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By Lauren Menjivar, VI Form
On Being American, Latina…On Being Me
I am a first-generation American. I am Latina. I am a child of a mother and a father who each came to America for unique reasons. I am Lauren Menjivar.
Being first-generation American is a trait I value dearly, but it also has been a challenge. Because I am the eldest child and a native English speaker, I have acquired a huge responsibility to attend to important matters for myself and my family. At the start of my education, my parents helped me learn the alphabet and count, but as I progressed through school, my parents’ ability to assist me dwindled until they never checked if I completed my work. They fully trusted that I finished each assignment to my best capability. When my younger brother enrolled in school, my parents relied on me to assist him with his homework because I had completed that grade. I have become their “secretaria” in completing paperwork and translating conversations. When my father took the American citizenship test, I was the one to help him study and quiz him on questions. When my mother does the same in three years, I will take on the same role. Whenever the school sent papers for my parents to fill out and sign, I would fill them out. I never complained about it once; in fact, I actually enjoyed filling out forms, and I understood at that point that I was the only person capable of doing it. I learned to handle responsibility, by doing things on my own, and through that I gained independence from my parents. (more…)
By Veronica Barila, School Counselor
26.2 & My First (and Only) Marathon: The Struggle is Real
Most people would argue that coming in 31,897th place is nothing to brag about. When you run a race and finish a hard three hours behind the the winner, I can see how some folks would feel disappointed by their performance. However, finishing the Chicago Marathon, my first (and only) marathon, was never about winning, timing, or even competition. Instead, I embarked on a journey to cross the finish line healthy, to feel every step, and to accomplish something that always seemed impossible.
One of my favorite running songs by Ryan Mountbleu, “75 and Sunny”, boasts the lyrics, “You better believe I’m living for the moment, but my moment is the whole damn thing.” This refrain became my motto as I trained, reminding me that this experience wasn’t just about the joy and pride of finishing the race. It was equally about the pain, frustration, and disappointment that comes along the way. Throughout this process, I anticipated and relished the moments of suffering, knowing that those emotions were equally important to the positive ones that balanced everything out. (more…)
By Summer Hornbostel, VI Form
The Long and Winding Road of Brantwood Camp
Editor’s Note: Names have been changed for privacy purposes
The beeping of my watch’s alarm woke me with a start. Snuggling back into my sleeping bag, I enjoyed
thirty more seconds of rest. The cool, misty air of the morning drifted into the cabin, causing goosebumps to run up and down my body. 6:30 am and the first full day of camp lay dauntingly ahead of me. I tiptoed into the main room of the cabin, where twelve campers slept peacefully. I regretted having to wake half of them for their morning shower. The walk to the wayside, or bathroom, through the cool woods was quiet; it was too early in the morning, and in the term, for chit-chat.
Sitting on the wayside porch, timing the girls’ showers on my handy dandy watch, I tried to get to know the campers who were waiting to shower.
“Are you excited for your first real day?” “How did you sleep?” “Yeah, I had a tough time falling asleep, too” “I know, I’m tired, too” “Is this your first year?” (more…)
By Mary Flathers, V Form
Belonging in Cunha’s “A Study of Homeland in Displacement” and Alexie’s “Honor Society”
Belonging is a widely discussed topic in the present day. Whether it is belonging to a certain race, religion, or gender, a sense of unity is created among people who share a common aspect in life. Within Fernanda Cunha and Sherman Alexie’s short stories, respectively entitled “A Study of Homeland in Displacement” and “Honor Society,” the element of belonging is explored in depth. In both of these stories, the narrators struggle with family ties and their identities. However, in Alexie’s story, the narrator focuses on creating a future and leaving behind a home, while in Cunha’s story, the narrator holds onto her past by maintaining the home in her mind.
These stories are similar in a multitude of ways, and the most prominent similarities appear in the narrators’ management of family and identity. In Alexie’s story, the love and respect the narrator has for his family are evident when he begins to “sing and drum with [his] mother and father” (Alexie 1). Though he does not believe in the “God” they sing of, he is willing to overcome the pride he has in his own ideologies to respect the beliefs of his family. Similarly, in Cunha’s story, the narrator has fond memories of a loving community. She recalls her grandfather as a man who “smokes a pack a day and laughs the way [she] remember[s] like he’s invincible” (Cunha 1). Though at times the borders placed around her family by the nations they live in seem too large to bear, as seen when the narrator tries “to better [her] [native language,] Portuguese, soften it so it is less jagged” (Cunha 1), the attachment the narrator has to her family allows for her to overcome these obstacles. Through studying this vital aspect of her memory, the narrator maintains her past identity. (more…)
By Lindsay Nielsen, VI Form
On a Life as an Asian-American & Embracing That with Open Arms
The worst activity of my freshman summer was taking six-hour classes of drivers’ ed for five days straight. The only thing that made it bearable was that our teacher let us watch the world cup instead of parallel parking videos, and we were let out early on the last day because my teacher’s daughter suddenly went into labor. Before she got the call, my teacher passed out our graded permit tests. “So..” she said, “it looks like Peggy Chen got a perfect score. Please raise your hand and grab your test” Pause. Let me tell you three things. 1. I knew no one in this class. 2. I did not earn a perfect score and 3. When she told the class Peggy Chen scored a 100, every single person, including the teacher, looked at me expecting me to raise my hand. After trying to tell them my last name was actually Nielsen, a shy, Asian, Peggy Chen out-stretched her hand from the corner of the room to claim her test.
Believe it or not, this is a usual occurrence for me. And definitely not as weird at the week before when a middle-aged woman walked up to me in Best Buy asking how the definition of a 4k tv differed from a curved model. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I don’t work here.” A few awkward stares were exchanged. “Oh…” she said. She looked at me puzzled as if all Asians roaming electronic stores were automatically employees. She then walked away.
Race wasn’t always a prevalent component of my life, but once I knew others were attentive to my race, it started an onslaught of experiences relating to being Asian in what was to me: a largely Caucasian world. In my personal experience, I will explain how I went from of state of oblivion, to self-hate, to self love all in a short period of 18 years. (more…)
By Cooper Sarafin, VI Form
An Analysis of Alienation: The Natural Estrangement of the Individual
Alienation is a natural state of human beings. We are set in an environment that leaves us with a sense of inadequacy and ineptitude and no matter what extent to which we alter our facades and wear a mask of falsity; we will never be able to cross the glass ceiling that is our expectations. From the very moment we are conceived, we are being classified and divided among throngs of opinions, preferences, and expectations. We are expected to live up to this normality of society, the ever prevalent quest to “fit in”. To be amidst the general populace and succeed in a manner relative to the ideas of said society and government that preside over our specific demographic. We are expected to succeed in the realm of capitalism and to move further up this hierarchy and supersede the ranks of the proletariat in turn for the bourgeoisie. We are expected to develop social relationships with everyone we meet and to be liked by them. We are expected to achieve great things and to do what has never been done before. In the aftermath of all this expectation, what is left for us to expect for ourselves other than that which has been told to us? In that we are governed by these (more…)