The Musician in Your Math Class: Boston's Youth Artists Deserve Your Clicks
AFH Photo//My Vu
Music flourishes in urban environments, and guess what, we just so happen to live in one. Young people all around  Boston are making waves in the music industry, some of whom may even be in your math class. These are the movers, shakers and music makers in your neighborhood. 
11th grader Jayden “Davinci” Pontes is a young rapper and songwriter. He got his start during freshman year when he began writing music, and it instantly became a passion. His music is heavily inspired by the music he listened to growing up. 
“I take what I like and it accidentally finds a way into my music,”  he said.  His music preaches about love and politics, specifically within the black community.  He wants prospective artists to know that “It might sound crazy. Don't have a plan B.  No matter what anybody tells you, focus on that plan A.”  You can find Jayden on Soundcloud as “itsjustdavinci.” 
On the other side of the musical spectrum, Nicole Carmona is a 16-year-old pianist with  overwhelming skill.  She got her start in music on her 13th birthday when she asked her dad for a violin and got a keyboard instead.  She feels that she is most influenced by her exposure to different genres.  She is inspired by her love of her craft and her longing to play for anyone who will listen. “I want to do some concertos with some orchestras and maybe do some competitions,” she said.   
Dylan Verge is a 16-year-old percussionist who plays mostly rock music with his band OK NOW. Verge said his inspiration comes from his emotions. “Sometimes I can write a really pumped-up song about having a good time,” he said, “And then other times when you feel really sad—it could be like you've lost someone—kind of what sounds good as well.”  After high school, he plans on going to Berklee College of Music to become a music professor while still performing shows and gigs because “it comes with a paycheck.” He believes that “practice should not sound good.  If it sounds good, you’re not practicing.”  You can find Dylan on Instagram under the name “oknowofficial.” 
The importance of showing support towards young up-and-comers has been amplified by the rise of social media. Most aspiring musicians have social accounts displaying and promoting their musical talents. The first step to cultural relevance is support on a community level—show some love to these talented individuals by taking your phone out of your pocket, opening up Twitter, Soundcloud, Instagram or whatever, and smash that search bar. You will find thousands of young artists wearing their hearts on their sleeves to entertain the masses.  The young musical mavens of Boston are but a click away. 
Read more…
Photo by Michael Rivera
Discovering yourself and what you would like to pursue in the future could be difficult because it requires time and effort. However, by stepping out of your comfort zone and trying new activities in and out of school, you may discover your passion. Once you find it, you have a better idea of who you are. Your passion may lead to personal growth or insight into your future career.  
Esther Pierre-Isaac, a senior at City on a Hill, says writing is her passion. Isaac has been writing ever since middle school, which she now does as a daily hobby. “This is my passion because I can express my thoughts on paper,” she said. Whenever Isaac writes, many ideas flow from her head through her fingers and pencil to the paper. Isaac found her passion by doing what she loves, reading every day. “Reading inspires me to write,” she said. “It gives me ideas that brings my feelings on a page to life.” Isaac uses inspiration from her own experiences to write mostly drama and adventure. 
Writing allows Isaac to tell the world who she is. This is why Isaac would love to pursue writing in the future. “I would love to be a journalist. I would love to be an author because I want to share my stories with the world someday.” 
Natalie Nguyen, a senior at  John D. O’Bryant, loves to create art. “My passion is definitely driven in the musical direction as I am an aspiring singer/songwriter and performer. I love to use art as a way to express myself,”  she said. Some of Natalie’s daily hobbies composes of drawing, singing and playing the piano. “I try to set aside at least 30 minutes to just play the piano and sing.” 
Growing up, Nguyen was always surrounded by a variety of Vietnamese music. At the age of 8, she started getting more involved in music when she received her first piano. As she grew older, Nguyen began her music journey from discovering the world of music online, one being YouTube. Due to her exposure to music at a young age, Nguyen said “I knew that I definitely wanted to pursue music.” 
When Nguyen creates art, she does it for the purpose of relating to people. “It is a way to let someone else out there, who is possibly going through a similar situation as me, know that they're not alone and that there's someone advocating for them.” Nguyen also creates art for herself because she feels at peace and safe when she does. “I feel like creating art takes away a lot of my stress because it helps me to calm myself down. Music is a space for me to just express my feelings without feeling judged.” 
