AFH Photo // Max Urena
 Since the 1700’s, immigrants have been the heart of America. They have enhanced our society. Today, women and children refugee want to settle into a place where they can thrive and call home. But the United States isn’t doing its part.
 Some believe refugees to be unknown and that they should not be trusted. I believe this perspective is discriminatory. For example, Donald Trump argues, “We don't know who they are. They have no documentation and we don’t know what they’re planning.” 
Arguments like this from Trump use innocent families running away from war as a  way to say they can't be trusted, just because they are from somewhere else. Trump uses the word “immigrant” in a way to make us think he cares about the citizens of America.
 We know that a vast majority of refugees are women and children. President Obama stated, “Refugees, most of whom are women and children, are often fleeing war and terrorism. They are victims. They are families who want to be safe and work.”
Obama’s plan to bring 10,000 refugees to Massachusetts needs to be reformed and expanded. Only about 2,800 came in 2015. It is up to Governor Baker and Mayor Walsh to make sure that Massachusetts accepts the rest of the refugees. We need ensure that the U.S. gives them a healthy life.
 The refugee crisis is a crucial issue that needs to be ironed out because the more time we waste, the harder it will be to curtail the problem. I believe Massachusetts should accept more refugees as a way to reduce the fear and pain in those families hearts and bring hope into their lives. 
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AFH Photo // Kiara Maher
The United States should accept 65,000 refugees from Syria to help alleviate the humanitarian crisis created by the war there. People in Syria have a high risk of dying. Unaccompanied children have nowhere to go and no one to protect them.
Some people maintain that the United States does not have any moral responsibility, thus Massachusetts should not accept more refugees. For example, Donald Trump argues that “We don’t know who they are, they have no documentation, and we don’t know what they are planning.” The Heritage Foundation, a conservative research think tank based out of Washington, D.C., similarly argues that security is a major concern. 
However, this perspective is simply discriminatory. They are not considering the lives of women and children that are dying and living on the streets. Additionally, in order for refugees to come to the United States, they have to fill out many applications and the U.S. investigates their background. In my opinion there is no risk of vulnerability or to security. 
We know the value that refugees can add to American society. In a speech to the United Nations, President Barack Obama stated, “We’ve seen in America, hardworking, patriotic refugees serve in our military, and start new businesses, and help revitalize communities.” Refugees help build America’s infrastructure and economy. They contribute to America with hard work and business innovations. America is a powerful country today because of refugees.
We know that millions of people are dying and need help. In the same speech to the U.N., President Obama claimed, “More than 65 million people have been driven from their homes… which is more than any time since World War II.” It is clear that people in Syria need our help. They are dying because of the war. The conditions in refugee camps are abysmal. They face diseases, starvation, lack of protection and insufficient housing. If no one steps in and tries to curtail the problem, people will keep dying. Boys and girls will die without knowing what it is to be in school, get a diploma or play sports. We cannot continue to watch this crisis unfold. 
Even though some people don’t want to accept more refugees in the U.S., I still believe that it would be both heartless and discriminatory if we do not accept them. We are talking about safety and basic human rights. There is nothing more important in this world than life. 
 The United States as a democratic and sovereign country should help ensure the lives of refugees and reform the discriminatory way in which we see immigrants. America was built by immigrants. Now is not the time to turn our back on the people who need us most. 
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AFH Photo // Massiel Grullon
Imagine you are a 15-year-old Syrian boy. No parents. On your own. What do you do? 
That is the life of an unaccompanied young refugee. There are millions of poor people who are abused, people who live in critical conditions and are trying to improve their lives.
Some maintain that refugees bring danger to America, but that's just discriminatory. Donald Trump claims, “We don't know who they are, they have no documentation, and we don't know what they're planning.” This view is misconstrued because refugees are people who are looking for asylum. They left their homes and countries because of war. Why would they start a new war?
Also, how can kids be terrorists? Paperwork to become a U.S. citizen costs $680. Do you think these displaced people have that amount of money? 
President Obama stated, “More than 65 million people have been driven out from their homes.” 65 MILLION people have left their homes because of a war in their country. This includes poor people and kids who don't even know how to read or write. It includes parents who are looking to help their families. Obama stated in a speech to the U.N., “There are fathers who simply want to build a new life and provide for their families.” These are fathers who have lost everything, who are trying to start a new page in life and erase the harsh past so they can help their families.  
This is about being a good, thoughtful human. For Massachusetts to not accept refugees who have suffered would be both heartless and discriminatory. We should accept them because these are people who migrate, who are poor, who have lost everything. Families, memories, homes, money -- EVERYTHING! 
