AFH Photo // Aijanah Sanford
When I first moved to Boston, I was surprised by a lot of things that looked very different from Italy in my eyes. I imagined the U.S. to be like a movie, with people behaving like they do in movies. I thought everything they did was exciting. The streets were so big, the smoke went out from manholes like I saw in the movies, there were very tall buildings and I thought the city had magic in the air. Actually, the atmosphere here in the U.S. is different from Italy but now I am accustomed to this country and this city. 
One thing that is totally different is the school system: the place, the organization, the teachers, the classes, the hours, the approach of teachers with students and, conversely, of students with teachers.
In Italy, school starts at 8:00 a.m. and finishes at 2:00 p.m. There isn’t a lunch period so students don’t eat at school, they can only eat snacks from vending machines. I think that the lunch period here is the best because you can eat something after three hours of work, talk with your friends and relax for 30 minutes. 
 In Italy, there are two intervals of 10 minutes where students can go out of class to go in the courtyard, but the substantial difference is that the students stay in the same class for all seven hours of school. Every hour the bell rings but the students stay sitting and wait for another teacher. This organization is very, very boring. Sometimes when I would return home I would be very frustrated because I had to cook my lunch and study a lot, so I didn’t have much time to relax and then I would always be tired. 
I think that schools are better here. When the bell rings you stand up and change classes. Because you have a few minutes to walk, greet friends that you meet in the hallway, and get ready for the next class, the time goes faster and it’s fun to go to school. 
Another difference from Italian school is the relationship between the teachers and the students. In Italy, the students always have to shut up and follow the lesson that the teacher explains. Here in the U.S., the students always participate during the lesson. In Italy the students have to create a mask to appear as good girls and good boys in front of the teachers’ eyes so that the teacher can give them a good grade. Here, this kind of thing doesn’t happen because all teachers care about their students and they want better for us. For example, some teachers here care about student life outside of school, like family and sports.
Another thing that is different in Italian schools, and is better here in the U.S., is the possibility to play sports like soccer, volleyball, basketball, or softball after school and with a school team. In Italy it’s different, the school does not organize these activities, so the guys that want to play sports have to go to a different place such as near their house or the specific team.    
In my opinion, American schools are better about organization, place, people and some other things. I think the atmosphere here is fantastic. People are very nice and when you have a problem they listen to you and try to help you feel better. I like seeing people, saying hi and joking with them because in Italy I had only my group of friends. There, it is not as common to say hello and be friendly with people that maybe you don’t know, but that you have seen before in your school. 
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AFH Photo // Abraham Rosa
The first day I saw snow, I was very nervous because I was really cold. My hands, ears, and nose were freezing. I am from Haiti, a country where it is never cold. Haiti is either warm or hot, except for one day, the day before Hurricane Matthew.  Everyone was wondering, “Why is it so cold?” No one had the answer.  Though it was really cold that day, there was no snow. 
I remember the day I saw snow for the first time. I could barely walk. I was afraid to fall down and hurt myself.  Naturally, I am a slow walker; snow makes me an even slower walker.  I do not want to slip and fall. As I walk, I want to take my time to enjoy nature’s beauty, the dance of the blowing snowflakes coming down from the sky to announce Christmas is coming.  It seems though that this year we are not having a White Christmas.  Mother Nature has other plans for us! 
In the meantime, I look forward to facing my fear of snow.  A fear that happily diminished with time as my friend, Frosty the Snowman, taught me how to walk in the snow.  So, let us sing together, “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!” 
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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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