Fear Is Valid by D.W.

This, is a moth. I, have mottephobia. Which is the fear of moths. I’ve had it since I was a child. My mom once paid me 10$ to stand outside on my front porch with moths for 5 minutes. I didn’t make it, and while I was outside, I latched onto the sweater my mom was wearing the whole time.

I had a question for myself, why am I scared of something that cannot hurt me? A phobia is defined as “an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something.” Which I for sure have. I even looked up if there was any rational reason to be afraid of moths. They are in fact completely harmless, and the only time they can even slightly be dangerous is if they are ingested. I came to the conclusion that my fear is much more biological than I would think. I’ve noticed my fear of moths connects to their fur, and their patterns. The more fuzzy or patterned they are, the more dizzy I feel, the more nauseous I feel, etc. So I found that this is an evolutionary trait that has been in humans for a long time.

The patterns on the moth’s back, to humans, are a sign of poison or something dangerous to ingest. It’s all about the patterns. People can see these and their subconscious makes sure after years of evolution, they don’t go near them, for if they are ingested, most would kill the human. The patterns tell the human brain that they should be avoided because of poison or disease. Think about it, evolutionary traits are passed down. The humans who ate these colorful animals would die, while the others who refused survived, thus passing on the trait of fear towards these animals, and their patterns.

But as fascinating as that is, I’m curious about why people are so terrified of things that can’t hurt you? Why do I become a shaking, crying mess when I even hear the word moth. That certainly has no evolutionary worth. According to Mayo Clinic, “Specific phobias are an overwhelming and unreasonable fear of objects or situations that pose little real danger but provoke anxiety and avoidance.” This fascinated me, especially since phobias have no sense of real danger. Mayo clinic has 4 ways to help treat phobias if they are particularly debilitating. One: Exposure Therapy. Exposure therapy is essentially a slow switch in the mind making the patient lose their anxiety towards their phobia. For me, that would be exactly what my mom did. She made me go outside and just sit with moths, trying to help me feel more use to being around them. It is the most popular and the most recommended treatment for phobias.The second psychological therapy you could use is cognitive behavioral therapy. This strategy is much less trying to cure the phobia but instead learning to cope with the fear. This therapy goes much deeper in that it tries to keep your emotions in check instead of letting them run rampant and control you, and making sure you keep a better awareness with your body.

Medication is also a option, but it is rare. Medication is mostly used for people with overwhelming anxiety and phobias that occur in daily life, such as Dendrophobia, the fear of trees, or Papyrophobia, the fear of paper. These phobias usually come along with other serious mental conditions. People who do have more severe phobias will take either beta blockers or sedatives. Beta blockers change the chemical components of your brain, slowing the components of adrenaline, like fast heart rate or shaking. Beta blockers are similar to sedatives except sedatives are much stronger and could easily become addictive to patients.

But again, I am still left with why do I have a fear of moths, when there is no rationality of it. There is no real danger, yet my panic is sent into overdrive.

According to Katherina K Hauner from Scientific American, genetics contribute to someone’s phobia by about 25-65 percent of the time. Other times it is environmental, or something heard or seen from childhood that was traumatic.

Everyone has a fear, whether it is rational or not. Andrew Wing, my father, for example is deathly afraid of elevators. He says, “I just don’t trust them.” This is at least some what reasonable, but then ask Phet Laboutsa, who says his fear when young was grapefruit. He elaborates, “I was six and cried when I saw one.” He says his fear was rooted in the fact he was very allergic to them, but growing up has since lost his fear.

These oddities maybe can be explained if you go into depth of the study of the brain- neuroscience. Esther Inglis Arkel has studied the odd behavior of phobics. “There is a strictly biological component to phobias.” She says, “When worrisome stimuli get into the brain, there are two ways they can go; to the amygdala and to the sensory cortex. The sensory cortex is a calm, rational part of the brain. It casts around the rest of the brain for more information and looks at general knowledge”. “The amygdala, on the other hand, is the part of the brain that gets an unpleasant stimulus and screams, “What are you doing? Run, stupid!” When people say that phobias aren’t rational, they’re right. The amygdala is not there to be rational. It’s there to get results. And it does, often in the form of a panic attack.” But yet again, studying the human mind always leads to more questions than answers. Why does some triggers go to the sensory cortex and some to the amygdala? Scientists are just as confused as you are. Many say that the three causes are genetics, trauma, or all around stress and anxiety. Or it could even be a combination of all three.

Fear is such an open subject, and the human mind is a puzzle many have yet to even begin to understand. It is not perfect of course, and maybe phobias is one of those imperfections, but in the end, we deal with the cards we are dealt with, and whether you are scared of clowns or months, your fear isn’t imaginary.

Poverty by G.G.

Poverty is something you see in your everyday life on the streets at school and maybe even in your own home. Poverty has been around forever and it’s everywhere except dubai lol. I want to compare some things to a book I read , Absolute true diary of a part time indian and he’s poor. He has to hitchhike to school because his parents don’t have money for gas and if he doesn’t get lucky hitch hiking he walks. Arnold later in the book metes a girl named penelope and they go to the dance and he’s just on his toes hoping she doesn’t want to take a picture because that cost money lol, After the dance penelope’s friends invite her and arnold to eat and he doesn’t want to go because he has 8 $ so he’s in the bathroom about to throw up but one of penelope’s friends gives him 40$ to cover the bill.to me this just shows how emberassed he was of being pooor and he didnt want people to know, and how much a person is willing to lie to hide the truth.

