challenge to an anti-sodomy law in the Caribbean eight years ago. In August 2016, the Belize Supreme Court ruled the law unconstitutional. In the six years between the day his lawyer walked into the Belize Supreme Court Registry and the day the law was overturned, Orozco faced homophobic slurs every time he left his home, which is fortified with six locks. His victory is just one small step for countries where antisodomy laws and campaigns are supported by the government. “We can’t let ourselves forget that in so many other places being gay is something that people have to hide in order to stay safe,” said Clark. “We have a sanctuary here that we can fall back on, but LGBTQ people in other places don’t, so we have to speak up and work on their behalf.”
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March / April 2018
Treatment of disabilities varies internationally Mental health differs across the globe
Physical disabilities stunt life quality
Kaylee George Staff Writer
Hanalei Pham Staff Writer
In Japan, suicide is considered honorable. Mental illness is not talked about because it is considered “failure.” In the U.S., on the contrary, suicidal thoughts, along with many other diagnoses, are open to discussion in the realm of mental health. Mental health is everywhere. The difference, though, is the subjective perception of mental health: it’s the same game, but the scores are kept differently. Across the globe, mental health stigma affects how people of different ethnicities approach and seek help for mental illnesses, as well as the resources available in each culture. According to a Harvard University study published in the journal, Health Affairs, the U.S. has a higher number of serious mental illness cases, yet a lower treatment rate than a number of other developed countries. In addition, this treatment in the U.S. is more dependent on the ability to pay, rather than the need for care. Mackenzi Rauls, a sophomore and the founder of Carlmont’s Bring Change 2 Mind Club (BC2M), said, “I think that as people continue to bring the importance of mental health to the forefront of society, it will become normalized and more changes surrounding the issue will be made.” The Harvard researcher who conducted much of this research through the World Health Organization, Ronald Kessler, says that people in less-developed countries are generally less depressed, as cited by The Atlantic. “After all,” Kessler said, “when you’re literally trying to survive, who has time for depression? Americans, on the other hand, many of whom lead relatively comfortable lives, blow other nations away in the depression factor, leading some to suggest that depression is a ‘luxury disorder.’” However, this international research and data collection numbers could be distorted due to the stigma that exists within these cultures surrounding mental illness. Different cultures may silence or encourage the discussion around mental health. For example, Asian culture values preserving family honor; admitting mental instability would serve as a “disgrace” to the entire family. “There is a fear among the community that if anyone finds out, they will be ostracized,” said Dr. Vasudev N. Makhija, the founder and president of the South Asian Mental Health Initiative and Network. “Even for seeking emotional support, they just keep quiet and just suffer in silence instead.” Although Japan is among one of the countries with the lowest mental health illness rates according to statistics, Japan also has the highest suicide rate among Asian countries. In Japanese culture, suicide is seen as socially acceptable under certain circumstances; taking one’s own life life is seen as an honorable way of atoning for public disgrace and an expression of one’s deep sense of shame. In the African community, mental health is often misunderstood or unspoken about; only about one-quarter of African Americans seek mental health care, compared to about 40 percent of whites. In a “Think Africa Press” Uganda study, the term “depression” was revealed as not culturally acceptable, while another study conducted in Nigeria found that mental issues were observed with fear, avoidance, and anger. This can be attributed to a general lack of education: 34 percent of surveyed Nigerians correlated mental illness with drug misuse as the main cause, 18.8 percent said the will of God, and 11.7 percent cited witchcraft possession. Because of these beliefs and a lack of education, some countries lack the resources needed or the courage to speak up for mental health issues, such as Japan and Africa. Many may turn to faith and spiritual means rather than professional help in place of their cultural traditions. In addition, those who are more likely to deal with mental health issues may shy away from getting the necessary resources they need due to the stigma that surrounds the topic, especially in younger years. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 20 percent of youth ages 13-18 live with a mental health condition and 50 percent of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14. “I do think that high schoolers are more prone to mental health issues because of the pressures that the American educational system poses on them. Many tend to overlook their own mental health because they view it as unimportant, so they may be missing signs of a future mental health issue,” Rauls said. Although high schoolers may experience more difficulties with mental health, Carlmont has been very welcoming to mental health issues and has many resources in which students can look to for support. “I saw an immediate need for a BC2M club at Carlmont and wanted to use it as a platform to break away from stereotypes and educate about mental illness, to not just students, but the community as a whole. I saw it as a safe place for students to discuss mental health free from the fear of judgment or scrutiny,” Rauls said.
