V. Beating Summer Melt Helping students reach their first day of college
had th again w T “The G to the leave moment ultimately how in the hopes o our coming of perfect time to Our cam school year — a new age of e captures in his There are education syst new generatio Srinivasan and ucation system skills. Also po staff writer G prices for priv Change c In our cover s Ablaza and Be trict officials a generation stu to the watersh their first day Of cours some things l ers Anna Lu of love in the Than Blood.” Summer expect, contin the year is ove ates, as shown Natalie Maem — we are so Paly commun we have in sto team for creat high bar for o
— Danielle 2
From the Editors
Traditions amid change
had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” These words from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel “The Great Gatsby” epitomize the shiftings from the chilly to the warmer months — these changes signify how we leave moments behind and prepare for the new school year, and ultimately how we try to change ourselves and our environment in the hopes of a better tomorrow. As teenagers in the throes of our coming of age adventures, summer serves as a temporary but perfect time to revise our journeys and look towards the future. Our campus is already precipitating the arrival of a fresh school year — the opening of the Performing Arts Center signals a new age of entertainment at Paly, as staff writer William Dougall captures in his photo essay “PAC-ing a Punch.” There are other signs of change in the air, especially as our education system changes to meet the demands and pitfalls of a new generation. In “Rethinking Reform,” staff writers Siddarth Srinivasan and James Wang discuss the merits of revamping an education system that values test scores and memorization over life skills. Also pointing out an issue in the current education system, staff writer Gabriel Sanchez writes about the injustice of rising prices for private colleges in “Prosperous Privilege.” Change can often make all the difference in a person’s life. In our cover story this issue, “Summer Melt,” staff writers Esme Ablaza and Bethany Wong analyze how students, parents and district officials are working to make sure that low-income and firstgeneration students have a smooth transition from high school to the watershed moment that is college and ultimately make it to their first day of college. Of course, however, we will return from break and see that some things largely did not, and might never, change. Staff writers Anna Lu and Deepali Sastry take a look at the classic bonds of love in the Valentine family in “A Heart Connection is Deeper Than Blood.” Summer is both a testament to change and, more than we expect, continuity. Throughout each year, Paly students work until the year is over and an integral part of the Paly community graduates, as shown in our senior section by staff writers Emilie Ma and Natalie Maemura. The same trend goes for Verde’s new leadership — we are so excited to be able to produce this magazine for the Paly community and beyond, and we can’t wait for you to see what we have in store. Finally, we want to thank the 2015-2016 Verde team for creating a fantastic volume of Verde that has set a very high bar for our work. — Danielle, Tara & Alicia
Editors-in-Chief Danielle Macuil Tara Madhav Alicia Mies Managing Editors Josh Code Joelle Dong
Design and Digital Editor Laura Sieh Features and Profiles Editor Madhumita Gupta Perspectives Editor Alia Cuadros-Contreras Culture Editor Gabriel Sànchez Launch Editors Emma Cockerell Frances Zhuang News Editors Stephanie Lee Michelle Li Business Managers Irene Choi Deepali Sastry Art Director Karina Chan Photo Director William Dougall Staff Writers Esmé Ablaza Kai Gallagher Amira Garewal Emma Goldsmith Anna Lu Emilie Ma Natalie Maemura Anna Nakai Sophie Nakai Elana Rebitzer Gabriela Rossner Siddharth Srinivasan James Wang Bethany Wong Roy Zawadzki Adviser Paul Kandell
@VERDEMAGAZINE Information Publication Policy Verde, a feature magazine published by the students in Palo Alto High School’s Magazine Journalism class, is a designated open forum for student expression and the discussion of issues of concern to its readership. Verde is distributed to its readers and the student body at no cost. Letters to the Editors The staff welcomes letters to the editors but reserves the right to edit all submissions for length, grammar, potential libel, invasion of privacy and obscenity. Send all letters to veics-1516@ googlegroups.com or to 50 Embarcadero Road Palo Alto, CA 94301. All Verde stories are posted online and available for commenting at http://verdemagazine.com Advertising The staff publishes advertisements with signed contracts providing they are not deemed by the staff inappropriate for the magazine’s audience. For more information about advertising with Verde, please contact the Verde business managers Emma Goldsmith and Natalie Maemura through our adviser at 650-329-3837 for more information. Printing & Distribution Verde is printed five times a year in October, November, February, April and May, by Folger Graphics in Hayward, California. The Paly PTSA mails Verde to every student’s home. All Verde work is available at http://verdemagazine.com
May 2016 Volume 17 Issue 5
Inside 8 Launch 13 News
Features 19 22 26 28 31
Alternative Education Summer Melt A New Minimum Wage Sleep Experiments Eastern Medicine
Profiles 33 34 37 38 40 41
Foster Brothers Valentines Latinos Unidos Post Office Peter Willits Rabbi Maimon
44 46 48 50 52 55 56 58 59 60
Performing Arts Center Bay Area TV Shows Old Architecture Dog Parks Chinese Food Thrift Stores Book Review Family-Owned Businesses Time Capsule Senior Section
Perspectives 63 64 65 66 69 70
KPOP Stigma College Tuition Hope in the Pope Extremist Politics Growing Up Rossner Report
On the cover
The story of a who pioneered adoption
A new additio club spher teach a
When summer melt occurs, first-generation and/or low-income students are not able to make it to the college they were accepted to because they do not have adequate support from their high schools or various preparatory programs. Although many Paly students matriculate, a minority of students may undergo summer melt because of financial limitations and lack of support. In this issue’s cover story, staff writers Esmé Ablaza and Bethany Wong detail Paly’s efforts to help students reach their first day of college. Photo by William Dougall.
Staff write Wong’s fear ing college coming per
55 SENIOR SECTION
Paly seniors look back on four years of friends and fun
Stigma Tuition n the Pope st Politics g Up r Report
e students are e they do not ory programs. may undergo In this issue’s aly’s efforts to ougall.
MEET THE VALENTINES
The story of a Paly family who pioneered transracial adoptions in the U.S.
A new addition to Paly’s club sphere aims to teach about faith
Staff writer Bethany Wong’s fears of entering college and overcoming perfectionism
Addressing the issue of raising minimum wage in Palo Alto
The benefits of sleep experiments for both researchers and students
Places to “pop some tags” in Palo Alto and San Francisco
d facilitate important the social-emotional student body. Verde tion to rethink some ory system and take boost inclusion, ensity across the entire
EDITORIALS ADVISORY TIME SHOULD BE IMPROVED AND UTILIZED IN ORDER TO BECOME A BETTER RESOURCE FOR STUDENTS Many schools do not have the same type of four-year Advisory system that Palo Alto High School offers. As grateful as Verde is to have a unique Advisory opportunity in high school, we believe that the system can be improved by addressing social-emotional issues through a discussion-based platform instead of through standardized presentations, and through shifting the student body’s attitude toward advisory by changing the Advisory schedule and creating more opportunities for teacher advisors to get to know their advisory classes. A key example of the importance of Advisory lies in the many discussions of social-emotional issues, such as mental health and bullying, that take place during advisory. Yet these discussions, usually in the form of a standardized powerpoint presentation mandated by the Department of Justice, rarely motivate students to actively participate in a dialogue and create change on campus. In addition to or instead of these standardized presentations, discussion-based advisories could create a more impactful experience and positively change Paly’s culture. Especially with the end of the DOJ mandate, new methods of teaching such issues could be explored. Regularity is also needed for Advisory to be legitimized in the eyes of the student body. If Advisory became a more frequent part of students’ schedules, then the attitude toward it would shift from one of annoyance at having to attend every few weeks to one of acceptance. Having Advisory more often would also lead to more in depth, timely guidance through the college process, which would in turn make students more willing to attend and view the class as a valuable source of information. The less accustomed students are to attending Advisory, the less willing they will be to use advisory’s resources when the administration wants them to. 6
In previous years, sophomores spent a day in their Advisory groups playing games and getting to know one another. However, due to complications, the bonding day was cancelled last year. Incorporating a more feasible group activity to replace the former bonding day and ensuring that each student gets called into individual advisory meetings at least twice a year would facilitate the connection between students and advisors, allowing students to be more comfortable turning to
advisory as a support mechanism. Also, TAs write letters of recommendation, so increased exposure to their advisees would make letters more personalized and easier to write. This would also result in better letters. We do, however, commend the administration for adding the new sophomore tutorial check-in, which will allow adisors to have a short, weekly bonding time with their advisees. Advisory is a prime opportunity for the administration to increase overall stu-
I am aquainted with everyone in my advisory!
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Art by Karina Chan
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Art by Vivian Nguyen
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DISTRICT TAKES STRIDES TO ACCOMMODATE NON-BINARY STUDENTS Verde commends the Palo Alto High School administration for being a step ahead regarding inclusiveness of students of all genders. The first stride towards inclusiveness came in the form of gender -neutral bathrooms, which were installed in the Media Arts Center last year in Nov. and precipitated the Obama administration’s decree on May 12 allowing transgender students nationally to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. The administration has taken another important step by making all Paly graduation gowns green, meaning students are not forced to identify themselves as a gender with which they do not feel comfort-
able. In no situation can the mere color of our school’s graduation gown be more important than the safety and comfort of our students. We applaud the administration for taking the initiative to make graduation inclusive for every student, regardless of backlash. While we hope that the student body can be accepting of such a change for the sake of being inclusive, we would also like to address some of the concerns expressed on the issue of the gown color change and outline some alternative approaches to appease all students. First, some seniors felt like the administration did not announce the decision to change the graduation
gowns early enough or at all, which may have upset those who had already picked their dresses to match their gowns. Students were also concerned because one color seems less visually appealing than having both white and green gowns in pictures. In the future, the administration could randomly assign gown color to ensure that no one would have to pick their color based on gender. While all of these concerns may be valid and the prior suggestion could be implemented next year, the graduation gown color change is something that should be celebrated as Paly’s step towards greater inclusivity in its student body.
MORE SEATING NEEDED ON CAMPUS TO IMPROVE STUDENT COMMUNITY Spring is a season of great change — the foliage regrows after a season-long winter hiatus, the sun emerges from behind El Niño-driven clouds, and the signature warm California days go into full effect. But there is also a darker shift, one immediately visible upon any wayward glance at the quad: a distinct lack of seating. Once, in a bygone era, colorful quad chairs adorned the grass, offering a fashionable seat to all who might seek one. But now these chairs are long gone to the landfill, and students must embark on various journeys if they are to find new places of rest. It is high time that the campus’s seating be replenished and quad life blossom back into its former splendor, for the good of
not only the comfort of the students but also the diversity of the quad community. Although we already have picnic tables scattered throughout our campus, the number of students who must grit their teeth and persevere through a grounded mealtime experience suggests that we need more. The past popularity of even the
Art by Karina Chan
flimsy lawn chairs shows that the demand is present for new seating. The solution is clear — the Paly campus needs more seating, in any form possible. Ideally, the new seating would be mobile, like the old lawn chairs and include picnic tables as well. This would allow them to be rearranged for any number of configurations and allow people to sit with new people in new places whenever they please. The result would be a more bonded and relaxed campus, with less of a hectic rush during lunch and preps to get to the most desirable seating. The difference seems small, but the cumulative effect on the student body’s diversity could be a far-reaching one for all. 7
Compiled by EMMA COCKERELL and FRANCES ZHUANG
Photography and reporting by MICHELLE LI
Verde: What are your plans next year as Junior Class VP?
“I really want to encourage school unity. So I want to have class bonding and be able to encourage more attendance at dances and do more rallies and also make everyone feel included by doing disability, gender, and climate awareness days. [I want to] have a great year at Paly!”
— Marissa Ludwig, incoming junior class vice president
SATIRICAL SUMMER DESTINATIONS Chernobyl
It’s tanning season and who needs sun rays when you can have gamma rays! Enjoy the endless supply of radiation at Chernobyl and the one-of-a-kind flora and fauna at this year’s rad-est summer vacation destination.
Text by JAMES WANG
Enlist in the Army
Crossfit is falling out of fashion. Get the body you’ve always wanted in this all-expenses-paid getaway to a scenic military base in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Breakfast included.
Avant Garde Dance Festival
For a small fee of $1 million, bask in the glory of the trendiest and most confusing art form around. Just make sure to bring your camera so your Instagram and VSCO followers can see how cultured you are.
WHICH ACTIVITIES OR DESTINATIONS ARE ON
I [will] not become a recluse like last summer.”
— freshman Paloma Mitra
Travel to Antarctica and live with the penguins.”
— sophomore Saurin Holdheim
(left) I feel so pressured right now.”
— sophomore Xander Sherer
Blueberries summer. Thi a quintessen luck. To top of an oven, s as you prepa
reporting by MICHELLE LI
o have ndance ne feel areness
FINALS STUDY KIT Tech Troubles:
Everyone knows how potent the forces of Facebook and Snapchat can be. What starts as a 5-minute study break can often become an hourlong Netflix binge. To prevent this, a company created an app named Forest, which touts itself as “the best cure for phone addiction.” The idea is simple: set a timer for however long you want to stay focused, and the app plants a virtual tree. If you exit the app, the tree dies, which coerces users to stay focused. Source: Buzzfeed “17 essential hacks all students should know”
Text by EMMA COCKERELL
FINALS SCHEDULE: Tuesday
8:15 - 10:15 1st 10:15 - 10:40 Brunch 10:45 - 12:45 3rd 12:45 - 1:20 Lunch 1:25 - 3:25 7th
9:15 - 11:15 2nd 11:15 - 11:55 Lunch 12:00 - 2:00 4th
9:15 - 11:15 5th 11:15 - 11:55 Lunch 12:00 - 2:00 6th
1. Create a study calendar 2. Exercise and eat three meals a day 3. Study in groups, but avoid getting carried away chatting with friends! 4. Get enough sleep 5. Relax! Remember that grades aren’t everything.
STAY COOL WITH THIS FREEZER PIE
Text by MES WANG
Blueberries and cold desserts scream the arrival of summer. This easy pie captures the best of both for a quintessential addition to the next picnic or potluck. To top it off, the recipe doesn’t require the use of an oven, so you can stay cool and brave the heat as you prepare it. Makes one 9 inch pie.
ways wanted e in Fayette-
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more Saurin Holdheim
(left) red right now.”
more Xander Sherer (right)
Recipe adapted from Bethany’s grandmother
Text by BETHANY WONG Photography by WILLIAM DOUGALL
Filling: Using a mixer, combine one third of a cup of sugar, six ounces of cream cheese, one half of a teaspoon of vanilla extract, and one half of a teaspoon of lemon zest. Beat together until mixture is stiff. Whip six ounces of heavy whipping cream until it stands up in soft peaks, and then gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Assembly: Spread filling evenly over 1 premade graham cracker crust. Spread 7 oz store-bought blueberry pie filling over crust. Cover with plastic wrap and place in freezer. Freeze for 2 hours, cut with a sharp knife and serve. Alternately, the pie can be made in advance, frozen and thawed in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
YOUR SUMMER BUCKET LIST FOR THIS YEAR?
Definitely a road trip across the country with all of my friends.”
— junior Celia Morell
Paintball’s a really big one … [also] just randomly show up to a friend’s house and have a water balloon fight”
— senior Dami Bolarinwa 9 9
BEST BRUNCH SPOTS
Text and Photography by ANNA LU
Verde reviewed brunch spots around Palo Alto, and here is the verdict: Bill’s Cafe
Palo Alto Breakfast House
Rating: Address: 2706 Middlefield Rd Palo Alto Breakfast House is a no-fuss diner — the portions are large and the dishes are packed with flavor. The menu is true to the brunch classics, covering a full range of dishes from eggs benedicts and omelettes to salads and sandwiches. While each plate is not beautifully decorated, what it lacks in quality of presentation is more than made up for by the sheer quantity of food given. Like the plating there, the walls at this diner are bare, but the friendly service makes up for any loneliness that might result from the unembellished ambiance. For those who are seriously hungry and expect their brunch to live up to its namesake, Palo Alto Breakfast House is everything brunch should be — two meals for the price of one.
Rating: Address: 3163 Middlefield Rd Perched on the most hipster corner of Midtown, adjacent to Philz Coffee, Bill’s Cafe features dishes that are arranged almost as beautifully as its ambiance is furnished, complete with cozy patio seating shaded by its foliage. Bill’s Cafe is the quintessential Sunday-brunch spot — it is relaxing but unassuming, as even the vintage overhang that features its name is hidden behind the trees. A popular option for weekend brunch, the outdoor seating is busy and usually requires a 20-minute wait, which is likely a result of the relaxing environment where patrons spend more time gossiping than eating. True to its diner-style ambiance, the menu is filled with brunch classics (such as eggs benedict and omelettes) and the portions are extremely generous — most dishes are served with hashbrowns larger than the meal itself.
LOCAL COLLOQUIALISMS Social media has allowed teens to homogenize their language, creating a common culture around communication. For example, here in Palo Alto, you might see two close friends walk up to each other, exchange a “suh, dude,” proceed to “dab” furiously, and when one bro’s dab inevitably falls below standard, the other bro might spit some fire with a top-notch “ym” diss. That all sounds fun, but what do all of these phrases even mean? Have no fear — Verde is here to solve your communication conundrums!
1. “Dabbing”: a drug thing, or a dance move popularized by the song “Lean and Dab” by iheartmemphis. (See the picture to the right for an example). 2. “Suh, dude”: this is derived from the phrase, “sup, dude?” which itself is derived from, “what’s up, dude?” All three can be used as casual greetings. 3. “ym”: an acronym for the phrase, “your mom” and can be used as an insult.
Text and Photography by GABRIEL SANCHEZ
MONTARA BEACH Five minutes south of Pacifica is another lesser known beach, Montara. This beach is generally less populated than Pacifica, but suffers from the same temperamental weather. It lacks the attraction of a famous fast food restaurant but makes up for that deficiency with a greater degree of privacy.
PACIFICA Located just south of San Francisco, Pacifica is a beautiful and quaint beachside town. Its beach is well kept and has the advantage of being near downtown. The weather can be temperamental yet the beach is usually well populated on weekends and holidays. If you find yourself wanting cheap Mexican food and a great view, you can dine at what has come to be known as “the most scenic Taco Bell in the world,” located at 5200 Coast Hwy right off of the beach.
TUNITAS CREEK BEACH Tunitas Creek Beach is a bit odd — the beach is hidden off of Highway 1, unlike most beaches in the area. You must travel down Tunitas Creek Road to reach it, which adds to this beach’s seclusion. Once parked, you must embark on a onemile hike to reach the locale, but the destination is worth the trek. The beach is sparsely populated and has incredible views of the sea-side cliffs. The area is quite removed, but the seclusion is what makes this beach unique.
Text by IRENE CHOI and ROY ZAWADZKI Additional memeing by FRANCES ZHUANG
4. “Rekt”: a shortened version of the word “wrecked.” The word became popular when gamers used it after destroying their opponents, and is now delivered after a sick burn. 5. “Swoop”: to take or steal, usually without permission. 6. “Dank”: Usually means unpleasantly damp, but can be used to mean “good,”due to the positive connotations acquired during its immersion in marijuana culture.
Art by VIVIAN NGUYEN
Palo Alto pleted Perform soft openings 2015-2016 sc in early May. After alm in the Hayma ing arts progra art, 570–seat t “The tech not been upd leen Woods sa accommodate grams and the campus neede size of our pro students.” The theat 12
| NEWS DECEMBER 2015
ADMIRING Palo Alto High School’s Stage Tech class tours the completed Performing Arts Center. Photo by William Dougall.