 

Being poor is nothing to be ashamed of things happen you might be at the top and your life goes downhill but there’s always a recovery point where you can turn your life around. There’s always going to be someone who has more or less than you and that’s just how life is.Poverty is a world topic that doesn’t get much attention and when I see these famous athletes and actors going around like africa and providing clean water or a education makes me think there is hope for the world. That someday once enough people do this there won’t be poverty, imagine a world without poverty but a world knowing you ad enough to live now that would be awesome.

 

My parents grew up poor in mexico my mom came from a family of 18 brothers and sisters ! And my dad a family of 10 brothers and sisters and everytime I break something they tell me hey take care of it because there’s people who wish who had that. For example when I was little and I would always lose my toy cars my dad would tell me to not lose them cuase in mexico he didn’t have shit he would have to play with rocks and pretend they were cars. My dad was the second oldest in the family he sacrificed a lot grandparents didn’t have money for school so he dropped out so his younger brother could go to school.

 My dad dropped out and started working like a man in the 3rd grade! I respect my dad and look up to him for overcoming poverty he always tells me it’s not easy but things get better when ronald reagan was president and he was giving papers to immigrants my dad brought over all my aunts and uncles ( his brothers and sisters ) so they could get their papers and have a better life.Once he tried to come at the end because he stayed with my grandparents for a while still once he tried to come he got caught by immigration 2 times and was never able to get his papers but he doesn’t care he’s just grateful he got everyone else here. Every december his brothers and sisters leave to mexico for the end of the year parties and festivals because they have papers and my dad doesn’t but he doesn’t care he knows he’ll go back soon since he already has his papers in process.

 

My dad says being poor wasn’t that bad it taught him a lot and also the family was a lot closer he says he feels when a family has a lot of money the families aren’t as close.Poverty is a everyday thing some people experience it and some don’t luckily for me I didn’t have to because my dad is good with his money and always has had good jobs. And I thank him for that and now that i’m older I understand when he tells me like he take care of it I didn’t have shit . I hope later in time in the world there isn’t poverty but for the mean time i know there’s people doing something I know I do something sometimes when homeless people come to my job i usually give them food everyone deserves a good meal once in awhile.

The Artist’s Dilemma by D.W.

I turned down the Guns N’ Roses concert I was listening to. I needed to be precise for the fine detail. I was using the smallest paintbrush I own, but it still seemed too big to get the detail I wanted. I knew I should’ve gotten a bigger canvas, but the deadlines hanging over me forced me to use only what I had. Sure, I could put some of my earlier work into my portfolio, but they don’t show the best of my abilities. My concentration broke, and an accidental mark glared up at me. No erasing, paint doesn’t work that way. I’d have to go over the section again, and undoubtedly I wouldn’t like my restoration. I set down the brush, I needed a break.

People often give me funny looks when I tell them I want to be an artist. Almost certainly, they’re thinking of the stereotypical “Starving Artist”. Being an artist is certainly an unstable job. There are no safety nets, like a union, and making it big is almost always up to fate. And making money? Don’t count on it. According to Xanadu Gallery, 68% of artists from around the world make less than $25,000 annually just from selling art. This may be because 63% of artists who took the survey have no gallery representation (37%), or are in just one gallery (26%). Obviously there’s a direct correlation to how much you make as a full time artist, with how many galleries you’re in. More publicity, more income, right?

Exit Through the gift Shop is a documentary directed by famous street artist, Banksy. It tells the story of an incredibly lucky man named Thierry Guetta. In short, Thierry happens to stumble into the blossoming world of street art, all while filming. Eventually, he comes into contact with Banksy, and tells him he’s making a documentary. False as the statement was, Thierry actually does end up making a film. It is so unwatchable, Banksy decided to try and make one himself. In the meantime, Thierry, with no experience as an artist, makes his own show with semi original works, and manages to get a massive amount of publicity. So much so, buyers begin to purchase his art before the show even opens, for tens of thousands of dollars. Planned to run for only a few days, the show “Life is Beautiful” stays open for three months. By the end, Thierry was a millionaire artist, as if overnight. Since then, he has had several more solo shows, which have all been widely successful. The moral here is that publicity can really help sell your work. It was actually pretty controversial, because Thierry has had no formal art training, it’s almost like he didn’t follow the rules.

My art teacher told me about the art economy, and how unpredictable it is. He told me about one of his friends, a fellow artist. He got lucky, once. His pieces were selling for way higher than they’d ever done, but only because the buyers were almost competing amongst themselves to see who would spend more. Like a show of wealth and power, they bought his work for thousands higher than the asking price. All seemed well, until his galleries started denying him entrance to their shows because his prices started going back to normal. They wouldn’t accept him until he spiked up his prices to the same ridiculous level they were at, which turned off possible buyers. He never sold another piece of art again, and gave up his dream, all because of a random fluke in the economy of art.

