Eric Wong, a senior  at the John D. O’Bryant School Math & Science, says he strives for high grades to appease his parents and make himself feel good. However, sometimes the expectations his parents put on him can be a burden. “You cannot please your parents all the time,” says Wong, who believes that setting goals for yourself can be more rewarding than trying to satisfy others. Though parents may want the best for their children, they may be setting up their kids and themselves for disappointment by setting the bar too high. “Often times, my parents have these high expectations for me because they were never given the opportunities that I have,” says Glenda Ramirez, a senior at the O’Bryant. Teens say it can be exhausting because older generations often don't see the pressure they put on their kids. "My parents want only the best for me and give me everything they did not have, " says O'Bryant senior Wendy Zheng. Zheng says that her parents’ desires are even more evident now that she is applying to colleges, and she is nervous as her parents hold out hope for the “Harvard dream.”  
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On a recent day, two teens chuckle in the back corner of a classroom full of students. A young man of African descent walks by and sees what the two are so hysterical about: another Ebola joke on Instagram.
One way that some teens and others have learned to deal with their fears is through amusement. However, to other teens -- especially those with recent roots in Africa -- the Ebola gags are not funny.
“I mean, they are ignorant,” says Kadidiatou Bah, 16, from the Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers, whose family is from Guinea,“but it is what it is.” After the outbreak of Ebola, Augustine Ubah, 16, says some family members in Nigeria had stopped getting education because they shut down schools to halt the spread.
“It is a little extreme that people over-exaggerate and think all Africans have Ebola,” says Ubah, who attends Health Careers Academy and came to the US from Nigeria in 2012. “The fact that I don’t have Ebola means the stereotypes don’t affect me.” Teens say they understand why nervous youth may kid around about Ebola but feel that at some point, enough is enough. Joseph Getachew, 16, from Hyde Park, whose father is from Ethiopia, says: “I think that the jokes are getting annoying.”
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ComicCorner_MelanieBaez
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Brainwash Me, Brainwash Me Not (Series)

Since birth, girls are bombarded with subliminal messages from the media, from the community, and from family members about how they should look, how to speak, how to feel, what to wear, and who to be. While these messages might sometimes seem innocent, they have effectively brainwashed women into falling in a lattice of lies -- causing them to lose a sense of self. Teen Voices Rising participants explored the effects of societal messages and wrote about what it would mean to unlearn them.
      Every day the girl wakes up scared. Scared that her boyfriend would abuse her. Scared her sister would get caught up in a gang. Scared that when she went to school, she would be made fun of. Scared that her life would end at any given point.   Every day she asks herself, “Why?” Why is their violence in this world? Is it because of the rap songs they listen to? Is it the gangs? Stress? Drugs? Insecurity? What makes them act this way?   Every day she says to herself, “What if?” What if she could change this world? End the violence, or save some of the dying people? She knew it wouldn't hurt to try, by speaking up about it. Stop it when it happens. Set an example. Take a risk just to try, so people see she’s a strong minded individual who cares about the people around her and can change this world.    
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It was not one of those nights of slight breezes and cups of hot chocolate between family. Instead, it was a dark and eerie night. It was not one of those nights of sharing tales in the yard. No, it was a night full of intrigue. On November 7, 2010, at 9:13, I witnessed a real-life 3D version of a PlayStation war game. Action. Danger. Fear. Cars spinning out, screeching loudly. Then, shocked neighbors running in slow motion -- as if it was their last chance in the game. Not a minute later, bullets hailed down. The Dominican sky lit up like fireworks on New Year’s Eve. Hearts raced with the rhythm of the shots. “Oh great power of God, don’t forsake us,” my mother cried out. I was only 13, with two pigtails, biting my nails down to the cuticles. Even though my heart wanted to escape from my body, I tried not to let it show. The chaotic scene was unfolding at a mansion surrounded by bulletproof walls and barbed wired. It was only two houses away from mine. It was owned by a mysterious man known only as Isidro. He always tried to hide his face. No wonder. He was the biggest drug trafficker in Bani, my hometown. A rival had come to fight Isidro over money. It lasted 30 minutes until the police stopped them. When my family and I tried to stand up, our legs didn't work. A month later, we moved to the United States. Six weeks after that, there was another big shooting in my hometown. It has become a habit. I owe it to my town to make something of myself here so that one day I can rescue those that have had to remain in the game. I plan on bringing those pleasant and peaceful nights back to my family and friends.
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