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EXECUTIVE BOARD Sachin Peddada

1 Voice

Angela Kong Michelle Su MEMBERS Aishwarya Nene

Volume 3, Issue 2

Alvin Fan Claire Liang

Fall 2013

San Jose Youth Advisory Council of District 1 Newsletter

Hana Kim Hima Rajana Jacob Antony

Message from Youth Commissioner: Sachin Peddada

Jason Chu Laura Cervantes

Hi everyone! My name is Sachin Peddada, and I’m excited to say that I’m now the District 1 Youth Commissioner for the City of San José! I have several goals for the District 1 YAC this year, and we have been doing great in accomplishing these objectives. Not only have we increased diversity by securing more YAC members from underrepresented schools such as Prospect,

Lina Lalwani Mahshad Badii Nihar Wahal Nikita Dandia Shreya Sunkara Sonia Raghuram Sosenna Grum Tiffany Chao Tiffany Su Valerie Tan Zareen Choudhury

Inside this issue:

Westmont, and Mitty, we are also delighted to say that, having just gotten our proposal approved recently, we will be starting a youth-oriented sports league at Starbird Teen Center soon! If you would like to participate in this league or to start a branch in another park or public location in District 1, let us know! I’d also like to get more District 1

youth involved in the city of San José to really make a difference. This can be done by getting more people to join our YAC, attend our District-wide public forums, or participate in the Youth Commission’s Ad-Hoc working teams. I strongly encourage you all to make your voices heard in city government! If you would like to get involved and give back to the city of San José, don’t hesitate to contact me at D1youthcommission@gmail.com. It truly is an honor to be able to represent such a diverse group of youth, and this newsletter showcases some of their best work. Enjoy!

Recap Event: September YAC Ad-Hoc

Message from the Youth Commissioner

1

Teen Romance Recap: YAC Event

2

YAC Training Day Social Media

3

Social Media (Cont) Blackford NNO

4

Protests Stereotyping

5

Starbird Giving Tree Happiness

6

The Benefits of Local Politics

7

Featured Youth

8

Art and Poetry

9

Upcoming Events

10

By Mahshad Badii

On September 16, 2013, all it took was less than twenty teens, some paper, pens, and a great amount of creativity and passion to kick-start the first Ad Hoc Meeting of 2013. The meeting began with introductions and goal setting for the Ad Hoc and Youth Commission, before the Ad Hocs broke into the following categories: Education, Safety, Environment, and Health (each consisting of 1-2 Commissioners and fellow Youth Advisory Council members) to brainstorm the most prominent issues. After returning from the brainstorm session and a casual debate on marijuana legalization, each Ad Hoc elected a speaker to present their ideas. While the

Environment Ad Hoc stressed the ramifications of carbon emissions from factories on the environment and how a carbon tax could serve to rectify this issue, the Education Ad Hoc addressed how endorsing

teachers of minority backgrounds could possibly set an example for minority students and improve the educational experience. Next, the Health Ad Hoc suggested the removal of junk food machines in schools to promote a healthy lifestyle among teenagers. Finally, the

Safety Ad Hoc brought up the dangers of domestic abuse, teen drunk driving, and alcohol addiction. City-wide Commissioner Tara Pichumani then explained the Youth Commission’s plan for the following meetings. In next month’s meeting, the Ad Hocs plan to narrow down their lists to one to two issues and brainstorm realistic solutions to implement. At the third and final meeting, the Ad Hocs would each finalize a policy and seek the approval of the San Jose City Council. The first Ad Hoc meeting was a success, with brilliant communication and discussion among the YAC members. I am looking forward to the next Ad Hoc Meeting and implementing these ideas!


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Opinion:Teen Romance By Alvin Fan

DISCLAIMER: As love is an extremely complex and subjective topic, there is no way to discuss every aspect and opinion of it in this article. As such, this article will primarily deal with my opinions on teen romance in general, based on my own observations and thoughts. Being a teenager is tough. Not only do we have endless amounts of homework, but we also have to balance out our social, private, and academic lives with extracurricular activities. More teens look towards romance to relieve their everyday stress. However, the outlook of teen romances is bleak: all around school, you might hear rumors or gossip about some person going out with another person; less than a month later, the same student who had informed you about the aforementioned relationship suddenly tells you that they had broken up a few days ago. Thus, many high school romances seem to be mere “flings,” or short term relationships: we hardly hear

tales of couples that endure the test of time anymore. Relationships like these that are built upon such weak foundations have understandably given teen romance a negative image in the eyes of the public. To many, it seems that high school relationships have become nothing more than desensitized labels for two immature youths that have only a physical intimacy and lack true emotional intimacy.