Struggle is something every artist faces, undoubtedly. But the weird thing is, being an artist is unlike any other job. It’s about a half and half split of people making art so people will buy it, and people who make art just to share their ideas and views. Art is a language, a language that everyone speaks. Maybe you see “For the Love of God”, the diamond encrusted human skull from Damien Hirst, and you just don’t get why. That’s absolutely fine, but there isn’t a single person on the planet who gets nothing from art. It makes people angry, and it makes people dream.

Traveling by A.R.

George is a small nine year old boy who lost both his parents when he was even younger. Now George lives with one of his friends, Jolame. Jolame’s parents now take care and support for both of the kids. I met George and Jolame while teaching at a school in Costa Rica. Mark Twain once said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Meeting George and Jolame and many others has made a huge impact on my live and the way I view things. It’s hard to think that just by not going on a two week trip I could have missed out on one of the greatest lessons, and one of the greatest trips, of my life.

One of the greatest feelings in the world is giving back. Living here in the United States gives people a skewed perspective on the rest of the world. People have everything, they could get anything they want. Yes, there are some people that suffer and some that are homeless, and because of the living conditions in the U.S., they are unable to find a suitable living situation. People living the dream in the U.S. don’t know the reality of most of the rest of the world. There are countries in the world that are a lot different from the U.S., for example Fiji. Most of Fiji’s landscape has been wartorn from the past few decades. Most of the Fijian people live off the land and barely make enough money to support families. Some children have to walk up to two hours to get to school everyday, some don’t even have shoes. But the one thing people could learn by traveling to a place like Fiji, is that you will never see a single person begging for money. The people are fine with the life they live, even if that is living in an aluminum shack. This is one of the reasons that traveling abroad is good for teens, because it could teach them a lesson or two about giving back.

Apart from giving back, you also learn social skills. In so many different ways, traveling abroad is good for you socially. For example, you learn to overcome challenges. If you miss a flight or bus, you have to figure out how to solve that problem. This is a helpful skill to have for later in your life when you could need to know how to survive in one of these situations. Another reason to travel abroad is how it forces you to interact with people. Being an introvert, I rarely talk to new people and have trouble connecting with others. That’s another reason I like traveling so much, I get to meet the coolest, nicest people, that I will never forget. When traveling abroad you could be forced to stay in a hostel. Loads of other people who are traveling the same as you are also staying in hostels and they are all eager to get to know you and talk about whatever you bring up. Finally, the experiences you’ll have, and the stories you’ll tell. Events in other countries can change you forever, there is no way that you’ll visit a country and return home the same person. It’s all because of all the people you meet, local and fellow travelers, and all the experiences you’ll share with them. When you return to the states, your friends will love hearing all your stories,even though it might not look like it, and you’ll love telling them, just to throw you back to your adventure one more time.

It’s not only the people that you meet on your travels, it’s what they teach you. I have met so many great people while traveling to different countries, not only fellow travelers from America but also all the natives. I still remember some of the great kids that I met three years ago while traveling and teaching in Costa Rica. When traveling, you are immersed into a whole new culture with a whole new community of people. This can align your daily goals more to suit the openness personality trait. This can give you a whole new perspective of life and of the culture you come from. The new culture can provide an abrupt change in diet, this can unfortunately lead to travelers constipation, or the opposite-thumbs down- side of the spectrum. This leads us to jet lag, traveling to the other side of the Earth can lead to you being totally drained of all energy while getting used to the time change. That’s why, when traveling, you have to get the adrenalin pumping. There aren’t many opportunities back home to go skydiving, or ski in the French Alps.

For a different perspective I interviewed a fellow traveler that I actually met in Fiji. Her name is Carly and we got really close while spending our time in Fiji. She and two of her close friends had spent two weeks in Australia right before they came to Fiji for another two weeks. Those three grew up together and they definitely got closer to each other by traveling. She said that they love travelling. They had all been traveling for a few years and didn’t hope to stop anytime soon. To Carly, all the effects of traveling were good. She said the best part was meeting new, great, people. She said that she’ll never forget all the kids that we taught for. Since Carly lives right in Manhattan, she doesn’t get many of the views that we get either in Colorado or in a place like Fiji. She said that some of the views are so beautiful that it blows her mind. If she could live in a place like Fiji she would. Who wouldn’t.

You’re more likely to fall in Love. Being apart from your daily routine makes you leave all your responsibilities and worries behind. This makes life seem better in general, being relaxed. With all these worries off your shoulders, it’s seems so much easier to fall in love. If you go on an outward bound trip and are forced to travel with and meet new people, then you are no doubt going to fall in love. After all, you spend your days together mixing cement and building schools, and your nights cuddled up under the stars. The hardest part is leaving them when the trip is over and you have to go back to your normal everyday life without them. People say long distance never works, they’re right. You may see the person you love one or two more times, but slowly and surely you’ll stop talking. Even if you make each other bracelets that you’ll wear forever. There is always an end to everything.

It’s hard to stop and think about your latest text message or your last snapchat when you’re traveling around the world. Its also hard to text and smap then you don’t have international service. Traveling teaches you to unplug from social media and other forms of communication and encourages out to talk to new people. Language is one of the better aspects of travel. Being able to speak a second or third language is really helpful and fun to use while traveling in a country that speaks another language. It helps you connect with people on a whole new level. When I taught in Fiji and in Costa Rica, I actually became close friends with most of the kids. Even with the language barrier, there was still a strong connection. Whether it’s getting directions or whether it’s having kids at a camp teach you swear words in a foreign language to have you say them to your friends. It makes the experience much more real and immersive.