In Ghana, a 5-year-old girl was dressed in rags, a heavy chain shackled her to a tree. As in many other communities, her family believes that she was possessed by evil spirits because she is disabled. In Serbia, many children are confined in institutions because they are disabled. In some cases, the children are taken to such institutions as newborns. These children live different from people in the U.S. Many of the children will stay there for the rest of their lives. These stories, according to the Guardian, illustrate the lives of many of the world’s disabled. About 15 percent of the world’s population lives with some form of disability, according to the World Report on Disability by the World Health Organization and the World Bank. These disabilities include impairment from blindness and limb loss to chronic pain. In an interview with National Public Radio (NPR), Dr. Jody Heymann, the dean of UCLA’s School of Public Health, said, “Persons with disabilities are one of the last groups whose equal rights have been recognized.” Twelve years ago, the U.N. adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was ratified by 168 nations. The treaty sets out the right to equal access to education, freedom from torture, and the right to live with peers in the community. While there has been progress in the life quality and treatment of people with disabilities, many obstacles continue to stand in the way, according to NPR. Silvia Yee, a senior staff attorney with the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, said to NPR, “When a new transit system in Guatemala City was built in 2010 with raised platforms accessible only by stairs, disability rights activists brought a lawsuit against the system — and won. Now, some of those stations have to provide ramps.” However, to access those ramps, people with disabilities must first navigate crumbling sidewalks with no curb ramps. In addition to architectural barriers and shortcomings, around the world, disabilities are made worse by dozens of other variables, including stigma, lack of legal protection, the cost of devices and assistance, and the lack of knowledge from others about how to interact with disabled people, according to the World Report on Disability. Fred Ouko, founder of Action Network for the Disabled, said, “There is a tendency for people to think that people with disabilities are looking for charity, that we always want to be helped. But that’s really not the case. People just want to be given the same opportunities as their sisters and brothers.” Of the 25 most populous countries at all income levels, only 14 have broad protections for people with disabilities against discrimination in the workplace, according to the World Report on Disability. Progress in promoting improvements by governments, businesses and the wider community has stalled, leaving many people to still be treated as “second-class citizens,” according to the British Equality and Human Rights Commission. David Isaac, the EHRC chair, said: “It is a badge of shame for our society that thousands of disabled people are still not being treated as equal citizens and the everyday rights non-disabled people take for granted, such as being able to access transport, housing, restaurants, theCath Lei atres and sporting events, are still being denied.” In the U.S. the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. However, while the ADA has fixed some issues, it has not resolved all of them. Ysabel Jaquez, a senior at Sequoia who lost her ability to walk for a year at age 14 and has since slowly regained it, said, “Sometimes people assume I can’t talk because I am in a wheelchair. In a circle of friends, people forget that a wheelchair needs more space. [In terms of attitude towards the disabled,] we have a long way to go here. We need to see people with disabilities as part of everyday life and be patient when someone thinks or moves differently than you.” For example, Carlmont’s campus, while complying with all accessibility regulations, is not the most friendly or convenient, largely due to the fact it was built on a hill, according to Risako Nozaki, a senior who recently had surgery on her foot. Many students at Carlmont, such as ASB Reach Out Commission Supervisor Nicole Turk, advocate for more understanding and effort to be put into making sure that people with disabilities know that they are valued members of our community. Turk said, “The stereotypes around being normal in our society have a negative impact on people with disabilities. It can make them feel out of place or left out, disregarded and unimportant. To make matters worse, in our fast-pace society, people typically don’t have the patience to take the time out of their day and interact with people with such disabilities or simply don’t know how to interact with them. I think this is what needs to be changed.”
Intercultural education brin Brooke Chang Scot Scoop Editor-in-Chief A student goes to Spain and learns an entirely new way of life from her host family. Another student goes to Japan, and his host family demonstrates the values of respect in their culture. Cultural exchange programs open up a whole new world for participants. No matter where they travel, students who participate in exchange or intercultural programs experience immersive education about new cultures. However, this education comes at a heavy cost. Amigos de las Américas (Amigos), an organization that hosts volunteer and leadership programs in Latin America, costs up to $6,275 for an eight-week program. AFS, a nonprofit organization, offers intercultural learning experiences through immersive exchange trips that cost up to $16,000 for a semester. For some, the experience of these trips is not worth the extensive costs. Artie Hazelton, a senior who participated in an AFS semester program in France, said, “For now, I don’t think the cost correlated with the worth of the trip. I think maybe I will begin to appreciate my experience more later on.” Many students hope to get their money’s worth by committing to only the perfect trip. Carlmont alumnus Kara Sun said, “I considered doing Amigos; I was even fully signed up and starting to plan my trip, but I changed my mind after looking at the cost and talking to others about the specifics of the trip. I realized that the structure of the program wasn’t exactly what I wanted— instead of me helping the community, the
program required that we asked them to help us with our project. For a price that high, I needed to go on the trip I wanted. I eventually decided on another program, called Soccer Without Borders, which was less expensive and more directly helped the community. This year, I have gone on trips to Latin America with programs called Young Dreamers and Up Close Bolivia.” Although cultural education programs can be costly, many participants believe that the trips are worth the costs if they are approached with an open mindset. Through opportunities abroad, students are able to form connections, learn a new language, and gain knowledge that they cannot get in school. Angela Grundig, a senior who went on an Amigos trip, said, “It’s hard to explain, but the connections with people in my host country and the impact that they had on me are things that money and school can’t give you. It’s an exchange, meaning that you’ll learn from the people you exchange with just as much as they learn from you, and an open mindset is the biggest thing to help with that.” Even some who doubt the worth of their trip when compared to the cost see the value of the opportunities that they were given; friendships made on these trips can last a lifetime and can be useful for students as they enter the workforce. “I am not too upset about the price of these exchange trips because you can meet a lot of valuable contacts. Becoming friends with kids of the host country is something to appreciate, but I also made a lot of close friends with other exchange students because they were the only people who understood my exact situation,” Hazelton said. “The friends I made are people I will be connected to for the rest of my life.” Many exchange programs rely on rec-
ngs the burden of heavy costs ommendations from past participants based on these experiences and life-long connections in order to convince potential exchange students to participate in their trips. On its official website, Amigos advertises its programs as experiences that “give you the opportunity to gain essential education and life experience, leadership training, and an entirely new network of friends by living and working in amazing communities throughout Central and South America.” AFS also advertises the unique experiences and explains the benefit of “learning from the locals” on their official website: “From living with a host family to being supported by experienced volunteers, your journey will be led by people in the local community who value authentic experiences with your health and safety as the top priority.” For some, the promise of new opportunities and education abroad is enough to overlook the cost of the trip. Others, however, find that they are unable to afford the whole cost of participation despite their interests in the program. In order to make their trips more affordable for these potential participants, many exchange programs encourage the use of financial supplements. Amigos holds fundraising events for students to participate in, such as selling chocolate bars to friends and family and asking for donations from the organization’s contact list. “I did a lot of fundraising,” Grundig said. “More than half of my trip was paid for by fundraising and donations. It was a lot of work to get so many people to contribute, but it was well worth it in my opinion because the money helped to pay for an amazing experience.”
