The Weight of Freedom - Yifei "Johnny" Lang '18

How can somebody like me carry something? My parents accepted a philosophy of education that most parents in China rarely accept or strongly oppose. They gave me absolute freedom on what I do. I can decide whether I learn a musical instrument; I can decide whether I stay at home all summer time; I can decide how much time I spend on my phone everyday. There is no requirement I need to achieve, and no stress is put on me. I cannot complain, no kid can because I enjoyed happy childhood. However, as I grow up, I realize that there is a weight of freedom, a price follows it.

When I went to middle school, my classes were more challenging. I would say “challenging” is not the right word to describe it because all it takes is more effort and focus during class time. With no surprise, I failed the second test in my math class. Some of my friends failed it too for different reasons, but my reason is simple. I did not work hard. My friend joked that his mom would shout at him the whole night and have a two hour conversation with my teacher. It was funny for me because for the first time, I saw terrified eyes with such a big smile. I proudly announced that, “My parents won’t do that because they just never do!” It was my 7th grade speaking. It was not the first time that I was proud of my parents instead of being proud of myself.

I took my test back home because my parents had to sign it. Before I showed my test to my mom, she smiled softly and said: “How do you feel about it?” I started the long testimony I had prepared. Although I can not remember exactly, it was nothing more than “bad luck” or how close I was to the correct answer. The corners of her eyes wrinkled up, and she was reading my test slowly and seriously. Maybe I saw her scowl or maybe I didn’t. Then she turned to look at me and said: “It’s ok, as long as you recognize your mistake, fix it. If you need help, find me or your teacher or your classmate.” She signed her name next to my grade, stared at the number for a few seconds, and gave it back to me.

Perhaps my mom expressed similar emotions when I failed another test or made other bad decisions. She did not shout at me and she was not angry. However, I felt something different out of her soft smile. Something I carried, yet didn’t notice. I realized the fundamental truth of a parent, that every mother and father expect their child to be someone.  My parents gave me absolute freedom, yet it was fully restricted. They have no requirements on me, yet I carried their requirements. They put no pressure on me, yet I carried pressure. I carried every soft smile. I carried every “it’s ok”. I carried every signature beside my grade. I carried nothing and I carried everything.

I am nothing special in comparison to other kids, except the ambiguity, except what I carried is unclear and unlimited.

Back and Forth - Rachel Brouwer '18

I carry many things. I carry my favorite hairbrush. I carry tomorrow’s outfit. I carry my pink portable hair dryer. I carry the stress relief body lotion that smells like lavender, because the one at my dad’s house doesn’t make me feel like my skin is floating. I always carry an extra pair of socks and underwear just in case I forgot to do laundry at the house I’m going to. I carry my school bag and hope every night that everything I need for homework is already in it. Hopefully I carry my Precalculus textbook, although somehow that seems to be something I commonly forget. I carry my face wash. I always carry my face wash. If I forget to carry my face wash I will wake up the next morning and although it seems impossible ten giant, erupting volcanoes will have magically appeared on my face. It’s a great surprise at 7 o’clock in the morning.

I carry my wallet. Inside my wallet I carry my license. My license that I got in May of last year. People always seem to think their license picture is the most horrifying, hideous, disgusting picture ever taken. But they haven’t seen mine. For some reason I thought I wasn’t supposed to smile during the photo. Well, halfway through the picture being taken the old, grouchy man working at the District of Motor Vehicles told me I could in fact smile. It’s safe to say that closed mouth half smiles are not the most flattering of pictures. I carry around that disaster of a picture of myself everywhere I go. I also carry my debit card in my wallet. With my debit card, I also carry the responsibility of being the sole grocery shoppers of both my households seeing as I am always conveniently driving by the store when driving from house to house. -“Here can you get this stuff for me at the store I’ll transfer money into your account.”- I also carry my Shell gas card. This is because there are three Shell gas stations on route from my father’s house to my mother’s house. It’s convenient.

My car carries me back and forth. It carries me and all the things I carry. It carries my crumpled food bags on the grimy floor. Right where I left them when I was running late to class in the morning. Sad, brown bags that infuriate me because they don’t just magically disappear. Ugly, crumpled bags that make me feel gross about myself because they are from when I stop at Dunkin’ Donuts on my way to school. Those brown paper bags I carry stare into my soul and make me hate my lack of organization. I carry three chapsticks in my center console. One is cherry flavored. One is mint flavored. My favorite one is Burt’s Bees Ultra Conditioning. It makes my lips so soft I can’t stop rubbing them together. I carry a shovel just in case I get stuck in the snow in the middle of the night and bad guys are coming after me so I have to dig myself out. Oh and I always carry my yellow fuzzy blanket, the one with the burn holes in it from summer bonfires. I carry my yellow, fuzzy blanket just in case I get trapped in my car, and my car battery dies. I carry my dog Lily’s hair to my mom’s house, and my dog Teddy’s hair to my dad’s house.

I carry the guilt of leaving my mom after only spending 12 hours at her house, most of which I was doing homework for. I carry the guilt of leaving my mom because I would rather spend time with my friends. I carry the sadness of driving away from my parent after spending quality time with them. Everything I carry, I carry because I have to. I carry it all back and forth and back again. I used to resent that I ever had to carry anything back and forth. I resented that back and forth was even a thought in my mind.

 Now, I do not mind everything I carry. It makes me who I am. I have learned to not hate myself for the Dunkin’ bag on the floor I got that one time I was feeling hungry and tired and lazy. It’s okay to let yourself eat something you don’t even like just because life is too complicated to figure something else out. Everything I carry makes me who I am, and as my mom always says, “You may not have it the easiest now, but one day you'll be ahead of the game.”

The Things I Carried - Ying Qiao Wang '18

I’m fortunate, not only because I don’t need to worry what to eat, what to wear and where to live, but I had this chance to study abroad. This chance seems really honorable, but this is actually a pressure that I carried along the way. It takes a lot of money and courage to send a kid abroad, and my parents thought in a same way too. They earned every cent of my tuition, and they had that courage to send me abroad, to let me pursue a more bright future. So I don’t want to fail, but the situation I’m in indeed gave me a lot of pressure, as I carried this pressure along with every day of my life abroad.

Everything started from the vacation at the end of my 7th Grade. I told my parents that I had an idea of studying abroad. I told them when they picked me up at the end of the school year to go back to my house. I can still remember their reaction: my mom froze for a second, but she suddenly hid her emotion and smiled very reluctantly. She then asked:

“Oh, do you want to go abroad now?”

“Yes, mom. I think it will be better for my future.” I leaned forward suddenly and answered.

“Ok, Let me and your dad think about it, but start your preparation now in case we agree.” My mom answered.

She answered happily, but still, she was worrying something. I could not tell, but I felt that this is not how they usually talk with me when we were talking happy things. I went on preparing for the standardized tests anyway.

Things changed after a night. I fell asleep early because I was stressed out on preparing for these standardized tests. I woke up at midnight, and I had to go to the bathroom. It’s dark everywhere. I could not see anything. It must have been a midnight and I bumped my head on the wall when I was trying to go to the bathroom. The light in the bathroom almost killed me, I fell back a little, because my eyes hurt a lot when I suddenly saw that strong light after a really deep sleep. When I walked back to my room, I heard something that changed my whole life. My dad and mom were still talking at this time. They did not sleep. I can still remember what they said:

“Why is he trying to study abroad? We already said that we will send him abroad when he is attending college. We don’t have money to send him abroad right now. I still need money for business. We don’t have that much money to use” My Dad said with worriness.

My Mom sighed and answered: “I know, but I don’t want him to be disappointed. He had the idea to study abroad and I want to support him. I want to give him a chance to pursue for a better future, and not to depress his desire to be better. Yeah, I just don’t want to let him down.”