Overall, there is no downside to travelling abroad. There are tons of places outside waiting and millions of people to meet. There are hundreds of different cultures out there and different ways of life that are a thousand times different than what we have here in the United States. Traveling broadens your mind and personality, making you a better person. I know that, from my personal experiences, that you can learn more about a different culture by experiencing it, than you ever could by taking a class in school.  You learn to value experience over material objects, and you learn to live in the moment. You really don’t start seeing the beauty in everything till you put the camera down. I will never forget any of the places i’ve been to and i’ll never forget the people i’ve met. You learn to be more open to different ways of life. People that live in the United states need to learn to give back. Traveling does that.

Brown and Graduated by Lluvia Macias

What obstacles do minority first generation high school students face during their journey to higher education and how do they overcome them?

“I’m brown, not the plain card board type of brown. I’m the coffee flavored, chocolate ice cream and brownies brown. I’m cinnamon brown, Mexican brown. And not only am I just brown, I’m brown and graduated.” Nancy Mejias, a graduate from Colorado State University asserted while her face lit up in response to the movement of her shoulders to an imaginary music beat.

It’s more than a high school diploma. It’s a key, a stepping stone, an unraveling uncompleted promise for something much bigger. Walking across the stage for graduation is the end of a journey for some, but for many first generation students it is a symbolic milestone to the imminent highway ahead. With the pride and glory that is enveloped in a high school diploma, many do not recognize the inestimable, unforeseen struggles that lie ahead.

The mosaic melting pot of traditions, cultures and values that come together and make the U.S. whole, all have different diverse backgrounds. Their struggles and successes paint the colors of the American flag. One thing that should be highlighted is that not everyone has the same starting place and not everyone was given the same opportunities to become successful. Eab.com stated that rougly about 90% of first generation college students are low-income. This makes the playing field unequal, causing some to get a head start and others to fall behind. Many are privileged with the fact that their parents had gone to the process of college as a whole. And others, are stepping in the dark with what seems like no guidance in a whirlpool of deadlines, standards and essays. This is seen as a major set back to first generation students who are just starting to dip their toes into a whole new world of education.

Many students have sought out different opportunities to help them achieve the goal of attending a college or university. They’re willingness to try a little bit harder on figuring things out than the rest has lead many to discover many programs such as the I Have a Dream, the True Achievement Program, and the Asset Program among others that cater to their needs and help fill the gaps where the students’ parents aren’t able to fill. According to insidehighered.com first-generation students also showed more interest in completing a certificate programs compared to non-first-generation students. The ratio was 33.6 percent to 27.7 percent. There are programs out there with the intent of helping first generation students, student only need to have the drive and commitment to get there.
There have been many stories of individuals who overcame endless obstacles and made it big despite the fact that it seemed all odds were against them. One individual in particular is Nely Galan. Apart from being a fan of her work myself, she has won her supporters with her sweat and tears. She is a strong writer, entrepreneurial bad ass Latina (among other things) who owns her own television network. She fought restlessly against the Latina stereotype and on top of that, she was a first generation student. She did this by learning to embody the role models that she looked up to, ingest their leadership abilities and “fake it until she made it”. She is living proof that there is a world full of opportunity if you are willing to sweat a little. And if you are willing to go above and beyond as she said,“Chispas.” (boom) You can be amazed at what heights you will reach regardless of whether or not you are first generation or have any types of obstacles ahead.

The amount of first generations students has been rapidly increasing every year. That reflects the fact that they are helping each other out and assisting each other to climb new heights. Thus, defying that crab in the bucket analogy of pulling each other down or not knowing how to help each other. As a result to this other programs have strengthened their help for students and have set out to understand their situation in order to really help. This heavily benefits students when they find themselves in the dark. Nancy Mejias is a living example of how first generation students give back to their community once they graduate from college. She  currently works for a non-profit organization which focuses on retention to and through college within low income families and students who are also first generation, like herself. Her personal experiences allow her to connect and support the students in ways that other people could not.

Another example of how successful first generation students have returned and given back to their community is Michelle Obama. Apart from initiating many programs to push and support first generation students all the way to getting their diploma on stage, on February 5th, 2014 she has personally made an “I’m First” video. “At first I even worried that maybe I wasn’t as smart as some of my classmates.” She explained when she spoke about how she felt importers syndrome. She also brushed up on how she didn’t know what to expect from the little things like sheets, to not feeling like she belonged in a class. She is a role model for thousands of First Generation students and has given hope to them by advocating and implementing powerful programs. Seeing where she is today and knowing that her starting point is similar to many first generation students, first generation students look up to her and want to follow in her footsteps.

Getting more students to go to college and pursue a career in areas which they love will also benefit our economy. According to lonestar.edu the future economic growth ofour city and state depends on having a well-educated and highly-skilled workforce. The higher the percentage of college graduates there are in our economy, the more higher paying jobs they will occupy. And in turn, drastically helping our economy and bettering our society as a whole. Lonestar.edu stated that about 40% of community college students are first generation, proving they are taking the first steps toward higher education despite A world full of educated and open minds will largely help advance new discoveries and advance our technolog and economy.