PAC lifts curtain on new era Palo Alto High School’s recently completed Performing Arts Center is debuting soft openings throughout the rest of the 2015-2016 school year after its completion in early May. After almost 100 years of performing in the Haymarket theater, Paly’s performing arts programs are receving a state of the art, 570–seat theater. “The technology in the Haymarket has not been updated,” theater teacher Kathleen Woods said. “It is not big enough to accommodate the size and needs of the programs and the district understood that the campus needed a building that matches the size of our programs and the talents of our students.” The theater has a mechanized orches-
tra pit, a mechanized trap room beneath the stage, and Meyer’s electronic acoustic system which allow the building to be tuned to what performances require. With the electronic tuning system, the PAC can be transformed in seconds. Paly’s theater progam, choirs, bands, and orchestra will hold their end of year performances in the PAC as part of the building’s “soft opening.” “Really we’re just trying to get the seniors an opportunity to perform in there,” said Jerry Berkson, assistant principal of operations. “It’s not 100 percent finished, but it’s finished enough to give it a go. It’s pretty cool. No problems so far. We have really good support. Things might come up, that’s just one more reason we’re doing
a soft opening. ” On Oct. 1, there will be an opening gala that all students are invited to attend. This will mark the opening of the new facility and the celebration of students’ talents. “I’m excited for the students to have the opportunity to work in a really beautiful, fantastic space that will allow their talents to shine,” Woods said. “It will allow them to learn a lot of skills in addition to the ones they were already learning and for the community to come in and just be in this beautiful space where they will be able to enjoy all kinds of performances,” Woods added. BY JOELLE DONG AND SOPHIE NAKAI 13
NEWS School to launch One-to-One Initiative
FOCUSED Sophomores Emma Villareal (left) and Isabella Marcus (right) type on the classroom set of Chromebooks in their English class. Photo by Amira Garewal.
Palo Alto High School’s administration plans to implement a new program regarding school electronics at the beginning of the 2016–2017 school year. The new program called One to One Initiative will encourage students to bring their own computers to school and provide Chromebooks to students who do not have have access to a personal laptop, according to the Adam Paulson, assistant principal of teaching and learning. The program will start with 10th and 11th grades, and expand through the next few years. He plans for the program to reach the entire student body within three years. “Our goal for next year is to for every student in 10th and 11th grade to have a device,” Paulson said. Because a wider variety of computers is likely to cause an increased demand for tech support, the administration has planned
new additions to the school to compensate for these demands. “We plan on having a tech genius bar in the library so students and staff can come with issues to get those fixed,” Paulson said. Other additions include lock-andcharge stations, safe places for students to charge their laptops during the school day. Computer science teacher Christopher Kuszmaul looks to take advantage of this step forward, as it would increase the flexibility to hold classes in a different way. The overall One to One Initiative will benefit the Paly community since it will help give equal opportunities by providing computers for all students. “I think it gives students the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to do responsible, productive things in exchange for getting more freedom,” Kuszmaul said. BY AMIRA GAREWAL
Political Identities at Paly
Student political views vary before primary BY STEPHANIE LEE AND FRANCES ZHUANG 14
Khan Academy founder to speak at Baccalaureate Khan Academy founder will speak at Baccalaureate at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 29, three days before graduation at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts in De Anza College in Cupertino. The event serves to allow the members of the graduating class of 2016 the opportunity to reflect on their past high school years and look forward to the future with the help of motivational speeches and musical performances. Senior class president Eli Friedlander organized Baccalaureate and its speaker lineup. Like previous Baccalaureates, the event will include speeches from Principal Diorio and the senior class president. Along with the traditional Concert Choir performance, seniors auditioned to speak or perform at the event. According to Friedlander, the only difference this year besides a new class is special guest speaker, Salman “Sal” Khan, founder of online education service Khan Academy. “[Khan] lives in the area … and he was kind enough to accept our invitation to speak at baccalaureate,” Friedlander said. “Having Sal Khan speak is definitely special, and I’m very excited for his speech.” BY DEEPALI SASTRY
Paly’s Candidate Choices
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The student poll results collected for this issue are from a survey administered in Palo Alto High School English classes over the course of several days in May 2016. Eight English classes were randomly selected and 147 responses were collected. The surveys were completed online and the responses were anonymous.
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nt poll results collected issue are from a survey tered in Palo Alto High English classes over the e of several days in May 6. Eight English classes randomly selected and esponses were collected. surveys were completed and the responses were anonymous.
NEWS NEWS NEWS Enrollment growth vexes Board of Education The Palo Alto Unified School Board Vice President Terry Godfrey. “Right now is considering possible long we have more students in and short term solutions middle school than usual. for the issue of overcrowded Those students will be movclasses in the school district ing on to high school over the at various meetings during next couple of years. The bad the course of the next few news is that the classes have months. been too big.” One of the main issue On Tues. May 10, the which will be discussed is school board agreed upon the large class sizes in middle hiring a greater number of schools, which have grown full-time teachers in order significantly in the last few School board member to decrease class sizes for the years due to over enrollment Terry Godfrey speaks 2016-17 school year. The against over–enrollin the school district. school board will hire about “In our secondary ment. Photo: Terry three or four teachers for schools, we have what we call Godfrey. the high schools and middle a bubble, which is a couple schools. of grades that have more students than According to Godfrey, the school other grades,” said PAUSD School Board board still has to further discuss and vote
upon the possibility of building a new elementary or middle school. However, at the school board’s meeting on Tues. April 19, board member Ken Dauber was the only one who supported building a new elementary school. He believes that having small elementary schools is more important than small classrooms in middle schools and high schools. On the other hand, the majority of board members believe that PAUSD should continue to focus on more pressing issues such as the over enrollment in middle schools. Regardless, the School Board will meet and discuss the possibility of building a new elementary or middle school in the next few months. BY ALIA CUADROS-CONTRERAS
School board to staff social-emotional learning comittee The newly formed Social Emotional Learning Committee is holding its first meeting on June 8, and will be discussing its goals for the upcoming 2016-2017 school year. Palo Alto Unified School District Superintendent Max McGee initially proposed the creation of the Committee to streamline the Social Emotional Curriculum currently implemented across Palo Alto schools and to create the best program possible for students. Currently, all the schools in PAUSD have different curriculums concerning social-emotional learning, which makes it difficult for students to adapt to new curriculums from school to school. “We [school board members] wanted to accommodate for kids who do go through the whole district and need to know
what to expect going into new schools,” board member Ken Dauber says. The current system also makes it challenging for the school board and administrators to measure how effective each socialemotional curriculum is. The committee’s job will be to come up with recommendations that will create changes across the district. While the Board of Education will not directly take charge of the meetings, the members of the school board will be able to join meetings. The committee’s meeting dates and locations are posted on the PAUSD website, and members of the public are free to join. BY IRENE CHOI
Who would you support? “I think that in an ideal world Sanders would be the best choice. ... I wouldn’t vote for Trump. ... he is a dangerous man whose politics and campaign is entirely fueled by age-old bigotry. ... Given a choice between Clinton and Trump, I would vote for Clinton by default because she is the lesser of two evils.” — Maddie Lee, sophomore
“I think that none of the current candidates are qualified. … Trump has zero political experience and is a hateful demagogue. … Sanders is too unrealistic and extreme. … Clinton is a dirty politician who has a terrible resume from her time as Secretary of State. ... I am hoping for a third party conservative to announce themselves.” — Owen Dulik, senior
NEWS | OCTOBER 2015
Palo Alto implements neighborhood parking restrictions The City of Palo Alto recently expanded the parking permit program of downtown Palo Alto to the Evergreen Park, Southgate, and Crescent park neighborhoods due to protests in these neighborhoods. Palo Alto Assemblyman Tom DuBois helped lead the way for this new legislation. “In downtown, neighborhoods blocks away from office buildings have seen parking increase to the point where their street is 100 percent parked from early morning until evening,” DuBois said. “People are afraid to leave and not be able to park when they come home. And having people visit or a repairman stop by is difficult.”
This new legislation comes after the first implementation of the Residential Preferred Parking program that was first instituted in the fall of 2015. According to DuBois, the expansion is part of an ongoing process to refine the system and find a good balance. “Many streets are seeing big improvement but more tweaking needs to be done… we need to continue to monitor and adjust the number and location of permits sold” Dubois said. The newest legislation plans to reduced the number of parking permits available to 2000 and has set this number to decrease by 10 percent every year.
ASB prepares for coming school year
ASB Vice President Amnol Nagar works with the rest of ASB to prepare for the upcoming school year. Photo: Timothy Liu. The Associated Student Body at Palo Alto High School is preparing for the 2016-2017 school year. ASB Vice President Anmol Nagar, a junior who will take the role of ASB president this fall, says that the officers for the 2016-2017 school years met for the first time on May 20 to discuss the new year. According to Nagar, the new team discussed student feedback in order to guide decisions about the coming year. During the meeting, ASB discussed overarching goals and inspirations for the year, in addition to briefing members about commitments and expectations for the class. “I love the team we have this year and I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish,” Nagar says. BY LAURA SIEH 16
The city’s newest parking permit programs in the Southgate and Evergreen neighborhoods will start next year. This is aimed at stopping Palo Alto High School students from parking in the area. “With narrow streets, the parking saturation creates big headaches for the neighborhood,” DuBois said. “The city will be rolling out a parking permit program for Southgate and Evergreen park together within a year.” While this will reduce the number of locales where students may park, this change will ease the concerns of the residents in the area. BY GABRIEL SANCHEZ
Bridge Club to attend nationals
Bridge team members (from left to right) Claire Duffie, Olivia d’Arezzo, Cornelius Duffie and Sarah Youngquist pose at Annual Bay Area High School Bridge Championship. Photo by Bo Xiao. The Palo Alto High School bridge team is flying to Washington D.C. to compete in the North American Bridge Championships from July 27 to July 30. The club is sponsored by Paly math teacher Arne Lim and meets every Tuesday at lunch. Current members include Stella Wan, Olivia D’Arezzo, and Cornelius Duffie. Previously, the team has placed second at 2nd Annual Bay Area High School Bridge Championship, according to d’Arezzo. Many team members, including Wan, were encouraged by their peers to join and learned the game through the Silicon Valley Youth Bridge. The Silicon Valley Youth Bridge, which is non-profit organization with the goal of educating the next generation of bridge players, is where most members honed their bridge skills. The SiVy is hosting “How to Learn Bridge in a day” from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on June 18. BY EMMA GOLDSMITH
g permit prond Evergreen t year. This is High School area. the parking aches for the â€œThe city will rmit program park together
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FEATURES | MAY 2016
A STU REPAI EDUC
Text by JAMES Photography b Art by KARIN
The student poll High School Eng classes were rand pleted online, and the questions rela
A STUDENT PERSPECTIVE ON REPAIRING AN OUTDATED EDUCATION SYSTEM
Text by JAMES WANG and SIDDHARTH SRINIVASAN Photography by SIDDHARTH SRINIVASAN Art by KARINA CHAN
The student poll results collected for this issue are from a survey administered in Palo Alto High School English classes over the course of several days in May 2016. Eight English classes were randomly selected, and 138 responses were collected. The surveys were completed online, and responses were anonymous. With 95 percent confidence, the results for the questions related to this story are accurate within a margin of error of 7.81 percent.
FEATURES | MAY 2016
E ALL REMEMBER learning cursive in elementary school. For hours on end, we would take painstaking care to scribe elegant, albeit mostly illegible, cursive forms on our worksheets, as we were told that it would be an indispensable skill for the rest of our lives. We also remember when we were assigned our first typed essay in middle school, and the ensuing realization that computers have rendered cursive writing redundant. Today, essays are usually typed, and the only time we ever use cursive is to sign standardized tests. Learning cursive in common curriculum, though relatively benign, it is symbolic of a greater issue affecting the Palo Alto Unified School District and the nation as whole. As it stands, common curriculum is outdated and stands no chance of keeping up with the innovations of the 21st century. The last major piece of education reform, No Child Left Behind enacted by President George Bush in 2002, started a national craze over standardized testing and restricted schools to focus on fundamental math and literacy skills, technological advances have ushered the world into a new era. These advances bring decades of knowledge to students’ fingertips and make rote memorization even less applicable. Although the sheer size of the modern education system means that systemic change may come slow, students, educators and employers alike are beginning to rally together to call for a new wave of education reform. The Need for Reform Palo Alto High School may appear to be the gold standard for public school education, literally boasting a “gold” rating from the US News and World Report, however, statistics show that Paly students do not feel prepared to face any challenges that may come their way in the working world. In a Verde survey conducted with a random sample of 138 Paly students in May 2016, 74 percent of students say that they do not frequently apply what they learn in school to their day to day life and 75 percent of students surveyed say that their high school education has not prepared them for getting a job. Furthermore, a whopping 80 percent of students surveyed say that they would favor a curriculum change to focus 19
FEATURES | MAY 2016 less on traditional testing. Bernie Trilling, CEO of 21st Century Learning Advisors, author and Paly parent, has been a long time advocate for education reform. According to Trilling, the statistics gathered at Paly are not uncommon. Around the world, traditional education systems are making students bored, unhappy and unprepared for the workplace — pushing the unemployment rate for young adults to unprecedented heights. “The statistics are astounding,” Trilling says. “The employers aren’t seeing the skills they need and students aren’t getting jobs because they don’t have the skills that are needed now.” The motivation for education reform extends beyond the employability of students. In January, a coalition of colleges led by the Harvard School of Education wrote “Turning the Tide,” a report advocating for meaningful ethical and intellectual engagement in college admissions instead of applications chalked full of Advanced Placement classes and standardized test scores. According to the report, “[students’] concern for others is often drowned out by the power and frequency of messages from parents and the larger culture emphasizing individual achievement.” To address this issue, the coalition suggests that students steer clear
of traditional measures of academic success and reduce their fixation on test scores and AP courses. The status quo is outdated and there is a call for a shift to a new education model that encourages deep intellectual and personal involvement. The question isn’t whether education reform will happen, but how it will be implemented. Reform in Action Kim Saxe, a Paly class of 1974 alumna and the current director of Nueva High School’s Innovation Lab and entrepreneurship program, is one of the California’s most successful advocates for education reform. Since Nueva High School was launched in 2013, it has become the Bay Area’s flagship alternative education program, boasting unique curricula ranging from steel drumming to the economics of environmental policy. However, perhaps the most notable aspect of Nueva is its student body’s culture of intellectual curiosity. By integrating alternative education techniques such as project based learning and design thinking throughout its standard curricula, and by encouraging collaboration among both students and teaching staff, Nueva has become a proving point for education reform. According to Saxe, the primary goal
of Nueva is not preparation for college admissions or scoring well on standardized tests, but to foster curiosity. “I think having students do less, but at a much deeper level of involvement with more perspectives, is one of the most important things.,” Saxe says. “Working with others is also absolutely critical. That was less so when jobs were discrete pieces, but now you’re expected to be a collaborator/ You’re expected to form and maintain a network and have the synergies of multiple people working together.” Nueva aims to achieve deep thinking by continuing to integrate project based learning in its curricula. It aims to not only teach content, but also application and problem solving. According to Trilling, knowing how to apply knowledge and learning how to learn, a skill he has coined as “meta-learning,” are the skills most essential to students today. In a network of 10 schools that Trilling studied over five years, he found that the factor common to the schools that best promoted applied knowledge and meta learning was an emphasis on project based learning and
of Paly students surveyed do not frequently apply what they learn in school to their day-to-day lives.
of Paly students say that their education has not prepared them for a job.
Paly Education: By the Numbers
80% REFORM FORCES Students’ dissatisfaction toward their education is pushing reform forward. 20 20
of Paly students would favor a curriculum change to focus less on testing.
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BREWS Nueva High School junior Danny Aguiar presents his project, The Full Monty, a home-brewed hard apple cider at Nueva’s annual Quest Project expo. All Nueva students make and present a project for the annual event. public presentations of findings. “It [Their curricula] was all project based and students presented their work to the public,” Trilling says. “That turned out to be extremely important for motivation, getting the community involved, and getting experts involved to help the kids learn. It opened up education to a much broader world than just the classroom.” Although the value of project based learning has been repeatedly proven in alternative education programs, Saxe indicates there is considerable resistance from parents who are concerned that project based learning comes at the expense of college admissions. She hopes to change this mindset. “Parents want what is best for their kids, definitely,” Saxe says. “But they’re not always fully appreciating of how much the world has changed. So they’re preparing their students for what they have went through, not necessarily preparing for the future. I’m really trying to wake parents up to how different it is now.” Looking Towards the Future Today, like many schools across the
INTEGRATION Paly alumna Kim Saxe, now director of the Innovation Lab at Nueva High School, describes her work in integrating design thinking, project based learning, and entreprenuership into high school curricula.
nation, Paly lags behind the needs of students, colleges and society. However, the Palo Alto Unified School district is making strides toward modernizing curricula and fostering internal motivation for learning among students. Today, alternative education programs like Advanced Authentic Research, blended learning and Paly’s alternative English pathways may just be a taste of much greater reform in the district’s future. Since Supt. Max McGee joined PAUSD in 2014, the unifying theme of alternative education programs in the district has been “preparing students for careers that don’t exist yet.” McGee hopes that expanding programs like AAR, which has grown from 11 to 245 students in a little over a year, will motivate students to learn applicable skills and reduce focus on academic achievement. “My message is that you’re here to learn, not just to get a high GPA and stack up AP courses,” McGee says. “You learn by exploring something that is of great interest to you, you learn by making mistakes, you learn by creating a network of resources to help you solve your problem or to address a challenge.”