AFS offers financial help in a different way; participants can earn financial aid scholarships through an application. These scholarships are both need- and meritbased and can pay for partial or full trips. Although fundraisers and scholarships ease the weight of trip costs, it is important for participants to know exactly what their money, scholarships, or donations are going towards. They need to be sure that the large sums of money paid for their trips will get them what they want, whether that is community service, cultural education, or language skills. “I think it is pretty easy for programs to give you a description or itinerary for your trip and ask for an amount without actually telling you how the money goes to each thing, like food, accommodations, traveling, or excursions. Most programs are about money-making, so they will ask for more than it would be if you are just traveling on your own; if they won’t tell you specifically where your money goes or if you don’t ask, it’s a lot easier for them to do that,” Sun said. Whether they pay for the trip themselves or ask for donations and scholarships, the cost of an exchange program is a heavy burden for many to take on. If students do decide to go on the trip, it is important to make the most of their experience. Sun said, “In terms of finding a satisfactory trip, you just need to do your research. I would definitely suggest talking to people who have done it and trying to see if you can find out how your money is used. Once you’ve picked a trip, you need to make the most of the experience because it is expensive no matter how you pay for it, and wasting time wishing something was different will only create a negative experience for yourself.”
Photo illustration by Kylie Lin
March / April 2018
Meme culture causes unhealthy student responses Joseph Gomez Staff Writer
From Facebook to 4chan, from Reddit to iFunny, from 9GAG to all of the various social medias, memes unite the world, and they’re probably not school appropriate. The original definition of a meme as defined by MerriamWebster is “an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture.” However, the word is now referred to more often by the second definition: “an amusing or interesting item (such as a captioned picture or video) or genre of items that are spread widely online, especially through social media.” For years, the internet has cultivated memes such as Grumpy Cat, Good Guy Greg, Doge, and Pepe the Frog—which is now deemed a General Hate Symbol by the Anti-Defamation League. From the successful reproduction of memes, a distinct culture has formed. Jayden Mah, a junior, is familiar with the aspects of this culture. “While not a term I use often, I would define meme culture as the overall community and following of internet memes,” Mah said. Like most societies, one can find out more when looking
closer. “Memes get a lot deeper and darker as one begins to delve into the ‘culture’ more,” Mah said. The darkest of memes can reflect the darkest of societal issues. According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people currently suffer from depression, and about 800,000 people die of suicide yearly. National Public Radio reported that 17 people died in the Parkland shooting. All of the above could be subjects of memes. “I’ve seen plenty of those,” said Mah. “In addition, I’ve seen memes on Muslim terrorists, radical leftists, feminists, and child abuse—you name it.” Cindy Shusterman, an English teacher, was recently exposed to a new side of this meme culture. During a student presentation, an unknown student put in ‘fmnsmiscncr’ [feminism is cancer] as their Kahoot name. “I’ve been a teacher for 12 years,” Shusterman said, “I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve gotten so upset by what a student has done.” Shusterman considers herself not well-versed in social media and is used to the positive, uplifting style of Facebook memes; she was taken back when she encountered the “Feminism is Cancer” meme in her own
classroom. “When I saw it, my heart sank,” Shusterman said. “It was really shocking and jarring.” Eager to learn more, she talked to all of her classes the following day to attempt to find some common ground. “That’s when I first heard the phrase ‘meme culture,’” Shusterman said. Since her experience, Shusterman has noticed a sort of generational divide between her and her students that has been raised by the internet. In a New York Times article, “We Asked Generation Z to Pick a Name. It Wasn’t Generation Z,” by Jonah Engel Bromwich, a survey was given to a variety of people on what to call the PostMillennial generation (born after 1997, according to PEW Research Center). Some popular submissions were “Meme Generation,” “Memelords,” and “Memennials.” Spiros Argiros, a junior, has a possible explanation for the popularity of memes. “Memes are a way for people to communicate what they find funny,” Argiros said. “With the rise of the internet, people can communicate faster and more efficiently.” Due to this ability to communicate, Argiros believes memes could take multiple forms: from the blunt and the absurd to
the controversial and disturbing. “After seeing so many of these pictures and reading about the tragedies in our world, it’s hard to stay sensitized towards such real, important ideas and events,” Argiros said. Mah feels that memes have had a desensitizing, yet slightly enlightening impact on him. “Memes make fun of feminists and racial groups, and while its funny, it does open your eyes a little,” Mah said. He believes that memes serve as satire, but could raise some serious questions regarding some of society’s double-standards applied to the racial and political arguments of today. “Why are certain racial groups persecuted by the general public, while others are not?” Mah said. “Why do some groups have to constantly make their presence known, when the rest of us hear them loud and clear?” “This whole concept is super interesting to me because it’s new,” Shusterman said. “It’s like a new idea and a new thought, and I love that.” She said that she sees her students as translating vessels, assisting in her search for some method to the possible meme madness. The near limitless wonder of the internet has forged the way for infinite possibilities. Whether they’re enlightening
or disheartening, memes have the potential to start a conversation with the occasional guffaw.. “I think there’s so much possibility for meme culture to be used for good,” Shusterman said.