Although first generation students face many struggles, the outcome of reaching higher education is worth it. Overcoming barriers and achieving what they set out to do benefits our society and the lives of first generation students. No matter what odds are against these students, their willingness to overcome adversity and make their lives and communities better is a beneficial thing for those around them as well.

Change Could Come but We Have to Be Sure That it does by D.H.

If we had the technologies to travel and time no one would, we understand the amount of potential ripples that could be cause. Time is seen as a river, it flows and with every change the direction changes. Any altering of the causes unforeseen consequences, hundreds of stories come from this idea. Theoretically if you where to dam the river of time you damage the surrounding ecosystem, most people wouldn’t take the chance to mess with time and yet we take the chance to mess with our own physical rivers. Instead of destroying the riverbanks of time we are destroying our environment. Hydroelectric generation has doomed us. Sure it is a clean way to generate electricity but it does have its consequences. The best things about writing about an ecological apocalypse is that there is a way to fix it unlike extraterrestrial born disasters there is a way to fix it.

Long ago, before we used water to create power we used it to turn things, and now in China it’s been used again in that way, but this time it’s slowing the turning of the earth. Classic ways to create use from a moving stream was the vertical water wheel which didn’t require damming and destruction to be of use. I am not suggesting a radical use of explosive by the eco terrorists to destroy Hover and The Three Gorges Dam.

The Three Gorges Dam is the largest man made structure in recent time. This structure according to the Scientific America is a natural disaster waiting to happen. For as big as this dam is it only produces 10% of China’s needs, provided that is 20 times more than Hoover Dam produces in America. For perspective of how big this thing really is, it measures 1.4 miles long and 607 feet tall. To use school buses as an example of size it is 215 school buses long and 17 school buses tall. This dam is five times bigger than Hoover and produces 20 times  more energy. Another great benefit this dam provides is that it saves 15 million people in the Yangtze valley from deathly floods.  By these numbers The Three Gorges Dam seems a great thing until you look at the other numbers that include the death toll and the economic loss it cause to China’s economy. Also it displaced 1.3 million people, so were the possible benefits worth the cost?. This dam which is conveniently placed by 6 major fault lines, slows so much water it slows the Earth’s rotation. If this dam was to break at any moment which is entirely possible earthquakes would be started and the rest of the damage is unimaginable. Not only displacing people like all dams they damage the nearby ecosystem.

Damaging the nearby ecosystem is a serious problem when it comes to daming, like everything rivers are especially affected by the ripple effect. Shocking! By damming a river  or any moving body of water  you cause the area to flood destroying and non aquatic plant life which will cause the food chain to be disturbed, which is not a good thing. It is one of the ways that humanity could be killed off or a large mass of us killed. hydroelectric dams are not the devil. They are a great way of storing energy and are renewable. There is a way to produce hydroelectric power without damming but you do lose the ability to store the energy. This second way is a water wheel. Both a dam and a water wheel use gravity to create this energy but they work much differently. Old hydroelectric dams use to use turbines but with a horizontal orientation. These had a problem where you had to move the water to one side to allow the wheel to turn and not be snapped. Nikola Tesla’s saved notebooks store a vast amount of knowledge on this. Eventually we switched the dams to turbines which work like jet engine, but you’re letting the water move it instead of the turbines moving the air. Waterwheels on the other hand just get turned by the moving water and don’t require a dam for a long period of time. The only time a dam is needed is for the installation of the wheel. Although the amount of time that this temporary dam is in place, is significant it is not around long enough to cause permanent damage to the area.

This is the solution I want to work for. There is no problem with using all moving bodies of water for generation of electricity other than not doing it. We can not run around installing water wheels and dams willy nilly. We must take into consideration which one will be the most efficient and the safest for the environment.  

The Stigma of Depression and Suicide by T.W.

My sister is on a search and rescue team in Boulder. Two summers ago she and her crew went to search for a 17-year-old girl who disappeared around Flagstaff. The fire chief told them that the girl’s boyfriend had just broken up with her. Her family said she was on medication  for depression and anxiety. When she didn’t show up for school, her family found a note she left behind. My sister spent hours in the mountains with her crew, looking for the lost girl. They had been briefed for hours about how to deal with someone suffering from depression but they didn’t get a chance. Eventually they found the lost girl. She had jumped off a 100-foot cliff and died instantly. My sister and her partner found her and guided the police to her body.

Every year, more than 150,000 teenagers in the U.S. receive medical help because of self-inflicted injuries, according to the website healthresearchfunding.org. According to statistics from rawhide.org, 5,400 teenagers commit suicide every year, a rate that has tripled since 1960 even though we have more suicide prevention programs than before. Seventeen percent of high school kids in grades 9-12 have seriously considered attempting suicide in the past 12 months. According to the Centers for Disease Control’s website cdc.gov, males usually use guns to kill themselves. Females use poison.

The Centers for Disease Control says the risk factors for suicide are a family history of suicide, a history of depression or mental illness, alcohol or drug abuse, a stressful life event or loss, easy access to lethal methods like a gun, exposure to the suicidal behavior of others, or being in jail. It also says that the victims are often blamed or their families are blamed and people don’t often want to talk about their problems. Healthresearchfunding.org states that studies show that at least 90% of teenagers who kill themselves have mental problems. So if someone is suffering from a mental issue or going through a tough experience, how do we help them?