Yet, despite all of these negatives, teen romances do have their own virtues. As the casual observer, I have noticed that many students that have had relationships in the past are often

more understanding and mature than their peers. They develop a sort of deep empathy and are usually more compassionate and sympathetic. They learn to be more selfless, and understand the true worth of truth, commitment and faith. So are teen romances really worth it? In my eyes, my answer is a conditional yes: it’s only worth it if your feelings are sincere and genuine, and you know that you are mature enough to handle such a commitment. I’m not saying that all relationships are good: those that are driven only by desires for strictly physical intimacy will never be meaningful and will fail to teach either person any real lessons. But one that is built more upon an emotional intimacy that is focused more on personality than physical attributes. Although relationships may have become muddled in their meaning and purpose to many high school couples, I believe that there is no better way to grow and mature as a person than to commit oneself to another through a true, meaningful relationship.

Recap YAC Event: Halloween Festival By: Angela Kong In the spirit of the Halloween season, the Moreland Education Foundation hosted their annual Halloween Carnival at the Easterbrook Discovery School on October 12. The event consisted of two bounce houses, 10-12 carnival games – including a cupcake walk and teacher pie toss booth, a professional photo booth, full pumpkin patch, concession stand, music, outdoor movie, and haunted trail. Impressively, this event was put together completely by a volunteer team of parents of the Easterbrook Discovery School, and would not have been a success without the aggregated efforts of many community members. The San Jose District 1 YAC members contributed to the success by manning the vari-

ous carnival games for the children attending. The Pumpkin Patch is a major fundraiser organized for the entire Moreland School District. Each year, the MEF asks each school in its district to host an event to bring in fun community based activities to raise money for various programs noted below. This year, the MEF raised the most money in the 11 years of running the patch! The Moreland Education Foundation (MEF) helps support quality education in its district in order to maintain its outstanding programs and promote new and innovative learning opportunities. Through Music in Moreland (MIM) and Sports in Moreland (SIM) the MEF raises funds to support the award-winning instrumental music programs in grades 4-8 and keep after-

school sports available to the middle school students. The MEF also helps the district pay the salary of the Director of Instructional Technology while supporting innovative approaches to technology in classrooms. The foundation awards grants to Moreland schools to pilot innovative programs that would otherwise not have the necessary funding. In past years when the state budget was tight, it helped maintain small class sizes, kept libraries open, and provided teacher training. In short, it works with the Moreland School District to maintain the world class education that the community expects.


Volume 3, Issue 2

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Upcoming Youth Events:YAC Training Day By Zareen Choudhury On November 16, YAC members from all ten districts of San Jose will gather at Camden Community Center for the annual YAC Training Day. YAC Training Day is an event organized by the Youth Commission, which is comprised of the ten commissioners from each of the districts, as well as the citywide youth commissioner. At the event, YAC members learn about the various political and social issues they will be dealing with for the remainder of the year. It also serves as a forum for members to voice their thoughts about these issues and practice their ability to articulate their opinions. Additionally, members collaborate to develop proposals for the year. Finally, the event is an excellent opportunity to meet YAC members from other districts. The day will start of with members meeting each other through icebreaker games. Then they will divide into four workshops corresponding to the four Ad-Hoc groups: education, safety, health, and environment. The

workshops will be split into two sessions and be led by professionals in the field. One difference from last year is that the workshop presenters were screened beforehand by the Youth Commission. After the presentation is given, members will discuss the issues at hand and develop the workplan for their particular Ad Hoc. This involves devising “smart” objectives that are feasible within the given timeframe and have well-defined and

achievable endpoints. After the workshops, all participants will gather for the budget simulation session, which will be led by the Youth Commission. For the simulation session, participants will be divided into smaller groups, with each person assigned a role, such as a senior citizen or