“But you know it’s hard for us now to afford this right?”

“Yes, but it’s worth trying. If we can’t, we can sell our car or house back in hometown to afford him. We need to send him. It’s his own desire to study abroad and I don’t want to let him down.”

I froze for a long time standing on the side of that closed door. I could still remember the worries in their tone, and that sigh from my mother. I can not forget it. I feel guilty now for adding too much pressure on this whole family. I feel like I’m a person who committed a crime. I made my parents worried and they could not fall asleep at midnight. On the second day, when I saw them, It seemed like there was more wrinkles on my mom’s face, and my dad’s head gets bolder. I never noticed these changes before, but now I understood it all. They worked so hard for me, but I’m just a normal student that probably have no value to this society. When they hugged me and said that they support my decision, I don’t know what to say. I feel that my world suddenly turns upside down. The guilt is everywhere, I was squeezed into a corner, feeling guilty and helpless. I don’t want to tell them that I heard all the things they talked last night, and their smile is just a nightmare to me. I know that the smile they showed me means the worries they had on business, the worries they had at night.

The only thing I could think of is to study hard to make my future more bright and to make them happy. I didn’t want to reject their support, because I didn’t want them to worry about more things. I felt pumped, by their support, hope and love. So I started to study really hard to get into a school in America. I made a study plan for a year. I gave up my Chinese class and English class to study these tests, or English. My English level at that time stayed on a level that can only greet people. I could not do any academic work, I could not even talk with Americans. I can still remember how I practiced Listening for TOEFL: I bought a notebook, and I downloaded some TOEFL lectures. After remembering a lot of TOEFL vocabularies, I started to write down what the lectures said on that notebook. It’s a boring and stressful process, because at the start I had to listen to a sentence for four or five times in order to clearly knew what she or he said, and repeat for four or five minutes. More heartbreaking things were that I would usually get sixty or even over one-hundred errors for every lecture I listened at the start. So I had to re-listen to these errors and fix them. I had an idea of giving up, but I knew that I’m not only studying for myself, but also studying for our family, because I was the only hope for my family. They put everything on me, now it was time for me to make them proud and happy.

As people said, a hardworking person always has a better result at the end. I received an offer from Hebron Academy at the end, and more worries things are that my parents now has money to afford my tuition because their business was growing big. Now looking back to what happened before I came here, I still feel lucky and blessed. We don’t need to sell our cars or houses anymore, as my parents now earned a lot of money that is enough for the rest of their life probably. But I still can remember what they said at that midnight, what I carried along the way. I work hard on everything, because there’s not only me standing on my side, but also my parents, and their hope and love. I can not, and I never would depress them.

 

Innocence - Pashynce Kibbe '18

     I roll the window down and the cool breeze catches in my hair. We're driving home and the road is deserted. We haven't passed a car in a while, so I turn the radio up and rest my chin on my arm in the window. I close my eyes and breathe in the country surroundings, the smell of an oncoming storm and fresh soil drift over me. As I open my eyes I look into the woods we’re driving through; they are dark and are coated with a thick fog sitting heavily on the mossy floor. I can hear owls perched in trees cooing into the night. As the moonlight descends on the lake beside us, a soft melody flows from the speakers. It's a song about love and lost time. I let the lyrics wash over me as I watch the world fly by my window.

     I start to think about memories from throughout the years. My fourth birthday, my first day of school, it all starts flashing in time with the trees. The memories keep coming, up until this moment. This moment, when I begin to think about the future.

    I have a sudden flash of an empty room that I use to call mine and boxes in an unfamiliar place. I see my mom crying as she gets in the car to drive away, and right then it dawns on me that in a few more years I will be alone in a place that's not my home. The memories begin to flash again, now painful to watch.

    My mom waking me up at 6:15 every year on my birthday, blinding me with her camera. I see myself, waiting as long as I possibly could until I ran into her room on Christmas morning and dragged her out of bed. My mom greeting me every morning with a smile and a kiss to the forehead while the babies played. It all hits me so hard I can't breath. Never again will I have any of that. Once I leave, everything will change. Phone calls instead of hugs. Birthday cards in the mail instead of the traditional morning wake up. How can I be content knowing this is all changing?

    One day I'll have a job and a family of my own. My childhood will be long behind me, a distant past to look back on and smile about, but in this moment, I don't want to look back. I want time. I want more than the years we’re given to be with our family. I want to enjoy my youth, relish in the carelessness it brings and the time to spend with the ones I love. Why can't I press pause, just for a little while?

    We are forced to grow up and mature so quickly we never think to stop and take a break, to really appreciate everything our childhood and family has to offer. We all have a short amount of time on earth. One day our family will be gone and we will be left thinking back and regretting not spending more time with them. We will regret choosing the friends that eventually became strangers instead of family game night. We will regret not cherishing the little moments that can mean so much just because we weren't in the mood and would rather be anywhere else. I remember missing my sisters first real crawl because I insisted that I needed a break from all the noise and frustration, I ended up staying with a friend that night and coming home to find out the momentous step I had missed and can never get back.

     As I think about this I can feel my chest tighten and my eyes beginning to sting. I squeeze them shut to keep it all in then stare back up at the moon. I can hear the babies sleeping in the backseat and I smile to myself as my mom sings along with radio. These are the moments I want to remember, the little moments that fill me with joy and hope. I'm leaving soon and that devastates me, so I tend to push the thoughts away and focus on the now, because weather or not I'm ready for adulthood it's here and I need to come to terms with it.

     The lake is gone and is now replaced by long pastures with grazing horses. The world is eerily quiet as we pass through a tunnel made of trees stretching across the road. My mom grabs my hand and points at the canopy above.”Make a wish,” she whispers, smiling at me. And just before the tunnel ends, I whisper my wish into the wind letting it float along the breeze into the waiting night.

Morality Has Changed Over Time - Jack Morton '

Morality can be interpreted in many different ways.  The technical definition is a set of principles or values that distinguish between right and wrong, good and bad.  In the play The Crucible, written by Arthur Miller, and the book The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the theme of morality is deeply explored.  These texts take place during Puritan New England, a time in which people relied heavily on religion to govern their daily lives.  The authors use this Puritan template to investigate the morality of the people in those times.  Nowadays, religion does not play as crucial a role in the daily routine of life.  However, morality is still a key component to how people act and think.  Society today has a slightly more moral outlook than in Puritan times, with more voices and perspectives on morality; nevertheless, underlying stereotypes still result in immoral actions and perpetrations meaning that today’s society is not more righteous, even though their is a stronger attempt to be so.

Modern day society has a better grasp of right and wrong and the severity of people's actions, yet stereotypes, that are brought up constantly, lead to many acts that are immoral. In Puritan times, people were very strict in their view of right and wrong, so their punishments, even for trivial crimes, were severe and unforgiving.  For example, in The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne describes how even though it was years after her crime, and she was performing good deeds, Hester was still being punished.  He writes that there were, “None so ready as she to give of her little substance to every demand of poverty; even though the bitter-hearted pauper threw back a gibe in requital of the food brought regularly to his door, or the garments wrought for him by the fingers that could have embroidered a monarch’s robe” (Hawthorne 146).  Even though she is doing good (moral) deeds, she is being scorned by the people she is helping because of a sin she committed years ago.  The distinction between right and wrong in Puritan times was purely black and white.  There was no middle ground.  Hester has repented for her sin and is helping those less fortunate, but she is still seen and condemned as a sinner and is treated poorly because of it.   If she had committed her sin in modern times this would not happen, she would not be subjected to the severe punishment that she endured.  She would not have been viewed as such a bad person.  Her husband had been gone for two years and she fell in love with someone else.  In today’s times, if her husband had come back he most likely would have left her and she would have been punished by her own guilt and sadness, or he would have understood and forgave her.  She would still be punished by her guilt but she would not be subject to the humiliation and destruction of her public standing.