A friend of mine started suffering from depression her senior year in high school. Brianna’s always been kind of quiet, but she has a lot of friends. Last fall, she was nervous about going to college, really anxious about being on her own. She took a lot of advanced courses and she started wearing herself out. She gained weight and started hating herself because she couldn’t fit in her clothes. Even though Brianna has nice parents, she started falling apart. She told me she thought about dying a lot because the stress was too much and one day I saw her at the back of the class crying. I found out later that she went to be evaluated that night because she was thinking about suicide. She wasn’t in class for the next month. “All I wanted to do was stay in bed,” she told me. What was strange was that, not even a week before she fell apart she looked fine. She was a social butterfly and I’d always see her in the hallways talking to a bunch of girls. I never would have thought she’d be so depressed. She told me she was too embarrassed to tell people how much she hated herself for not being able to keep up in math class, and how much weight she’d gained over the semester. She said she was scared she would fail in college. Now she’s seeing a therapist and she’s on meds for depression.   

I think the best thing we could do for people is be a friend. I think social media makes us feel more alone and we don’t get relationships from following someone on facebook. I ask my friends how they’re doing and I listen to people. I think if people listened to their friends and actually take the time to like be a friend that someone who’s depressed would explain what’s going on. I think the expectations of our culture put so much pressure on people my age. The girls all think they have to look a certain way and guys think they have to dress cool every day. Everybody is so self conscious and the think worse of themselves than they really are. We need to encourage and support each other, stop judging and realize that friendship is important not just because it’s fun to have friends but because we need to communicate and know that other people are going through problems too and we can support each other no matter what is going on.

Feature by B.E.

Meet Alex, sixteen years old. He layed on his feathered couch and stared up at the crystal chandelier on the ceiling. The tall grandfather clock in the other room would ring for 4 o’clock and Alex would then break from his lazy glaze. Another school day skipped, he would think to himself smugly. The house butler would then open the door for Alex’s father who upon coming in, would normally erratically express his disappointment in Alex’s behavior. Drugs and slothlike carefree behavior have turned into a daily habit for Alex, as he had known for some time now that once he turned eighteen, he would inherit 5 million dollars from his father’s assets. However, Alex’s father had had enough and told his son that unless he got his act together, there would be no inheritance.

This worried Alex, but his worthless habits made him careless about his future. He knew deep down that he should quit his behavior now while he was still ahead, but it seemed impossible for him. There was no drive to achieve in his heart. Everything he knew had been given to him his whole life.

As many like Alex, he didn’t attend any form of college. Not because he wasn’t accepted, but because he didn’t even apply. Two years later he was exiled from his family’s house. His father had an idea of throwing Alex into the real world to wake him up as some desperate last resort. Needless to say, it didn’t work. With no high school degree to show for, and no money, he turned to begging for money on a corner, sleeping in alleyways. This is what his life had become over the last few years. He could have done so much with his life he would think, while high…

Meet Marc, fourteen years old. He stands at the end of a large empty poorly paved parking lot in Puebla Mexico. Being the only non Mexican boy in the small town he sits on the corner curb, exiled by the other boys his age. He watched them play soccer with an old ball one of them had stolen months back at a store up North. Although the other boys would never let him play with them he was fascinated by the sport and the professional players.

The ball in the boys game was soon kicked out and rolled over in Marc’s direction. The boy’s quickly made their way over to him to retrieve their ball. Marc would make a move to place his foot on the ball to control it but the oldest and most skilled of the Mexican group quickly took it back, and with the tip of his toe, maneuvered it, just out of Marc’s position. The other boys would cheer as he humiliated Marc’s inability to take the ball back from him. Finally, the boy kicked the ball up to his head and shoved Marc to the ground. The others burst into laughter as he fell the scraped his hand. The boy glared at him in a cocky manner, “Stop trying to be like us, white trash! This is our sport!.” With that, they left him, crying on the street.

Marc had never felt so destroyed before. The physical pain was only the rough exterior of what was truly going through him. As he got back to his disheveled home he tore open his box of scratch magazine covers. On each was a different professional Mexican soccer player which he had idolized. These men were heroes in his country, even to the boys who bullied him. These men had everything they could ever want and did what they loved. Marc looked around the room he was in thought. The ceilings cracked, windows broken, everything used and dirty.

The pain Marc was feeling from moments earlier was rapidly shifting to a sense of anger. He refused to accept this life any longer than he had to. He had a vision; a purpose. He imagined himself on those magazines he viewed and this new vision set a flame inside him. He didn’t know exactly how he would do it, but he knew he would. It was settled, failure was not an option in Marc’s mind. He was determined to do whatever it would take in order to become a professional soccer player.

Every night he would sneak out of his abusive father’s house to steal the soccer ball from behind the large garbage bin, where the boys hid it. He would practice the basic moves he had seen the pro’s do on television for hours at a time, setting small goals for himself every night. Even though he came home around 3:00 every morning, he seldom grew tired when he practiced, his progress ever so captivating to himself. He knew that with every kick, every session, he was getting that much closer to his goal.