March / April 2018
Sports culture in America: it’s more than just a game Briana McDonald Staff Writer Millions of Americans hold their breath and wait for the official ruling of the play. Two minutes and 25 seconds left in the game. The score is 33-32. The Patriots have their first lead in the game during the fourth quarter. Third down, seven yards to go. Zach Ertz comes around to catch Nick Foles’ pass and dives directly into the end zone. It is confirmed a touchdown. More than 103 million people watched the Philadelphia Eagles win the 2018 Super Bowl against the New England Patriots. Thousands cheered and thousands cried. An estimated 13.9 million Americans called in sick from work the next day on “Super Sick Monday,” according to USA Today. The Golden State Warriors victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in game five of the 2017 NBA Finals averaged 24.5 million viewers, according to Variety. In game seven of the 2017 World Series, 28.22 million viewers watched the Houston Astros beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, according to CNN. Why are Americans obsessed with major professional sports leagues? Many fanatics across the country revolve their lives around sports. It’s not just the sport itself that rakes in the
views, money, and popularity, it’s the culture that comes with it. Along with watching professional athletes perform, fans enjoy following their home team as they take pride in the team’s history. Even for those who don’t follow sports, there’s a shared experience and collective enthusiasm for their home team. According to a poll from Vox, 75 percent of Indianapolis citizens said losing the city’s NFL team would hurt the city, while 68 percent said it would hurt more to lose the city’s museums. “I’m a Seahawks fan, and I follow them because it’s where my family comes from. My family has so much history in Seattle. They grew up there, they’ve watched players come and go — some of their idols,” said Thomas Slayton, a junior. Games bring people together and create traditions amongst many American families. MLB games are watched during Halloween, NBA games during Christmas, and NFL games during Thanksgiving. Freshman Josh Graves said, “If there is a home game during Thanksgiving then that is always the best. I love having a feast in the parking lot and tailgating with friends and family — that’s just the best time.” Die-hard fans purchase season tickets at the beginning of the season, house parties are organized to watch games, and all plans are canceled when it comes to playoffs. Fans dedicate their entire day to a game, tailgating in the parking lot outside of the stadium. They celebrate with food, drinks, games, and friends; it’s not just the game that makes sports enjoyable. “Game days are usually centered around food. I typically like to eat while I’m watching the game, which is ironic because when the game is on I get so nervous that I lose my appetite,” said Slayton.
People coming together and celebrating creates an energy before the game like no other. The collective excitement brings a rush of adrenaline to fans and players for the game. There’s a difference between watching championship games on television and being at the stadium. Attending the World Series is like wearing a badge of honor; fans experience the game with their team. Rivalries also keep fans interested and create a sense of community for the hometown. Competitiveness sparks between teams and fans. “Our main rival is the 49ers, but they haven’t been extremely competitive for a couple of years. I’m still invested in my team; no matter how competitive our rival is, it’s just more exciting when they are competitive. I’ll never forget the 2013 NFC Championship game, that’s one of my alltime favorite games,” said Slayton. The 2013 NFC Championship game is one for San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks fans to remember. The game took place in Seattle, and the winner advanced to the Super Bowl. The Seahawks had a lead of six points, but with 30 seconds left in the game, 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick was in the red zone and had a chance to tie up the game. Kaepernick threw to Michael Crabtree in the end zone, but Seattle’s Richard Sherman deflected the ball and broke it off to Malcolm Smith to finish the game. “Watching makes memories, which just makes it more powerful when they [the 49ers and Seahawks] play again. No matter how the rival team is doing, there is always going to be that fight,” Slayton said. After huge championship victories, celebrations and parades are held within the commu-
nity. The city of Oakland estimated more than one million people to come to the massive parade in 2017 to celebrate of the Warriors’ NBA Finals win, according to SF Gate. These parades bring many people to the team’s city to celebrate, but they come at a big cost. The San Francisco Giants’ 2012 World Series parade cost the franchise an estimated $1 million, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Alexa Gomez, a junior and San Francisco Giants fan said, “Going to the parades in the city with my family are some of the best memories I have. I went in 2010, 2012, and 2014. Every year, it is more and more special to me.” Watching these professional sports leagues has become one of America’s favorite pastimes. The MLB was founded in 1869, the NFL in 1920, and the NBA in 1946. Fans coming together to celebrate their hometown has become a significant element of American culture. Whether it’s kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality or creating organizations to provide lowincome and inner-city youth with opportunities and resources, many fans look up to these athletes for their activism and humanitarian efforts. Slayton said, “Sports are impactful because they’re more than a game.”
March / April 2018
Culture has a strong impact on social expectations Samantha dahlberg Staff Wrtier Ancestors. They come from all around the world. They pass on their knowledge to the next generation in hopes that their culture will be remembered for the years to come. With that being said, everyone has a different way of viewing life as a whole. Cultural backgrounds can influence how people view and value what’s important to secure a better future. “Culture includes what people actually do and what they believe. Culture influences greatly how we see the world, how we try to understand it and how we communicate with each other. Therefore, culture determines, to a great extent, learning and teaching styles,” said Laurie Futterman from the Miami Herald. Parents who lived with certain cultural customs and expectations as a child tend to pass them on to the next generation. Thus, many students’ views on education are strongly influenced by their heritage. Some parents want to show their children that there are two different paths after high school. Tai Mei Chang, a senior, lives with parents who have different family backgrounds. Her mom is from the midwest and her dad is from China. “My mom was born in America, in Indiana, but my dad is an immigrant from Taiwan. He came to the U.S. when he was five years old. Being the child of my parents, I got to see two very extreme sides of the educational spectrum. My dad went to and graduated from UCLA while my mom decided college wasn’t for her and chose to do her own thing. She lived in many different places doing many different things and became very successful. I look up to both of them. I think both options [going to college or not going to college] are perfectly fine, as long as you put in the time, effort, and the passion for whatever you choose to do,” said Chang. On the other hand, some parents are fixated on the idea
Not going to college is not an option and I don’t feel like I would ever go that route anyway. Zaina Abdelrahman Junior