This summer, PAUSD will be running the Secondary School Learning Design Team over the summer for faculty to brainstorm new alternative curricula for their students. According to an official PAUSD report, this initiative aims to “encourage faculty to design non-traditional experiences that may include learning off campus and after traditional school hours, significant opportunities for student choice, and ample time for independent or small group work.” Although programs like AAR and the Secondary School Learning Design Team have made the district a progressive one in public education reform, the systemic change needed to fully meet the needs modern society is still miles away. As a school, we can’t be satisfied with just exceeding an outdated status quo, we need to continually experiment with and implement new policy until, as McGee says, “all students have access to extraordinary learning experiences, and by all students, I mean all students.” v 21
Text by ESMÉ ABLAZA and BETHANY WONG Photography by ESMÉ ABLAZA and WILLIAM DOUGALL
BEATING SUMMER MELT ENABLING THE FIRST IN OUR FAMILIES TO THRIVE
HEN YOU WALK into Palo Alto High School senior Peter Valbuena’s apartment on a weekday evening, his mother, Analiza, will offer you a pair of cushy orange house slippers with maroon gingham lining. As you enter the living room and pass windows with lime green curtains, you’ll hear Analiza and Peter’s father, Peter Sr., chatting in Tagalog about their days — Analiza works as a nurse’s assistant and Peter as a caretaker at the Vi at Palo Alto, a senior citizen residence on Sand Hill Road. Sit down on the couch 22
covered with an ivory blanket and admire the Eiffel Tower, New York City skyline and London Bridge figurines in the corner — attractions on the Valbuenas’ travel bucket list. After asking if they can get you anything to eat or drink, Valbuena’s parents will tell you about how they no longer go out to dinner, except on special occasions, because they’re saving to send Peter and his sister Patricia to college. “When he started high school, we [had] started saving already because we don’t want to rely on a grant or scholarship,” Analiza says. “Every year when we have tax refunds, we save it ... When they
were elementary graders, we used to eat out every week but [I said,] ‘It helps ... if you start cutting expenses that are not really needs.’” Peter will be the first in his family to attend college in the United States when he begins his freshman year at Whittier College in southern California this fall. Both of Peter’s parents have four-year accounting degrees from Filipino universities, but they want their children to receive American four-year college degrees. Since his family immigrated from the Philippines in 2005, Peter has shared his parents’ goal. “It’s been my motivation to go [to col-
lege in the U Peter says. “A work that they better opportu He’s well as it is an acco have successf and committe non of “summ lenges for firs like Valbuena. students who end up enrolli adequate supp or various pre the transition Nationall lege-intending from low-inco to summer m University’s St Each yea Paly students effects of sum uating class, 1 students, coul to attend colle nobori, one of However dedicated Pal trict staff mem the number o income studen day of college
Bridging the One of tiatives is cal izing Individ cess in E for Unde Preparation. ary 2014, Judy edo, PAUSD’s of academic founded RIS five-day summ camp in mid prepare high s sition to coll anonymous G gumedo and h lum that cover well-being, ac resources. RIS first-generatio students in PA
e used to eat ‘It helps ... if hat are not re-
his family to States when he Whittier Colthis fall. Both -year accountniversities, but eceive Ameriees. Since his Philippines in rents’ goal. n to go [to col-
COVER | MAY 2016 lege in the U.S.] and make them proud,” Peter says. “And make sure all their hard work that they did trying to get me all these better opportunities ... pays off.” He’s well on his way. However, as much as it is an accomplishment for a student to have successfully applied, been admitted and committed to a college, the phenomenon of “summer melt” often presents challenges for first-generation college students like Valbuena. Summer melt occurs when students who intend to go to college never end up enrolling because they do not have adequate support from their high schools or various preparatory programs to make the transition from high school to college. Nationally, 10 to 40 percent of college-intending students, especially those from low-income backgrounds, succumb to summer melt, according to Harvard University’s Strategic Data Project. Each year, a significant contingent of Paly students is at risk of experiencing the effects of summer melt. In this year’s graduating class, 10 percent, approximately 50 students, could be the first in their families to attend college, according to Sandra Cernobori, one of Paly’s college advisers. However, a variety of programs and dedicated Palo Alto Unified School District staff members are working to increase the number of first-generation and lowincome students who make it to their first day of college.
GUIDANCE (above) Judy Argumedo, the founder of RISE UP, helps rising PAUSD college freshmen stay organized and meet deadlines to transition smoothly to college. PAPERWORK (left) Analiza and Peter Valbuena look on as their son Peter reviews letters from Whittier College, the school he plans to attend in the fall.
can participate in the program each year. “We get the kids into college and then we weren’t getting them all the way there,” Argumedo says. “The better prepared you are, the easier you’re going to stay in [college].” Bridging the Gap RISE UP Junior, One of these inia one-week program tiatives is called Realfor rising seniors, will izing Individual Suc- THE BETTER PREPARED YOU debut this summer. cess in Education During the program, for Undergraduate ARE, THE EASIER YOU’RE GOmentors will engage Preparation. In Janu- ING TO STAY IN COLLEGE.” students in conversaary 2014, Judy Argum— JUDY ARGUMEDO, tions about their moedo, PAUSD’s director FOUNDER OF RISE UP tivations for going to of academic support, college, assist with apfounded RISE UP, a plication essays and five-day summer boot help students research camp in mid-June to schools that fit their individual needs. prepare high school seniors for their tranAlthough Paly and Gunn’s college adsition to college. With funding from an visers help students through the applicaanonymous Gunn High School donor, Ar- tion process, RISE UP supports them durgumedo and her team developed a curricu- ing the lag between graduation and the fall, lum that covered finances, social-emotional a time when students may need the most well-being, academic success and campus support. Oftentimes, first-generation sturesources. RISE UP extends invitations to dents who plan to attend college may not first-generation, low-income and minority be aware of the additional steps — such students in PAUSD, and up to 20 students as completing housing contracts, selecting
courses and attending orientation — that they must take after committing to college. During RISE UP’s first year, Argumedo remembers feeling worried when some students opened up their online college portals and found that they had 85 unanswered emails from colleges that they needed to address before the start of the school year. “We were very scared that this one girl wasn’t ... going to make it to college,” she says. Fortunately, that student did make it to her first day of school. Argumedo also emphasizes the social-emotional factors that can contribute to summer melt. Some of the issues arise from cultural expectations. Parents may expect their children to secure a job after high school and to help financially support the family, or they may have concerns about safety. Martha Avila-Zavala, a Paly senior and soon-to-be first-generation college student, already feels these pressures. “In the Hispanic community, letting go of your child ... is very hard, so that separation ... is definitely going to be a challenge,” Avila-Zavala says. “My mom is concerned about me being safe because 23
COVER| MAY 2016 ing students dodge summer melt. In Estrada’s case, Marcus-Bricca offered support when she had questions about course registration, meal plans and housing. Language barriers made it challenging for Estrada’s family to help her find answers, so Marcus-Bricca corresponded with Estrada during the summer. When none of Estrada’s family members could accompany her at orientation, MarcusBricca attended in their place. “To some people who have families who did come to college before them, they think my questions [about college] are ridiculous,” Estrada says. “She [MarcusBricca] is like a second mom to me, and a best friend, but most of all, I like how she always tells me no question is a stupid question ... Having her there makes it feel like I have a strong foundation.” Rise Together, with Marcus-Bricca at ACCOMPLISHMENT Senior James Cohee plans to attend De Anza College. its helm, is looking to implement a mentorship program for the Paly students she’s always been there ... [to support] financial barrier in her way.” me through everything.” Marcus-Bricca rallied Paly staff and it serves. Mentors can be any Paly staff RISE UP doesn’t just have these con- community members via a GoFundMe member that is willing to assist a student versations with students; it also communi- page that was widely shared on social me- by providing encouragement and accountability throughout the application process cates with parents. At the first parent night dia. It eventually raised over $14,000. in 2015, parents shared their worries about The outpouring of financial support and through college, according to Marcustheir children going to college. enabled Estrada to enter her first semes- Bricca. “People who are successful tend to “Every single parent there wanted the ter of college and earn a 4.0 GPA. It also best for their student, but there were fears sparked the idea behind Rise Together have at least one person in their lives who of safety, of [whether they] were ... going Education, a 501(c)3 non-profit founda- has been a constant, caring, supportive figto fit in,” Argumedo says. tion that Marcus-Bricca officially launched ure,” Marcus-Bricca says. While Rise To in July 2015. After talkgether’s mentorship The Financial Factor ing with Paly’s college program remains in its While learning to access campus re- advisers, Marcus-Bricca early stages, this year sources and addressing potential social- learned that other Paly “In the Hispanic commuPaly also offered indiemotional obstacles is influential in com- students besides Esnity, letting go of your vidualized support for batting summer melt, financial barriers trada had financial obstuhave the largest potential to derail students’ stacles preventing them child is very hard, so that first-generation dents through Crystal plans. from attending college. separation is definitely Laguna, the outreach Last May, Stephanie Estrada, a Paly “Every year, and community college graduate of 2015, was at risk of not be- there’s been roughly 30 going to be a challenge.” — senior martha zavala coordinator. During ing able to attend college due to financial students ... in the free first semester, Laguna limitations. Estrada had dealt with home- and reduced lunch proorganized a non-credit lessness and was living below the poverty gram ... [whose] par4th period class to asline. She had been admitted to San Fran- ents are barely earning cisco State University with grants and fi- enough money to even live in this area,” sist seniors as they prepared their college nancial aid, but she still needed $10,000 to Marcus-Bricca says. “There’s no way to applications. “If your family has never gone cover her first-year expenses. Estrada went raise that much money for 30 kids every to Laura Marcus-Bricca, Paly’s instructional single year [through crowdfunding cam- through the process, they’re not going to supervisor of special education, in tears. paigns], so I thought, ‘We need to make a know how to answer your questions,” Laguna says. “Having somebody else who’s “She [Estrada] was devastated,” Mar- non-profit to raise that kind of money.’” gone through the process, who’s willing to cus-Bricca says. “That [going to college] is sit down with you and help you find the everything she felt like she’d been working The Mentor Impact for this entire time only to then feel like Having a mentor plays an equally im- answer together — some of my kids [stunow she couldn’t go because she had this portant role as financial resources in help- dents], I’ve done that for them.”
Coming process, Avila the tasks she n “Before program, it fe school where ed, knew wha people to guid During sp took Avila-Za dents to visit fi in southern C campus vibe venting summ an idea of wh next few year about the co can also smoo For Ther in the class of college studen Santa Cruz, b pus resources man year mad dillo participa Opportunity on other UC course registr support and a
COVER | MAY 2016
melt. cus-Bricca ofhad questions meal plans and made it chalo help her find corresponded ummer. When embers could tion, Marcus. have families ore them, they ollege] are riShe [Marcusm to me, and a I like how she a stupid queses it feel like I
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never gone not going to uestions,” Lady else who’s ho’s willing to you find the my kids [stum.”
DREAMS Senior Roberto Sotelo will be the first in his family to attend college when he goes to San Francisco State University. Coming into the college application process, Avila-Zavala felt confused about the tasks she needed to complete. “Before I knew about the first-gen program, it felt like I was alone in a huge school where people knew what they wanted, knew what they were doing, [and] had people to guide them,” Avila-Zavala says. During spring break this year, Laguna took Avila-Zavala and four other Paly students to visit five colleges of their choosing in southern California. Experiencing the campus vibe can be instrumental in preventing summer melt, as it gives students an idea of what their campus home for the next few years could look like. Learning about the college’s on-campus resources can also smooth the transition. For Theresa Delgadillo, a Paly alumna in the class of 2015 and a first-generation college student at University of California, Santa Cruz, becoming familiar with campus resources prior to the start of freshman year made all the difference. Delgadillo participated in UCSC’s Educational Opportunity Program, which, like EOPs on other UC campuses, provides priority course registration and housing, academic support and advising. Though she felt ner-
vous about college, the relationship she has formed with an older student through the EOP has improved her experience. “Stress was ... the number one reason why I almost didn’t want to go to college, not because I was incapable of doing it, but I was questioning whether it was all worth it,” Delgadillo says. “It helps me to talk to other people about what I’m going through. Having someone there to listen to things that were going on in my classes or how I was doing emotionally was great.” Current Seniors on the Brink Although many of last year’s cohort of first-generation students made it to college without a hitch, Avila-Zavala and the rest of the first-generation class of 2016 has yet to experience and conquer summer melt. Take senior James Cohee. He plans on attending De Anza Community College in the fall and hopes to one day play professional football or be a sports agent or football coach. He anticipates hardship, but knows that having a plan will keep him focused on his end goals. “If you find something that you want to do and goals that you want to reach, it
shouldn’t be a problem for you to get up and go to college,” Cohee says. “Is it going to be hard? Yeah, because you’re think you’re done, but you’re really not and you still got some more years of school. It’s all part of life, it’s all it is.” Senior Roberto Sotelo, a prospective business administration major and criminal justice minor, will be attending SFSU. At this point, according to Sotelo, he has various fears about what next year will be like. “Not having friends around to do stuff and it’s a bigger campus,” Sotelo says. “And I don’t know how the classes will be if they’re extremely big, not having that face-to-face [with teachers].” For Peter Valbuena, the future is more certain than it has ever been. He plans to study biology and kinesiology. He’ll live in Whittier, far enough away from Palo Alto to be independent, but close enough to visit with a short flight or one-day drive. Estrada’s advice for these students, who sit in the same position she was in just one year ago, is down-to-earth and honest. “[It] is going to be worth it in the end,” Estrada says. “You’re going to struggle, but it will be beautiful because once you get the degree, it’s going to mean so much.” v 25
FEATURES | APRIL 2015
Text by JOËLLE DONG and FRANCES ZHUANG Photography by JOËLLE DONG and SOPHIE NAKAI
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PALO ALTO JOINS THE SEARCH FOR LIVEABLE PAY
ORTY HOURS AT ROUND Table Pizza off of University Avenue and 30 hours at 7-Eleven on Waverly Street — in total, these 70 hours constitute an average week’s work for minimum wage employee Joban Deep. As one of many minimum wage employees working in Palo Alto to eke out an equally minimum livelihood, Deep works seven days a week to earn the $1,300 necessary for him to survive for a month in the Bay Area. Additionally, Deep says he sends $2,000 a month home to support his parents, who are rice and wheat farmers in Pilibhit, one of India’s poorest municipalities. He lives in a two-bedroom apartment in Santa Clara with his cousin and two friends. The four rely on each other to pay the $2,800 monthly rent.
“Employees [in Palo Alto working minimum wage] are coming from Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara,” Deep says. “No one actually lives here.” Deep says he and his friends are far from being able to afford living in Palo Alto, where rents are over 11 times higher than the national median, according to Zillow’s Home Value Index. While Palo Alto’s first ever local minimum wage was set $2 above the statewide minimum at $11 an hour on Jan. 1, 2016, it is only one and a half times the national minimum wage. “We’re all in this together,” says James Keene, the City Manager of Palo Alto. “This town recognizes that fact, and the council is trying to invest in the programs that can make that better.” Deep earns the $11 minimum wage at 7-Eleven and just above the local minimum
wage at Round Table Pizza where he is paid roughly $14 an hour as a manager. “Palo Alto is very expensive,” Deep says. “I think the minimum wage should be around $14 because it’s very expensive.” A “Fight for 15” movement has been sweeping across the nation, calling to raise the minimum wage to a “liveable” $15 an hour. The State of California passed a law on April 4 providing for a statewide minimum wage increase to $15 an hour by 2020. However, unions that include employees who work in the Bay Area like Service Employees International Union have been leading a movement to raise the minimum wage by 2018. “[Palo Alto] has a goal of reaching $15 by 2018,” says Marc Berman, a member of the Palo Alto City Council. “We still need to do some work on the council level to de-
termine when but we also h business comm Service Union membe to advocate f $15 minimum assistant for th ticipated in SE the minimum minimum wa to keep pace w area. “Housing Adkins says. “ should have food and he which are ba Raising the wage is a way closer to mee [needs].” Cheeseca employee and State Universi Eddie Benito is only able Mountain Vie dized housing arships that co “I’ve been Benito says. Larry Mo Palo Alto say that they can minimum wag “It make workforce ear can stay in th business comm sets, including
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FEATURES | APRIL
here he is paid nager. ensive,” Deep m wage should ry expensive.” ment has been calling to raise “liveable” $15 ornia passed a or a statewide $15 an hour that include Bay Area like tional Union nt to raise the
f reaching $15 , a member of “We still need cil level to de-
FEATURES | MAY 2016 termine when those increases will happen, sort of thing,” Swezey says. “It’s a couple but we also have to be respectful of our hundred dollars every few weeks. It’s just enough that I don’t have to ask my parents business community.” Service Employees International for money to buy lunch. It gives me indeUnion member Margaret Adkins continues pendence, but it’s also made me a lot more to advocate for the implementation of a cautious with my money.” However, for students like Philz Cof$15 minimum by 2018. Adkins, a program fee barista Molly Kraus, who are working to assistant for the City of Palo Alto, has parpay their college tuition, entry level wages ticipated in SEIU organized events to raise feel constricting. the minimum wage while working around “I’m working between 20 to 25 hours minimum wage at three side-jobs in order a week,” Kraus says. “As much as I work, to keep pace with the cost of living in the it doesn’t feel like much area. money.” “Housing is a right,” Kraus, who earns Adkins says. “Everybody just above minimum should have housing, wage, explains the defood and health care, grading nature of low which are basic needs. pay. Raising the minimum “It’s demeaning wage is a way of getting to be paid so little, escloser to meeting those pecially in Palo Alto [needs].” where a lot of kids Cheesecake Factory — Larry Moody, Vice Mayor of don’t have to take on employee and San Jose East Palo Alto low paying jobs,” Kraus State University student says. Eddie Benito says he Vice Mayor of is only able to live in East Palo Alto, Larry Moody points out Mountain View because he shares subsihow the phrase “minimum wage worker” dized housing with a friend and has scholis especially degrading to adults who spend arships that cover his tuition. their whole lives earning minimum wage. “I’ve been really lucky with housing,” “‘Minimum,’ in itself, is an adjective Benito says. that can be demeaning,” Moody says. “I Larry Moody, the vice mayor of East don’t know how much dignity is associated Palo Alto says businesses must remember with that. When you’re looking at indithat they cannot function without their viduals who are the primary caregivers for minimum wage employees. their family, people need that term to be “It makes sense to make sure your removed and for livable wages to emerge as workforce earns a reasonable wage so they the theme of the day.” can stay in the region,” Moody says. “The business community has to guard their asAchieving a Liveable Wage sets, including good quality employees.” Campaigns for minimum wage aim to achieve a liveable wage, however simply Students Working at Minimum Wage raising the minimum wage may not be the Alongside minimum wage workers answer. such as Deep, according to a survey admin“It stinks because once the minimum istered by Verde, 37 percent of Palo Alto wage gets raised, all the other prices get High School students have worked or curraised,” Benito says. “It’s give and take.” rently work minimum wage jobs, and with According to the American Legislative summer approaching, many more may take Exchange Council, a 10 percent increase in up minimum wage employment. minimum wage would result in a four perFor students such as Palo Alto High cent increase in food prices. School senior Sophie Swezey, who works Moody notes that while a raise to $15 at minimum wage to earn pocket money, will help to an extent, minimum wage rather than to support a family, the job can workers’ quality of life will remain at minibe liberating rather than restricting. mum. “I’m still living at home so I don’t have “$15 an hour allows families to take to pay rent, or for my utility bills, or that
$15 an hour allows families to take care of their basic needs
care of their basic needs,” Moody says. “It doesn’t allow them access to the quality of life that people who have college degrees have access to.” To Moody, finding a way to keep the minimum wage at a sustainable level for the economy while allowing workers earning minimum wage to sustain themselves seems nearly impossible. Perhaps the answer to creating a ‘liveable’ minimum wage lies not in policy actions or raising the bar, rather in redefining ‘minimum’ to mean ‘liveable’, according to Moody. “Historically, living wage has been used to connotate other types of benefits, [including] not only the salary component but some health benefits as well,” Silver says. “Some cities do have ‘living wages’ that require employers to pay [both].” v
NOT A PIECE OF CAKE (above): Eddie Benito smiles for the camera while selling cheesecake to customers. Benito is unsure of how he will manage if his scholarship to SJSU is not renewed. AT WORK (top left): Joban Deep takes down an order during his shift at Round Table where he is the cashier and oversees fellow employees. 27
FEATURES | APRIL 2015
A Scientist’s Dream THE BENEFICIAL NATURE OF SLEEP EXPERIMENTS Text by JOSH CODE and MICHELLE TANG Art by JOSH CODE and ANNIE ZHOU
ETTING HOOKED UP to a tangled mess of electrodes and having a complete stranger watch intently as you sleep does not sound like the most comfortable scenario. This was precisely what Palo Alto High School junior Alexandra Stump experienced at the Stanford Sleep Medicine Center for her sleep study.