Soon when school started, Marc tried out for the soccer team. The coach was a bit weary at first of letting the boy play but eventually gave the boy a single chance due to his persistence of asking. To the coaches surprise, Marc began to dominate the other boys on the small field, spinning and flicking the ball as he ran it and scored on the opposite goal. Although Marc was proud of how far he had come, he did not let his current satisfaction change his state of mind. He had his eyes set on the pros and nothing less.

As years went by his vision did not waiver. His last year in highschool soon came and rumors of the white boy from Puebla had spread across the high schools of the state. The talk brought a University scouter to one the games. He watched as the smaller white boy dominated the field around him with such passion. As the game finished, the scouter insisted on giving Marc a full ride scholarship to play soccer at one of the top universities in all of Mexico.

Before Marc even knew it, he was playing with some of the best in the country. Only one step away from what he had started so many years ago. He would watch his fellow soccer colleges party and drink through the weeks, but he stayed away from it all. He knew that only one of them could have a shot of making it to the big leagues and he was willing to work while they all played. His fear of failure was too powerful.

When finally got drafted onto Mexico’s professional team it shook him to his core. The feeling of success was overwhelming. Having overcome everything and gotten to this point seemed impossible to all others but he stayed true to himself. Marc accomplished his purpose he had set for himself, and become the first professional soccer players, with only one arm.

These two passages represent the two opposites of successful human nature. The first one tells the story of Alex, a rich boy who had been given everything in his life. Alex had no sense of what sacrifice was and thought pleasure was the only thing in life to be had. However, Alex soon learned the truth when he was exiled from his perfect life. This pictures just how devastating a life of pure indulgence with no purpose can be. With no drive or passion for anything, it was only a matter of time before someone like Alex would end up at the bottom. Alex is a dramatised illustration of those who don’t have the self direction to reach or even set life goals.

The next story is the flip situation in which the boy Marc is shown to live in poverty. Despite this, Marc exercises a power of pure dedication only the truly successful experience. Through this, Marc is able to strive through his boundaries set by others until eventually reaching his goals, at any cost.

I believe that Marc’s story is the truly important one here. Although his story is clearly an ideal for others, thousands of similar stories exist in which real people have defied the odds to achieve their dreams. If there is one thing to take away from a story like Marc’s, it’s that anyone has the power to take control of their life to do whatever they set their mind to. However, this takes self control, sacrifice, and most importantly of all, a true obsession for what you want. An obsession so strong that it makes you want to succeed more than you want to eat, more than you want to eat. If you have a true vision or passion for something, there is nothing stopping you from reaching success.      

We Don’t Understand Teen Mental Health by L.W.

I am surrounded by mental illness.

It sounds extreme, I know. But many of my friends are affected by some sort of depression. As a high schooler, the thing you are always told is that you should let an adult know. But here’s the problem. Many adults don’t actually believe that mental illness is a real problem. One of my friends has continued to tell her parents that she wants to go to therapy and get better. And all they tell her is to suck it up. Even though there are available counselors at the school, the only people she feels comfortable telling are her closest friends. She barely was able to tell her parents.

Can you imagine telling your parents that you want to go see a psychiatrist and being yelled at? What about telling them that you’re borderline suicidal and being told that you’re just being dramatic? Probably not. But these kinds of experiences are common occurrences for kids and teenageers with mental illnesses. Mental health is a serious issue, but a lot of people don’t treat it as such. These kids are told and convinced that they’re making it up or exaggerating their problems.

Mental health issues are especially prominent in teenagers and young adults. According to youngminds.org, about 20% of youth in the US are affected by some kind mental illness that prevents them from functioning in day to day life. At this point, the percentage of youth being affected by mental illness is higher than the percentage with health conditions like asthma or diabetes. Even though so many people have mental health issues, they are not treated as a serious problem.

Much of the disbelief of mental illness in teenagers and young adults comes from parents and other adults in their lives. It isn’t treated as a serious problem and the affected youth are unable to get the help they need. Part of the problem comes from the fact that the number of people aged 15-16 who have depression came close to doubling from 1980 to 2000, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Mental illness wasn’t as much of a known problem when many of today’s adults were growing up. It’s a seemingly new issue that we have to learn how to understand and we haven’t quite figured it out yet.

The signs are surrounding us, we just need to see them and listen to those who are telling us that they need help.

When I talked to my friend, she told me that she feels she really needs to go see a psychiatrist because her mental health is tanking. “I’m getting really bad and I know it, but I can’t go do anything without my parents. They won’t let me go and they actually yelled at me for wanting to go.” Her parents don’t believe it’s an issue. They believe she can work through it. She, however, disagrees. “I know my mental health a lot better than they do. I legit have more days where I’m sad than where I’m even remotely happy.”

I know people who are borderline suicidal and their parents won’t let them go to a therapist or anything. It’s terrifying. According to healthychildren.org, suicide is one of the leading causes of death for people aged 15 to 24. Studies have shown that more than 90% of teens who commit suicide have depression or some other mental health issue.

Many adults don’t understand what that truly means. “I think that we really need the adults around us to understand what’s going on,” my friend said. “It kind of sucks, but they run the world. If we get them to understand, things are going to be a whole lot easier for kids with depression.”