that college is the top priority for future success. A teacher who’s unfamiliar with this cultural norm, “My father was born in Palestine and my mother was however, might interpret the lack of eye contact as just the born in Kuwait. They moved here shortly after they got opposite — a sign of disrespect.’” married for my father’s work and they both currently Parents who went to school in another country make have U.S. citizenship. My parents influence me regarding sure to show their children that they should be grateful for my education because they always push me to challenge what they have. myself but not to the point that it would make me stressed “In Latin America, the schools were not as good as they all the time.Not going to college is not an option and I are here in America so it makes me appreciate more that I don’t feel like I would ever go that route anyway. However, have a good school with a good education. my parents are big on studying what I love because it will My dad was born in Guatemala and my mom was born basically take over the rest of my life and if I love what I in Canada but grew up in Mexico. do, I will not feel tired or fed My parents influence up with my job,” said Zaina me because they believe Abdelrahman, a junior, the best way to get a good I think both options [going to whose parents are Middle job is by having a college college or not going to college] are Eastern. degree,” Karina Estacuy, a Most parents hold high sophomore, said. perfectly fine, as long as you put in expectations for their Although growing up in the time, effort, and the passion for children when it comes to America was different for their education. Estcuay than her parents’ whatever you choose to do. According to the Center childhood, their past shapes of Education Policy, “Parents the way she thinks about Tai Mei Chang who hold high expectations school. for their children’s learning, “My dad came to America Senior believe in their children’s without knowing English competence, expose them and he learned it while going to new experiences, and to school where he struggled encourage curiosity, persistence, and problem-solving but he did finish college,” Estacuy said. “It reminds me that can help their children develop an intrinsic motivation to if my dad could get an education without knowing English, learn.” then I can go to college and finish it.” This intrinsic motivation is often considered a key There are many different ways to get an education. indicator of success. No matter where people are from, everyone chooses According to Kendra Cherry from VeryWell Mind, a how they want to make a future with the help of their mental health website, “Extrinsic motivation occurs when parents and their cultural beliefs. we are motivated to perform a behavior or engage in an Whether it is going to college or not going to college, activity to earn a reward or avoid punishment… Intrinsic there are many ways to create a future where people are motivation involves engaging in a behavior because it is doing what they love everyday. personally rewarding; essentially, performing an activity “Even though he [my dad] did not go to college and for its own sake rather than the desire for some external did not get the best education because of the bad area he reward.” lived in, he wants us both to succeed and live a great life,” Parents who come from the same heritage can show McKenna said. their children that they can maintain a stable income even if one of them did not go to college. “My dad is a man with a blue collar mentality who sees education as the best thing for my sister and me. If I do not go to college, I could have a stable income because I have seen it first hand with my dad who still does make a lot of money. My mom is a lawyer whose entire mindset for her children is education and having fun at the same time. I am also taking French because my mom knows it,” said Sean McKenna, a freshmen, whose parents are Irish. These cultural backgrounds can relate to ways parents teach their children. According to Carnegie Mellon University’s studies, “The three types of parenting styles were permissive (they let you do whatever you want), authoritative (they guide you, but trust you to make your own decisions), and authoritarian (they exercise full authority over you).” Some students tend to live under a household where there is a mix of parenting styles but college tends to be expected as the next step after high school. “My parents are very passionate about education and taught me and my sister that education is not to be taken Samantha Dahlberg for granted and whether you like it or not shows how determined you are to overcome obstacles not only in school but in day to day life. But nonetheless, there are tons of ways to make money Education is not to be taken for without a college education,” said Tri Vu, a sophomore, granted, it shows how determined you whose parents are Vietnamese. Cultural backgrounds also have different views on how are to overcome obstacles not only in one should respect their teachers in class. school but in day to day life. According to a parenting website called Great Schools, “Kids from many Latin American and Asian cultures show Tri Vu respect by avoiding the glance of authority figures. Sophomore
March / April 2018
Editorial Success extends beyond expensive schools College rejections are the end of the world. At least that’s what students in the Bay Area believe. In a community as academically-driven and competitive as the Bay Area, students are obsessed with college. They tend to think that the only path to success is by loading up on accelerated courses, taking the SAT twenty times to guarantee that perfect score, and then earning acceptance to an Ivy League, Stanford, or another prestigious four-year university. They’re wrong. This mindset is dangerous. High school seniors seem to be overly stressed about college applications and admission decisions, which has resulted in new phenomena among prospective students, such as applying to an increasing number of schools in order to guarantee an acceptance. According to The New York Times, “10 [college] applications is now commonplace; 20 is taking on a familiar ring; even 30 is not beyond imagining.” With this obsession comes greater stress levels. A major component factoring into the stress that students have stems from the monetary issues that higher education places on Americans. According to U.S. News, “American families spent an average of $23,757 to send their kids to college during the 2016-2017 school year.” But this is only a portion of
the price. With schools such as Columbia University’s total cost of attendance summing up to $74,173 for the 2017-2018 school year, the financial burden placed on students who wish to attend these prestigious universities contributes significantly to the stress they feel. And this cost is not uncommon among Ivy League schools and other distinguished universities at the top of many students’ lists. However, the price of attending such prestigious American universities does not correspond with the income of many families and individuals in the country. According to Business Insider, the average American ages 45-54
made $50,024 in 2017, which is the highest average salary of any age group. According to the San Jose Mercury News, in the Bay Area in 2017, “A family of four with an income of $105,350 per year is considered ‘low income.’ A $65,800 annual income is considered ‘very low’ for a family the same size, and $39,500 is ‘extremely low.’ The median income for those areas is $115,300.” It’s unreasonable for universities with obnoxiously high tuitions and other expenses to expect students to attend. Even with financial aid and other grants, many students are flooded with debt or overwhelmed with student loans.
However, attending college does not have to be this way. Around the world, there are universities in many countries that offer free or cheap college educations in English. According to The Independent, Germany, France, Greece, Italy, India, and Taiwan are just some of many of countries that offer free or relatively cheap tuition when compared to U.S. schools. Students in the Bay Area need to calm down. Despite the fact that many of these overpriced universities in the U.S. have irrefutable prestige, students can receive an equally satisfying and valuable education at cheaper prices across the globe.
The Free University of Berlin is an example of a college within the top 100 schools on the “World University Rank 2018,” according to Times Higher Education. This university offers over 150 degree programs and the total cost of attendance is approximately $9,000. Another option is Heidelberg University located in Germany, which is ranked 45 on the “World University Rank 2018” and also has a total cost of around $9,000, according to Times Higher Education. For students who wish to pursue a higher education without costs, Italy is ranked as the most affordable country to study in Europe, with average tuitions, living costs, and total costs of attendance summing up to $0. Instead of repeatedly refreshing that email inbox specifically made for college admission offices or checking the application portal for a dream school every thirty minutes, students should take a moment to appreciate the immense amount of opportunities that await them around the world, many of which are a fraction of the price. It’s important for high school seniors living in the U.S. who are obsessed with their admission status to understand the fact that life extends beyond one letter from an expensive American university. College rejections are not the end of the world; they are very far from it.