small business owner. A few people will be assigned to serve as members of a mock City Council. Each of the groups will be given a realistic list of city programs along with their costs, and must decide how to allot their fixed budget among different programs. Finally all the groups will present their budget proposals to the City Council, which will use the recommendations to make a final budget proposal. The budget simulation session gives YAC members a realistic experience in the budgeting process, which often involves making hard decisions and cutting YAC Training key Day hosted at prothe Camden grams. The Community activity also Center allows members to practice defending their opinions in a legislative context. Altogether, YAC Training Day should be a both an informative and fun event in which YAC members will learn more about important issues in San Jose and meet new people from other districts.

Opinion: Social Media By: Shreya Sunkara A few years ago, Facebook boomed. Almost simultaneously, for people everywhere, grades slipped, hating the mean girl from fifteen years ago became easier, and the "duck-face" finally reached its moment of stardom. Lately, social media has become the new hot discussion topic amongst soccer moms, lawmakers and basically everyone, anywhere. The main problems with social media

are the lack of privacy and the perpetuation of anti-sociability. We, as a society, used to be able to develop our own identity without being openly and continuously exposed to an overcritical society. When every facet of someone is laid out onto a shiny pixilated screen for the world to see, judgments are bound to be passed. This deficit of privacy and introspection makes it so much more difficult to for us to grow and develop as individuals, knowing the

constant scrutinizing eyes are aware of every self-defining move we make. Living in a pre-social media centric world meant we were able to be so much more introspective basing our lives off the decisions we make rather than how many ‘friends’ we have or how many ‘likes’ our profile picture got. The days of slamming doors demanding more privacy seem to have been replaced by the desire to flaunt even the most mundane details of ourselves for


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Opinion: Social Media (cont.) the world to see. These acts, driven by a rare hope for cyber-fame, leave us so vulnerable that our lives are propelled by the approval of other people and are devoid of those moments of basic solitude that have become so precious and necessary. Another major issue with social media is the development of a less social world. Although we have become more and more inter-connected, we have lost our basic "face to face" connections. Most people cannot remember their last meal out with their friends, but can remember the last time they Facebook messaged a friend. We have come to live in a society where entire relationships are based off of online messag-

es and first impressions can be made by glancing at a profile page. Discovering a

person’s similarities and differences through casual conversation has been replaced by checking what they have ‘liked’. However, all these downfalls can be remediated through one's own choices. It is a personal choice to go out every once in a while and enjoy some face-to-face human interaction, the exact same way it is a choice to tell the whole world what kind of sandwich you’re eating or how hard your math homework is. In a few years, we’ll all be thankful to have a means of staying in touch with the people that were once such a big part of our lives, our social circles and those who have shaped us into the people we are. Till then, we need to step back and give our screens a rest.

Recap YAC Event: Blackford National Night Out By: Nikita Dandia More than half of Blackford’s community came out at the Starbird Park on August 6, 2013 to celebrate National Night Out hosted by the Blackford Neighborhood Association. National Night Out, celebrated across the country, is the nation’s night out against crime. It encourages residents to get out in the community and get to know their neighbors as a way to encourage crime prevention. Police officers even joined the community during this celebration and handed out police badge stickers and little booklets about community safety. The night started out with an opening ceremony which was accompanied with free food including hotdogs and a variety of ice creams for the kids. There were many activities for the kids to participate in this year. The biggest line was probably for the balloon artist who created different shapes and animals. To

keep the night flowing, there was a DJ who played the latest beats throughout the night. In the middle of the event

there was a mini dance off between the kids from the neighborhood. It was a great way for the kids to have fun and bond over a ton of activities!

This year YAC members helped out with the ArtZone. It was a big hit this year as children from all over the neighborhood showed their inner artistic capabilities with their families. YAC members helped pass out materials, helped kids find places on the worktable, and cleaned up the entire ArtZone table after the night was over. Using just foam, stickers, markers, and other craft materials, the kids created wonderful artwork that they were able to take home. The night ended with a raffle for some great prizes! National Night Out is one of the largest events of its kind in the nation. This event is a great way to get to know your community members and raise awareness about crime prevention. All it takes is for the neighborhood to gather together and have a great night! This event was a great representation of the Blackford neighborhood’s immense spirit and unity.


