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Cultural Assimilation and Preservation in Boston’s Chinatown

By Lina Zhang, VI Form

Cultural Assimilation and Preservation in Boston’s Chinatown

Since its founding, Boston’s Chinatown has stood at a linguistic and cultural crossroads between English and Cantonese, American and Chinese. When the first Chinese immigrants arrived in Massachusetts in the 1870s, driven out of California by discimination and violence, they settled in a neighborhood that had already housed multiple immigrant groups before them. In the mid-twentieth century, anglicized names such as Hong Far Low Restaurant, Ruby Foo’s Den, Quong Wah Long and Company soared on wooden or neon signs above the groups of people filling the streets and speaking southern Chinese dialects, occasionally interrupted by the foreign English words of a gawking, white tour group. To the outsiders, Chinatown with its opium dens and gangs was sensational, exotic, lawless, and profoundly unAmerican. Today, however, a paifang stands at the entrance of Boston’s Chinatown with the words 天下为公, or “The world is equally shared by all.” Mandarin has replaced Taishanese, stores advertise hotpot and milk tea in Chinese, and it is common to see people of all races inhabiting this space. After more than a hundred years of coexistence, Chinatowns are still not fully American, but they are not fully Chinese either.

For as long as the Chinese lived in the United States, Chinatowns have risen and disappeared in different parts of the country. These neighborhoods often decline when they encounter a wide range of challenges, including financial hardship, ageing and out-migration, and cultural assimilation. After the disappearance of Chinatowns in Providence and Maine, Boston’s Chinatown became the last Chinatown in New England, serving the Chinese communities of all six states. Compared with the vibrant Chinatowns in San Francisco and New York, Boston’s Chinatown is relatively small and unknown. Neither the first point of contact for Chinese immigrants in the United States nor a current center of tourism and activism, its first residents lived in pre-constructed apartment complexes that had already housed prior immigrant groups. The population of Boston’s Chinatown reached just over ten thousand residents in 2020. Despite these limitations, Boston’s Chinatown has constantly adapted over the years, developing its own culture without the renown that other Chinatowns enjoy. However, it is interesting to consider whether Boston’s Chinatown still possesses a unique ethnic identity or if it is simply a declining residential pocket of Chinese Americans in a rapidly gentrifying, urbanizing environment. 


Accountability for the 400,000 Deaths: The RICO Act’s Application in the Legal Opioid Industry

By Holden LeBlanc, VI Form

Accountability for the 400,000 Deaths: The RICO Act’s Application in the Legal Opioid Industry

Carolyn Markland, a grandmother from Jacksonville, Florida, was a lover of animals and spent years fostering rescue pets after retiring as an environmental engineer. Markland, however, struggled with back pain due to a degenerative disc disease for years. After trying different medications with little relief, a doctor prescribed Markland the fentanyl-based drug Subsys to subdue her pain. Markland took a dose of Subsys before going to sleep on July 2, 2014. When Markland’s daughter went to check on her mother the next day, she discovered her dead in her bed with a Subsys canister lying at her side. Although Markland’s overdose was the first death connected to Subsys, many more were looming. Along with thousands of others, Markland died from overdosing on prescription opioids, but to understand how this happened, it is essential to recognize the changes in the United States’ policy towards opioids.

Opium, the active ingredient in opioids, is a substance that blocks pain by stimulating the release of the chemical dopamine in the body. Opium is a naturally occurring substance found in poppy plants, which humans have cultivated for centuries seeking their medicinal effect. For most of America’s history, up until the mid-twentieth century, doctors utilized opioids like morphine and later heroin as a crude form of anesthesia for surgery and for managing debilitating pain. After soldiers who received these powerful opioids became addicted in the early twentieth century, however, the United States government banned heroin and severely limited morphine use in 1924. Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, opioid use in the U.S. remained relatively low, as much of the population viewed partaking in drug culture as morally wrong and deviant.


The Causes of Silicon Valley’s Success

By Kartik Donepudi, VI Form

The Causes of Silicon Valley’s Success

There are 472 million entrepreneurs in the world. Each year, those entrepreneurs found a total of 305 million startups, and 1.35 million of those startups are tech related. However, entrepreneurship is a risky business; in 2019, approximately 90% of startups, defined as businesses with fewer than 500 employees, failed. With such a high failure rate, it is imperative that tech startup founders do whatever is necessary to ensure the survival of their companies. They must have funding, talent, space, and proximity to resources like academic research and laboratories. Accordingly, it is of great importance that tech startup founders find the right location to set up shop.