Union Strong by MvS

My grandfather sits heavily in his blue la-Z-boy chair as he tells me about an early memory from his childhood,“when my dad came home from the coal mine, he would have to take a bath in a wooden tub in our kitchen. His skin would be black from coal dust, and my brothers and I would draw pictures on his back in the soot while he talked with my mom.” Preparing for my interview, I take a breath and ask him to tell me the story of his father.

Before my interview, all I knew about my great-grandfather was that he was a coal miner and that he died from black lung disease. I also knew that my grandfather has always been very pro-Union. I wanted to hear the whole story.

My great-grandfather Joseph Michael Crnarich was born in 1895 in Croatia. He came to the United States when he was eighteen years old, in order to gain citizenship he would fight for the US in World War I. Smiling, my grandfather told me about the first time his parents met, “This is actually a great story. My dad stayed at a boarding house when he got off the boat from Europe, that was the the first time he met my mom.” He then told me laughing, “He was eighteen, and she was only eight!” My great-grandfather stayed at the boarding house for two months before joining the army. Twelve years past before they reunited. She was twenty and he was thirty, they got married later that year. He took a job at a coal mine in a small city in Pennsylvania but he was not working for the Union yet at that job.

Unions had been around long before my great-grandfather’s time. As far back as the middle ages in Europe, workers joined together to fight for basic rights. In the United States, the Union got organized in 1866 when the National Labor Union was formed. This organization was created to fight unfair and unsafe labor conditions and child labor in our country. At that time, workers had no rights or protection. They were forced to work long hours at dangerous jobs. If they complained, they would be fired and someone else would be happy to take their position. Coal mining was one of the worst jobs to have before Unions. Many of the workers were immigrants like my great-grandfather. They didn’t speak English well and were easy to take advantage of. The owners of the mines were concerned with one thing, getting coal out of the ground as fast as possible. That meant the mine shafts were built poorly and that the workers had to put in long, hard hours.

My great-grandfather’s first coal mining job didn’t last long. He was blacklisted after he was seen carrying an American flag during the Labor Day parade for a local Union group called the Knights of Labor. Blacklisting meant he could no longer work in that city. He had to find work so he moved his wife and their seven kids to small coal mine town in the middle of nowhere called Nanty Glo, Pennsylvania. This is where my grandfather grew up and where my great-grandfather got the Union coal mining job that he worked the rest of his life.

Even with Union representation, coal mining was a tough job. In the winters workers went underground into the mine before the sun came up, and worked all day in a 42 inch high tunnel, never standing up. They came out of the mine when the sun had already set and literally never saw the light of day. Everyone in town knew if the whistle blew during the workday that there was an accident; they dreaded hearing that sound. But the Union was there to make sure the owners of the company weren’t taking any shortcuts on safety and they made sure the workers were treated fairly and paid well. The Union demanded that the owners of the Nanty Glo mine install a hot water shower at the entrance to the mine so the workers could wash up before returning home. The owners would have never built that shower without serious pressure from the Union. That shower meant workers had more time with their families every day, no more nightly baths in the kitchen; It meant a lot to them.

As my grandfather enthusiastically told me the story of his father I couldn’t help but wonder; if Unions ensured workers good pay and fair working conditions, why didn’t everyone want them? When I ask my grandfather he blurts out, “people were scared it was communism.” At first I didn’t quite get how communism and labor unions could be connected but after some research I discovered the reason. According to History.com, Samual Gompers, the founder of the American Federation of Labor (AFL), talked about a worker revolution where the people would take over industry. Marxism taught Samuel Gompers and his fellow socialists that trade unionism was the indispensable instrument for preparing the working class for revolution. This type of talk scared some Americans, especially business owners. During this time there were constant clashes between Union workers and in 1935 another Union organization called the Committee of Industrial Organization (CIO) was formed, and later, in 1938, was officially organized and re-named the Congress of Industrial Organizations. Unions grew throughout World War II. Over 12 million workers joined and organized labor had made its mark throughout the industrial economy.

Union membership hit its highest in the 1950’s when about a third of the workforce were Union members. Today Union membership has fallen below 15%. There are different reasons for the fall in membership rates. The types of jobs have changed so there are fewer concerns about worker safety. The threat of unionization also encourages companies to treat their employees well. Union membership may be declining, but we can thank Unions for fighting for job benefits we take for granted today. The eight hour workday and forty hour workweek, over-time, paid vacation, breaks, and minimum wage are just a few of the things Unions fought for that we all benefit from today.

My great-grandfather worked in that coal mine until he was too sick to carry on. He died from black lung disease when he was 66. If he had not been with a Union, my great-grandmother would have had to struggle to support herself. Since he was in the Unions, she was taken care of. Laughing, my grandfather told me “My mom was actually better off financially after my dad died. The Union’s pension plus the payment for his black lung disease allowed her to live comfortably for the rest of her life.”

My grandfather followed in his dad’s footsteps and also joined a Union. He worked the same job his entire adult life at the steel mills in Gary Indiana. He had a limited education, but the Union helped ensure he would have a safe job with decent pay which allowed him to raise a family with four kids, put two of them through college and retired happily. This might not have been possible without the Union, and my grandfather is grateful that the Union provided that opportunity for him –and I am too.