Volume 3, Issue 2

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Opinion: Are Protests Really a Bad Thing? By: Sosenna Grum

Because of mishaps like these, people get upset and a situation that could have been resolved peacefully soon becomes dangerous.

America is the land of the free and no doubt the home of the brave. As a democratic country, we have been given all of the freedom and rights needed to be happy citizens. Although this may be true, sometimes people feel as if they do not have a say for some of the important things going on in the world. Because of this feeling, they protest. Protesting is another way of putting up an argument, another way of saying, “No, this is not right”. There is nothing wrong for standing up in what you believe in, but there is always ramifications when people begin to protest. Situations may become violent very quickly, people, including protective servicemen such as the city police, start to hurt others. For example, on November 18, 2011 peaceful student protesters were pepper sprayed multiple times for no clear reason at University of California Davis.

Protesting is known for having its risks, but civilians take that

chance anyways to demonstrate and follow through with the belief they have. People believe that society is run on a civilized ladder, but that is not always the case. Protesters believe that sometimes people need to cross the line in order to be heard or they will forever be stepped over. Because of the extreme measures that protesters take, they are often shunned or looked down upon. Therefore, protesters trying to be heard while doing something meaningful often tint their own images. So, if we never spoke up, our freedom would be taken away. But then if we were to speak up, nothing is promised except for a possible strongly dangerous reaction.. So “Are protests a really bad thing?” The choice lies within us to try to make the best decisions and do whatever needs to be done in order to be heard.

Opinion: Stereotyping By: Tiffany Su Stereotyping, a prevalent issue in our present society, has become so commonplace that it is now a part of the public’s everyday diction. As an Asian American, I am immediately categorized as a nerd, regardless of the way I act; I have “perfect grades,” eat smelly Asian food, and so on. A big factor that contributes to stereotyping is media, specifically the internet and television. Many TV shows today portray things about nationalities and sexualities that are not true. One frequent example includes the misconception that all Latino people are poor and have low education. Another is that all gay people have a great sense of fashion and absolutely love to go shopping. Not only do these stereotypes not apply to the majority of the victims, they can also be extremely offensive. As cliché as it sounds, each individual is unique and has his or her own personality. Race and gender do not define a people; they may slightly impact who them,

but you can’t say that just because a person is a girl means she is incapable of being as physically strong as a boy, or just because a person is Mexican, he or she lives in an apartment. In fact, I have many Hispanic friends who live in better houses and neighborhoods than I do, while Asians are supposedly the “rich and successful” people. Stereotyping is inaccurate and often discourteous way of instantly judging someone. If humans slowly stopped being 100%

influenced by media, the internet, and unfair criticisms, the world we live in now would be socially a much better place to live in.


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Upcoming YAC Event: Starbird Giving Tree Event By: Michelle Su Every year as the holiday season rolls in, the Starbird Youth Center prepares for its annual holiday festivities. Of them is the Giving Tree, which takes place a couple days before Christmas. This year, the youth center will once again be hosting this event with the help of the District One Youth Advisory Council. From 4-6 PM on Friday December 20, volunteers will be serving food to attending families and assisting with gift distribution. In the past, Starbird employees have spent days cooking up feasts complete with turkey, mashed potatoes, fixings, fruits, and a variety of desserts. Guests are encouraged to eat as much as they can and take home any leftovers. For the kids, there are different activities prepared. Starbird’s collection of video games and foosball tables is open for use, and volunteers also prepare numerous arts and crafts. The same can be expected for this year, as the Starbird Youth Center serves as a place for many teens and elementary school children to go to after school on a regular basis. Ultimately, the goal of the center, as well as of the Youth Advisory Council, is to help the youth, and this event provides kids and their families with a little bit of

extra joy during their holiday seasons.