Even with today’s more tolerant view of society, there are stereotypes and generalisations that people frequently make that end up with horribly unscrupulous acts.  One instance of this is when Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, was shot and killed by a neighborhood watchmen.  Martin had been walking with his hoodie up in the rain and this drew the suspicion of the watchmen.  It ended with Trayvon dead (Botelho, 2012).  This combined with other recent law enforcement killings of unarmed black men show how stereotypes take away from the morality of our society.  The perpetrators did not, as far as we know, kill them because they were black, they killed them because of a stereotype that is frequently brought up in our society and has become ingrained in the minds of many, even though it is largely false and unwarranted.  The director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at the San Bernardino campus, Brian Levin, says, “We're seeing these stereotypes and derogative statements become part of the political discourse,” during an interview for an article about an increase of muslim hate crimes (Lichtblau, 2016).  Levin is referencing statements made by Donald Trump, during his campaign for presidency.  These stereotypes coming up in political discourse speak to how they have become such a big part of society today.  Even as these stereotypes continue to surface in the form of iniquitous acts and conversations though, people start to fight back, something that would not have been done in Puritan times.  This fighting back is apparent through protests and the national outcries by citizens.  In another article written about the shooting of Trayvon Martin the writer explains how the shooting affected the nation by, “igniting a national debate on racial profiling and civil rights” (Alvarez & Buckley, 2013).  This statement summarizes how these events trigger the fight back and protest for morality, something that did not happen in Puritan times.  

Today there are more voices and perspectives providing views on and fighting for what is right.  In Puritan times, there was only one moral code, the Church, and no one dared to think differently from this perspective.  If they did go against it and stand up for a personal moral code, they were opposed and even accused of being evil themselves.  This is evident in an excerpt from a scene in Miller’s play, The Crucible, when John Proctor is being questioned and Reverend Parris says about John Proctor, “ ‘Such a Christian that will not come to church but once in a month!’... [Cheever adds] ‘He plow on Sunday, sir.’ [Danforth exclaims] ‘Plow on Sunday!’ ” (Miller 90-91).  Parris brings up John Proctor’s faithfulness to the church because he wants to put Proctor in a bad light and make him seem immoral.  In Puritan times, if you did not follow the church’s way you were seen as evil.  The fact that John Proctor did not follow the same exact moral code as the church made him seem corrupt in the eyes of the officials such as Danforth and Parris.  In their eyes, John was not completely in the right, so he was perceived as completely in the wrong.  This portrays the one-sidedness of the views of people in Puritan times.  This is also evident in The Scarlet Letter when Hester is given her punishment.  Only one woman empathized with Hester’s situation and saw it from another perspective.  All the other women viewed Hester as wicked and thought that she should be punished more.  This singular perspective on the world does not lend itself to a just and moral place.  It is easy to be swept up in the tide of similar or popular thoughts, as evident in the sudden and large scale accusations and condemnations of witchcraft in The Crucible.  Today, there are many different moral codes and opinions on right and wrong.  As a result, when an immoral thing occurs, people can view it in different ways and fight for what is right on a broader spectrum.  

Today’s society is more open and objective on morality and, although there are immoral actions stemming from long-lasting stereotypes, the different and broader perspectives on right and wrong mean that more steps can be taken to fight for what is widely accepted as morally right.   Overall, modern society is not more moral but at least attempting to be better.  Puritan society was very strict and one-dimensional.  Today’s society is more diverse and able to stand up for morality, unlike Puritan times.  Negative stereotypes still result in immoral actions but justice can more easily prevail due to the wider and more accepting moral code of today and the ability to fight for what is right.

Works Cited

Alvarez, Lizette, and Cara Buckley. "Zimmerman Is Acquitted in Trayvon Martin Killing." New York Times. 14 Jul. 2013: A.1. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 11 Nov. 2016.  http://sks.sirs.com/webapp/article?artno=0000353080&type=ART

Botelho, Greg. “What happened the night Trayvon Martin died” CNN.com. Cable News Network, 23 May 2012, http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/18/justice/florida-teen-shooting-details/

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. Modern Library ed., Modern Library, 2000.

Lichtblau, Eric. "Level of Hate Crimes Against U.S. Muslims Highest Since After 9/11." New York Times. 18 Sep. 2016: A.13. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 10 Nov. 2016.  http://sks.sirs.com/webapp/article?artno=0000385954&type=ART#cite

Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. Penguin Group, 1976.  

Feeling Guilty - Ruth Cetina Jimenez '18

“The great test of this life is obedience” (Thomas S.Monson). Obedience is to hard to follow and more if you are a teenager with a closed mind, living in your world and thinking that whatever you say or do is correct. You feel like the king of the world, and the authorities… well, you just do not care about them. The rules? Rules do not even exist for you, so it is harder to take it seriously and follow them, am I wrong?

            It was a sunny day; the sun was evaporating the water in the ceiling of the houses that the night's rain provoked. My neighbor's rooster cackled at exactly 6:00 AM just like every day, and it was time to get ready for school. I helped my mom with my brothers, and when I was done, I went to her and ask her about this night party that was going to be in a senior year friend´s house. She just looked at me and made the eyes she always uses when something is not going okay. Behind those eyes I could already see the answer. I wasn't going to freak out if she said no, I felt it coming.

And the speech started.

“Ruth, this senior friend you have you know I do not like him. You can't go,” She turned around holding the keys of the car and at the same time shouting to my brothers to hurry. In that moment I went to my room, took a pillow and just started shouting. I really wanted to go to the party. All my friends were going, so my mind started making plans. First I thought to escape from my house at night when everyone had fallen asleep, but then I remembered that my house it´s like a prison. To be able to go into my house there are two options, either crash the front gate and make noise or jump the bard and electrocute yourself. If you achieve that part, you got into my yard. Now, to get into my house you have 5 doors, each door with a heavy rack and a lock. With help of God, you might find one without a lock and go in, then if you want to go upstairs there's this heavy rack (again) with a lock, but the problem with this one is that it is close to where my parents sleeps and it makes lots of noise when you open it. In conclusion, escaping from my house at midnight wasn't an option. School time arrived, I got into the car without talking to my parents and closed my eyes until the car stop at it's final destination, “hell” that´s how my friends and I call the school.

            After all what happened it was clear that that day was not going to be my day.

I ran into my classroom, and the first thing I did was tell my friends that my mom didn't let me go to the party. They were disappointed, but one of them had this wonderful idea to have a sleepover in her house, and in the middle of the night we will go to the party with her mom knowing. The plan was the following: The party was set to start at 11:00 pm. and at 4:00 PM my mom will leave me at my friend's house for the supposed sleep over, then at 6:00 PM my other friends will come with junk food and sodas to watch a movie, and at 10 PM start getting ready.

            The plan was set up perfectly, I was just missing my mom´s permission. The school was over and my mom was picking up from school. As soon as my mom parked the car, I jumped into it and asked for permission. To my surprise, the answer was yes. I was so excited, I started laughing and singing my favorite song with my little brother, for me the day was perfect (avoiding my disaster of morning). We reached home and I started to get ready, packing my stuff, choosing my outfits for the party, sending pictures of all the clothes I tried to my best friend. This process lasted about ten minutes. After that I as ready to go.

            The waiting was over, I was in the car with my mom reaching my friend's house, my mom was driving and at the same time telling me to behave, to be educated, and the important part, to not get out of my friend´s house, I just answered yes to everything she said with a fatigued tone, but anyways, I was going to the party! My mom finally stopped. I said goodbye with a cheek kiss and a hug that lasted no more than ten seconds. I just wanted to leave and see my friend.

            It was 10 pm and we all went to the room of my friend´s mom to say we were ready to go, but she asked us.