Sex ed should not be optional
Parents can’t choose to limit crucial education Nina Heller Staff Writer
If pulling out isn’t an effective form of birth control, then you shouldn’t be able to pull your kids out of sex ed courses at public schools. Comprehensive sex education consists of education regarding human development and sexuality, including education on pregnancy, family planning, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), according to the California Department of Education. Prior to students taking this course, parents must be notified in writing. And every student is required to take this course, with no exceptions, right? Wrong. The California Education Code § 51934 states, “Each school district shall ensure that all pupils in grades 7 to 12, inclusive, receive comprehensive sexual health education and HIV prevention education from instructors trained in the appropriate courses. Each
pupil shall receive this instruction at least once in junior high or middle school and at least once in high school.” According to the Guttmacher Institute, in 2014, 88 percent of schools allowed parents to exempt their children from sexual health education nationwide. Some parents opt out because they believe that the content is not age appropriate, and some may do so because of their personal religious and moral concerns. The entire course of sex ed covers topics that do not just include sex, such as puberty during middle school, sexuality during high school as well as healthy relationships and consent, to name a few. So what is age inappropriate about that? The idea that children not participating in sex ed will delay sexual behavior just isn’t true. In a 2004 report that was prepared for the House Democrats by the Guttmacher Institute, it was prov-
en that these abstinenceonly programs reinforce “gender stereotypes about female passivity and male aggressiveness” — attitudes that often correlate with harmful outcomes including domestic violence, the report notes. The analysis also notes that the average age for initiating sexual activity has remained around 17 or 18 since the early 1990s. The net effect, the report concludes, is a substantial increase in premarital sex, and not the other way around. And even if we take abstinence-only courses, courses that advocate monogamous, heterosexual marriage as the only appropriate context for sexual intercourse and as the only certain way to avoid unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, teens still won’t stick to their parents’ conservative and old-fashioned ideals. Furthermore, public school sex ed isn’t pushing opinions on students relating to sex. Sex ed isn’t telling students that they
should have more sex. It’s just telling students that if they are going to engage in sexual behavior, they should have it safely and consensually. According to a 2015 study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2015, 30 percent of students surveyed had had sexual intercourse within the past three months, but 43 percent did not use a condom, and 14 percent did not use any method to prevent pregnancy at all. Having every single student participate in sex ed has the potential to help reduce the spread of STDs and prevent unwanted pregnancies. Parents also have an obligation to raise children responsibly in order for them to enter society as responsible adults. This includes sex ed. If parents trust teachers to teach their children everything else in school, shouldn’t they trust them with this? The claim of religious
objections to sex ed only goes so far. While some may say that say that they think sex ed shouldn’t be taught in schools because it violates their freedom of religion, schools aren’t teaching us moral values about sex. It’s the facts that we are being taught. Bible verses aren’t thrust onto the whiteboard every day. Sex isn’t the issue in many religions that causes this phenomenon. Wellmeaning parents hope that by their children not taking part in sex ed courses will encourage them to remain abstinent until marriage, a practice in some major religions such as Christianity and Catholicism. Those parents’ actions can result in their children entering the world unprepared for what they might face. The CDC estimates that nearly 20 million new STDs occur every year in this country, half of those among young people aged 15–24. Sex ed classes begin
as early as middle school, when the curriculum is focused on topics that puberty— something everyone at that age is going through. As for high school sex ed, while some teens put into practice what they learn earlier than others, it’s still useful to all of us. In reality, I am going to use what I learned about birth control in sex ed more than what I learned about the quadratic formula in math. Taking sex ed out of schools is like giving someone the keys to a brand new car without them ever having done drivers ed — they don’t know the rules of the road. They will learn eventually, but it will take trial and error, which can be risky. In a car you might risk a minor fender bender, in regards to sex ed, it could involve an STD or an unwanted pregnancy. Removing kids from sex ed classes is just ignorant of their needs and overall success in the world both in and out of high school. You can’t remove kids from geometry, so why sex ed?
