It is hard to believe that it has been a year since the Marathon bombings. I can still remember it like it happened yesterday. My heart beating faster than it ever had because I was stuck in a commotion caused by two explosives. Horror written all over the faces of those who were there, shaken from the tragedy that still does not seem to make sense. On that fateful Monday morning, my family had decided to go see the Marathon, which had attracted both elite and amateur runners from all over the world. My mom, brother, and I cheered as runners both young and old made their way to the finish line. I decided to take a picture of the international flags that represented the countries of the different runners. The Marathon was a Boston tradition but people from around the globe came to participate. They all had the same goal, to cross the finish line. As the late reggae singer Lucky Dube once said: “Different colors, one people.” Just when I was about to snap the picture, I heard a loud bang. The ground shook. For a second, I felt dizzy. I looked around. There was smoke everywhere. My first thought was: “Oh my God, that’s a bomb or something.” Then I felt a hand pulling me away. It was my mom. She was pushing my brother and me through the crowd, which seemed confused and shocked and frozen in place. Parents hugged their children to comfort them. As we moved through the throng, we heard a second bomb go off in our direction. That was when things got crazy. There were people screaming and running around, and there was blood everywhere, like something out of a horror movie. We were close to Lord & Taylor and were able to escape through the store’s back exit. When we got home, the first thing I did was turn on the television for updates. The eventual toll was four dead -- including a police officer later fatally shot, allegedly by the suspected bombers -- and more than 260 injured. Through this heartbreaking period, the goodwill of Bostonians overcame the bad. Boston stood strong and showed that in a world full of wickedness and evil, good people still exist: the first responders who rushed to the scene; the people who donated blood and money to the relief efforts. Being so close to the finish line made me realize that I had taken things for granted. It taught me how precious life is and that I have to use the opportunity of being alive to make a positive impact on society.
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There’s a thin line separating tradition and misogyny. When thinking of high school basketball, do you see tall, uniformed guys running in packs and drenched in pride? Or do you see the girls’ basketball team practicing for the semifinals? At many schools, there seems to be a passive discrimination in terms of which games -- or gender -- to support. Though the games may be equally announced to the student body over the intercom, girl athletes say they can hear a pin drop on the court when it comes to game day. The silence is not surprising. According to the Women’s Sports Foundation website, girls still play under poorer conditions when compared to their male counterparts and have 1.3 million fewer sports opportunities at the high school level. It doesn’t stop there. Girls receive more than $190 million fewer scholarship dollars annually than guys when they play college sports, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation. So the question is: Are you part of the lack of having the female athlete’s back?
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Growing up, I was one of those girls who was always smiling, a joy to be around. But behind my beautiful smile was my shyness. As the years went on, I noticed that my shyness grew. In school, I would always sit in the back of the class. I was safe there. If I sat in the front, I would be in the spotlight. I never wanted to raise my hand. I was fearful that I would be judged if I did not know the answer. “You are nice and quiet,” my classmates said. I would just smile. In sixth grade, some of my teachers pushed me to come out of my shell. One day in social studies our teacher told us that we had to research a state we had learned about. I was excited about the project until she said we would have to present to the class and that it counted for 20 percent of my grade. I had no choice. On the day of the presentation, I was nervous. So many things were going through my head. I thought I was going to mess up and get laughed at. “How am I going to start? What if the class asks questions?” I wondered. But I did it. I aced my presentation and I felt good about myself. I realized that as long as I know what I’m capable of doing that I can be successful. Now, I am feeling stronger than ever. The advice I have for other shy students is to be open to different opportunities. You will build confidence in yourself and feel like you have achieved something new. My self-confidence was hidden behind a wall, and now it has broken through.
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I didn’t know sexism existed until I first encountered the topic when reading a history book. My parents have always been really far from holding the typical gender roles depicted of women being housewives and inferior to men. To start off, my father has a deep passion for cleaning -- sometimes a little too much. He constantly picks up after me and my siblings and notices every little crumb as if he had installed surveillance cameras around the house. The difference with my mom is that she cares more about the ambiance and less about the detail, and always maintains a comfortable and fresh atmosphere. It’s very peculiar, but my parents always had this very competitive nature in them. They tended to see each other as opponents trying to outwork the other by pleasing all our guests and spoiling me and my siblings. One day, we had guests over and both my parents saw this as an opportunity to really impress them with their cooking skills. My brother and I would giggle because every time a guest took a bite, my parents would ask what he or she thought and whether it had beaten the rival’s dish. And to their disappointment, the guests would always reply very politely: “They’re all very delicious.” In a sexist household, one gender overlooks the value of the opposite gender. Thankfully, my parents raised their children in a sexist-free home. The only thing to fear now is everywhere else.
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I remember my mother moving frantically in the kitchen. Yelling at my father who went shopping for a chicken. My mom wanted a turkey and so she sent my dad back to the car. Preparing six hours before the party was apparently a bad time to start. My dad was annoyed because he would much rather be sleeping. Too tired to pay close attention to the grocery list he was reading. The seasoning had to be made and potatoes needed peeling. There weren’t words to describe the frustration my mother was feeling. Me and my sister took over the side jobs to get back the time we had lost. The kitchen was the workplace and my mom was the boss. Dad’s behavior was typical, but quickly we learned. That it was never too late for the tables to turn. My brother, who lived in Worcester, arrived shortly after. He calmly asked my mother if he could take her place in the kitchen. It was no joke -- but there was laughter. By cook, I thought it meant he could restrain from burning the house down by trying. But he sent my mother away for a nap as she claimed she was “this close” to dying. My brother, a guy, was in charge of pots and stoves. He finished the rest of the meal in two hours or so. I was agog, I was aghast, at my brother's sudden ability. He showed way more promise compared to my dad’s vulnerability. My mom jokingly took credit for the entire delicious meal. We all knew it was courtesy of my brother. Embarrassment was all that my father could feel. As we all talked with our mouths full at the same time, it was hysterical. That’s the story of my big dinner where there was quite a miracle.
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