Don't we have to do something? Can't we do something? Let's be the state that respectfully accepts refugees and treats them like this is their second home. Let's not be the state that says NO to kids who are trying to have a brighter future.
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AFH Photo // Tristin Heap
We all know Kanye West is a college dropout, but does he know that being an honor roll student can get you free Yeezys? Joamil Rodriguez, owner of Laced Quality Garment Co., runs a unique academic incentive program for Boston public high school students that rewards honor roll students with a free pair of any high-end sneaker in his store. 

“We wanted to give back to the community, especially to those who needed it most, like Boston Public School students," Rodriguez says.
Each year, beginning in the summer, students can fill out an online application to join the program. From the many that apply, five students are randomly chosen from a lottery. Those who are chosen must pledge to earn the honor roll all four terms. At the end of the school year, each student can pick out their favorite kicks – for free. No matter the price tag. 
Born and raised in Boston, Rodriguez has been the owner of Laced for the last five years. His store is filled with rare sneakers, from Jordan 5’s to all black Yeezys. He began his business career as a snowboard store owner but quickly realized it is hard to sell winter gear in the summer.
“Actually, it wasn’t my plan to open a sneaker store at all. It all kind of just fell into my lap,” said Rodriguez. “We had the opportunity to buy Laced because it was going to be for sale, and we kind of got the inside scoop.” It was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up, and one that has proven to be even more profitable than his former snowboard business.  
Rodriguez, who attended English High School, felt it was important for him to give back to BPS students. The five who are selected for his program also participate in different workshops such as resume writing and interview skills.
If you are a sneaker head motivated to get good grades and free kicks, visit to learn more about the program and prepare to apply this summer.

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AFH Photo // Kim Huynh
The sound of the cast’s final rehearsal before the show stops. It is replaced with laughter and then silence as Pablo Rojas, the founder and Executive Director of Boston Unscripted Musical Project, announces that the box office is open. Visitors either show their $10 prepaid ticket or present $15 at the door as they move from a small waiting room in Somerville’s Rockwell Theater into a thrust stage surrounded on three sides by the audience. The space is dimly lit by purple light and filled with music playing from hidden speakers in the walls. The relaxed and playful ambience that viewers can expect from the show is clear even before the performance starts.
Audiences are searching for a place to unwind on a Friday night. They are brought to B.U.M.P. by its unconventionality and uniqueness in the theater world. Friends mutter among themselves as the rest of the audience files in. 
Many people don’t know what to expect. Some have never seen improv at all.
 The cast runs onto the stage greeted by strobe lights. Their energy is immediately palpable as they jump right in, explaining briefly what improv is and what their project is. Improv is a type of theater where the entire show is unscripted and made up on the spot,  and B.U.M.P. is an entire improvised musical. With the formalities out of the way, the cast asks for suggestions for a title of their musical. Two suggestions are consolidated into “Pregnant Robot Invasion.”
 “Welcome to the opening—”
“—and closing—”
“—night of ‘Pregnant Robot Invasion’!” 
The theater goes dark. The show begins.  
B.U.M.P is one of the first groups of its kind in Boston. The musical improv scene in Boston has been shifting recently, driven both by the arrival of Mike Descoteaux -- one of the most influential musical improvisers of modern day -- and by the increasing success of B.U.M.P. and its members. Musical improv has become more competitive and, as a result, more sophisticated.
Cohesiveness is critical in improv. Misch Whitaker, the director and a founding member of B.U.M.P., says that for warmups, she’ll have the cast sit around and talk. People need to connect in real life as well as on stage to be successful improvisers.
This cohesiveness comes through in the show. All B.U.M.P shows begin with a large group number to establish the tone and to unite the audience and actors, but after that, the cast lets the show develop on its own.
 Misch says, “Because we want to create a narrative, I ask that the cast looks for a protagonist in the first few scenes. Then I ask that everyone figures out how to best push or pull the protagonist. And that’s really the only structure we have...But the goal is for there to be some sort of wish or want for the main character and for everyone else in the show to have some sort of part in either propelling the character towards their goal or keeping them from it.” 
More so than in other theatre, the audience is paramount in improv. As the cast members develop the primary story lines and combine the scenes into a cohesive narrative, they feed as much off of the audience’s energy as that of their fellow improvisers. 
“There’s always a different and fun energy,” says cast member Ruth Green. “You have to stay open-minded and let the laughter be your barometer.”
Misch, too, believes in the importance of laughter. “It opens your lungs. It has been shown to burn calories and boost your immune system. But, most importantly, psychologically and socially, laughter is where people connect.” 
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