Around this holiday time, the youth center is adorned with holiday decorations that include a fullydecorated Christmas tree. Traditionally, “Santa” is also invited to the Giving Tree Event, and of course he surprises families by bringing some presents from the North Pole. YAC members prepare holiday cards for the kids, and everyone at the event enjoys a night of holiday celebration. Like previous Giving Tree events,

this year’s holiday festivity will be a rewarding way for volunteers and YAC members to give back to their community. This also proves to be a joyful experience for the families invited to this festive event, and it is always heart-warming to see the kids’ exuberant faces after eating a delicious dinner, playing fun games, and receiving surprise gifts.

“This event brings happiness to the kids who deserve it most.”

To maintain the holiday spirit of giving back to the community, the Starbird Youth Center and the District One YAC will continue to hold the Family Giving Tree event, and anyone interested in attending is encouraged to take part in this joyful event.


Volume 3, Issue 2

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What Does It Take to be Happy? By: Claire Liang As Thanksgiving approaches, people begin to think more about what they are thankful for. Stressed out with balancing their homework load with after-school sports, club events and more, finding reasons to be thankful seems to be a hard task for teens in high school and college, and sometimes even middle school. Whether they’re willing to admit it or not, for many, happiness comes down to one thing - money. Money, the key to accessing the newest Apple gadgets, designer clothes, or that twohundred dollar pair of shoes, can provide happiness. But there are two different sorts of happy; there’s the happiness you can get from obtaining something you want, or the happiness you can get from giving to others, which is not only much more worthwhile but also beneficial to oth-

ers and yourself. I found my own happiness when I took the time to give back. To work off my hours for school clubs, I often volunteer at non-profit organizations and soup kitchens. As I worked, I found myself becoming more approachable, less stressed, and friendlier. I thought better of myself and be-

Photography by Hima Rajana

came much more amicable and accepting of others. Not only did these experiences teach me, and continue to teach me, to be thankful of everything that I already have, but they also made me happier; to be part of something that would benefit a group of people outside of myself made me feel as if I had a reason for living.


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Featured Youth: Angela Kong By: James Wilhelmi, originally published in Lynbrook Epic Newspaper

occur naturally. The larger quantity is easier to classify and analyze, revealing the use of the selected DNA portion. Kong’s tests showed On Oct. 18, senior Angela Kong was that BCL11B and p21 have positive correlation; BCL11B reacted more vigorously as the named as a semifinalist in the 2013 Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology. amount of p21 increased. Kong evaluated this finding by perThe Siemens Competition is held annually forming experiments on mice with and without through a collaboration between the Siemens Foundation, which is the non-profit arm of the BC11B. Her results affirmed that the presence conglomerate Siemens AG and College Board. of p21 was necessary for BCL11B to halt stem cell generation. Open to all high school students, its website states that the competition “…gives students an opportunity to achieve national recognition for science research projects.” Kong’s research focused on the methods stem cells use to regenerate. She came up with the idea while talking to her project mentor Doctor Shang Cai, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Cai is studying the effects of a gene called BCL11B in stem cells. “Dr. Cai’s data proved that BCL11B seemed to repress cell proliferation,” said Kong. “I was wondering about the molecular Kong began her project in June, mechanism by which it did that.” conducting her experiments in a laboratory at To find out how BCL11B inhibits Stanford. She frequented the lab during the stem cell reproduction, Kong conducted a series of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. summer and went three times per week from 2 PCR experiments replicate a particular segment to 6 p.m. once the school year began. Kong of DNA, creating a much larger amount of the completed her project report in early Septemproduct that a sequence codes for than would ber, meeting the Siemens entry deadline of

Sept. 30.

Kong credited Cai with helping her get the project started and continuing to support her throughout the process. “He gave me all the literature to read on the background information and he was always there to answer my questions,” said Kong. “I never would have been able to research without his help.” Kong also cited Science teacher Amanda Alonzo as being instrumental to her project’s success. “Ms. Alonzo was the person who got me started in science research,” said Kong. “She’s always been very supportive and inspirational.” Kong is one of just 344 semifinalists nationwide named by the Siemens Competition. The 100 finalists will compete at regional events next month for a chance to reach nationals, but this juncture marks the end of the road for semifinalists like Kong. Although the list of semifinalists was released on the morning of Oct. 18, Kong was not immediately aware that she had been recognized. “I wasn’t expecting it. I checked my e-mail and saw a ‘Congratulations!’ message from Ms. Alonzo,” said Kong. “I was like, ‘Wow.’ ”