“Girls, did you asked your parents?” All the girls answered “yes” with a knot in the throat and our hands were shaking, but her mom didn't realize.

            We were at the party, the music was loud, everyone was dancing, drinking and having a lot of fun. By the time I arrived, my favorite song was playing. I remembered my little brother and felt a little guilty, but just a little, so I didn´t mind. I continued dancing and singing. Everything was going perfectly until my phone started to ring. It was my mom. I needed to run out of the party, to a place that the music couldn't be heard by the person talking in the phone in this case, my mother. I ran 900 meters away from the house and answered the phone. At that moment all my emotions were going up and down, a headache started, my stomach was roaring, but I answered.

“Where are you” she was angry. I knew it. I know her voice.

“I´m in Euge´s house, just where you leave me, remember,” I was scared. I have never done this before, but her answer was the silence, the deepest silence I have ever heard before. A tear came out from my eyes. I was feeling guilty, bad, so I said,

“Mom? Are you still in there?” and she answered

“Yes, I´m here, just right behind you. Turn around, little girl.” In that moment, my heart stopped, everything was passing through my mind, all kind of punishments, and obviously, my cellphone, it was going to be gone. I turned around, and just as my mom said, she was right behind me. She was disappointed. She didn't want to talk, I felt really bad, so I started the conversation.

“I´m sorry, Mom, it wasn't my intention.” She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said.

“Why, why did you do this to me, you have everything you need, a happy family, a house, a nice school, a lot of friends, a house!” in that moment, the moment I saw my mom crying my whole world was falling down into little pieces. I can see everything but seeing my mom crying it is just impossible for me. I had no words. I reply with another I´m sorry. She didn't have an answer for me. We were at home and I went down the car directly to my room to sleep. I cried until I felt asleep. At the next day my mom and my dad, both of them talked to me. They showed that they were disappointed. They didn't expect that from a girl like me. In Mexico I had almost perfect grades, my average was 9.8, here in the states a GPA of 4.00. I am very kind with my brothers, I never fight with my parents, I have my days, where I don't want to talk to anyone, but they understand. The only thing that they didn't understand was why I did that if every permission I asked for the answer was yes. I explained that I really wanted to go to the party with my friends, and that I was really sorry. This incident will not be repeated. They understood very well. I was punished for two weeks, but it was worth it. I spend time with my family more than  I was used to; I really enjoyed my punishment.

I regret my decision a million times, that I enjoyed my punishment doesn´t mean that what I did was correct, I thought with my head and not with my heart. I will never do it again.

Don't Mess With Gram - Ryan Kappelmann '18

When it comes to religion, do not mess with my Grandmother. Margaret O’Neil prayed and went to church more than anyone I know. She took it very serious too. When I was seven, my Dad let me  receive communion when I was not suppose to. She did not speak to us for a solid week after that. When she would come up to Maine from her home in New York, she would always say, “Hi there, when's the next mass”?. My mom would always go with her, and my Dad and I would stay home, she would get mad at us again. Whenever we went to New York for Christmas, it was always the same thing every year, Christmas Eve Mass. Our whole family did not want to go, but we did it for her. Somehow she thought we all actually wanted to be there.

She takes her prayers and saying grace more seriously than anyone. I once made the mistake during grace of saying “thank you for having us together, and the Yankees suck”. I am not sure if she was more mad about me ruining grace, or making fun of the Yankees. One day I walked into her room before bed to say goodnight and she was as usual praying. I noticed she was holding a cross and some beads. I asked

“Gram, what are those beads”

“These are rosary beads, they all have a different prayer associated with each bead, I say them every night. The Rosary can be said alone or with groups of people usually said out loud at church ” she answered.

“That’s awesome! Why do you use the beads?” 7 year old Ryan answered

“Well, they were given to be by my Grandmother when I was a teen and she told me to keep them with me wherever I go and to pray every night. It helps remind me of her”, She told me.

I learned from my Mom that she carried them everywhere she went. Ever since my Mom was young, Gram always had them. During the day she kept them in her purse and at night in her hand over her heart. No matter where she went they were always with her. When she would drive to Maine, she would have them close in hand.

At her funeral this past September, she was at peace with all her favorite things. This included pictures of all her kids and grandkids, The Bible, Yankees hat, and of course, her Rosary Beads.  She was able to carry what she always had with her up to heaven. During her Funeral Mass, when it was time to go up for communion, I had to pause for a moment. Should I go up or stay here to make sure she doesn't get mad again?

I asked my older cousin Dan “I’ve never done this, should I still go up?

He responded laughing “Yeah, just don’t let Gram find out”.

The Beauty of a Mentos - Tounarouse El Yazidi '19

Poverty is an ongoing issue all around the world, mainly in third world countries, and I happen to be from one. I was born into a very financially stable family, for which I am grateful every day. My family consists of four members: my mother, my father, my sister, and me. Latifa is a very cheerful woman who constantly has a somewhat comforting smirk on her face. Her presence is one I will always relish. My father is the definition of a Muslim father, meaning that he had all of the authority. To defy him is to disrespect the fundamentals of Islam and of our family. Without a doubt, I essentially oppose his guidelines and rules. On the other hand, my sister is a very bright and cunning girl. My relationship with her is similar to Antigone's relationship with her sister Ismene. In this case, I am the “rebellious” sibling.

Growing up, I was given materialistic objects meant to offer me happiness and comfort that a traditional Moroccan child would not be able to afford. I grew up in Marrakesh Morocco, a city which perfectly defines the country. It is a luxurious city that  captivates by the collision between the blazing Sahara desert, swaying palm trees, and breathtaking panorama of the Atlas Mountains. While Marrakesh is luxurious, it is also undoubtedly home to one of the world's poorest society.

This is the story of how an eight-year-old me got in trouble for stealing candy at a gas station for a homeless girl.

One late summer afternoon, my family was returning from one of our many holidays away from the sizzling hot weather in Marrakech. My sister and I were both resting our exhausted bodies on each other in the backseat. Not only was the drive back home a long one, but we had drained all of the energy out of each other from laughing at each other's unamusing jokes. Our eyelids were slowly becoming heavier and heavier as we drowsed off into a deep nap. Suddenly, my father woke us up to show us the sunset. Being the stubborn child I was, I decided to continue resting my now completely shut eyes instead of watching the sunset.

“Touna, Touna, Tounarouze!” yelled Tilila as she rapidly lost patience.“ You're missing out on one of the most beautiful sunsets you’ll ever see.”

Hearing what my sister had announced made my heart race faster than light. Missing out on what seemed to be like one of the life's greatest gifts frightened me. I opened my sleepy eyes only to witness a dull sky with a single ray of sunlight piercing through the ugliness. Unable to see the beauty in the gray and gloomy sky they were so dazzled by, I felt as if I was detached from my family. I had understood that our definition of ‘beauty’ was drastically different. Little did I know, our interpretation of beauty wasn’t the only thing we disagreed on.

I spent the next hour examining my thoughts on beauty and what it meant to be beautiful. I was both astonished and baffled at how a single sunset had triggered an abundant amount of questions in my head, questions I did not know the answers to.

My father decided to stop at a gas station to satisfy his quenching thirst for coffee. My sister ran off to the bathroom as my mother cluelessly followed her. As I stepped out of the car, a child like a silhouette appeared to be hiding itself behind one of the gas tanks. I was determined to figure out who the mysterious child was. Suddenly the young silhouette carefully approached one of the cars as she stretched out her arm begging for money.

“ Tounarouze, I am getting my coffee with our without you. You decide whether you want to be left alone out here!” exclaimed my father as he marched towards the door.

I managed to get a quick glance at the mysterious body before following my father into the gas station out of fear of becoming a mysterious silhouette myself. The girl was younger than I was. Her shiny blonde-like hair was cloaked by dust and grease. Her innocent eyes were filled with curiosity and thirst for love.