But it was all worth it. Doctors monitored her sleep patterns and diagnosed her with sleep apnea. Stump began to wear a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure mask each night, which supplies a constant flow of air that helps her keep breathing. “I don’t feel nearly as tired as I was before,” Stump says. “I feel very rested [most of ] the time. My grades went up further. Better quality of life overall, more energy.” Besides sleep apnea, teens experience many other sleep disorders, the most common of which is Behaviorally-Induced Insufficient Sleep Syndrome, a chronic daytime fatigue that results from voluntarily evading sleep. Local doctors are interested in solving this sleep problem along with many others by conducting sleep studies centered around adolescents. The nature of such studies is mutually beneficial — the institutions that administer the studies gain valuable data while the subjects gain knowledge and insight into their own sleep habits. Correcting Sleep Disorders Some Paly students do sleep studies to understand their issues with sleep. After her positive experience wearing the CPAP mask to help keep breathing, Stump is grateful she addressed her sleep issues. “I recommend if people sleep with their mouth open or if they snore, which are signs of sleep apnea, they go get tested,” Stump says. Paly senior Sonali Chawla was also diagnosed with sleep apnea, once in 8th grade and again in junior year, when she finally received surgical treatment.
67% of Paly Students believe they are not consistently getting enough sleep.
“Before the surgery,” Chawla says, “I would wake up freezing and covered in sweat. My body would freak out and think I was dying.” This was because her sleep apnea prevented her from breathing and sleeping normally. “I was tired all the time and so addicted to coffee,” Chawla recalls, “I would be just super sad without knowing why.” Chawla says that she is much happier now. “If you’re making yourself not get enough sleep to get good grades and keep a social life,” Chawla advises, “it’s really not worth it. Once you get enough sleep, it just makes things better in an organic way.” The Sleep Slump Stanford Clinical professor Rafael Pelayo recommends teens get at least nine hours of sleep per night. Palo Alto High School students seem to fall short of this amount of sleep. In fact, 67 percent of Paly students reported that they do not feel they sleep enough on weeknights, according to a survey conducted by Verde. Worse, 75 percent of teens nationwide aren’t getting enough sleep, according to Pelayo. “If 75 percent of teens weren’t getting enough food, it would be a national crisis, we would have charity events [and] marathons… People would be making donations to schools,” Pelayo says. “When we tell them [the public] 75 percent of teens
aren’t getting ‘Okay, bad luc
Sleep Exchan The Stanf Sleep Sciences “sleep exchang ton High Sc Stanford medi short lessons a juniors and s Stanford’s slee Pelayo says Alto Unified S perintendent M a similar exch High School a ing next year. P gram may be i a science class and would be all students. “When y sleep deprive 50 years, it health] sets Autrey says. says one m objective of th change progr to deliver ha sleep educatio school studen on in their liv understand go practice it fro risk of develop
Shedding ligh In an effo ables can corr tines, clinical p been studying on sleeping ad adolescents ag lamp in their pulses of ligh the effects of on the huma logical clock, rhythm. “Our biolo sensitive to l turns out that light is very he our circadian Kaplan says.
s believe nsistently h sleep.
hawla says, “I nd covered in out and think ause her sleep breathing and
nd so addicted would be just why.” much happier
rself not get ades and keep “it’s really not gh sleep, it just anic way.”
essor Rafael t at least nine alo Alto High short of this percent of Paly o not feel they according to a
ns nationwide according to
weren’t getting national crisis, s [and] maramaking donays. “When we rcent of teens
| MAY 2016 | DECEMBER FEATURES FEATURES 2015 aren’t getting enough sleep, they are like, ‘Okay, bad luck.’ It’s really absurd.”
The purpose of this experimental lamp is to “trick” light-sensitive cells located in the posterior area of the Sleep Exchange human eye, according to Kaplan. The Stanford University Center for These cells can detect light even in Sleep Sciences and Medicine is piloting a the deepest stages of sleep. “sleep exchange” program at Menlo-AtherWhen exposed to millisecond ton High School. In this arrangement, bursts of light from the lamp, the cells Stanford medical students visit M-A to give relay light information to a collection short lessons about sleep, while high school of brain cells that serve as the body’s sleep juniors and seniors are allowed to visit command center. This deceives the brain Stanford’s sleep labs. into thinking that morning is coming, genPelayo says that he is working with Palo tly phasing the human subject out of sleep Alto Unified School District Associate Su- and making it much easier for him or her to perintendent Markus Autrey to implement wake up in the morning. a similar exchange program at Palo Alto According to Kaplan, the lamp has the High School and Gunn High School start- same effect on teen circadian rhythms as ing next year. Pelayo says that the sleep pro- waking up earlier, but without reducing gram may be incorporated either in nightly sleep volume. Kaplan has a science class or health class found that participants in and would be available to the study are now going all students. to sleep 45 minutes “When you are earlier, on average. sleep deprived for Pelayo says that Whatever it is that’s 50 years, it [bad the amount of health] sets in,” hours adolescents important to you, sleep is Autrey says. He spend sleeping going to very likely play says one major could also be inobjective of the excreased with “a a role [in it].” change program is culture of making — Kate Kaplan to deliver hands-on sleep priority.” He sleep education to high believes young adults school students early should know when to on in their lives so they can prioritize sleep over doing understand good sleep hygiene and homework, as well as set times by practice it from then on, decreasing their which their homework must be completed risk of developing sleep disorders. every day. Kaplan echoes this sentiment, acknowlShedding light on sleep edging that the lamp can only do so much In an effort to understand what vari- to help sleep schedules. “We’re trying to tell ables can correct and augment sleep rou- you why sleep is important, but we’re also tines, clinical psychologist Kate Kaplan has trying to make it fit with your lifestyle,” Kabeen studying the effects of pulsing light plan says. “Whatever it is that’s important on sleeping adolescents. In the experiment, to you, sleep is going to very likely play a adolescents ages 14-18 sleep with a special role [in it].” v lamp in their room that periodically emits pulses of light. Kaplan is testing the effects of these light bursts on the human body’s biological clock, the circadian The student poll results rhythm. collected for this issue are from “Our biology is very a survey administered in Palo Alto High sensitive to light; [it] School English classes over the course of several days in May 2016. Eight English classes were turns out that morning evenly selected from four grades, and 147 light is very helpful for responses were collected. The surveys were comour circadian system,” pleted online, and responses were anonymous. Kaplan says. With 95 percent confidence, the results for
the questions related to this story are accurate within a margin of error of 8.6 percent.
A Sleep Scientist among us Paly Senior Paul Bleich says he has gained a wealth of sleep knowledge through several experiments — not in a laboratory, however. Bleich plans sleep experiments by himself, and then executes them on himself. Bleich’s curiosity about sleep started one summer when he read a comic online about a “six day” sleep schedule. Curious and passionate about all things science-related, he was inspired and adopted the routine for a few weeks. The premise of this schedule, outlined in science-and-math-related “XKCD” comics, was splitting one week into six 28-hour days, then sleeping for 14 hours each “day”. Bleich enjoyed how this schedule allowed him to stay up for most of the night on Fridays and Saturdays. Later on, he experimented with a version of the Dymaxion, a sleep schedule named after Buckminster Fuller’s concept of using technology to its fullest extent while simultaneously expending as few resources as possible. The Dymaxion is a more demanding sleep routine that entails a short nap four times every 24 hours. Bleich’s Dymaxion consisted of four 45-minute naps each day, evenly spaced. “It sounds crazy, but the idea of it is supposed to be that you’ll be completely well rested,” Bleich says. In practice, Bleich found the Dymaxion to be unrealistic and unhealthy. Feeling frequently fatigued, he says he gave up the unorthodox sleep routine after less than two weeks. “It was not at all sustainable for me,” Bleich says. In the process of pushing his limits with different sleep patterns, Bleich has better understood them. He notes improved productivity and a better understanding of sleep as major experiment payoffs. “At heart, I’m a scientist,” Bleich says. “It [sleep experimentation] definitely is fun and I do think I’ve profited and learned from the experiences.” 29
FEATURES| DECEMB Text by MICHELLE LI and EMMA GOLDSMITH Photography by WILLIAM DOUGALL Art by VIVIAN NGUYEN
FEATURES | MAY 2016
FRKNTIERS mF HEALTH RISE OF EASTERN TREATMENTS IN THE BAY AREA
N THE QUIET WAITING room of Quli Zhou’s clinic in Fremont, patients flip through pamphlets about Eastern medicine. The warm sun shines through the windows and bounces off of the wooden tables. Along the walls are dozens of cards that depict the beaming faces of families with newborn babies. Inside these cards are the stories of the families gratefully thanking Zhou for her fertility treatments. The miraculous stories of Zhou’s Eastern medicine treatments of the clinic continue beyond the “thank you” cards, fertility and the clinic itself. Eastern medicine is often used to refer to Chinese medicine — however, it also includes other South Asian and Southeast Asian medicinal practices. Eastern medi-
cine involves treatments that range from acupuncture, the pricking of skin with needles, to cupping, the application of heated glass cups to the skin, while Western medicine mostly focuses on surgical and drug treatments. Eastern medicine also looks at the body as a whole, fully functional system, whereas Western medicine focuses solely on the problematic area. Because of this, many believe that Eastern medicine’s benefits provides something that Western medicine does not. The Bay Area, in its typically innovative fashion, continues to expand its horizons to include Eastern medicine as a frequent practice. It has begun to weave its way into Palo Alto and has created a microculture within Palo Alto High School as it becomes more commonly used.
Paly Students and Eastern Medicine Many students at Paly use Eastern medicine as a form of medicinal treatment. According to a survey administered by Verde at Paly, 17.5 percent of students surveyed stated that they used Eastern medicine, while 24.6 percent of students stated that their family uses Eastern medicine. Paly usage in Eastern medicine ranges from homeopathy to acupuncture and cupping to herbal tea. “I had numerous injuries from when I was playing competitive badminton starting from 2007 to 2012,” sophomore Stephanie Yu says. “Through my sports injuries, I have had quite a lot of experience with both Western and Eastern medicine. The Western doctor is more intent on treating the current effects of the current problem, but the Chinese doctor looks a little deeper and looks for a long-term treatment.” After experimenting with Eastern medicine, Yu believes that it has affected her life in a positive way. “It has definitely broadened my perspective concerning types of medicine and treatment,” Yu says. Besides acupuncture, Yu has also used other types of Eastern medicine for her athletic injuries. One of these treatments includes tuina, massage often used in conjunction with acupuncture, and cupping. Similarily, Julia Doubson, a sophomore at Paly, resorts to eastern medicine to treat her injuries from running and gymnastics. “I had foot pain this last year and I also used to use acupuncture when I had joint pain during gymnastics,” Doubson says. “I use it because it’s an effective treatment for injuries that don’t go away otherwise.” Increase In Usage According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, the use of acupuncture and other types of Eastern medicine are all on a positive linear path of growth. In a survey conducted 31
FEATURES |MAY 2016 cine also looks for the root cause of the problem … It’s not like aspirin or tylenol. You take it, good, if you don’t [continue to] take it, it comes back.” Forms of Eastern Medicine While Chinese medicine plays a sizable role in Eastern medicine, there is an entire spectrum of alternative treatments that Chinese medicine does not cover. Homeopathy is the treatment of disease by minute doses of natural substances that, in a healthy person, would produce symptoms of disease. Although homeopathy doesn’t originate from Asia, its philosophies and treatments are intertwined. Often, patients who seek Eastern medicinal treatments turn to Chinese medicine and homeopathy. Many South Asians, such as Indians, utilize homeopathy as well. “The philosophy [of homeopathy] is very much the same in both Eastern medicine and homeopathy in that you’re looking at the body as a single organism,” SEARCHING Homeopath Lisette Narragon organizes her medicine cabinet. says Lisette Narragon, a homeopath at Bay in 2012, approximately 40 percent of U.S. Patients who seek Eastern medicine Area Homeopathy. “So you recognize that adults aged 18 years and over and approxi- come in to treat a variety of health issues: everything is connected to everything else mately 12 percent of children used some headaches, colds, depression, Attention and that the emotions influence the physiform of health approach that does not in- Deficit/Hyperactivity cal body, what happens volve Western medicine. Disorder, tendonitis, back in life can cause illness The increase in statistics and what pain, joint pain and more. depending on how you Zhou sees happening in the Bay Area, espeIn Chinese medideal with it.” cially in Palo Alto, may correlate to Eastern cine, specific points on what happens in life can Just like with acumedicine clinics that have been opening up the body are located to puncture and tai chi, in Palo Alto and the surrounding area, such address certain health cause illness depending there are essentially no as Spring Advanced Acupuncture. problems. These spots are on how you deal with side effects. “What a “Palo Alto is a prestigious city and its called ‘meridians,’ and they side effect really is, is it.” residents are among the most educated in are believed to be paththe body’s response to the country,” says Eliza Yen, a co-founder ways that Qi (chee), or life the medicine,” Narragon of Spring Advanced Acupuncture. “Peo- force, flows through. — Lisette Narragon says. “So it’s [Western ple in the city are extremely aware of the “The entire body is medicinal side effects] healthiness of their diet and lifestyle which covered with meridians … creating a new disease is why I am starting up this clinic: to put This channel covers our you didn’t have before supplies and demands in a perfect way.” whole body so we will identify which me- … it’s a new disease in a way. This doesn’t ridians are blocked,” Zhou says. happen with holistic medicine because Bay Area Eastern Medicine “When someone has a headache, you’re treating the whole body, you’re not Reflecting on her 24 years of inter- sometimes we use the needles on the foot just treating one specific symptom of the national clinical experience, Zhou, an acu- because the headache is due to energy body you’re looking at everything about it.” puncturist at Eternal Health and Wellness blocking in the liver.” The local customers that seek treatin Fremont, has seen a doubling in Eastern Another benefit many practitioners of ment in Eastern medicinal clinics are exmedicinal usage in the past 10 years. eastern medicine cite is the fact that it has tremely diverse. “People are more aware about the side almost no side effects. “It [Eastern medi“I love the multiculturalism,” Zhou effects of chemicals and drugs,” Zhou says. cine] is natural, and it doesn’t use chemi- says. “The Bay Area has quite a lot [of “Instead, they prefer natural methods. Acu- cals,” says Zhou. “So all the procedures, customers seeking Eastern medicine], so puncture is one of the major choices that including acupuncture, herbal medicine people are very open-minded and love to can benefit them.” and tai chi, are all natural. Chinese medi- be here.” v
R N en th cl ertheless, both man brother D claiming that he while he talks a ing to his brothe as Eric smiles, before adding h versation as wel Though m going to schoo enjoying finally many years of their age differ however, is abo about to gradua Yale University Their relationsh will be separate but the brothers “I offered but he refused,” The Foster both studying C different than a “He does th Eric says. “The someone’s defic
PROFILES | MAY 2016 Text by ELANA REBITZER and SOPHIE NAKAI Photography by WILLIAM DOUGALL
cause of the rin or tylenol. t [continue to]
ne plays a sizable re is an entire eatments that cover. Homeisease by minnces that, in a uce symptoms
doesn’t origihies and treat, patients who ments turn to eopathy. Many ns, utilize ho-
homeopathy] both Eastern in that you’re gle organism,” meopath at Bay recognize that verything else nce the physiwhat happens cause illness on how you t.” ike with acuand tai chi, essentially no ts. “What a t really is, is response to ne,” Narragon it’s [Western side effects] new disease have before y. This doesn’t icine because dy, you’re not mptom of the hing about it.” at seek treatclinics are ex-
alism,” Zhou uite a lot [of medicine], so d and love to
Meet the Fosters
EXPLORING PALY’S DYNAMIC DUO OF BROTHERS
The brothers also both are active members of Paly’s speech and RIC AND DAVID FOSTER ARE TWINNING. Not literally, because there is a three-year age differ- debate team, but from different sides, David doing speech and Eric ence between them, and the vast differences between debate. For the brothers, the division between speech and debate their personality and interests makes the brothers makes sense, because while speech is more theatrical, debate can be clearly different once they open their mouths. Nev- more mathematical. “It [debate] is more logical, more rule-based, kind of like Eric,” ertheless, both Eric, a Palo Alto High School senior, and his freshman brother David wear similar gray shirts with black shorts, each David says. “He’s very logical. If he’s cooking, he’ll follow the recipe claiming that he got dressed first that morning. David’s eyes light up and I won’t.” Both brothers have achieved significant accomwhile he talks a mile a minute, occasionally lookplishments in their chosen fields: David, as a freshing to his brother for confirmation of his answers, man, is the team manager for the Paly speech team, as Eric smiles, watching him talk for a moment while Eric placed ninth in the state debate championbefore adding his own commentary into the conHe’s very logical. If ship and went to Hong Kong after winning the inviversation as well. tational round in a group math competition, where Though many pairs of siblings do not like he’s cooking, he’ll Paly’s team was the only one not from East Asia. going to school with each other, the Fosters are follow the recipe Because of David’s theatrical tendencies, it enjoying finally attending school together after comes as no surprise that he’s the more dramatic many years of being separated at school due to and I won’t.” — DAVID FOSTER brother, opening his hands wide as he tells a story their age difference. Their brief time together, about how the spider in his bedroom was “thiiiiiis however, is about to come to an end as Eric, is big.” Eric, the numbers-focused brother, rolls his about to graduate from Paly and begin college at eyes: “it was this big this morning,” he says, holding Yale University on the other side of the country. Their relationship, like that of so many siblings at this school who his hands closer together to indicate a much smaller spider. It’s clear that both brothers are well-known around campus. As will be separated at the end of the school year, is bound to change, Eric was speaking to Verde, a friend of his walked past, calling out but the brothers say they plan to remain close. “I offered to put him in a box and ship him to my dorm room “Eric Foster! I love you!” Though David, as a freshman, doesn’t yet have the same level of but he refused,” Eric says. The Foster brothers do have an array of similarities, such as on-campus recognition, in theater and in speech he is met with the both studying Chinese, but overall both claim that they are more same kind of positive greeting. Despite the occassional fights about “really stupid little things,” different than alike. “He does theater and I do math stuff. I think that tells you a lot,” David and Eric admit that they will miss each other dearly. “David will always have something to say [when we call],” Eric Eric says. “The fact that we’re different is probably good, because says. “It’ll be fun to come back and see what David’s doing.” v someone’s deficiency can make up for someone else’s aptitude.”
PROFILES | MAY 2016
A HEART CONNECTION IS DEEPER THAN BLOOD
INTERNATIONAL ADOPTEES THRIVE IN TRANSRACIAL FAMILY
Text by ANNA LU and DEEPALI SASTRY Photography by WILLIAM DOUGALL and LAURA SIEH 34
RICKSON VALENTINE stands by a podium at Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School’s graduation ceremony. His sixth grade teacher Rebecca Cogswell hands him a trophy and announces Erickson as a recipient of the Stanford Cup, the middle school’s highest form of recognition, awarded to only two outstanding students in each graduating class. “He is focused on self-improvement and always strives to be the very best version of himself,” Cogswell announces to hundreds sitting in the audience. “No obstacle ever stands in his way. Simply put, Erickson is a beam of sunshine.” Now a sophomore at Palo Alto High School, Erickson is the kind of person others describe as exuding life — a boisterous showman who is caring but playful, always knowing when to and when not to liven up a conversation with a well-timed quip. Life wasn’t always this way for Erickson. Erickson was born in Haiti with clubfoot, a birth deformity that caused his foot to perpetually turn inwards and made him unable to walk. According to his adoptive mother Julie Valentine, it was so expensive to treat that his birth parents could never afford treatment. But even as a child, Erickson exuded so much charisma that in a serendipitous moment of serendipity, a tourist who noticed his foot condition offered to pay for his surgery in full. Erickson was two. Shortly afterwards, his birth mother placed him in an orphanage in the hopes of keeping him safe from his abusive stepfather. She paid him regular visits until he was adopted at age 7 by Julie, a vocal coach by profession who had already adopted two girls from Ethiopia and whose work in helping children with clubfoot led her to Erickson.