March / April 2018
Americans can’t use guns Justin Som Staff Writer
Mental Illness. Faulty background checks for gun licensing. Unregistered rifles made accessible to the public. Many Americans believe that these issues are at from the heart of the current gun violence epidemic in the U.S. Yet, most people fail to remember that gun control issues aren’t exclusively American. As easy as it may be to blame gun laws and the staggering amount of firearms made available to the public for gun deaths, Americans shouldn’t. Other nations have made similar types of rifles available to the public as the U.S. have, but they have far fewer incidents of gun violence. For instance, take Switzerland, which because of its compulsory army service for men, it allows for many military-issue weapons to be owned at home. The country permits for rifles to be openly transported in public as long as the weapon is unloaded and the bullets are stored separately. Any citizen that is at least 18 can apply for a gun acquisition license to see a gun dealer, or they can go through a private transaction which doesn’t require a license. Despite these open gun laws, compared to the U.S. with 4.2 gun homicide deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, Switzerland only has 0.3 gun homicide deaths per 100,000 inhabitants according to the Small Arms Survey. Americans must consider, “Why does the U.S. frequently experience mass gun violence, while other countries don’t?” The problem can’t be simplified down to a basis of either too tight or too loose gun control. Not including the attacks done by terrorists and radical groups, Europe’s last major mass shooting was in January 2015 in France at the headquarters of a newspaper. America’s last major shooting was in February 2018 in Parkland, Florida, the 26th major mass shooting since January 2015. The main difference between the mindsets of Americans and other countries lies in how Americans choose to use their guns. In nations like Israel and Switzerland, citizens own guns for the purpose of national defense from terrorist groups and radicals. On the other hand, Americans are often paranoid about their own self-defense because of the large crime rate in bigger cities. Yet, the most reasonable explanation for the large difference in gun deaths between the U.S. and other countries is
in training and testing. To even own a gun in other countries, buyers must pass written knowledge tests, mental examinations, and then demonstrate that they know how to properly use the gun’s loading and safety mechanisms. Moreover, as a further step for many of the countries that make the same guns available as the U.S., buyers must pass an accuracy test to show that they can hit a target with the weapon. These conditions should be installed into the American system of purchasing guns to promote safety and the proper usage of rifles. Testing requirements motivate buyers to take classes so that they can be more accurate with their weapon. As such, gun owners would be capable of hitting their target instead of missing and hitting a bystander. Admittedly, there are some countries which make many semi-automatic rifles and handguns available to the public without these explicit tests and still have lower gun homicide rates than the U.S. However, in light of the fact that these countries have compulsory military service, it still stands that those who own guns get at least the bare minimum of training on how to use them. Thus, despite the intense debates over gun control over the past decade, there is no definite proof that a change in current gun laws would necessarily lower gun violence. Even if lawmakers tighten the spectrum of available guns to the bare minimum of pistols and hunting rifles, there would still be people with guns who don’t know how or when to use them. The more viable solution would be to institute tests that teach gun buyers to better use their weapons and assess their mentality. But until these changes occur, it is highly probable that the number of gun homicides within the U.S. will only rise. Any introduction of guns into either schools or communities will not prevent mass shootings or the gun homicides, as there is no guarantee that the people who are given guns to protect others will know how to use them. For a more visual example, imagine if everyone who wanted to drive a car didn’t have to pass either the written permit test or the practical driving test. Undoubtedly, there would be car accidents and collisions everywhere because there are some people who just shouldn’t drive. That’s the problem with the current gun situation. It shouldn’t be harder for someone to get a driver’s license than to own a gun.
Acculturation causes dilemmas Maya Benjamin Staff Writer
It’s hard to fit in and it’s even harder when people do not want you to fit in. For the hundreds of thousands of immigrants that arrive in U.S. each year, the choice between acculturating or assimilating to American life continues to be a tough one. Merriam-Webster states that acculturation is the process of cultural modification of an individual, group, or people by adapting to or borrowing traits from another culture while still maintaining aspects of your own culture. Assimilation is the process of adapting or adjusting to the culture of a group or nation. Acculturation and assimilation are options that both come with positives and negatives. Throughout all U.S. history, Americans have been less than accepting of new cultures, which has led to problems for immigrants. In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed, banning Chinese people from immigrating to the U.S. The act came on the heels of fear from white
Americans that the Chinese were taking their jobs and driving down wages, when in actuality white Americans were being paid more than Chinese laborers. With the influx of undocumented immigrants in America, some caution is necessary, but caution to the point of fear and disgust is unreasonable. But, Americans’ unnecessary fear and dislike for immigrants has resulted in violence. Following 9/11, hate crimes against Muslims immediately surged. According to FBI data, after 9/11 in 2001, there were 481 attacks reported against Muslims, up from 28 the past year. One of the most horrific examples of a hate crime after 9/11 took place on Sept. 15, 2001. Mistaking Balbir Singh Sodhi for a Muslim due the turban Sodhi was wearing, Frank Roque shot Sodhi five times. But in actuality, Sodhi was apart of the Sikh faith. Events like these are not isolated incidents, they are actually a part of America’s dark history. In Rock Springs, Wyoming in 1885, 150
white miners attacked Chinese immigrants living in their town by setting fire to their homes and businesses, murdering 28 people. Between the 1870s and 1880s, there were at least 153 anti-Chinese riots throughout the West Coast. In March of 1891, antiItalian sentiments reached a head in New Orleans when 11 Italian Americans were lynched by a mob for their alleged role in the murder of a local police chief, David Hennessy. Twelve out of 19 of the defendants were not convicted. In order to combat the violence against them, many minorities began creating ethnic enclaves. An ethnic enclave is a geographic area with a high ethnic population and specific cultural identity. Ethnic enclaves first began appearing across the U.S. in the second half of the 19th century as a way to minimize violence against minorities and to help them gain adequate housing and jobs. With the creation of ethnic enclaves, they were able to gain the resources they desperately needed. The Chinatowns that began appearing across the
U.S. are prime examples of this. In San Francisco’s Chinatown, the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association provided legal representation, organized a private community watch patrol for the neighborhood and offered health services along with other services that were not available to the Chinese outside of Chinatown. But more often than not, one would find that ethnic enclaves were not met with the respect they deserve. In October of 2014, a San Francisco tour guide went on a racist tirade that included chants of “F**k Chinatown,” and calling for the citizens of Chinatown to assimilate to American culture. San Francisco’s tour guide’s rants about Chinatown and assimilation show the harsh reality that immigrants face, choosing to assimilate or acculturate into society. If immigrants assimilated and attempted to be a part of American culture, they were met with violence and hatred. If they acculturated, immigrants were told they needed to assimilate. Their choice wasn’t good enough.