There I was, surrounded by food and beverages of all kinds, and all I could think about was the unfortunate girl out in the world alone. I could only imagine how hungry she was. How her stomach growled in the middle of the night and woke her up from the little sleep she got behind the gruesome gas tanks. When was the last time she had felt the gratifying feeling of “being full”? Or the satisfaction of drinking water?

“ Are you all set? Is there something you want to buy? We have to get back on the highway soon.” As soon as my father had asked me if I needed anything, I knew exactly what I wanted. I headed straight to the candy aisle and spotted my favorite candy of all time. Watermelon Mentos. Watermelon Mentos is the type of candy that every child adored and devoured whenever they could. The sound of the wrapper slowly tearing apart and revealing the most extraordinary chewable candy of all time. Its pale green color has the capability of putting the widest smile on any sad child's face. The salivating aroma of watermelon sweetness was an aspect of life I couldn't imagine anyone living without, and the thought of my mystery friend never having the experience of savoring a Watermelon Mentos tore apart my heart into a million pieces. I finally knew what I could do to help her; even though my action was small, it would help her find joy in a world where a gray and gloomy sky is considered beautiful.

“ Dad, I want the watermelon Mentos” I ordered without thinking about my decision twice.

“ Mentos? I'm not spending money on candy to spend more money at the dentist.” He yelled back at me as if I had done something foul.

“But-”

“There's no but, we’re leaving”

Leaving without giving my mystery friend the watermelon Mentos was something I was not going to let happen, so I snuck back into the candy isle. I grabbed the Mentos and shoved it into my butterfly underwear under the short purple dress I was wearing with no regrets. As I turned around to head to the door, my father stood right behind me speechless. I did not speak a word but started crying as I knew that I was in a tremendous amount of trouble.

“Take the Mentos out of your underwear. We’re leaving now,” said my father using the most gentle growl I have ever heard him use up to this day. My heart started racing, and my body began to tingle as I slowly lost control of every sense in my body. I took out the Mentos and gently put it back on the counter out of shame, and without a word followed him out of the gas station. I looked up and the first thing I perceived was my friend, alone again. All of the regrets I felt for stealing the Mentos flew away as I was reminded of the reason why I would do such a thing.

 After my attempt at making a homeless girl smile, I was grounded for a very, very long time. I did not regret the decisions I made, and up to this day, I still do not. I would do it all over again. I tried to steal my favorite candy to bring joy to someone in need. I will forever remember that day as the first time I tried to give back to the people in need, and the gray and gloomy sunset will forever be the first time I questioned who I was and embarked on the journey of finding my true self.

The Pen Box I Carried - Jeremy Xue '18

“I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.” -Henry David Thoreau, Walden

When I came to this world, I was a bare infant. God hadn’t made any external things except for my soul and body; I didn’t carry anything. Nevertheless, when I was growing up, I ceaselessly created things for myself to carry. They exerted more burden on my mind and magnified the complexity of life. Losing ease and happiness, I told myself: “I need simplicity.”

Like Thoreau’s three chairs, simplicity should be limited by the need. Anything beyond it create redundancy. If three chairs are enough for life, one more chair will just create space for those who are unnecessary. Once there are four people in the house, maybe some others will come to have a group discussion. Will there be enough chairs and space for everyone? Probably not. Then, more chairs and a larger house will be needed. Thoreau knows that it is everlasting, so he pursues simplicity. Carrying things beyond the need will create more futile things to hump. His idea arouses my sympathy; but initially, what I wanted to do was to carry more.

Wherever I go, I always carry a pen box with me in case I need to write something. This is a habit that developed in elementary school when I learned how to write. At that time, I could never stop writing because it is so fascinating for me. I would like to write each character in different colors to express my enthusiasm. To satisfy this hobby, I carried a case filled with color pens and pencils. Teachers appreciated my attitude and my parents kept buying pens to encourage me to write. My collection was accumulating and the size of the pen box was enlarging. Holding the pen box with my slender arm, my body inclined; I was almost unable to resist the weight of that box. The pen box that I carried was overwhelming; but I insisted to carry because I was carrying my hobby and dream.

In the second grade, I still carried that pen box to school, even though I was required to write in a single color. My friend admired me and the pen box that I carried, which was filled with colorful pens. That box brought me a predominant feeling; I enjoyed to see the envy and jealousy in their eyes. The thing that I carried was not only a pen box, but also the vanity. One day, the teacher asked the class to draw different shapes and fill the inside with colors, but no one in the class except me had color pens and pencils. I was happy to lend them mine, as it generated the sense of superiority. However, because the pens had not been used for several months, the ink had already dried up. I could not remember how my classmates looked at that time, or I daren’t see their face. I could imagine them laughing derisively at me. When I received the pens back, I dumped them in the trash can, as well as the pen box and vanity. I thought in my little mind that I ought not to carry useless things. I finished the drawing with a pencil and filled in the inside with different lines. It was the first time I noticed the importance of simplicity. I had to carry something useful.

Several days later I began to carry a multi-function pen box. A compass, rulers, erasers, and pens were stored in four different sections within the box. After several days of use, I started to realize that the stationeries that came with the pen box were not advanced enough; the rulers didn’t even have angle measures on them. I went to store and got the one I wanted, but the size didn’t fit the pen box. I revisited there and found one with the right size but pink color. I started to carry burdens in my mind, the heavy load of perfection deprived the ease and happiness in life. I could not focus on my studies anymore but thinking about the functions of the new pen box that I needed to get. The pen box that I carried made my life complex.

In elementary school and middle school, I always sought out for a perfect pen box with perfect stationeries. But after ten years of studying, I started to be aware that I have never used compasses or angle measures again. The things that I need to carry are just a pen box with a pencil, a black pen and a red marker. Carrying a pen box even seems to be useless. I tell myself: “I need to get rid of the redundancy and carry simplicity.” I carry three pens with different colors in my pen box now; one for creation, two for preparation, and three for correction.

Saint Christopher - Tess Gregory '18

In the modern day, religion is either widely accepted or looked down upon by the citizens of the world. Growing up in a religious family has not always been easy for me because I never got to pick whether or not I wanted to be part of it. Over the years there have always been the ups and downs where I questioned my religion and during those times my nana was always there to help me get to where I needed to be. However, when she gave me a little St. Christopher charm to clip onto the visor in my car I gave her a look that a teenager would give their parents after being told that they were disciplined fairly. In my eyes this small metal object was just a trinket that store clerks conned innocent old people into buying because of the “protection” it supposedly inflicted on the human being. However, my nana truly believed that it would protect me behind the wheel so I went with it because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. After she flew home  to Pennsylvania the charm became a weight I constantly carried with me physically and mentally. Every time I got in my car I would see it staring down at me and I would laugh to myself. A metal trinket could not protect someone. It was just there. The only meaning I got from it was the memory of my nana. The end.

It was the type of day everyone hates. Bitterly cold with sharp winds and fast rain that seemed to never cease. As I prepared to leave the house to pick up Jules from school it never occurred to me how the weather could affect my driving. Like any other day I drove the route to Saint Dom’s where Jules was at school. The same roads I always drive. As I pulled up to the school, and waited for Jules to walk to the car, I looked up at the foolish charm and smiled softly. As the door opened I heard the all too familiar crash of lunchboxes and backpacks as it was Jules’ daily ritual to throw her belongings into the backseat. When her sweet face turned my way my heart softened as it did each time she looked at me. We went to our usual spot to eat our early dinner, Panera Bread, where we got our usual meals and did homework while we ate. We left Panera earlier than normal that day because we had to run errands before dance and hockey. I will forever regret that decision.