Read more…
For those of us who live in New England, you know how freezing it can get in the winter. With harsh winds, black ice on the the roads and sidewalks and icy air, staying warm is a necessity. So it’s time to bring out your gloves, hats, and scarves out if you want to stay warm. Trust me. I know what you’re thinking: “How in the world am I supposed to be cute and fashionable at the same time?” Well, that’s why I’m here. Here are my 5 quick and easy tips for how you can slay in layers.  
Turtleneck and Dress Combo
A turtleneck and dress combo is just that! All you have to do is find a dress, long or short, and wear a turtleneck underneath. Voila! This look will keep you fashionable and warm all winter long.  
Trench Coat Chic
There are many ways in which you can wear a trench coat instead of a peacoat. Trench coats are warm and toasty, the thicker the better. Specifically you can pair a trench coat (the color is your choice) with jeans or leggings, and a cute pair of boots, flats, or heels.  
Cute Sweater and Ripped Jeans
This outfit choice may seem basic, but who doesn’t love a cozy sweater and some ripped jeans? You can wear any type of sweater that will keep you warm throughout the day with a pair of cute ripped jeans, and boots to match. A little trick that I like to use is wear leggings or tights underneath my jeans to stay extra toasty. You’re welcome.  
Embrace Your (Faux) Fur
Wearing faux fur is always a quick and easy go to for the winter. You can wear it to upgrade just about any outfit. So, that means you can go from casual to classy with just one coat, vest, or collar to give your outfit that extra flare. 
Flannel Shirt Jacket 
Now, my last fashion tip is for the fellas, because I know there are guys out there who want to look good too. A flannel shirt jacket is a lot thicker and softer than button-up shirts. No, you won’t look like the lumberjack from Little Red Riding Hood (unless that’s the look you’re going for). You can pair this item with ripped or regular jeans, and a pair of boots or sneakers.  
I hope you guys appreciated my quick and easy tips. I know trying to be cute and warm in the winter is hard, and you end up having to sacrifice your warmth in order to slay walking down the runway... and by runway I mean your high school hallway. But, if these tips help you like they’ve helped me, then you are never going to have a problem when it comes to slaying in layers.
Read more…
AFH Photo//Darren Hicks
When you look at me, I look like an average American: dark black hair, mono eyelids, pale skin, and a flat nose. But in Asia, society would tell me that there are features I should change. I should have a smaller face, bigger eyes, fairer skin, and a taller nose. As a first-generation Asian-American, it’s hard to ignore the nagging voice of my relatives telling me everything that’s wrong with my looks and the western beauty standards that tell me the opposite. Growing up in an Asian household, pale skin was the epitome of beauty; 75 SPF sunscreen and umbrellas were my best friend. But as I got older, I realized that my perception of beauty was different than my parents’. Years of watching mainstream American television, which showcased people from all types of ethnic backgrounds, influenced my view of what was beautiful. I saw tan skin as being sun-kissed by 100 carats of gold, mono eyelids as unique and eye-catching, and flat noses as heart-shaped and unique.  
Conflicting beauty standards doesn’t only apply to Asian-Americans; they apply to all types of people. Osagu Robin Odeh, a first-generation John D. O’Bryant senior from Nigeria, said, “I feel like it’s complicated because in my culture we like thick women, but in America, we like thin and slim women.” According to Kathy Lee, a John D. O’Bryant senior and first-generation Chinese-American, different perceptions of beauty among different cultures can be detrimental. “Growing up, I was always told that I was too dark and that I would be prettier if I was lighter, and I never found it an issue,” Lee said. “Now I prefer to be more paler because of what people, specifically what my family members, tell me.”  
According to first generation Somali-American John D. O’Bryant senior Sumeya Ali, conflicting beauty standards don’t just affect the way we look, but also the way we dress. “I used to wear clothes that I didn’t like or that just weren’t me because in my culture, we value a woman’s modesty and her clothing represented that modesty,” Ali said. “Because my culture believed that wearing long skirts and specific types of shirts were seen as beautiful, I had to wear it even if I didn’t really like it. As I’ve gotten older, my individual style has changed and grown and I’m not afraid to wear what I want to wear. However, I am still hesitant on wearing certain items because of my judgment from my family.”  