“I was working with an organization that was doing different kinds of special needs kids’ services in different countries,” ehe says. “I was looking for a child to use these [foot] braces that we had found — and that was Erickson. When I saw his picture, I was like, ‘Oh my god, he’s so cute!’ … There was something about him that I was like, ‘I guess I’m adopting one more time!’” Since then, Erickson has lived in Palo Alto for more than 10 years with his sisters Madison, now 22, and Paly senior Amber, who were both adopted from Ethiopia but are not biologically related. Now, when Erickson affectionately calls his family a “crazy mix,” he’s referring to his Irish-American mother Julie, his two Ethiopian older sisters, and his four dogs Dandy, Cocoa, Cuddles and Budsy. The story of the Valentines’ lives spans two continents and four families, and has touched the lives of many from Ethiopia, Haiti and their home in Palo Alto. A Present that Keeps on Giving Life in the Valentine household is in many ways just like every other. Yet, every now and then, outsiders who speak up about their interracial background serve as a reminder of the adoption. “Everywhere we go there’s this big sign saying ‘we’re adopted,’” Julie says. “People will ask you all kinds of personal questions, like ‘Are they really sisters?’ So I would come up with these snarky comebacks, like ‘They look real to me.’” As time has passed, their family dynamics have transformed. “Now, the hilarious thing is, I’m older and my oldest daughter, Madison, is an EMT,” Julie laughs. “She’s often in uniform, so when people see us together, they now think she’s my caregiver — they used to think I was her nanny.”
Julie desc most, and not dren comes w “Parents what their kid based on ‘You er is a doctor, a doctor, and a doctor,’” Ju when you h kids, you hav no idea what is, because yo that preconce what everyone does. It’s kind like a present getting to ope who they are a their skills are.
The Birth of t Julie’s in from Africa ca els with her fa Peace Corps in Hong Kong in San Jose State “I was 6 had a really h of my worldv all over the wo there was in d ways thought
| DECEMBER PROFILES PROFILES MAY2015 2016
n organization nds of special ent countries,” a child to use had found — I saw his pice’s so cute!’ … him that I was e more time!’” s lived in Palo with his sisters senior Amber, m Ethiopia but Now, when Erfamily a “cras Irish-Amerithiopian older Dandy, Cocoa,
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ng is, I’m oldMadison, is an en in uniform, her, they now they used to
SIBLINGS BY HEART Amber and Erickson Valentine, both students at Palo Alto High School, are now as close as siblings get. Julie describes her family as closer than Then I never got married, so it just seemed most, and notes that having adopted chil- the thing to do.” dren comes with its own set of perks. When a U.S. federal law that prevented “Parents sometimes have this idea of transracial adoptions was reversed in 1997, what their kids should be, Julie rushed to adopt based on ‘Your grandmothher first child. She ultier is a doctor, and so I am mately chose to adopt a doctor, and you will be IT’S LIKE A PRESENT THAT through African Cradle, a doctor,’” Julie says. “But YOUKEEPGETTINGTOOPEN, a Bay Area organization when you have adopted dedicated towards faciliTOFINDOUTWHOTHEYARE tating adoptions from kids, you have absolutely no idea what their aptitude AND WHERE THEIR SKILLS countries in Africa. is, because you don’t have ARE.” “I would have been that preconceived idea of this adoption agency’s what everyone in the family —JULIEVALENTINE,MOTHER first transracial placedoes. It’s kind of fun — it’s ment,” Julie says. “I like a present that you keep came back [home] and getting to open, to find out there was an email from who they are and what they want and where African Cradle, saying, ‘I have this little girl their skills are.” that just came back and what do you think?’ I was like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ That’s how I chose The Birth of the Adoption Madison. I was like, ‘OK, I guess I’m going Julie’s inspiration to adopt children to Ethiopia.’” from Africa came from her childhood travAfter adopting her second child, Julie els with her father, who volunteered in the named her after Amber Stime, the founder Peace Corps in in the Philippines, Japan and of African Cradle, whose pioneer work in Hong Kong in his time off from teaching at creating the first American adoption cenSan Jose State University. ter in Africa has resulted almost a hundred “I was 6 going to these places, so that adoptions each year. had a really huge impact on me in terms “I’m a firm believer that you don’t have of my worldview,” Julie says. “I traveled to be related by blood to love someone,” all over the world and I saw the great need Stime tells Verde. “That’s just a fallacy; famthere was in developing countries. I had al- ilies can come in many ways. As a proof for ways thought I would adopt at some point. that, I have two sons who are adopted and
my third one is my biological, and I feel the same about all of them — it comes from the heart and not a blood connection.” Now, to embrace the old and welcome the new, each year the Valentine family celebrates Homecoming Day for each sibling, which marks the day of their adoption. “It’s funny to say, ‘Today’s my Homecoming!’ to someone, and they’re like, ‘The dance?’” Amber Valentine laughs. “We would go out to dinner with our cousins, and they’d give us cards, and then we’d open presents.” Rebuilding Broken Bonds When the siblings were first adopted, their transition from the orphanage to the Valentine household was not without its obstacles. “With all adopted kids, there is a certain amount of bonding that has to happen ... and certain amount of loss that they experience that needs to be addressed,” Julie says. “With Madison, we played peekaboo when she was way too old to be playing peekaboo, to give her that attachment.” When Erickson came to Palo Alto at 7 years old, Julie recalls that he spoke very little English and his lack of attachment manifested in the form of disruptive behavior. This continued until his elementary school principal, who happened to be from the Dominican Republic and spoke his language, scolded him in his native Creole. 35
| DECEMBER PROFILES 2015 FEATURES MAY 2016
FAMILY PORTRAIT Siblings Madison (left), Erickson, Am-
ber and their mother Julie Valentine (top) pose for a family portrait in traditional Ethiopian wear. Photo courtesy of Amber Valentine.
Ten years after his adoption, Erickson jokes that the only sign that he didn’t grow up speaking English is that he can’t pronounce the word “specific,” and instead says “pacific.” Now considered a model student, Erickson still keeps in touch with his birth mother through monthly phone conversations. Due to the language barrier, as Erickson has lost his Creole and his birth mother speaks no English, the conversations mainly consist of laughter. “We talk to her on the phone, although we can’t communicate,” Julie says. “We giggle at her and she giggles back.” Although they now talk regularly, in 2010, when an earthquake hit Haiti and the Valentines were unable to contact Erickson’s mother, Erickson went a whole year without knowing whether his birth mom was dead or alive. When she finally called back a year later, they learned that she had lost her cellphone in the earthquake and was unable to afford a new one. Stories like this serve as a reminder for Julie and Stime of what life is like in Haiti, motivating them to find homes for more international children in America. Passing on the Heritage In 1997, after adopting Madison and Amber, Julie founded a website where she organized adoption resources, which has now facilitated thousands of transracial adoptions. Julie founded Adopting.com during what she refers to as the “dark ages” of the Internet — when the bank manager 36
THE SOUND OF MUSIC Julie Valentine sits in her home of-
fice, where she provides vocal coaching for her students, who range from Stanford professors to high school students.
didn’t understand why there was a period issues of racism. in her company’s name, and repeatedly in“With interracial adoptions, we talk sisted that she meant to register instead for about race and discrimination in America,” ‘Adopting Com.’ Stime says. “Of course, the white parents “Now we have Google,” Julie laughs. may know about it, but they’ve never lived “But [back then] if you were looking for it. When your family is intertwined, then adoption, you were kind of stabbing around you’ll start experiencing the racial hatred in the dark…. I helped as well. … Until then, place kids for adoptheir world has not tion, and it grew into been challenged, but this whole thing where I’M A FIRM BELIEVER THAT when they see that I lectured on transracial YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE REand feel the pain of adoption and adoption LATED BY BLOOD TO LOVE their children, that’s of special needs kids.” when they start getSOMEONE. Beyond her webting active and relatsite, Julie helped run — AMBER STIME, ing.” an Ethiopian Heritage Just as white FOUNDER OF AFRICAN CRADLE Camp with Stime for parents learn what it 10 years every summer means to be African, that attracted over 500 Erickson has discovkids at its peak. The heritage camp, which ered what it means to be Ethiopian. Deteaches traditional Ethiopian arts and crafts, spite that he is not of Ethiopian blood, the music and dance, expanded so quickly that heritage camp has become somewhat of they had to move to a bigger campground. a second home for him. There, where the “It started really small with just a hand- majority of children speak a language that ful of kids,” Julie says. “All these [kids] were he doesn’t understand, Erickson still uses from transracial families, so it was fun for his sense of humor to win over his fellow the kids to be in the majority, because a campmates. lot of these kids were growing up in white “The first time we took him [Erickson] communities. Especially in the mid ’90s, there, he had just gotten here six months transracial families were still odd. There was before and he didn’t know English very a lot of being looked at, and at camp that well still,” Julie says. “He’s always had this didn’t happen.” really great sense of humor. …. Abisha is Amidst the arts and crafts and tradi- what Ethiopians call themselves, [so when] tional Ethiopian coffee ceremonies, the her- someone asked him if he was Ethiopian, he itage camp also educates parents on about said, ‘This weekend, we’re all Abisha.’” v
to side, the As the fest School stud giggles, spin song ends, t perses into circling an a the long tab coated chur stands. Cinco Latin Amer ebrates, alo or the Day this year, a American i country sou Spanish, Fr tively small be a succes expands its ness of Lat “Our g share it wit
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him [Erickson] re six months English very lways had this …. Abisha is ves, [so when] Ethiopian, he Abisha.’” v
Text by ESME ABLAZA and ALIA CUADROS-CONTRERAS Photography by ALIA CUADROS-CONTRERAS
embracing culture LATINOS UNIDOS CLUB FOSTERS COMMUNITY
RESSED IN COLORFULLY EMBROIDERED says Latinos Unidos club president and Paly senior Diana Rodridresses, a group of Latinos Unidos club mem- guez. bers executes a traditional Mexican dance in time According to Rodriguez, the club’s events expose the Paly with lively Latin music bouncing through the community to Latin American holidays and traditions, an imporstudent center. They move in unison from side tant task given that Paly is less than 10 percent Latino, according to side, their faces beaming and their necklaces swaying. to the Western Association of Schools and Colleges’s report As the festivities continue, various Palo Alto High on Paly. In club member and senior Peter Valbuena’s School students observe the dance and, between case, he joined the club even though he is not giggles, spin a wheel to win prizes. When the Latino. song ends, the group of club members dis“I have a lot of Hispanic friends and I perses into the crowd and students begin wanted to learn more about the culture,” circling an array of dishes served across Valbuena says. “I think the club helps to i think the club the long tables, the smell of cinnamon expose the Paly community to the Hishelps to get rid of coated churros attracting them to the panic population’s traditions and to get stereotypes about stands. rid of stereotypes and misperceptions Cinco de Mayo is one of various about Latinos. … We hope to get more latinos.” Latin American holidays the club celpeople in the club to keep eliminating — senior ebrates, along with Dia de los Muertos, these misperceptions.” peter valbuena or the Day of the Dead, and, starting For those in the club who are Latithis year, a Cesar Chavez march. Latin nos, the meetings also serve the purpose American is a term used to describe any of connecting with others and learning country south of the United States that speaks about their heritage, according to senior club Spanish, French or Portuguese. Although relamember Cristal Ortiz Valencia. tively small, with 15 members, the club continues to “There are so few Latinos at Paly, it’s kinda just a be a successful source of student initiative. As the club grows and nice little culture that we’re together,” Valencia says. “Here [at Paly] expands its events, the members say they hope to increase aware- it’s really hard to find things that are in common with others so you ness of Latino culture at Paly. kind of just have a community where you can talk to each other “Our goal is to learn and experience Latino culture, as well as and understand one another. I think that’s the best thing about share it with the Paly community through the events that we do,” Latinos Unidos.” v
CINCO DE MAYO Latinos Unidos club member and senior Martha Avila-Zavala (center) dances at an event hosted by Latinos Unidos in the Student Center at lunch. The 15-member club hopes to increase awareness of Latino Culture at Paly. “I feel like others don’t come because they’re not Hispanic, so they wouldn’t feel welcomed, but they are,” Avila-Zavala says.
PROFILES | MAY 2016 Text by EMMA COCKERELL and ANNA NAKAI Photography by EMMA COCKERELL
LEtters, stamps, CHATS PRESENT MEETS PAST IN THE POST OFFICE
EN WE WALK INTO H the Hamilton Avenue post office, a quiet peace permeates the place. People calmly wait, single file, as packages are scanned at the counter and taken one by one. Late-afternoon sun streams through the windows, creating a lazy, relaxed atmosphere. People of all sorts come and go, shipping their packages off to all corners of the world. A mother calms her child in a stroller while trying to fill out paperwork, and a young couple mulls through a stack of multicolored packages, finally settling on a cheery heart-studded one. A mother in a purple knit jacket fills out paperwork for her four brightly wrapped presents. She speaks softly in a foreign language to her young son, who turns the card cart around. Over at the desk, two women and one man clothed in pale blue uniform shirts, work at scales and cash registers. A woman in a wheel38
chair with an Anna Eshoo campaign sign on the back rolls up to the desks to inquire whether it’s legal to be in a post office with campaign signs. A man goes up to the desk and is informed that whatever he is looking for will happen “next month.” We stand next to the windows awkwardly, pressing into the iron detailing of the window as people rush by, eager to get out of the post office. It’s difficult to find people who are willing to take time and speak to us, but even in the harried atmosphere, there are a few people who stop, eager to talk and hit the pause button on life, even if only briefly. Small Post Office, Small World In the corner of the building, an elderly lady bends intently over a letter, scrawling in messy cursive on a thin graying paper. Doris Dahlgren, 79, is writing to her son Jim, who lives in Spain and is the concertmaster of a renowned orches-
tra. Dahlgren and her son usually connect over the phone, but after a few weeks of not hearing from him, she decided to send him a letter reminding him of her upcoming 80th birthday and Mother’s Day. Dahlgren looks up from her letter and smiles as we approach her. As we ask her if she’s willing to be interviewed, she launches into a speech about her life — the abridged version, we later learn — and then, 20 minutes later, asks us what we’d like to ask her about. An artist, a student, a political volunteer, an activist for mental health — the list of Dahlgren’s proffesions goes on. The “Anna Eshoo for Congress” campaign sign that hangs off the back of her wheelchair betrays her political affiliation, and as she speaks she informs us of the neurological conditions that forced her into a wheelchair. She was born in 1936 in the throes of the worst of the South Dakota dust bowl. Her family, who were farmers,
owned 400 ac of. As a child ard of Oz, an Dorothy’s ho “They tho take me to see Oz”,” said D was a real du whole house. cellar where th off and we cou Her fami where she com that she was o school as aut “You had you would go if you went t As she b health and art interesting ta walks up to th rifling through Dahlgren not her hands, sh quire about t headed to th getting marrie Pavita Sin holds a master health. Also i tal health and Alto with her spent in mult as her father’ puter science care, and fin After be pitalized for ety attack du lege, Singh d an interest in health, and to pursue it reer. She curr unteers with grams and h Deciding professional d for painting c what started a soon morphed she finds her different from she says that “I’m tryin grate the two
PROFILES | MAY 2016
NNA NAKAI COCKERELL
usually coner a few weeks he decided to him of her upMother’s Day. om her letoach her. As to be interspeech about rsion, we latminutes later, sk her about. olitical volunhealth — the goes on. The campaign sign her wheelchair on, and as she e neurological o a wheelchair. in the throes Dakota dust were farmers,
owned 400 acres, a fact she remains proud of. As a child she went to see the Wizard of Oz, and saw the twister rip apart Dorothy’s house with some trepidation. “They thought it would be good to take me to see Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz”,” said Dahlgren. “Good God! There was a real dust storm and it lifted our whole house. We had to go into the root cellar where the top could have been taken off and we could have been sucked up too.” Her family later moved to Oregon, where she completed high school, noting that she was often motivated to do well in school as authority figures were invoked. “You had to learn these songs otherwise you would go to hell,” Dahlgren says. “And if you went to hell, you burned forever.” As she begins to talk about mental health and art, often diving headlong into interesting tangents, a younger woman walks up to the package station and starts rifling through for two large boxes. When Dahlgren notices two colorful canvases in Singh. “I find art very healing and therapeuher hands, she immediately begins to in- tic. One thing I love about public health is quire about the art, which we discover is how interdisciplinary it is ... it really encomheaded to the woman’s friends who are passes so many different areas of our lives, getting married on the East Coast soon. so I’m always looking for interconnections.” Pavita Singh is a young graduate who holds a master’s degree from Yale in public Just Business When we return to the post office the health. Also intensely interested in mennext day, we spot two men wearing business tal health and outreach, she lives in Palo attire walk in confidently, laughing and jokAlto with her family. Her childhood was ing around with each other. The two seem spent in multiple locations across the U.S. like familiar colleagues, friends even, and as her father’s work changed from comwhen we approach them we discover that puter science and neurobiolgy to healthone of the men works for the other. Bryan care, and finally to venture capitalism. Cohen, who owns two After being hossmall businesses, has pitalized for an anxiI FIND ART VERY HEALING AND come to pay some bills. ety attack during colAll throughout lege, Singh developed THERAPEUTIC’ the interview, Cohen an interest in mental — PAVITA SINGH is hastily filling out health, and decided the paperwork for his to pursue it as a camail, and he seems reer. She currently volunteers with suicide prevention pro- to be rushing to finish. When we apgrams and hospitals around the area. proach him, he examines his watch and Deciding to explore areas outside her agrees to an interview under the condiprofessional discipline, Singh signed up tion that it will only last for two minutes. Cohen, who grew up in the Bay Area and for painting classes this past January, and attended the University of San Francisco, is what started as an area of exploration has currently the sole owner of Pinnacle Consoon morphed into a deep passion. Though sultants and Laundroland, which was an inshe finds her interest in art immensely vestment to pay for a college kid’s education. different from her career in medicine, The two colleagues continue to jest she says that they exhibit a lot of overlap. throughout the course of the interview; “I’m trying to try to find a way to intewhen we ask in what capacity Cohen works grate the two [art and mental health],” says
with his colleague, his colleague responds with jokingly with “He says he works for us but he really doesn’t.” Cohen quickly responds with a witty “I just show up and get a check,” and the two bend over laughing. When we reach our two-minute limit, he says “You can have one more question — go ahead.” We decide to tap into his obvious business prowess and wealth of experiences by asking for advice for aspiring businesspeople. “You want to do something that you enjoy or something you feel passionate about so that you can stick with it,” Cohen says. “My second recommendation would be to talk to people who are successful in something that you want to do so you can learn from their mistakes.” As time elapses, customers of all ages and sorts come and go, sending off their letters and packages to people around the world. Hundreds of connections are formed by way of a service that is becoming rarer and rarer with the boom of internet communication. Regardless, post offices remain a gathering place for multitudes of people and an important cornerstone of American culture. v CONNECTIONS Dahlgren and Singh engage in a conversation about art. CURSIVE Dahlgren reads over the letter that she wrote for her son Jim. 39
PROFILES | MAY 2016
Flight of the WILLIT THE PURSUIT OF A DESIRE TO ALWAYS “SEND IT” Text by KAI GALLAGHER and NATALIE MAEMURA Photography by WILLIAM DOUGALL
ENERGY Peter Willits performs on the Quad with fellow seniors Russell Star-Lack and Jeremy Samos of the band RAJ for Change in Our Schools Week. Willits has been playing the drums, one of his main hobbies, since middle school.