15 The Penn Perspective Sophie Penn
“I became a journalist to come as close as possible to the heart of the world.” -Henry Luce
Tourism fails to educate
When I was in middle school, my extended family took a trip to the Dominican Republic, where we stayed for two weeks at a Club Med. We stayed in miniature houses right in the middle of the resort. Every day there were different activities for the kids, such as soccer, archery, swimming, and my personal favorite, trapeze swinging. There were big all-you-can-eat buffets for every meal, and while my cousins and I were being entertained by the employees functioning as camp counselors, our parents were off snorkeling, drinking, and doing whatever else adults do on their time off. When I returned from my trip, my friends bombarded me with questions about what it was like being in the Dominican Republic. I didn’t know how to respond. My entire trip had taken place inside a resort, where everything we saw was specifically designed to target tourists. I had absolutely no idea what the country was actually like outside of that resort. Let me reiterate that. I had just visited the Dominican Republic, a country that shared territory with Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world. And what had I done there? I had overindulged myself in food, played games, and tanned. I had been an active participant in what I like to call the “tourist lens.” To this day, I still know very little about the Dominican Republic, and my experience there has been mirrored through multiple other trips. I’ve gone on safaris in Africa, experienced the nightlife of Prague in the Czech Republic, and swam with turtles on the beaches of Mexico. Yet, not once have I done volunteer work on these trips. I’ve almost never interacted with the locals, and somehow I’ve repeatedly failed to come back with a single piece of relevant information about the country I was staying in. Every out-of-country experience I’ve had in my young life has led me to one conclusion: tourism does not provide an accurate representation of a place or country. When I traveled to Africa last winter, I was determined to positively contribute to the local communities throughout our trip. However, my family didn’t exactly have the same experience in mind. Where I was interested in service work, outreach, and further educating myself on the conditions of residents of small villages in Zambia and Zimbabwe, my family was busy planning an elaborate safari trip involving tour guides, fancy resorts, and private jets. I felt as if I was doing a disservice to myself and the African countries by failing to use my privilege to help in any productive sense. While on our trip, we briefly stopped in a local village in Zimbabwe, where we spent less than an hour out of our 10-day trip to get a first-hand glimpse of what it was like to live in a third-world country. In that single hour, I learned more about the country and its people than I did the rest of the trip. I spoke to a family that had built their own huts from mud and clay. I heard of a neighboring woman who was about to walk 10 miles alone to a hospital while going into labor. I was introduced to a girl not much older than me, whose fouryear-old son hid behind her legs as we spoke. I was unprepared for the culture shock that I experienced, as the rest of our trip had been spent touring the jungles and safaris of Africa, looking for different animals to photograph with our expensive cameras. There’s a huge tourism industry targeted at wealthy tourists, but the experience gained as a tourist is very different from the reality of many countries. Oftentimes, those boasting of their worldly experiences traveling with family and friends have no real conception of the place they visited — and how would they, with so many tourist spots being designed to appeal to foreigners and mimic their own living environments. The best way to experience another culture and environment is not to arrange an elaborate trip full of tours and sightseeing, but to fully immerse oneself in the culture of the locals. Not only does this genuine form of traveling allow for a more realistic world view — it’s also cheaper and more fulfilling.
Being half of one is not enough of either
Mona Murhamer ScotLight Editor-in-Chief I grew up with one foot in two different cultures. In elementary school, I was allAmerican: I pledged my allegiance to the flag, read English chapter books at an accelerated rate, and inhaled grilled cheese sandwiches. But in my Persian-Austrian home, I burned esfand (rue seeds) when someone complimented me, spoke minimal English, and devoured kebab at dinner. And now, I am half and half and not enough of either. Not many people would guess that I am anything but a “basic white girl,” a phrase that has been used to describe me on more than one occasion. Honestly, I don’t blame anyone – I wear traditional white girl garb (Lululemon leggings and Uggs), speak with plenty of “likes” and “hellas” in my sentences, and religiously chug Starbucks peppermint mochas. So to the average passerby, I’m your regular white girl. But there’s more to me than the clothes I wear and the food I eat. I don’t fully identify myself as
white, but I don’t fully identify as being Persian either. When my extended family comes together around a tray of tea after dinner, I bury myself into the couch cushions and keep my mouth shut. I have no way of contributing to the stories about Iran because I’ve never been there. Conversations about politics and history go in one ear and out the other because some of the Persian vocabulary is too advanced for me to understand. Rosie Asmar, a senior, experiences the same disconnect with her Egyptian lineage. “Personally, I’m not really wellversed on Egyptian culture, especially because my dad’s family is all Coptic, and I was raised atheist,” she said. “Religion is a huge part of my family’s culture, so I do feel a bit left out when it comes to things like that.” This feeling, according to NPR, is known as Racial Impostor Syndrome, or “living at the intersection of different identities and cultures,” and it’s not uncommon. According to Pew Research Center, 61 percent of American adults don’t identify as multiracial, even though their backgrounds actually
include two or more races. When asked why they don’t identify as multiracial, 47 percent say it is because they only look like one race. For Asmar, it’s her hair that sets her apart. “A big thing that defines who I am as a person is my hair because my life has been shaped by it,” Asmar said. “I was bullied and left out because of my hair, and now people ask me uncomfortable questions regarding my hair or my racial identity.” I definitely relate. I don’t have the stereotypical thick, dark Persian hair, or the catlike dark brown eyes associated with my heritage, so I’m put into a racially ambiguous, “probably-of-Europeandescent” category. To everyone else, my green eyes and light brown hair don’t exactly scream Middle Eastern. Growing up, I heard, “But you don’t look Persian” more times than I can count, so I started to believe it. I feel uncomfortable trying to relate to problems Middle Eastern people face because, more often than not, I don’t face them. People treat me as though I am 100 percent white and free of discrimination, so I can’t say
that I know what it’s like to be openly regarded as a terrorist in public. But why does it matter? Why do I mumble out that I’m Middle Eastern when asked? Why do I ask myself if I’m “Persian enough” to contribute to #PraisinTheAsian? It’s 2018, and more than half of Americans are multiracial, according to Pew Research Center. Being mixed is the norm, especially in the Bay Area’s diverse community. The problem lies in how comfortable we are accepting our own and each others’ multi-ethnic backgrounds. “I think people see me and get uncomfortable trying to pin a racial category on me,” Asmar said. “People ask me, ‘Where are you from?’ ‘Where is your dad from?’ ‘What are you?’ They mean well, but it can be tiring to answer these questions– especially because I don’t owe them any answers.” I’ve learned that I’m the only person who can categorize my heritage. I am Persian, and I am white, and I am enough to identify with both. So yes, I enjoy Starbucks and Ugg slippers, but there’s nothing like a generous helping of kebab and rice for dinner.
Photo by Isabel Mitchell, Photoillustration by Sophie Lynd
Carlmont High School student newspaper