Imagine you are a tech startup founder with the next big idea in your back pocket. You know your startup’s product will be wildly successful. You simply need the funding to get started, talented employees to begin research and development, and a place to open company headquarters where you can find a wide customer base and easy access to resources. Where do you go? The answer is the home of today’s greatest startup ecosystem: Silicon Valley.

Located in the San Francisco Bay Area, Silicon Valley has been a center of technological innovation since the late 1800s and produces many of the world’s largest tech firms. Modern giants like Google, Amazon, and Facebook find their homes in the Valley alongside pioneer companies of previous eras in technology; older firms like Lockheed Martin, Intel, and HP have blossomed in the region since their foundings in the mid 1900s. An abundance of local talent stemming from schools like Stanford University has fueled the region’s startups for more than a century, and in the modern age, talent from the best colleges around the world flocks to Silicon Valley to make it big as the next tech leaders.


Questioning the Criminalization of Gangsta Rap: How Explicit Lyrics Reflect Economic and Racial Inequality in the Wake of Deindustrialization and the War on Drugs

By Frances Hornbostel, VI Form

Questioning the Criminalization of Gangsta Rap: How Explicit Lyrics Reflect Economic and Racial Inequality in the Wake of Deindustrialization and the War on Drugs 

In 1992, rapper Tupac Shakur carved the powerful mantra he had created across his torso: “Thug Life.” In bold, unfading, blue ink, the message would last forever on his body and resonate off of it. The message of “Thug Life,” however, did not convey one, coherent story. As with anything celebrities do, the media, political figures, and the general public began to weave another section of the messy web that is Tupac’s legacy. The word “thug” inspired images of criminals who are violent, malicious, and crude.2 Many snatched the opportunity of Tupac’s branding himself with the public’s negative usage of “thug” as confirmation that he was accepting the media’s labelling of him. Some took it as permission to call Shakur a criminal before he was ever accused of a crime.

Many thought the way of life he depicted in his lyrics incited violence, holding him responsible for some real, criminal acts of violence that followed the release of his music. Linda Davidson, the wife of Officer Bill Davidson, would sue Time Warner, Interscope Records, and Tupac Shakur, blaming them for the fatal shooting of her husband. In April 1992, Officer Davidson pulled over Ronald Howard, a teenager from Houston, for a broken headlight. As the officer walked up to Howard’s window, the teen shot Davidson, who would die three days later. How could Tupac be responsible if it was Ronald Howard who was convicted of the crime? At the time of the shooting, the music of Tupac Shakur’s album, 2Pacalypse Now, blasted through an audio cassette in Howard’s car. Linda Davidson claimed the music’s obscenity and violent imagery directly encouraged illegal behavior, like the shooting that led to her husband’s death.3 Although the Judge eventually dismissed the lawsuit against Time Warner, Interscope Records, and Tupac, criticism of the rapper and the genre of gangsta rap was still very much alive.


Ancient Greek and Roman Medicine’s Influence on Modern Medicine

By Cara Mulcahey, VI Form

Ancient Greek and Roman Medicine’s Influence on Modern Medicine

An elderly woman stumbles into a hospital’s waiting room. She is short of breath, feverish, and coughing uncontrollably. The hospital admits this woman, and a physician sees her. The physician may run a physical exam to check her oxygen saturation and breath sounds. This exam would also check her differential blood count, immunoglobulin levels, and sputum cultures. The physician may also ask for a chest CT to assess lung damage. These tests would indicate to the physician that this woman suffers from bronchiectasis. Bronchiectasis occurs when the bronchial tubes in the lungs are permanently damaged, widened, or thickened, enabling mucus and bacteria to accumulate in the lungs. This accounts for this woman’s difficulty breathing, as the mucus and bacteria were blocking her airways. With this diagnosis, the physician could treat the woman with chest physiotherapy to clear the mucus from the lungs, antibiotics, bronchodilators, medications, and oxygen therapy. She would leave with some relief and be able to live her life relatively normally.

But, what if this occurred over 2,000 years ago in ancient Greece? Ancient Greek physicians did not have access to fancy labs or equipment, such as CT machines, so could this woman receive treatment? The answer is yes. Although Greek physicians did not have the technology and knowledge modern physicians do, they were capable of diagnosing and treating patients. In this case, similar to a modern physician, the iatros (the Greek word for physician) would press his ear to the elderly woman’s back and listen to the sound of her breath. The iatros would hear “boiling inside [her chest] like vinegar,” which would lead him to diagnose correctly that the woman had fluid inside her lungs. Additionally, the iatros would notice the woman’s swollen fingers, which is a sign of lung disease. From this diagnosis, the iatros would prescribe the woman some medications to take and keep a close eye on her. Should her condition worsen, the iatros would drill a hole in her chest to drain some of the fluid. This procedure had numerous known risks, such as infection, which is why the iatros would try less-invasive treatments first. Overall, the woman would benefit from seeing the iatros, displaying that even though the iatros did not have access to modern technologies, he would be able to relieve some of her symptoms.