T’S ANOTHER BRUNCH AT Palo Alto High School, and the crowd is as homogenous as always. Scanning through the throngs of students, it’s easy to feel like less of an individual and more like a statistic. But with the simple removal of a humble King Taco baseball hat, one man rises above the monotony. An afro springs up, signaling the unmistakable presence of senior Peter Willits, Quad-life extraordinaire and master of the art of hanging out. He has gained these titles, in part, through a restless, unceasing dedication to a set of hobbies as kinetic as they are eclectic. “I hit things with sticks,” Willits says. “I also hit things with my hands. I like to vibrate my vocal chords, especially in the shower. I slide down big snowy mountains sideways on a snowboard. I like to ride all varieties of bicycles — mainly bicycles that people consider to be too small for me are my speciality. I like to do aerial maneuvers on those bicycles. Those are some things that interest me”. At first glance, Willits’ hobbies seem disconnected — there is no a clear con-
nection between drumming and skiing. But under the surface, there’s a common thread running through his activities; a desire to do what he loves in an exhibitionist way, loud and proud all the way through. It began with skiing, a hobby that Willits picked up from family trips to Tahoe from the age of five onwards, and slowly morphed into snowboarding. But the slopes were far from home and the skate park was right down the block, and soon enough, one extreme sport led to another. Willits quickly became a bonafide BMXer, spurred on by his brother’s objection to his newfound hobby. “My brother bought me a BMX and banned me from the skatepark as a fourth grader when he was sixth grade because it was social suicide to have your fourth grade brother jumping in the skatepark, so that was my inspiration to go to the skatepark anyway and ride my children’s bike,” Willits says. But the hobby was cut
short when a friend of Willits’ brother broke Willits’ leg in a judo demo gone wrong, putting his biking on a forced hiatus. With nothing to do but wait while his bones knit, Willits turned his restlessness to a new hobby, percussion. Under his uncle’s tutelage, Willits’ skills grew, and he gradually climbed all the way up from practice pads to a full drum set of his own. Over time, the leg healed, but the hobby remained. Unfortunately, a new setback has took hold: high school. Despite his workload, Willits is keeping his head up, looking to attend the University of California, Santa Cruz and afterwards, music school. Through all of it, Willits lives by his personal creed of ‘sending it,’ his own philosophy to give every endeavor his all, no matter the consequences. “You can do anything?” He asks. “Maybe not. But you can try anyPhoto courtesy of Richard Willits. thing.” v
Believing and Knowing
A RABBI'S LIFETIME OF FAITH AND KNOWLEDGE Text and Photography by AMIRA GAREWAL and STEPHANIE LEE
PREACHING Maimon stands at the front of the prayer room where he worships twice a day.
PROFILES | MAY 2016
SPARKLING CHANDElier hangs from the center of the ceiling, each crystals’ infinitesimal bits of color reflecting the stained glass behind. The light glittering from these crystals spirals down, past cream-colored walls and lace curtains, past women and men sitting in separate sections, all the way down to a man standing with a white and blue tallit, or Jewish prayer shawl, thrown over his Western-style suit. He speaks with confidence and power. His voice flows throughout the room, resonating in the minds of the worshippers. Since he was seven, Rabbi Maimon knew what he wanted to be when he grew up — a rabbi, a Jewish scholar and teacher. According to Maimon, after many years of intense training, his dream has come true. Maimon delivers sermons at an Orthodox synagogue in Sunnyvale, Bar Yohai Sephardic Minyan. In addition, he visits multiple schools around the Bay Area, including Palo Alto High School, with the mission of educating curious students about Judaism and bringing them closer to the Jewish experience. Sharing the Passion Every Tuesday during lunch Maimon visits Paly to spread his passion for teaching Judaism to members of the Paly Jewish Student Union. Inside room 215, he stands in front of a diverse group of students, all united by their interest in Judaism. To many, Maimon is an inspiration. His lessons bring a sense of insight to the club, according to Dalia van Zyll, junior and JSU vice president. “He doesn’t just focus on Judaism but religion as a whole," van Zyll says. "He tries to tie it back into our own lives and teach us life lessons that we can take away from the club.” When Maimon speaks, he often tells personal stories and strategically relates them to morals and lessons. He often includies memories from his childhood and his experiences growing up in Seattle and Israel. Other times, his lessons are centered around the everyday actions of those around him. “He likes to be affected by what happens to him everyday,” says Alexander Gouyet, senior and former co-president of JSU. “One time he came to JSU and told us he decided to change the lesson plan because he wants us to appreciate the small things in life. For me, I was having a stressful day, but 41
PROFILE | MAY 2016 day really helped to calm me down.” After his discussions, Maimon makes sure to integrate fun and engaging activities in his visits, ranging from a matzah — Jewish cracker — eating contest to building menorahs — Hanukkah candle holders — with graham crackers.
tions as a maturing adolescent about the religion,” Maimon says. “‘Is there a God? That was my main obstacle, re-evaluating the values I was brought up with.” He tells the story of taking a yearlong break from studying the Torah to explore his personal beliefs. Maimon then returned to his studies only when he was completely convinced about his faith.
From Jerusalem to the Bay Area According to Maimon, he was born into a family of rabbis. Through close support Encouraging Questions from his great-great uncle, he was taught the Despite the inherently subjective navalues of Judiasim from a young age. ture of religion, JSU members say they feel Maimon spent his early childhood comfortable arguing against the teachings of in Seattle, but his parents Maimon, which is in part then decided to move due to his welcoming perto Israel to get a higher sonality. Instead of pushing education. He attended a He encourages members to accept his way yeshiva, a school that pri- people to play devil’s of thinking, he hopes for marily focuses on teaching advocate and argue them to explore and find the Jewish law. According their own beliefs. to Maimon, at age 18, against what he “He encourages peothe principal kicked him believes." ple to play devil’s advocate out because he believed —Dalia van Zyll, and argue against what he that leadership expereince believes,” van Zyll says. JSU club VICE “He is very open about his would help him better PRESIDENT own religious beliefs, while reach his full potential as a rabbi. at the same time he is so acMaimon came to the cepting of everyone else.” Bay Area about five years ago because of Maimon makes it clear that his intenthe kind of people he wanted to teach. tion in life is to educate people. He says that “I was looking for a place...that was meeting over a hundred teenagers a week is very intellectual, but had zero knowledge not easy. However, he believes that the key and background — people that don’t even know that they’re Jewish,” Maimon says. He ended up at the Paly Jewish Student Union by chance when he heard that his friend had helped to start the club. Since he became involved in the beginning of this school year, Maimon has been working hard to improve the club with hopes to increase participation from about 100 members this year to at least 250 by next year.
Questioning Faith You shall know today, and then bring it to your heart that there is one God, and He is the one that gave us the Jewish law. Rabbi Avraham Maimon credits these words, originally written in Hebrew, as the ones that erased his doubts about God’s existence and helped him rediscover God and ultimately strengthened his faith. Even as one dedicating his life to God, Maimon has faced obstacles on his path to becoming a rabbi. “To be totally honest, I had ques42
to connection is to care for JSU members while letting them make choices of their own. “I’m here to educate,” Maimon says. “I’m not here to impose something on you, I’m not here to push something on you ... I’m here to teach you … I will push people to go to do something that will help them experience something, but nothing more than that.” Going Forward When Maimon walks into JSU club every week, it is instantly filled with a rush of excitement. He says he is committed to sharing his beliefs at JSU because of his passion for educating others, specifically teenagers. “I love the teenage stage because you guys are still kids, but you have the minds of adults,” Maimon says. “Teenagers are still exploring.” Every day, Maimon says he feels he is continuing to fulfill his life-long dream by sharing and teaching his beliefs with those around him. “I am a rabbi that is building and doing so many things,” Maimon says. “I want to open up an organization here, dealing with teenagers and giving them Jewish knowledge and Jewish experience. This is a life mission that I took upon myself when I was seven years old.” v
INSCRIPTION Maimon sits in his office as he writes words in Hebrew on a sheet of leather.
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Congratulations to Kathleen Woods and the Paly Theatre Department! To help supply our new theatre with the equipment needed, please donate at: www.palypab.com Thank you, Paly Theatre Boosters
CULTURE | MAY 2016
PAC-ing a Punch Photography by WILLIAM DOUGALL
CULTURE | MAY 2016
Text by ANNA LU and EMILIE MA Art by KARINA CHAN
BAY AREA TV SHOWS ARE DELIGHTFULLY OFFBEAT
Silicon Valley In all oF its quips, "Silicon Valley" perfectly captures thE essence oF and mocks thE ridiculous startup incubator that is Palo Alto, where billionaires wear toe socks. HBO’s “Silicon Valley” makes smart look kind-of-sexy. In Palo Alto, where “Kid Rock is the poorest person here,” a group of coders take their shot at developing the next billion-dollar startup. Everyone is incredibly smart and fresh out of college, with the same false hope of becoming the next Steve Wozniack — not Jobs, because as entrepreneur Erlich Bachman (T. J. Miller) puts it, “Jobs is a poser. He didn’t even write code.” Awkward and reticent coder Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch) lives with his friends in Erlich’s home, where they come up with useless inventions like binary soup — alphabet soup with 1s and 0s instead of letters — until Richard develops a computer algorithm whose potential he doesn’t even recognize. In less than 30 seconds, a $600,000 initial evaluation becomes $10 million, Erlich makes a poorly timed joke about Grindr and Richard gets a panic attack when he realizes that he has 24 hours to decide whether to keep or sell his potentially multi-billion dollar company.
In all of its quips, “Silicon Valley” perfectly captures the essence of and mocks the ridiculous startup incubator that is Palo Alto, where billionaires wear toe socks and drive around in 1-seat blue nano cars the size of a bicycle, and everyone is the owner of a startup. When Richard gets a panic attack, even his doctor is less concerned about his medical condition, and more about getting the newly successful Richard to invest in his biotechnology. The show is well-structured and witty, and unafraid to mock even itself. As one billionaire stares out the window during a therapy session with his yogi, he reaches a pseudo-epiphany that every friend group seems to have a tall skinny guy, a fat guy, two regular white guys, and an East Indian — just like the show’s main cast — and that “it’s like they trade guys until they have the right group.” Amidst the chaos of Silicon Valley, where dreams come true for college dropouts, Richard reminds his friends to “think different. No, don’t think different — that’s Apple.”
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"Fuller House" is only funny in its awkwardness. The sequel to the ‘90s classic “Full House,” Netflix’s “Fuller House” features acting that is not only amateurish but cheesy, and redeems itself only in its moments of nostalgia and witty self-awareness. In one of the pilot episode’s rare comedic moments, Jesse Katsopolis (John Stamos) declares in the beginning of the episode, “damn, we all still look good.” And he’s not wrong. Twenty years after “Full House,” the 11-member cast still lives in the same house as before. Now, the series centers around D.J. Tanner-Fuller (Candace Cameron Bure), a recently-widowed mother of three sons, who raises her children with the help of her sister Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin) and best friend Kimmy (Andrea Barber). In the pilot episode, the entire ensemble returns for the opening scene with the exception of twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, whose absence does not go unacknowledged. In a clever moment of self-awareness, Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) explains that the twins are “busy in the
ptures the esor that is Palo ound in 1-seat the owner of s doctor is less about getting nology. fraid to mock during a therany that every uy, two regular s main cast — right group.” ms come true “think differ-
CULTURE | MAY 2016
Monk Monk is germaphobic, afraid OF THE dark, heights, crowds — and milk, but somehow still brilliant. Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub), the lead of USA Network’s “Monk” is described in the pilot episode as “germaphobic, afraid of the dark, heights, crowds — and milk,” but he’s somehow still brilliant. A former San Francisco Police Department detective, Monk is such a talented investigator that sometimes his colleagues don’t even believe him. In the show’s opening scene, Monk uses a Calvinist painting to deduce that the victim was of Calvinist religion, so she couldn’t have been a smoker, which means that the stray cigarette must have been left behind by the murderer. But between Monk’s bursts of dexterity, he repeatedly questions whether he left the stove on. This tick is a result of severe Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder that he developed when a car bombing killed his wife. Moments like this,
and his need to be constantly accompanied by his nurse Sharona, are why Monk is no longer on the force. Sure enough, when Monk is called back in to assist the police force, he quickly solves the crime — but not without first lining up everyone’s pens so that they are perfectly parallel to the paper. “Monk” is funny without being laughout-loud comical, and its plot is clever. In one scene, Monk, who is sitting on the balcony, accidentally drops his keys into a coffin and fishes them out with a piece of floss and a paper clip. When he pulls up to lift the keys out, he accidentally jerks the dead guy’s arm, and everyone thinks the dead guy came back alive. Much like Monk’s antics, “Monk” seamlessly breaths life back into cop shows with its well-timed comedy and clever, unexpected plot. v
fashion industry in New York,” before the entire cast looks into the camera and breaks the fourth wall to give the audience a nod of disapproval. Sadly, the moments of nostalgia are drowned out by an abundance of terrible acting. “Fuller House” is only funny in its awkwardness — the acting is over-exaggerated and forced, fostering many cringeworthy moments. But while the returning cast disappoints, the new generation of children steal the show with their quirky comebacks. When his mom scolds him, 7-year-old Max Fuller (Elias Harger) reminds her, “I already know the bad words — dumb, booger and Donald Trump,” one of the only comedic moments of the 20-minute-long comedy. Ultimately, the best 20 seconds of the show are the opening credits, whose thenand-now transformations of the iconic cast give a nostalgic nod to loyal “Full House” viewers. We tuned in because of “Full House,” and left because of “Fuller House.”
CULTURE ||MAY 2016
LEGACY Text by ROY ZAWADZKI Photography by WILLIAM DOUGALL
TOWERING Ramona Street District’s Spanish Mission architecture contrasts University Avenue’s modern look.
Professorville borhoods and creation of thi development Stanford Univ fessors wished neighborhood created. Boun dison avenues Bryant, and W a large array o Colonial Revi Craftsman’s ex
OLD PALO ALTO CULTURE LIVES ON IN ARCHITECTURE
ITH NEW HOME DEVELOPMENTS SPRINGING UP AROUND THE BAY AREA, ONLY A HANDful of local residential areas contain the suburban authenticity that Palo Alto’s few historic neighborhoods offer. These unique homes and distinct properties are beginning to be undermined by mixed-use zoning and medium density housing. While “copy and paste” townhouses and apartments populate nearby cities, some parts of Palo Alto remain in the original form they were built in over 90 years ago. With these communities come the charm and culture of not only the people who live there, but the historic houses they live in. Old architecture offers 48 invaluable window into the past. In these quiet suburban streets the quaint, pre-dot com boom city of Palo Alto remains. v an
CULTURE | MAY 2016
Green Gables Eichler Just off the corner of Greer Road and Embarcadero Road, Green Gables is one of California’s many famous Eichler enclaves. Built by American architect Joseph Eichler in the mid ‘50s and ‘60s, these single floor, open-concept homes were vanguards in modern architecture. Even after several decades of renovation, the same midcentury, suburban ambition can be felt today when you step inside an Eichler. Propelled by the concept of flow, an Eichler often contains large windows and skylights that fill houses with natural light. Rooms are not defined by walls, but rather the house acts as a continuum from living room to kitchen to hallway. Glass doors lead to private courtyards where local traffic noise is filtered out.
amona Street anish Mission rasts Univermodern look.
A HANDful borhoods ofe zoning and y cities, some communities tecture offers to remains. v
Professorville District Professorville is one of Palo Alto’s oldest neighborhoods and a registered historic district. The creation of this neighborhood was integral in the development of modern-day Palo Alto. When Stanford University was in its early years, professors wished to live off-campus, and hence the neighborhood now dubbed “Professorville” was created. Bounded by Lincoln, Kingsley, and Addison avenues, and the cross streets of Ramona, Bryant, and Waverly, these 740 acres of land enjoy a large array of stylistic influences ranging from Colonial Revival’s columned facades to American Craftsman’s expansive roofs.
Ramona Street Architectural District Just off the corner of Ramona Street and University Avenue, the Ramona Street Architectural District’s Spanish Mission influences can easily be spotted. Located in the heart of downtown, this area presents two to three story offices, roofed with mission-style tiling, furnished by romantic arches and filled with various courtyards of varying space. From the first building erected in 1925 to its adoption to its recognition as a historic district in 1985, present day Ramona street has maintained the same Iberian charm, but with a modern twist. 49
CULTURE | MAY 2016 Text by MICHELLE LI and GABRIELA ROSSNER Photos by WILLIAM DOUGALL and GABRIELA ROSSNER
Art by KARINA CHAN
EVERY DOG HAS ITS PARK
REVIEW: WHERE TO TAKE YOUR POOCH TO PLAY As the school year comes to an end and the summer sun begins to shine, more and more students and families find themselves with more time to bring their dogs to frolic outside at Palo Alto’s three sanctioned dog parks. Verde set out to see how much these parks provide for our furry friends. v
Hoover Park Nestled in the far back corner of Hoover Park, this enclosed dirt area is filled with dozens of dirty tennis balls, trees, pooper scoopers and a water pump. It’s a little narrow, so it’s probably best suited for dogs who want to chase balls in a line. The park lacks any grass, but has plenty of mud patch and dirt. Based on our experience, we urge you to keep your canine away from the water bowl since it gave our pups painful diarrhea, but the rest of the run is fine. Overall, the Hoover Run is a little ruff, but a decent place for a dog who just wants to case balls.
Mitchell Park The Mitchell Dog Park, located at the back of the bustling green center, is a puppy paradise. It was not only the biggest of the three we visited, but also the most diversely populated, with both big and little dogs. Additionally, owners had the option to choose from at least 10 different seating options placed in the sun and in the shade. The land is evenly split between sand and grass, with two water buckets on each side. Dogs have the space to both fetch balls and wrestle with each other. The cuteness factor of the park is definitely improved by a pair of mini red and yellow fire hydrant replicas that served as pee stations. It may not be 100 percent Zootopia, but it comes pawsitively close!
Greer Park The Greer Dog Park is everything that a dog park should not be. Firstly, there are no signs designating the area as an official offleash dog park. What we found was a low fence that encompassed a barren strip of land. To our horror, an entire side of the fence was lined with chicken wire and thorny weeds. The strip, a mix of hard bare dirt and concrete, was littered with sharp thorns and trash. Unlike the other parks, Greer didn’t offer pooper scoopers or water, and no dogs were there. Ironically, the one dog we saw that day was playing happily off leash in a non-designated grassy area right next to the sanctioned dog run. The Greer Dog Park isn’t just not fun, but also looked unsafe. Paws off! 50
CULTURE MAY 2016
Text by EMMA COCKERELL and LAURA SIEH Photography by EMMA COCKERELL
FTER SPEAKING FOR A FEW MINUTES WITH AN employee over the phone, you pick up your Kung Pao chicken and chow mein packaged in paper boxes dripping with grease. So the stereotype of Chinese food goes. There’s nothing wrong with this image of American Chinese food — it’s its own gem. After all, the American fortune cookie, which the skeptical Asian grandparent may scoff at, has proved its worth by finding its way into essentially every Chinese restaurant in the nation. But quality Chinese food offers a certain experience that is unattainable through any other type of food. Luckily, the diversity of the Bay Area has allowed a profusion of upscale and authentic Chinese restaurants to flourish. Verde decided to eat at a couple of Palo Alto’s best Chinese restaurants and detail the experience. v 52
PEKING DUCK (top left) With a perfect mixture of crispy skin and tender meat, the savory duck at Peking Duck Restaurant was our favorite dish. As its specialty dish, Peking Duck is a musthave at the restaurant. SIZZLING BEEF (center) Su Hong Eatery offers several delicious options, including the sizzling beef pictured directly above. An impressive aspect of this dish is its presentation while sizzling under a cloud of hot steam.