The balance between trying to please ourselves and our family is hard, so is there a way for us to find the sweet spot? According to Jean Wang, the Asian-American author of the Boston-based fashion and beauty blog ExtraPetite, being confident and comfortable in our own skin is more important than the opinions of others. “You can never please anyone else's standards, so I wouldn't stress over balancing cultural beauty standards. You should have the freedom and fun to experiment with beauty, makeup and hair—all of which are temporary and can be either undone, washed-off, or grown back!” she said. “In the end, it's all about discovering yourself and finding the look and style that you feel most comfortable and confident in.”  
Read more…
When immigrants arrive in a new country, they bring their most valuable possessions. You might think these possessions are in their bundle of suitcases—but most are found in in their memories. I interviewed six teenage immigrants at Boston International Newcomers Academy: 14-year-old Ibrahima, 13-year-old Ibrahim, 16-year-old Mike, 16-year-old Jefferey, 18-year-old Dabhcar, and 17-year-old Venessa. This is a glimpse into a few memories they shared with me.  
[These interviews have been edited for clarity and length.] 
Where are you from?  
Ibrahima and Ibrahim: We’re originally from Senegal.  
Mike: I’m from the Democratic Republic of Congo. 
Jefferey: I was raised in Manila, Philippines.  
Dabhcar and Venessa: We’re from Port-au-Prince, Haiti. 
What do you remember about adjusting to your new surroundings in a new country? 
Mike: The only thing I remember by the time I get here is everything was new. Lights, too many light everywhere! In my country, you have to take bushes and put them on fire and walk with it around for a source of light. It was surprising—tall buildings. The only building back there was the one for the president.  
Venessa: I remember the day I got lost when I was coming to school. I was on the MBTA and I didn’t know the kids in that school as much. And everybody else left the bus and when I looked up, I didn’t know where I was. I thought, “oh my God, I’m lost!” My English wasn't that strong and I was struggling to talk to the bus driver. I didn't know what to do. But in the end, the bus driver helped me get off at my stop.  
What’s your favorite food from home? Do those foods trigger any memories? 
Dabhcar and Venessa: On January 1, which is Independence Day, we visit our whole families and eat “soup joumou.”It’s a tradition we have take part in, and we drink that all day. We also like lalo which are jute leaves, griot, or fried pork, and plantains.  
Ibrahima and Ibrahim: Thiéboudienneis a Senegalese fish and rice dish. Sometimes we eat it with family. 
Mike: Every morning I used to wake up and go hunting to bring food for home. The first time I got a big animal, I shared it with my friends and family because it was really hard to get down and to take home. It was really hard to cut it into pieces to give to each other and to the village people too. 
Tell me something that you will forever remember from your home country that has left an impression on your identity. 
Ibrahim: When I was in school, they got a basketball court one day, and my friends and I played basketball for the first time. They didn't know the rules, because soccer is the most popular sport in Senegal. They just picked up the ball and threw it. I remember this one person, he took the ball for a spin. He grabbed the ball and took ten steps—you’re only supposed to do two or three steps. This kid just grabbed the ball and took off.  
Mike: The one thing I miss is my family back there. Not just my immediate family but the ones I  grew up with. My childhood friends and stuff. Because, from the time I was like 7 to 11, I used to go hunt with them. Animals like deers, and those crazy animals—black panthers. 
Jefferey: I used to always ride motorcycles in Manila. So after school, I would hang out with my friends riding motorcycles. We always hang out in my house, every day! After, we would go to other places on road trips, just seeing the city.  
Venessa:  The way we celebrate Christmas in Haiti is special. On December 21, our families go to church. December 31, everyone goes to church again to pray. For the 25th and January 1, we go to see family. Even if we have gone 365 days without seeing each other, for those days we will see each other no matter what.  
Dabhcar: My favorite memories are full of summer because I enjoyed beautiful moments then. I tried to have fun with my family and sometimes with my church. In the summer, there is a tradition where we go camping for two weeks. That is my favorite memory of Haiti.  
Read more…