The earliest records of medicine come from Babylonia, Egypt, India, and China. Historians are able to study medicine from these ancient civilizations by examining drawings, bones, and surgical instruments. Initially, folk medicine was prominent. Folk medicine consisted of treating diseases with herbs and plants. Historians believe that ancient physicians used trial and error methods to deduce which plants and herbs had healing properties. Physicians utilized folk medicine and herbal remedies to treat common and mild illnesses, such as colds. However, these ancient civilizations linked more serious illnesses to supernatural origins, which physicians treated with incantations, potions, or spells. Therefore, the first physicians were primarily witches or sorcerers.


Spiritual and Intellectual Challenges

By Daniella Pozo, V Form

Spiritual and Intellectual Challenges

In “Teddy,” J.D. Salinger provides the reader with an onslaught of observations and religious teachings in order to challenge even the most highly educated. Through Nicholson’s eyes, the audience feels hostility towards Teddy stemming from deeply ingrained American close-mindedness. How the reader experiences the ensuing conversations depends on one’s ability to welcome doubt. The core story is not meant to sway one’s spiritual beliefs in any direction but rather to make one aware of how susceptible or hostile they are. Themes of American elitism and consumerism seep into Nicholson’s everyday life and nearly keep him from considering any outside perspectives. Through the character of Nicholson, Salinger challenges the reader to focus on nuance and open consideration of ideas instead of focusing on the objective correctness or conclusion to spirituality. 

Nicholson is introduced as a young man with “a kind of poise about him” and wearing a jacket “properly aged in some of the more popular postgraduate seminars at Yale, or Harvard, or Princeton” (Salinger 76). The audience identifies with Nicholson because he seems to be respectable and highly educated. Among his circle, there exist two views: those who are premature to devalue radically different ideas and those that hail those ideas as pure genius. Teddy is a novelty to the Leidekker examining group who choose to play his tape at a party, a setting that trivializes Teddy’s insights and the research process. Nicholson does not approach Teddy out of good faith or love of research but rather because he wants to disprove Teddy for his own ego. He interrupts Teddy and disrespects his beliefs by calling them “mystical” (78). His voice and demeanor falsely suggest that he is above most Americans who do not want to engage with differing ideas. When Teddy decides to teach and ask him how he knows his arm is truly an arm, Nicholson is defensive. This reaction aligns with the resistant attitude American audiences may feel towards Teddy’s personality, insights, and spiritual beliefs. Unfortunately, Nicholson can not understand the merits or downfalls of Teddy’s arguments until he can genuinely engage with them first. Salinger is demanding the audience set aside any preconceived notions so they may understand “what [their] arm really is, if [they’re] interested” (79). In order to read Nicholson’s journey and draw conclusions, readers must balance their American socialization and academic nature. 


A Response to Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb”

By Sophie Chiang, IV Form

A Response to Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb”

Editor’s Note: IV Form students in Ms. Lauren Kelly’s Survey of Literary Genres course were asked to craft a poem in response to Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb.”

“We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be: a country that is bruised, but
whole; benevolent, but bold; fierce and free” (Amanda Gorman).

Make America great again,
They chant ominously.
A sea of red-hatted zombies,
Brainwashed and hijacked by this view
Of a beautiful country.

“Go back to Chyyna!” he sneers,
Teeth bared and mocking.
What he doesn’t know that in China,
The people call America “mei guo”,
meaning beautiful country.

How could it be that this land
Is beautiful?
Where first graders hide under decaying desks
And in dirty bathrooms
To live past the gunshots?

Is it really beautiful,
When people who possess skin
That is too dark to be worthy,
Face brutality and discrimination,
Terrorization and demonization?

We will not make America great again,
In all honesty,
it never was.
We will not march back to what it once was,
But move on to what it will be,

United and free,
Compassionate and loving,
Bold and brave,
Fulfilling the prophecy of “mei guo”,
A beautiful country.


Ethics of the Food Industry and Meatless Diets: A Skit

By Fiona Tran, III Form; Laurie Wang, V Form; Padma Mynampaty, V Form; and Elise Gobron, VI Form

Ethics of the Food Industry and Meatless Diets: A Skit