It was 4:02PM. Center Street, Auburn, Maine. The charm was the last thing I saw before it happened. Car horns. Smoke. Tears. As I opened my eyes I felt a stinging sensation on my face while choking on smoke simultaneously. My first instinct was to put the car in park and turn it off. Next, was Jules, my sweet girl. “Tessie, I want to get out. I don’t like the smoke. I’m getting out.” When I heard her say this I went into instant panic mode. I knew she could not get out of the car because we were in the middle of an intersection during a thunderstorm. She would get hit.

“Jules everything will be okay but you can’t get out right now, just wait.” I remember asking her over and over again, “Are you hurt?”

I remember her response every time, “Tessie, I’m fine.” Then the police came.

“Where are your parents? Have you been able to reach them?”As I answered the questions I kept looking at that stupid charm above my head. Then, I started to believe.

We had to have the car towed, so Jules and I rode in a squad car to the hockey rink where mom met us twenty minutes later. Just before we left the car I grabbed the charm off of the visor and tucked it into my pocket.

The Saint Christopher charm was real. It was not just an object, a useless trinket sold as a con. Jules and I walked away from the accident with nothing but a scratch on my hand. For what I initially thought was a materialistic object, the charm became something more to me. I no longer carried it around because it reminded me of my nana. Instead, I carried it with me because I now believed that it could truly protect me, like a guardian angel. Ever since that cold day in November I have carried St. Christopher with me both literally and figuratively. I now keep the charm in my school bag so that it is with me everyday. The once foolish charm has become my guardian angel because of that day and it will continue to mean something to me until I pass it along to someone who needs something to believe in.

Kurt Swanbeck and the Things He Carried - Tyler Swanbeck '18

“At one point in your life you either have the things you want or the reasons why you don’t.” -Andy Roddick

My dad was just three years old when his father passed away. At the same time, his mom had lost two children during child birth. At this point in his life, when most kids were just starting preschool, my dad had lost his father and was left with four siblings and a single mother. A mother who was more scared of not being able to provide for her children, than of her well being. A mother who wanted more than anything to be able to provide a future for her children, even brighter than the one she had.

From an early age, my father carried the overbearing reality that he would never know his father, or be able to enjoy a life with a father. As a young boy, my dad carried the empty feeling of knowing he would never be able to have father and son talks like most kids do, when they are struggling. It was instilled in him that failure and aloofness was not allowed. From an early age, my father carried a job to help support his family in any way that he could. He prevailed when reality tried to shut the door on opportunity. Anything Life threw at him he prevailed.

During his senior year in high school, the soccer phenom, Kurt Swanbeck, led his team to a Massachusetts State Final. This was after a long childhood of setbacks and hardships, created by the things he carried. My dad, at the age of thirteen, lost around 60 pounds in the hospital, and near the end of his stay had a priest come in and gave him his last rites. This means that the end was near for the young man Life tried to kick to the side and kill. Now nearly 18 years old, he was being recruited by some of the most prestigious schools in the country, including Brown, Columbia, Uconn, and more. That same fatherless kid, who carried more than anyone his age should have had to, was beginning to prove everyone wrong. Everyone that doubted his future because of his fatherless childhood, and all those who looked past the kid that they should have be helping succeed, rather than kicking him to the side like he didn’t even exist. That same year, my dad would be named an All-American, one of only eleven in the country. The award didn’t mean anything in regard to soccer for him, but it was a way to show the father he never knew, that he prevailed, and that yeah, he made. It was like that final stamp of success that spit back in the face of those who socially cast him aside.

Often, people say that they weren’t able to achieve the things they strived to do, because of the things Life made them carry. My father took the things that Life made him carry, and turned that into the motivation that fueled his social, professional, and academic successes. Well, my father attended Columbia University, a school he should never have been admitted into. He almost left prematurely, because school and soccer seemed to be too hard, but eventually, he took the life lessons, created from the things he carried, all his life, and turned them into his motivation to succeed and persevere. Later, my dad played professional soccer in the ASL for the Nashville Diamonds and was called up to attend the Olympic Trials for our national team. My dad also received his Masters degree from Columbia University, a school he almost left, because of early inadequacies in school and in soccer, not because of his lack of work ethic, but from lack of appropriate opportunity, guidance, and preparation.

Kurt Swanbeck has carried many things in his life; some good, some bad. In my eyes, the eyes of his son, he wonderfully reflects the first part of the introductory quote. “At one point in your life you either have the things you want or the reasons why you don’t.” He may not be a millionaire, or able to play the game he loves, or be able to retire before he’s seventy, but his character has prevailed, and he has succeeded in more ways than one. Kurt Swanbeck been able to enjoy his life, and pass along stories upon stories, life lessons upon life lessons, to future generations that have looked up to him for guidance, preparation and opportunity, and who flock to him when in need.

My dad changes the lives of anyone that crosses paths with him for the better, whether they are one of his cherished players or a complete stranger he meets at the store. My dad is able to make them feel loved, and a part of a family. A family lead by a strong father figure, which, in the end, is perfectly ironic. Not because it is something he never had, but because it is something he was never taught to be. The things that Life made him carry turned him into a man that all boys strive to be, strong, compassionate, and kind.

Life is funny in that it often chooses, the weakest, not the mightiest of this world, but always the strongest of heart, to carry the most. It lays a burden on the man or woman that is often not ready for any of the responsibilities passed on to them, but in the end they strive and flourish larger than anyone else could have in a million years.

This is just a tidbit of my father’s life, and is only the beginning of a great story. Truly the meaning hidden in between the lines of this story, is something pretty special. It’s not about how you let the things you carry determine your life but it’s about how, to quote Rocky Balboa, “ hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward”. Life will make you carry things, good and bad, but your only way to achieve success in life, is to be able to carry as many things that life throws at you because, oh yeah, to quote Rocky one more time, “that’s how winning is done!”.

Colonialism in Africa - Emma Skelton '19

All over the world, and throughout history, there has been gender inequality. Even now, whether you live in a developed or developing country, gender equality is an issue everyone should be fighting for. This is a big problem in African countries especially. Colonialism in the late eighteen hundreds had an effect on many aspects of African culture, particularly gender roles and women’s rights. European influence changed the ways African women were and are treated and damaged the limited independence they had in their native cultures.

Before European missionaries brought their influence to African villages, native women and men each had a set role in their societies. While the very different positions were not exactly equal, neither was inferior to the other (Bwakali, Web). Women were traditionally found in the kitchen or with their children and men were the hunters and fighters. Women also often tended to the crops and fields. Because they did none of the cooking, men often did not have access to their wives’ kitchens (Kalu, Web). This is also seen in Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. Okonkwo becomes extremely angry during the Week of Peace because one of his wives, Ojiugo, is out instead of cooking dinner for him (Achebe, 29). They worked in a balance, men providing the meat, women cooking the meals. That is not to say life was perfect for women pre-colonialism. Polygamy was practiced, and generally expected, in many areas of Africa. Okonkwo had three wives and they were often seen as showing social rank: the more wives you

have the higher and more successful you are. It was also not uncommon to beat your wives, although the reader sees a circumstance in Things Fall Apart where the abuser is punished for beating his wife when she runs away to her brothers (Achebe, 93). Yet despite these things, women often held positions of power too. Priestesses were respected and revered in villages for having contact with the gods. In Ghana, the queen Yaa Asantewaa has a national holiday named after her, in honor of the battle against the British into which she lead her troops (Speaker, Web). While the traditional customs of many African groups were by no means perfect, gender inequality became a larger problem after the Europeans arrived.