4256 El Camino Real
LOCAL BUSINESSES PROVIDE AUTHENTIC DINING
SU HONG EATERY
151 California Ave
PEKING DUCK RESTAURANT
T 4256 El Camino Real
EEF (center) Su offers several dens, including the pictured directly mpressive aspect its presentation under a cloud of
SU HONG EATERY
UCK (top left) ect mixture of nd tender meat, duck at Peking urant was our As its specialty Duck is a muststaurant.
CULTURE I| MAY 2016
idden within a two-story business complex on California Avenue, Peking Duck Restaurant has low lighting, which makes it feel more highend and less family-friendly. Peking Duck Restaurant is a good choice for, as expected, its Peking Duck ($17.50 for a half duck, $32 for a whole), a signature Beijing dish. The duck was the first dish to arrive, and was our favorite because of the way the savory meat combined with the crispiness of the duck’s baked golden-brown skin. The duck, sliced into pieces conveniently away from the bone, is presented
his Palo Alto favorite, located on El Camino, has been in the city for more than 20 years, and its recent move across town surely hasn’t hurt its bustling business. When we walked into the restaurant on a Friday night, all of the rooms were packed, and though this made the food come out a bit slower than at Peking Duck Restaurant, the service and attention to detail made up for it. The waiters regularly refilled our drinks throughout the meal without prompting and were extremely quick to attend to our needs. The first item we ordered was the crispy duck ($16.95 for half). As the name suggests, the duck had tasty and crispy skin. There was plenty of meat because the bone was left on, but it was difficult to get to the meat. The meat itself was a little dry and was not as tasty as the meat at Peking Duck. Next, we ordered sizzling beef ($10.95), which was a savory stir-fry of beef and vegetables served with an exquisite sauce. The sizzling of the dish combined
with a choice of buns or flat tortilla-like pancakes to wrap the meat, along with cucumber, spring onion and a flavorful plum sauce. The next dish to arrive, wok-fried lamb and scallion ($13.95), was savory, but the sauce was overly salty and the dish itself was very heavy. The Shanghai Noodles dish with pork and spinach ($9.50) was essentially just chow mein noodles with pork and spinach. The noodles were quite tasty, but a little oily and nothing too special. In general, the food was average, and service was subpar.
WOK-FRIED LAMB AND SCALLION. The savory lamb dish from Peking Duck Restaurant features meat accompanied by scallion, onions and carrots, all tossed together in a flavorful sauce. with huge amounts of steam added to the excitement of the dish. Lastly, we ordered the House Special Noodle Soup, a thick gelatinous egg soup with pork, shrimp and vegetables. A creative take on a traditional Chinese dish, Su Hong added a variety of extra ingredients, making it more interesting. The soup itself was extremely flavorful — potentially too salty for some — but overall the dish was delicious. To add a note of authenticity, Su Hong concluded our meal with a tasty complimentary red bean soup for dessert. We particularly enjoyed the service and ambiance of the restaurant, which was inviting and well-lit with plenty of natural light. 53
CULTURE | DECEMBER 2015
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CULTURE I| MAY 2016
Text by SOPHIE NAKAI and RACHEL VAN GELDER Photography by SOPHIE NAKAI
ONE MAN’S TRASH IS ANOTHER MAN’S TREASURE
S SUMMER APPROACHES, MANY STUDENTS LOOK FOR PLACES TO SHOP FOR NEW CLOTHES. However, stores in Palo Alto are not very affordable. Luckily, there is an alternate option for cheap, high quality clothing: thrift shopping. Thrift stores offer a wide variety of items in all different styles and sizes. Each store has a unique selection and prices are guaranteed to be much cheaper than regular stores. Through a random search of thrift stores in the bay area, Verde found some of the best and decided to check them out. v
Thrift Town (2101 Mission St., San Francisco)- 3.5/5 Stars On a busy street corner in the Mission District of San Francisco, a massive building stands with a sign reading “Thrift Town.” Upon stepping foot into the store, it becomes clear that we really are entering a whole town, not just a store. Hundreds of racks of quirky clothing occupy the large space, leaving little room to move between the garments. We started by going through the women’s clothing. As we made our way through an aisle of identical jeans, with the exception of a few pairs that had interesting details like unique stitching patterns, our eyes were drawn across the aisle to a rack of long, brightly colored dresses swaying in the breeze of a nearby fan. Most of the dresses had little to no holes, rips or stains and were very affordable. As we moved on, we were thankful for the well-labeled sections that made the store much easier to navigate. The men’s section, though smaller than the women’s, also had everything from swimwear to sport coats.
SAVERS Half of Savers’ wide selection of women’s winter coats.
THRIFT TOWN The exterior of Thrift Town, which stands at the corner of Mission Street and 17th Street.
Savers (875 Main St., Redwood City)- 3/5 Stars Inside Savers, we were surrounded by home decor, kitchenware, electronics and garments. The many racks of clothing had a number of statement pieces. In the men’s section, we discovered a surprisingly high quality plaid sport coat at a very low price. As we continued to look, we found a few good menswear pieces, but it took a lot of digging through damaged pieces.The women’s section had similar quality clothing to the men’s with a few formal dresses on the back wall. The dresses were very well priced considering their value. In the home decor and electronics section, we found a few unique things, but not all of them were great quality – some were damaged or broken. The section that seemed to have the best selection of items turned out to be the movie and book aisle. We were surprised by the number of movies that were cheap and in good condition.
Buffalo Exchange (1555 Haight St., San Francisco)- 4/5 Stars As we entered the Buffalo Exchange, we were greeted by a cheery “hello!” from one of the sales associates. At first glance, the store seemed normal, but upon taking another look we realized that the layout of the store was quite odd. There was one register right next to the door and another in the back. As we flipped through the racks, we noticed modern clothes mixed in with the rare ‘80s or ‘90s piece. All of the pieces were in good condition, with little to no holes, rips or stains. The men’s section was slightly on the small side, however the selection for both men and women was fantastic. This store was a little more pricey, often ranging from about seven to $40. This store also allowed customers to sell old clothes, provided that they are still fashionable and in good condition.
BUFFALO EXCHANGE A few of the blouses 55 found in Buffalo Exchange’s women’s setion.
CULTURE | MAY 2016
Rethinking College AUTHOR REASSURES HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
OR THE SAKE OF COLlege admissions, vast forests have died and whole continents could be denuded.” It is with this level of sauciness that Frank Bruni, a Pulitzer Prize finalist in feature writing and New York Times opinion columnist, breaks down the impossibilities of today’s college admissions process in “Where You’ll Go is Not Who You’ll Be.” The 2015 New York Times bestseller, which received positive reviews, assures the reader that the college admissions process is arbitrary and not a reflection of their own academic capabilities, and that many people from all ranks of life have still managed to lead successful and fulfilling lives despite having attended less “prestigious” colleges. Verde had two staff writers read Bruni’s novel separately — Frances, a sophomore who has yet to begin the college application process, and Elana, a senior who has just finished the process and will be heading off to college in the fall.
Frances’s Review While Bruni’s book fails to offer a solution to problems surrounding college admissions, it definitely broadened my horizons by swimming upstream through the recent deluge of “How to Get Into The Ivies” books. Speaking from my position of relative naiveté as a high school sophomore and the first in my immediate family to apply to university in the United States, I found this book incredibly helpful. To be frank, my family rarely discusses college, but when they do, only a select few universities, like the Universities of California and the Ivies, are mentioned. Bruni’s book, which includes stories of seniors who were rejected from their dream colleges but still led fulfilling lives as adults, taught me that the options for college are practically limitless and that it is always possible for someone to find happiness and success in college, regardless of which school they attend. While I initially disagreed with Bruni’s definition of success, which was heav-
ily loaded with Fortune 500 CEOs and household-name politicians, my final interpretation of his message is ultimately more inspiring. If Nikki Haley, the first IndianAmerican female governor of South Carolina, who attended Clemson University, where the acceptance rate is over 50 percent, or anyone else on Bruni’s list could have acquired such lofty achievements without being “draped in ivy,” then I can accomplish whatever goals I dream of, regardless of the college I attend. When Bruni provided empirical evidence that hard work and passion trump the college on one’s diploma, I felt a weight lifted off my chest and a reaffirmation that I should pursue my own interests without the compulsion to be perfect. Bruni also gracefully highlights serious problems in the status quo, like the trend of applying to an absurd number of colleges and the sheer subjectivity of the process used to create the infamous college rankings. However, Bruni usually neglects to address the solution itself. Had he presented
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CULTURE | MAY 2016 Text by ELANA REBITZER and FRANCES ZHUANG Art by ALICE ON
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THAT “WHERE YOU GO IS NOT WHO YOU’LL BE”
a solution, he might create more positive I didn’t feel like Bruni’s overall message change in the destructive college admis- about college was particularly new. Howsions process. ever, I realize it’s possible that Bruni’s adDespite Bruni’s lack of solutions, I vice about “finding your fit” had become would highly recomso widely agreed upon mend this book to all that I was getting his sophomores, juniors I can accomplish what- advice without knowand even parents who ing it was coming from ever goals i dream of, might be more stressed him. While I was inithan their children regardless of the college tially disenchanted by about the college adhis anecdotes, Bruni’s i attend. missions process. conversational writing style eventually grew Elana’s Review on me and I found myself eagerly flipping When I picked up “Where You Go is the pages. Not Who You’ll Be,” I was not expecting My opinion on his book also imthe book to be enlightening. My opinion proved when I found myself encouraging did not change throughout the first half, a conflicted friend to choose a less highly especially because he does not say much ranked school by quoting his anecdotes. about how current applicants can help fix Having backup from someone of Bruni’s the college process. stature definitely helped give my argument While applying, I heard that I needed more weight. to apply to colleges that were a fit for me However, people who look to apply to just as frequently as I had felt pressure to higher ranked colleges regardless of fit they apply to the highest ranking colleges, so are do not represent a large segment of the
population. He talks about people who choose to go to honors colleges at less elite schools, but ignores the people who don’t have the scores to get into those schools in the first place. I was also disappointed at his exclusion of community colleges. Bruni’s definition of “success” is also questionable. At times, I felt like the thesis of the book was “It doesn’t matter where you go to undergrad, because you can still get into an elite graduate school and become traditionally successful.” My biggest qualm wasn’t with the book itself, but in the afterward, where Bruni makes his only reference to Palo Alto, talking about the multiple suicides of past years. Though he otherwise addressed tough topics respectfully, Bruni missed the mark here, talking about Palo Alto only in relation to suicide and seemingly linking those issues to educational pressure. Unfortunately, since this was the last section of the book, it left me with a bad taste as I finished what was otherwise an enjoyable and fairly enlightening experience. v
CULTURE | MAY 2016 Text by IRENE CHOI, ANNA NAKAI Text by SIDDHARTH SRINIVASAN and MICHELLE TANG Art by SIDDHARTH SRINIVASAN Photography by MICHELLE TANG
MOM 'n POP SHOPS
SMALL FAMILY BUSINESSES FUELED BY PASSION “
HERE USED TO BE LOTS OF SMALLER CAFES AND GIFT SHOPS. NOW YOU SEE LOTS OF BIG corporations — it’s hard to compete with them,” says Tonya Nguyen, co-owner of Cafe Epi. Nguyen feels that it’s become difficult for small businesses to thrive in Palo Alto. Loop Net, a real estate research company, found that retail property in Palo Alto went from $270 per square foot in 2014 to $320 per square foot now in 2016. In the face of difficult times, it’s important to support family-owned businesses that are pillars in the community. Here are two we think are keepers. v
Lee Optometrics Cafe Epi By the corner of Hamilton and Ramona, a compact boutique The cozy storefront of Cafe Epi in downtown Palo Alto is wedged between large concrete buildings. As the door swings welcomes people with colorful pastries and an impressive wine open, the sound of people chattering in multiple languages flows display. A well-maintained eatery and a thriving business, Cafe out. Adrienne Lee, the co-owner and primary optometrist of Lee Epi is the workplace and home of Todd Le and Tonya Nguyen’s Optometrics, emerges from behind the curtain separating the pafamily. tient reception room and the exam room. Parents of senior Christina Le and Paly graduates Amanda Lee and her husband Jeff Chang opened Lee Optometrist and Julianne Le, Nguyen and her husband and business partnine years ago. After working at Kaiser, she says she was tired of ner met in college while studying to become electrical engineers. rushed check-ups and the inflexibility of working in a large mediTodd Le, however, always loved to make pastries and returned to cal foundation. culinary school after graduating. “I just felt like life was too stressful working there,” Lee says. The couple puts hours of work into their business. Todd Le “A small, private practice and working slower to provide more percomes to the store at 5 a.m. every morning to make pastries, and sonal care would be better.” most days the couple only gets to leave at 11 p.m.. Now Lee feels that she’s able to spend more times with her “The kids see how hard we work,” Nguytwo daughters Chloe Chang, a sophomore at en says, “They study harder, wanting to make Paly, and Corinne Chang, a first grader at Dusomething of themselves.” veneck. She’s grateful for the flexibility owning Not only has the hard work at the Cafe YOU SEE REGULAR CUSTOMa small business offers her everyday life. motivated the Le children, but tending to cusERS EVERYDAY AND IT BE“It gives me full control to go to all the tomers also helped them become more social recitals, see my kids, take off if they’re sick,” COMES AN ‘EPI FAMILY’” and grounded, Nguyen reflects. Lee says. “A lot of kids are very shy,” Nguyen says. — TONYA NGUYEN As she balances her family with work, Lee “But not my kids. They love to talk to differhas been able to adhere to the ideals she held ent people. School teaches you things, but real when the business was first created: provide life— it’s different.” high quality, unique eyewear that accommodates for all types of The many hardships the business faces includes rising emfacial structures. ployee salaries, which went from $8.75 per hour in 2008 to $11 Her life with Lee Optometrics is harder, but she likes it. now. Despite the difficulties, Nguyen says they enjoy the job. “It’s a trade-off between the flexibility and satisfaction and a “It’s a fun time,” Nguyen says. “You see regular customers higher income. But it’s worth it,” Lee says. every day, and it becomes an ‘Epi Family’.” TEAMWORK Paly senior Christina Le and her sister Aman“It’s something that’s important to my family,” Christina da Le help a customer at their family’s business, Cafe Epi. says. “This counter is my dinner table. We bond here.”
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CULTURE | MAY 2016 Text by SIDDHARTH SRINIVASAN Artby bySIDDHARTH SIDDHARTHSRINIVASAN SRINIVASAN Text and Art
OPENING A TIME CAPSULE IS WORTH THE WAIT
T GOES WITHOUT SAYING THAT TIME MOVES fast. Time often seems to fly, but it is mostly because we don’t stop to notice its presence. If I checked my height with etched tick marks on the wall in my bedroom each day, I’d draw my hand level with the very same point. The same way, if I thought about my moral values each day, I’d probably see little difference. Change in practically anything isn’t noticeable without the passing of a significant amount of time. If you rummage through the deepest part of my relatively shallow closet, you’ll encounter a plastic water bottle, that has quietly accompanied me in every house I’ve lived in for the past 10 years. Not for the lack of a better term, it is simply a “message in a bottle” containing my third grade identity within its crinkling, plastic exterior. Wrapped on the outside over the Aquafina label is a thin paper marked with the date it is to be opened. Our third grade teacher Phillip Done told me and my classmates to choose a date far in the future for when we would break open the bottle — I picked June 2016. On the first of June, the day I graduate from high school, I’ll be taking that plastic water bottle out of my closet and opening it. I’m hopeful that my third grade self put time and effort into the letter he wrote me, or the objects he chose to cast away inside the plastic. Yet 10 years is a long time, and I hardly know what to expect. I was probably over 20 tick marks on the wall below where I am now, and like Marty McFly from Back to the Future, I likely had no idea what a decade into the future would look like. On this day, I’ll also be filling up a new bottle to be opened at the next stage of my life. I hope you will join me in this adventure and make your own time capsule. v
Make Your Own Capsule CONTAINER — Selecting this component mainly depends on how much you intend to store in your capsule. The more momentos or keepsakes you want to include, the bigger the container needs to be. If you are intent on burying it, opt for a more airtight container as it will be exposed to moisture. If you’re looking to keep it safely hidden at the back of your closet, a bottle, flask or even shoebox should do. LETTER — This is the key component of your capsule. Like a diary entry, it helps the future you paint a picture of what you were like at the time you wrote the letter, so make sure to include details about your thoughts, values and hopes for the future. SENTIMENTAL ARTIFACTS — Consider including objects that represent your current interests or passions. Avoid perishables at all costs. Freeze dried foods are possibly the one exception to the “no perishables” rule. ITEMS OF TODAY — Give the future you a perspective of the world you live in today. Items such as newspaper clippings, prices of your favorite foods or popular trinkets can all be included. REGISTER YOUR CAPSULE — If you are feeling official or commemorative, register your capsule with the international time capsule society at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta. For advice, visit the New York Times' piece at http:// tinyurl.com/nytimecampsule or consult the Library of Congress' for guidlines.
sister Amanafe Epi. 59
the senior section Reporting by EMILIE MA and NATALIE MAEMURA Photography by WILLIAM DOUGALL
What will you miss most about Paly? “Seeing all my friends “Quad lyfe.”
in one place.”
— EMMA SCOTT
— SHIV MATTA
“I’m going to miss how close the teachers are to you and how much they’re willing to help you.” — CHRISTINA LE
“The crazy people, the sports teams, my teammates.” — ALEXIS HARRIS
TOP ROW from left: Claire Kokontis; Sophie Swezey; Przemek Gardias, Greg Eum and Eric Nicholls; Aiva Petriceks; NoĂŠmie von Kaenel, Leili Najambadi and Carissa Zou. BOTTOM ROW from left: Ariya Momeny and Bryn Carlson; Robert Cheng, Eoin Oâ€™Farrell and Eric Griswold; Saba Moussavian and Clara de Martel; Charlie Glenwright. 61
ss o cla
CULTURE | MAY 2016
LEFT TO RIGHT Carl Goodfriend; Helena Oft and Christina Le; Nikhil Rajaram.
1 20 6
What was your favorite memory? “Night swimming at the Paly pool.” — ANONYMOUS
“APUSH.” — NIKA WOODFILL
“When I clutched an A in math in 10th grade.” — ADRIAN WANG
Any last words? “Good riddance.” — NIKHIL RAJARAM
“Online Editor-in-Chief is a real theed.” — JEREMY FU
“If you’re 45 minutes late, it’s still a tardy.” — EMANUELLE POIVET
“It’s been real.” — SOPHIE SWEEZY
What would you tell your freshman self?