Featured Youth: Navya Konda What is Nourishing Minds? Our club's mission is to create awareness Navya Konda, a junior at Archbishop Mitty among children regarding healthy eating. High School, goes above and beyond in her We have been busy making an eight-part curriculum and presenting once each actions to promote a healthy lifestyle. Inspired by her passion for healthy eating, 16 month at Family Supportive Housing, a local homeless shelter. The curriculum year old Navya works with other Mitty includes custom songs, games, rhymes, students in her club Nourishing Minds to stories, activities etc. that integrate facts spread awareness of healthy eating. Here, with fun. None of this would have been Navya talks about the process of creating possible without the leadership team beher healthy eating movement, and her adhind this effort; Rose Bueno, Madison Balvice to others who wish to do the same. lard, Sarah Wolfe, Laura Nerb, Nicole ReWhat inspired you to begin your pro- jer, Catherine Gong, and Norma Gowans have helped me put my goal to action. ject? My personal philosophy in doing any project has always been "Teach others how to What challenges have you been facfish instead of giving them fish." By teaching ing? There have been times where we have had people about healthy lifestyles, we equip to change plans at last minute or find anthem to make good decisions throughout their entire lives.People need to be educat- other organization, as the previous could ed in order to understand the importance not accommodate us. But working through of not refusing veggies and making healthier this together, we have grown stronger as a decisions. Education [is] the perfect tool to team and been able to [yield] better recreate awareness among children and with sults. Even though we will probably face more challenges ahead, I always believe that, change would soon be inevitable. that challenges make our effort stronger. By: Lina Lalwani

What parts have been most rewarding? The responses and changes we have seen have been the most rewarding. The number of children that attended the second [talk we hosted] was twice the number at the first. The songs that Norma wrote were sung perfectly, a month later and they all remember the food pyramid very well. The exhilaration that I feel when I see all the kids is indescribable and it really motivates me to work harder and do more and more. What would you advise to others who want to make changes in their communities? As students, we all have to remember that community service is not for credit. It is rather a way for us to use our talents and make a change. We need to make sure we are addressing a root cause rather than just giving materials. We need to teach people to be fisherman. There is so much opportunity to serve and it our duty to take chance of this, use our talents, not give up, and make a change.


Volume 3, Issue 2

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Featured Artwork by Raka Mukherjee

Poetry by Emily Liu For There are Fireflies

Muggy, hot moisture seeps into your lungs and holds itself there, as if a spellbound stranger until the sun hails goodnight and departs, ever busy, for the other side of this flushed Earth, taking the hot and the wet with it. You sigh and lean your head back. To your left, a lightning bug flares at you – a burst of cold light that you could not find at home. You are fascinated. They do not flash where you come from, west of the Rockies, because there is still not enough hot and not enough wet to sustain them. You know, now, that home means no sustenance and a dim, red light and here means fuel, here means bright green light go: yes, this nature. Yes, this heat. Yes, this moisture. Is it this, the one spark that makes all the difference? From coast to coast, we are all the same, hearts captured with light; and yet the same creatures are either ignored or adored, all on account of a touch of luminescence on their soft, drab-colored bodies. So look well, while you can, and maybe you will miss home a little less, for (despite this hot, this

Poetry by Sonia Raghuram Absolution The sun turns red as night creeps closer; The darkness lives within her now. Her conscience was the sole composer, Wrought with chains that weigh her down. She carries with her a great burden – A sacrifice she had to make; Unforgivable, for certain, Forced to live with her mistake. She keeps her secret locked up, hidden ‘Cause they can’t know what she had done. Her lapse of reason, known forbidden – She knows that from it she can never run. So she lay there, with eyes of glass Absolved, of all her sins at last.

wet) there are fireflies.

Poetry by John Caust The Farmer Though indifferent to printed words, And without lessons from the rose, The youngest are also oldest, Conjuring dreams not of this world. What thoughts the supposed best, Of Plato and Aristotle Could beget with minds Still connected to the Farmer. He who sows the fields every spring, With hopes of gains and a first success, Plants more and more seeds with too weary hands But knows none will survive the arid lands.


Yac 2013 fall newsletter