During the time period of African colonization, in Europe, gender inequality was very prevalent. Women were seen as the lesser citizens in society and were treated as such. They did not have the right to vote, own property, and their husbands usually had legal power over them (History, Web). This view of women came into play when spreading European influence in African nations. In many forms of Christianity, women’s roles were almost entirely  subservient. Going back as far as the creation stories, Eve was seen as the downfall of man (Speaker, Web). So, as missionaries spread their religion throughout Africa, men were often targeted for conversion over women. When they built schools, they were usually only open to men and women were expected to stay in the kitchen. Therefore, as they were not being given a chance to educate themselves in the new schools, they did not have the qualifications for jobs and increasingly lost out to men. Leadership opportunities and positions of power were never offered to women. Because men were put in positions of leadership, women became more and more dependent on them and less hopeful for a chance of independence (Speaker, Web). Men from Europe who came to colonize Africa saw the “savage women” as barely worth their time and

took advantage of them. Men were expected to do everything, so women were pushed aside. Even in the poem “The White Man’s Burden,” which is essentially speaking against colonialism, the emphasis is put on the white man, never mentioning any women who may have been involved (Kipling). Because of women’s status in the empires of the world, the treatment and expectations of the “savage” women was even worse.

The influence that Europeans had during the time they controlled colonies did not leave when the colonists did. The inferior status of women has continued throughout the years, not only in Africa, but all around the world. Because of the lesser education provided, many girls were not offered the same opportunities as boys were. Even the jobs they did have were often inferior to those of the men. In farming, women were put in charge of the “lesser” crops, like yams and other vegetables for households only, while men controlled the expensive crops such as coffee and cocoa beans to make a profit (Bwakali, Web). Women were not only treated unfairly in their workplace, but at home as well. It is evident in Athol Fugard’s Master Harold… and they boys that the gender inequality formed by colonization continued well through the 1950s. There is a scene in which Hally is speaking to his parents on the telephone and the author, Fugard, clearly emphasizes the tone he uses with his mother versus his father. He yelled and used harsh words when speaking with his mother, but when his father took the phone, his voice became much more respectful (Fugard, 31). It is clear that even years after the colonization of South Africa and after its independence as well, women were still not treated fairly, even by their own children. Yet this problem has persisted far beyond the 1950s and 1960s. Paul Rusesabagina writes the story of the Hutu and Tutsi feud in An Ordinary Man. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed, including women and children simply because they were Tutsi. And they were defined as either Hutu or Tutsi based on their father, because of the man’s prevalent role in society. It did not matter whether your mother was Hutu or not. If your father was Tutsi, so were you (Rusesabagina, 38). Women no longer held a place that was remotely equal to men and that has not changed as years have gone by.

Gender inequality in historically colonized countries is relevant even in our so called modernized culture. For example, in Tanzania, students must pass a test to prove they are proficient in English in order to receive a high school education. But many children, mainly girls, do not have the academic or monetary resources they need in order to pass the  English test (Bearor). This creates a vicious cycle where women cannot better themselves because they do not have the qualifications. Because of this, they cannot be hired for many high paying jobs and, in turn cannot provide their own daughters with the means for an education. And as time goes on, it becomes increasingly difficult to break the cycle. As women are often found in the kitchen or doing the “lesser” jobs, likewise men are in positions of power and the leaders of their household.

In many African families when the father is not present the eldest boy steps up as the head of the house, completely overruling the mother. For instance, an interracial couple living in Chad has two teenage boys. When their father is away the eldest boy takes charge; even though he is only fourteen or fifteen years old. Yet his actions go beyond the typical teenage behavior which many people wave away as a phase. When the boys visit their grandmother here in Maine for the summer, the oldest struggles between wanting to be in charge or respecting his elders. He acts in a way that he has been taught is appropriate to treat women, but which we would see as disrespectful (Poirier). Growing up in a household and a society that treats women as inferior influences the way that a child sees the world and his own privileges. If you are taught that you are superior, then you will act as such and teach your children in the same way. Thus begins a cycle very similar to the one mentioned above and equally as difficult to escape from. As mentioned in Things Fall Apart, a man’s wives were his to treat as he pleased in many traditional African cultures. Although Okonkwo may have beaten Ojiugo in the book, sexual activity seems to be mostly consensual. Yet nowadays, statistics say that in South Africa a woman is raped every thirty-six seconds (Bwakali, Web). Despite the fact that there are more laws regarding sexual and physical abuse now, the numbers of sexual assault incidents are higher in the modern era are still extremely high. Even though women in many developed countries, such as Theresa May and Angela Merkel, have been taking great strides forward, when it comes to less developed nations, many women are still taking baby steps.

The European men who colonized Africa were most likely fighting for a prominent place in history. But surely none of them could have predicted the impact they would have on the “savages” they colonized, abused, and overthrew. This impact heavily affected the women of a hundred years ago in the ways they were treated, taught, and expected to behave. Yet it has also had an effect on African women in the recent years. Prior to colonization, women had set roles in their societies and were generally respected. But after Europeans “settled” the land, those standards were changed and gender roles manipulated in a way that has lasted well over a century. Europeans proclaimed they were bringing civilization to the natives and showing them how to be real men. But in reality they suppressed the women and damaged their independence for years to come.

 

Works’ Cited

Bearor, Meg. Personal Interview. December 29, 2013

Bwakali, David J. "Gender Inequality in Africa." Contemporary Review, 2001., pp.

270-272.

"History of the Women’s Rights Movement." National Womens History Project. N.p., n.d. Web.

27 Oct. 2016.

<http://www.nwhp.org/resources/womens-rights-movement/history-of-the-womens-rights-movement/>.

Kalu, Anthonia C. "Women and the social construction of gender in African development."

Africa Today 43.3 (1996): 269+. Global Issues in Context. Web. 27 Oct. 2016.

Poirier, Susan. Personal Interview. August 14, 2010.

"Speaker: Women's Role in Pre-Colonial Africa Highly Esteemed." Africa News Service 26 Nov.

2003. Global Issues in Context. Web. 27 Oct. 2016.

 

Daydreams - Alaia Singh '17

I've come to believe that our worst enemies also happen to be our best friends. My dear companion and dreaded foe has always been lurking by my side since before I could tie my shoelaces, attacking me playfully in times of emotional distress and willingly keeping me company at the peak of my boredom.Though we don't hang out as much as we used to, he is still my best friend. No one knows me as well as Daydreams.

I really love Daydreams, but I wish he was more respectful of my personal space. His persistence has been both a bounty and a curse. He barges in uninvited and drags me along with him to visit several new worlds, often against my own will. These worlds are, both, different from the world you and I exist in, and different from each other. I don't have the courage to explore these unknown alleys of the possible future or even the knowledge to get around these boggling streets of endless likelihood, contained in these new worlds, without Daydreams’ guidance.

Daydreams knows that I especially like to visit Amsterdam with my olive-skinned Arabic boyfriend, and sit by the picturesque canals sharing waffles topped with whipped cream--all during chemistry class. Daydreams also knows that listening to the song ‘Eye of the Tiger’ takes me to a setting where I am doing something of great accomplishment --be it scoring the winning goal for the  soccer championship, or delivering a motivational speech that forever changes the course of human history. Moreover, Daydreams doesn't need a frantic text message or a shaky voiced phone call to infer my emotional misdemeanor.

I am in awe of Daydreams’ commitment to our friendship. Though Daydreams’ subtle suave and irresistible charm has a giddying effect on me, he has also gotten me into a lot of trouble. My teachers and parents didn't understand--and still don't--just how convincing Daydreams was and continues to be. Daydreams’ perseverance never seemed to be a valid excuse for my missing homework assignments or my messy room. Eventually I got tired of defending Daydreams’ innocence and mine.

I began to realize Daydreams wasn't like me. He didn't have obligations and commitments. Daydreams didn't have to make a future for himself. He didn't experience heartache, anger, and the piercing feeling of loss because in his world he would always be the director of his destiny.

Daydreams who had been my lifelong best friend was now beginning to seem like my worst enemy.