“Get involved and be a “Everything works out “Please try to go to part of the community in the end.” bed by nine.” — AIVA PETRICEKS — ALINA GOMEZ while you can at Paly.” — LARKIN MCDERMOTT 62 62
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PERSPECTIVES | MAY 2016
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FIGHTING UNJUST CRITICISM OF KOREAN MUSIC
HEN I TELL MY FRIENDS I HAVE good taste in music, they don’t believe me. “But Karina, you can’t have good taste in music! You listen to K-Pop,” they say, emphasis on the K. While nobody else got judged as much for listening to Enrique Iglesias, Stromae or any other international artist, my preference for K-Pop soon became a social crime. People often think K-Pop is shallow because of Korea’s plastic surgery culture and are quick to judge K-Pop because it’s a culture they haven’t bothered to understand. As a result of this judgement, my K-Pop obsession became something I was ashamed of — I was a “closet” K-Pop fan. But, I’ve realized that there is no reason K-Pop shouldn’t be seen as a legitimate genre of music. Different cultures have different music styles, but different isn’t wrong. With the growing popularity of K-Pop, this is the best time for my “coming out” of the KPop closet to address any concerns that people may have about the genre.
production? It’s frustrating when people can’t look past plastic surgery to recognize many K-Pop artists’ talent. And besides, people have the right to do what they want with their bodies and make themselves look and feel their best. People: But their music videos are all so random and they don’t mean anything. Me: At the most basic level, music videos don’t need to be anything other than eye-catching. There’s no plot to Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” or Drake’s “Hotline Bling”, but they’re both hits across America. Similarly, EXO’s “Call Me Baby” and Girls’ Generation’s “Catch Me If You Can” are just as dance-heavy and plot-less. However, if you are a person who enjoys deeper meaning behind music and media, there are plenty of Korean music videos that communicate profound messages. One great example is the real and punchy “Bloom” by Gain which gives an innocent and genuine perspective on losing one’s virginity.
CHECK OUT MY PLAYLIST FOR K-POP BEGINNERS: TINYURL. COM/BEGINKPOP
People: Can you even understand what they’re saying? If you can’t understand the lyrics then what’s the point in listening? Me: People jam to Electronic Dance Music, which doesn’t have lyrics, all the time. Additionally, a lot of merit in music includes the feeling it can evoke in a person without words. The production of Korean music is something I appreciate and that others should at least respect, even if they don’t prefer it. Furthermore, many international fans use subtitles to understand the meaning the artists try to convey through their songs. Also, K-Pop is a great genre to listen to while studying because the words don’t compete for your attention when you read or write English. Bonus points. People: But Karina, don’t K-Pop idols get plastic surgery? Me: Don’t other famous artists from other countries go under the knife? Does plastic surgery change the legitimacy of music
People: The males look effeminate. I mean, they wear makeup and are fashionable. Me: Criticizing males because they’re effeminate is reinforcing gender norms. Also, denouncing the fact that males in K-Pop take the time to care about their appearances doesn’t make sense — being fashionable isn’t a crime. People: I’ve heard that production companies abuse their artists by overworking and underpaying them. Me: That trend is disconcerting and it is something that should be changed, but it shouldn’t invalidate any fan’s appreciation of the music that’s created by the artists. The K-Pop industry definitely has issues, just like in any music industry, but fans that appreciate this type of music should not be shunned. Hopefully, with these arguments, I’ve helped open some minds to the beautiful, colorful world of K-Pop. v 63
PERSPECTIVES | MAY 2016
Text by GABRIEL SÁNCHEZ Art by VIVIAN NGUYEN
Prosperous PrivIlEge RISING COST FOR COLLEGE HURTS STUDENTS HE COLLEGE I GO TO tion that selective universities — this is maining assured that there will still be “ will determine the rest of not referring to the selectiveness of the plenty of high school graduates eager to
my life. If I don’t get into my dream school, then I am a failure and will die alone.” This is a common thought sequence in the high-strung and overachieving environment that is the Palo Alto public school system. While I may criticize the culture that surrounds our education system, I do acknowledge the fact that we high schoolers in Palo Alto receive a world class education that gives us a leg up when applying to college. However, this is not the only advantage that we share. A good portion of us, myself included, have possibly the greatest advantage of all — we are part of the American bourgeois and can afford to be sent to any college that our little hearts desire. Many students do not share this luxury, and the problem of rising college tuition prices maintains the longh e l d tradi-
schools, but rather a black-and-white take on student loans so they can put a distinction between whether colleges ad- prestigious university on their résume. mit everyone or not These new funds — will largely only “To look better than their are placed back into enroll the affluent. the system where they The current rise competitors, the institugo to improving the in tuition prices be- tions wind up in an arms university and makgan in the ‘80s and ing the school more has continued for race of spending” appealing. This trend — Ronald Ehrenberg draws in more potenmore than three decades, according to tial applicants and labor economist Professor Ronald Eh- thus makes it easier to raise tuition rates. renberg in his paper Tuition Rising: Why “The objective of selective academic College Costs So Much. Recent years have institutions is to be the best they can in seen a ballooning in costs, with a 78 per- every aspect of their activities,” Ehrencent increase in tuition prices between berg states. “They aggressively seek out 1987 and 2010, according to econo- all possible resources and put them to mists Grey Gordon and Aaron Hed- use funding things they think will make lund. them better. To look better than their The upsurge in tuition is gro- competitors, the institutions wind up in tesque — it is one of many mani- an arms race of spending.” festations of the archaic tradition An “arms race of spending” is not surrounding the privilege of the what our education system needs. Equal prosperous that still abounds in opportunity is an American value. If we our society. This dangerous fail to provide even a modicum of fairgrowth is tightly squeez- ness in this system, then can we really be ing the budgets of the proud of our world class universities? American middle But we do not have to consign ourand lower class selves to this iniquitous system. Governfamilies. ment regulation of tuition price increasThe con- es could help keep college affordable stant supply for all. There are a few initiatives that of applicants colleges have taken to help make their has allowed education available to those who cannot institutions afford it, one example being Stanford to raise University’s recent promise to give a free their rates education to all who are accepted whose while re- families makes less than $125,000 a year. We cannot, however, rely on colleges to take action on their own. Without regulation, this detrimental trend will continue and the American dream will once again become unachievable for the middle and lower classes. v
portation of ing the endl the past few tion, includi souri where service to L warrants su this country discriminatio or be cured treatment. I tion will ext tinos, and th hate, rather in our nation I have, of hope, be bates and fl fluential has not a memb I respect the ing centurie the world to ceptance ov of where on Catholic tow can apprecia sage and his gressive lead Accord Times, the p criticism of lics against riage and to of equal rig 2016. Alth to comprom opposite se same sex ma away from segment of
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nding” is not needs. Equal n value. If we icum of fairn we really be iversities? consign ourtem. Governprice increasge affordable itiatives that p make their e who cannot ing Stanford to give a free cepted whose 25,000 a year. , rely on colon their own. , this detriontinue and m will once chievable for r classes. v
PERSPECTIVES | MAY 2016 Text by ALIA CUADROS-CONTRERAS Art by ALICE ON
a newfound hope
POPE FRANCIS LEADS THE WAY TO ACCEPTANCE
S A LATINA LIVING IN the United States, I worry that the next headline of every major newspaper will read “Congress orders deportation of all Latin Americans.” After seeing the endless cases of suspended rights in the past few years regarding sexual orientation, including the most current case in Missouri where employees are allowed to deny service to LGBTQ people if their religion warrants such action, I question whether this country’s trend of hate will end with the discrimination of the LGBTQ community or be cured by federal laws requiring equal treatment. I am scared that such discrimination will extend to other groups, such as Latinos, and that our next leader will fuel such hate, rather than extinguish the intolerance in our nation. I have, however, found a few beacons of hope, between the endless political debates and flashing headlines. The most influential has been the pope. Although I am not a member of the Catholic Church, I respect the pope’s courage in changing centuries old traditions to bring the world together and profess acceptance over hatred. Regardless of where one lives, even in a lessCatholic town like Palo Alto, one can appreciate the pope’s message and his significance in progressive leadership. According to the New York Times, the pope disregarded the criticism of 43 percent of Catholics against gay and lesbian marriage and took a stance in support of equal rights to marriage in April 2016. Although Pope Francis did have to compromise in his stance by stating that opposite sex marriage is still superior to same sex marriage, he is taking a drastic step away from a tradition of hatred towards a segment of the American population. The
pope’s ruling made me realize that, ironically, the United States was less progressive on the topics of sexuality and civil rights than the Catholic Church, a usually socially conservative institution. The supposed land of freedom and equality is in dire need of a progressive revamp. By diverging from tradition, the pope is fulfilling his duty – he is directly confronting the fear of change, even with his most conservative followers. Although he may not be the first politician or leader to adequately guide his people or the only one currently doing so, he is perhaps the most influential current leader moving towards positive reform and change, being that 17.5 percent of the world and 25 percent of the United States is Catholic, according to the Wall Street Journal. 31 percent of American Catholics believe the Church’s public policy should focus on issues such as abortion and contraceptives over aiding the impovrished. Through
his actions, the Pope has adjusted the idea of being a “good Catholic” to fit the modern world by shifting the religion’s goals away from issues such as same sex marriage, which have already been ruled upon. He not only created a population of social justice advocates in Catholics around the globe and in the United States, but proved to the world that the Catholic Church was an ally and not an enemy. The pope is creating another avenue of security and hope for the discriminated and suffering people of the world. By encouraging oppressors to practice tolerance and acknowledging the downtrodden, the Pope is setting the stage for progress in societies across the globe. Through his policy, people like myself, who may be generally liberal in their views, are finally able to collaborate with the Catholic Church, bringing together all views and opinions in a collaborative process. Living in a generally less Catholic and conservative area of the country, we may not fully understand the role that religious leaders play in curbing conservative prejudices. Catholics make up a fifth of this country’s population and 55 percent of the Latino population, according to Pew Research Center, 34 percent of them identifying as conservative or very conservative. Given the great influence the Pope has on his religious followers, I hope to see a change in our nation towards applauding our identity as a country of immigrants. However, this change will not occur if only a fifth of the population is moving towards acceptance. As a nation, we must support the change towards tolerance Pope Francis is aiming to make in the world in order to transcend our country’s discriminatory history. As a nation, we must be inspired by the Pope’s messages of tolerance and challenge our leaders to profess love, not hate. v 65
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Text by MADHUMITA GUPTA Art by ANNIE ZHOU
FIGHT CLUB 2: 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
T’S SAFE TO SAY THAT THE 2016 ELECTION WILL go down in history as one of the most polarizing elections of the 21st century. Both the Democrat and Republican parties have produced candidates farther and farther away from the “happy” median of the political spectrum, committing to statements that scare the moderates of America. Even more interesting is how their supporters are changing the political landscape — the idea of listening to all candidates and making an educated decision, a central part of the democratic process, is disappearing. When voters refuse to listen to candidates who even mildly disagree with their opinion, it is impossible for America to grow as a nation, because we are, in essence, refusing to update our political views. The first group which comes to mind for a lot of people when thinking of “uncompromising voters” are, of course, the supporters of Republican presidential nominee and business mogul Donald Trump. And yes, many of his supporters are uncompromising and unwilling to listen to anyone who disagrees with them, often threatening violence towards online opponents, but his supporters are not the only ones at fault. The supporters of both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders, candidates for the Democratic party nomination, have also fallen victim to this idea that they, and only they, can be right, so everyone else must be wrong. When feminist activist Gloria Steinem made her controversial statement that females only support Bernie Sanders so that they can meet men at his rallies, she showed a complete lack of respect for Sanders’ female supporters. Unfortunately, Sanders’ supporters often do the same thing. At one of Clinton’s events, a young Black Lives Matter activist in66
terrupted Secretary Clinton’s speech to try and draw attention to one of the secretary’s remarks from 1996, when Clinton called at-risk, minority youth “superpredators,” and said, “We have to bring them to heel.” The remark is problematic, and the activist was correct in trying to bring attention to it, but a video of the event clearly shows that instead of trying to start a dialogue, the activist was more interested in calling Clinton out and trying to get people to listen to her own opinion rather than Clinton’s opinion on the matter. After the activist was escorted from the venue, many people claimed the Clinton campaign was “silencing their voice.” But Clinton was completely justified in asking the activist to leave; if the activist was actually interested in reducing systemic racism, she would have allowed Clinton to speak and explain her position on the issue. Proclaiming your own candidates’ views as the only correct ones and blatantly attacking any other candidates’ political statements undermines a fair and democratic system that should be open to any discussion. If we want to have constructive dialogue, we have to let all sides speak. Many supporters often find it acceptable to introduce violence into an otherwise healthy political discussion. Trump’s supporters are most often accused of inciting violence at rallies, but Sanders and Clinton supporters have been found to verbally and physically attacking those who support Trump. Using violence against violence is never acceptable, and not only that, it’s ineffective. The entire point of the Democratic campaign is to promote tolerance, and if that’s true, we should start practicing what we preach. It might be difficult to listen to Trump promote racism, sexism, ableism — all the bad isms, really, but we have to recognize that he is bringing to light the opinions of many Americans. After all, that is what democracy is about. v
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how everyone art (or curse) o ful as we learn then, I’ve ofte a plan, and I li However perience for w transition from I always thou welcome it pure excitem But now t the highly-ant ipated time h come, I’m rea ing that I’m j plain scared. The un tling fact t I’m leaving ho in three and half months spurred me in frenzy of tryi control every detail. I’ve c the boxes o online portal that remind a roommate, housing cont placement tes Facebook m tions with oth tempt to find study buddies. to stick to m demic plan du Alto High S career, I’ve d
PERSPECTIVES | MAY 2016 Text by BETHANY WONG Art by KARINA CHAN
i’m afraid to grow up EMBRACING MY FUTURE’S INEVITABLE MESSINESS
Y OBSESSION WITH THE LITTLE DEtails became evident at age 10 when my fifth grade teacher told the class to look up the word “meticulous” in our hardcover MerriamWebster dictionaries. She then proceeded to say how everyone except me, who had apparently already refined the art (or curse) of paying attention to detail, needed to be more careful as we learned integers and memorized U.S. state capitals. Since then, I’ve often described myself as a control freak. I like to have a plan, and I like to follow that plan step by step. However, I now find myself right on the brink of a life experience for which I can’t have a step-by-step plan: college. The transition from high school to college epitomizes growing up, so I always thought I’d welcome it with pure excitement. But now that the highly-anticipated time has come, I’m realizing that I’m just plain scared. The unsettling fact that I’m leaving home in three and a half months has spurred me into a frenzy of trying to control every single detail. I’ve checked the boxes on my online portal checklist that remind me to find a roommate, submit my housing contract and take placement tests. I’ve initiated Facebook message conversations with other students in an attempt to find potential friends and study buddies. Although I failed to stick to my four-year academic plan during my Palo Alto High School career, I’ve dia-
I NEED TO BE ABLE TO CONTROL EVERY SINGLE DETAIL ABOUT MY FUTURE!
grammed out the classes I need to take for my intended major (which, of course, is liable to change). But I set myself up for disappointment when I think I can manipulate every aspect of my college experience. As much as it bugs my germophobic inclinations, it’s guaranteed that I’ll get sick. When that happens, I’ll have to manage without my grandma bringing me a pot of turkey soup and a carton of coconut water, which she claims does hydration wonders. And when I struggle to get up for an early-morning class, I’ll have to get used to the harsh beep of my alarm clock waking me up, not the voice of a loving parent coaxing me out of bed. I also can’t avoid the psychological challenges I’ll have to face — my inevitable homesickness, yearning for a room to myself or craving for my mom’s home-cooked noodles. I’ll miss my high school friends when we’re spread out all around the country. I’ll experience the fear of missing out. In the grand scheme of things, I absolutely have no control. Yet, despite my desire to believe otherwise, there is something beautiful about spontaneity. I’d like to believe that growing up is a hurdle I can overcome all at once; everything afterwards will be neat and perfect. But unfortunately for Bethany The Control Freak, that’s not how life works. Growing up is not a series of tasks on a checklist. It’s ongoing, marked by accomplishments and failures along the way. As difficult as it is for me to accept, growing up means embracing the inevitable discomfort and uncertainty of life, not running away from it. With that in mind, I’ll try to channel an attitude of open-mindedness as I handle my transition into college. Yes, dorm food will get boring, and, yes, it’ll take some irreversible laundry mistakes to teach me a lesson about remembering to separate the darks and the whites. I’m sure I will make choices I wish I hadn’t, but they’ll shape me positively in the long run. After all, college is about learning more about myself, and it’s OK, even healthy, that the experience will be messy. Whether I like it or not, my meticulous self will just have to learn to deal, for such is the game of life. v 69
feminism is not gender equality
OPHOMORE YEAR, I TRIED to start a Feminism Club. I was told that the word ‘feminism’ was too controversial, and to just call it Gender Equality Club instead. Throughout high school, people have butted into my conversations and placatingly reassured others, “Don’t worry, feminism is just gender equality.” The number of times I’ve been told to make sure men know that I don’t hate all of them is too high to count. I’m sick of being sanitized. I don’t want gender equality — I want so much more. Equality is one small aspect of feminism. As feminist theorist bell hooks put it, “Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression.” The thing is, gender equality is not going to end sexism. When we phrase feminism as gender equality, we limit feminism to the instances where men and women are visibly unequal. Gender equality is not going to deal with the fact that trans women of color are murdered at a disproportionately high rate. Gender equality is not going to help the men who feel unable to report their sexual assaults due to stigma. Gender
Text by GABRIELA ROSSNER Photoillustration by KARINA CHAN and WILLIAM DOUGALL equality is not going to break down patriarchal institutions that permeate every aspect of our lives. These issues are not caused by men and women just being treated differently, but rather by an institutionalized patriarchal system that values masculinity, that creates oppositional binaries, that has contributed to every current system of oppression. In short, it’s a lot more complicated than just the wage gap. Feminism is not gender equality, but gender equality is a part of feminism. It’s one of the building blocks that will help end sexist oppression, but it isn’t the end of the fight. Raising women up to men’s level isn’t the solution, because men’s current level is not where we want to be. The amount of privilege that men currently have cannot, by definition, be held by everyone because it relies on the oppression of a lower group. Every powerful group requires a subordinate group. The solution is not to give women as much power as the current oppressors, but rather to create a new power balance. I’ll be the first to admit that I have a controversial reputation. Over the years I’ve often been told to stop pushing men away
from feminism. Yes, for significant change in any social movement we need the help of allies who are in positions of power. However, those in power need to first realize their privilege. Every man has benefitted from sexism, just as every white person has benefited from racism, every rich person has benefitted from classism, and so forth. I’m not saying that every man is sexist, far from it. Regardless of whether someone individually and actively contributes to oppression, they unwittingly and intrinsically benefit from that system. That’s tough to hear. No one wants to hear that they’re contributing to oppression. But to make change, it needs to be heard and understood. We can’t have allies who are ignorant to such a prominent aspect of our reality. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t hate all men. In accordance with popular belief, I do hate the patriarchy, and I’m not going to shy away from saying it. Neither I nor any other woman should have to sanitize our beliefs to preserve male feelings. My feminism isn’t about shaming men, or trying to purposefully make men mad. But men need to realize their privilege, which is inevitably going to make some men angry. However, my feminism is about removing power from men, which is going to feel pretty mean. In our world, certain powers that men, or any group in power, have are just too much. To create gender equality, to end sexism, men are going to need to give certain things up. The status quo cannot continue. And for change to happen, we all need to fight. v
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