To be fair though, Daydreams always showed up for me during tough times. He didn't offer me the conventional shoulder to cry on; instead, he offered a shoulder to jump on and then flew me away to escape my melancholic reality. Daydreams helped me climb Mount Everest effortlessly, fearlessly swim in the  frightening depths of the azure ocean; and thus he gave me the confidence to walk up the podium the second week of being at my new school, in a new country and have sixty new faces glare at me, not quite able to understand my accent, as I recited the lyrics of ‘NOT AFRAID’ to conclude my vice presidential speech. Daydreams continuous prodding and unsolicited interruptions made me realize just how much I wanted to call home and hear my dad's reaction when I told him about the success in my most recent venture.

Though most people see him as a distraction, robbing me of my true potential, I see the good in Daydreams. I see his truest intentions are to inspire and foster my imagination. Daydreams constantly  reassures me of all the endless possibilities I could translate into reality--forever inspiring me to do it because I dreamt it.

Driver's License - Dylan Richmond '18

I walked into the well lit and old-people smelling basement of the church for the second time in my life, hopefully the last as well. From that moment on I forced myself to smile for the next hour, trying to win over the old familiar face that had dashed my dreams only a couple months ago. This time I knew the ropes and seated myself in front of the makeshift desk while  keeping that constant smile. She asked me to fill out some information and I did. I moved to prepare to take an eye test; however, she told me that because I had taken it last time, I did not need to do it. I was handed two sheets of paper and told to wait in the car.

As I sat waiting in the car, I probed my brain, searching for pieces of information to remember throughout the test: how to use the parking brake, turn on the lights, left and right signals. I knew that I was prepared, but I was still worried that I would forget. She emerged through the basement door. I smiled at her my most charming smile. I was received with a neutral face. She stood in front of the Buick Park Avenue Ultra and barked orders at me.

“Left signal. Right signal. Lights.”

She walked around to the back of the car.

“Left Signal.”

I hesitate. I don’t know why.

“Left signal” she says again.

I do it.

“Right signal.”

She seats herself in the passenger seat of the car and orders that I put on the parking brake. I do it. Then she asks for the papers I had been handed just a few minutes ago. I hand them to her. She tells me that we are good to go, and I say okay. I grab a hold of the gear selector and move it casually downwards like I had done a million times before and I slowly released the brake so that I would smoothly pull out of the parking space. Except I’m not pulling out. Instead, I begin to go backwards. The opposite way of what I wanted. At first I act like nothing had happened and calmly move the gear selector to drive, but it is too late and she tells me to stop and breathe. My heart is going about as fast as a NASCAR race car right now, and I let out my breath that I had unintentionally been holding for a long period of time. This time I successfully pull out from the parking space and exit the parking lot.

I remember when my brother got his driver’s licence on his first try. He was happier than Uncle Sam on the 4th of July. When I asked him about any tricks that I could use to help me pass, he said that he had just talked to her like any normal person and even thought of presents that she could pick out for her grandchildren. This was going to be my plan. As soon as I got on the road, I began to ask her questions about her day.

“How many tests before me had there been today? Is it usually busy during the summer or the winter?”

Finally we got around to her grandkids and I instantly jumped on it.

“What were their names? Where did they live? How old?”

Then it turned out that one of the grandkids played lacrosse. Now that was something I could really hop on. I told her that I also played lacrosse and began to hammer her with more questions, but with ease and politeness.

“What position? How did he like it?”

I also slowly began to reveal information about myself as well. I said that I went to Hebron Academy and then we discussed about how diverse the school was. Finally she ordered me to do the dreaded command.

“Please parallel park.”

I calmly pulled up beside the car and began the maneuver smoothly. I put it into park. She said I could go now and I tried to. However I had parked so closely to the curb that I could not turn the wheels. I tried and tried again, but I just couldn’t move and was very frustrated. She gave me directions and only then was I able to get out. After that I knew there was only one outcome to this test. It was pretty silent throughout the rest of the drive. At a big intersection, I took a left turn and entered the wrong lane. Eventually we arrived back at the Church. By the time we got there I was feeling pretty down. My mind was shrouded with disappointment, and I could only think about how many things I couldn’t do without my license. I parked and the day felt gloomy, like Lucifer himself had ascended from the depths of hell and cast his doom over the land. Then she said the magic word. Congratulations.

Excitement and about a hundred pounds of burden was lifted from my back. After she explained all the official stuff, we got of the car. The bright rays of the sun struck my face, and a breeze cooled me down from the mind excruciating torment of the test. My smile felt a mile wide.  

And the summer was over.

And I need to get a car.

Goodbye Babies - Avery Jurek '18

They sat lined up against the dark blue wall while the summer breeze made the curtains dance into the room. As I pulled out the whiteboard and every color marker imaginable, I lectured at them with pride and sincerity. Today I was teaching them their times tables. Chou-chou raised her hand to answer a problem, and as I called on her, I heard a familiar snicker to my right. Joseph had earned himself a two minute time-out in the naughty chair while the class applauded Chou-chou on her impeccable work. Joseph was always a trouble-maker, and I always found myself dedicating valuable class time to his behavioral issues. This was my responsibility, and boy did I believe it.

The following day was a family day. I packed up my six children, Charlie, Micheal, Oliver, Chou-chou, Wilbur, and Sammy in the baby jogger and we headed out for a picnic. Holding the two youngest in my arms, I kept an eye out for the others playing in the soft, emerald grass. The world whirred around us, yet the blur of passing cars did not phase me. The eldest played on the swingset as I fed the littles their bottles. I poured my heart and soul into the care I put out for my children. Before bed that night, I sang them all the sweet songs my parents sang to me. I tucked them in and planted a gentle kiss on every little forehead, plush, plastic, and pale fabric. That night however something was different. The following day I would start school as a fifth grader at Hebron Station, my last year before finally making it to Hebron Academy. My dream was coming true, but it felt more like my worst nightmare. I felt empty in the space below my ribs. A small ache that I could bear but one that wouldn’t go away. I challenged myself to focus on the following day, new friends and a new teacher, my last first day of true adolescence, but the ache remained. Growing more and more frustrated at this uneasy feeling I began to grow very sleepy until the next thing I saw was the soft light of morning.

“BUS!” shouted Rachel, as the ugly egg-yolk screeched around the corner into sight. Nervously smiling at bus driver Stacy as I passed by, I finally took my seat at the back of the bus. I was a cool kid now, yet I felt bothered by something that I still could not decipher. I went about my day at school pushing and prodding that feeling of uncertainty to the back of my mind. Finally the bell rang and I could go home to my kids. I sat next to my best friend Sam on the bus, but we weren’t having our usual pointless and hilarious conversation. Today we sat quietly in each other’s presence, he with a straight forward gaze and I focused out the window on the passing shambled houses. That was the bus ride that lasted a whole lifetime. Looking back, that was the busride I will never forget.

I walked in the door of our house and gave a quick “hi” to my mom on the way by; I scampered up the stairs to my room. However as I went to turn the doorknob of my creaky wooden door, I paused and my hand fell back down to my side. I turned around and walked slowly back down the stairs. I grabbed the clear plastic bags from underneath the sink, formerly familiar to me only for the recycling, and climbed the long staircase back to my room. This time, as I reached for the doorknob something inside me broke in half. It was time and I had decided. So I pushed on.  

Thud..thud..thud...the bag slowly dropped to each step behind me. It was no longer just a bag for throwing away, but an encasement of what I’d always known to be the truest love. Every last one of them, placed carefully into what felt like a never ending pit of destruction to my happiness. That night as I fell asleep, a deep sadness grew from the pit of my stomach. Today that feeling crept up to the surface as it always will upon remembering that day. It’s as easy as counting to three.

For this is the day I said goodbye to my babies.