Jaseia Monteiro believes that feeling good about yourself is not bad except when done in a way to put somebody down. “It’s not fair,” says Monteiro, 13, from Dorchester. “I honestly feel our society is now a place where showing off is like having to eat breakfast every day.” Overall, the gap between rich and poor continues to widen. According to a September article on wsj.com, income of the wealthiest 10 percent of US families rose from 2010 to 2013 while income of the bottom 40 percent dropped during that time. Christine Chung, 17, from Dorchester Academy, saw a hungry, homeless man in her local corner store one day. He was desperate and tapped a woman on her shoulder. She turned around and started yelling at him about how expensive her blazer was and how he would not have the money to replace it, Chung says. “I felt so bad for him because all he wanted was something to eat,” Chung says. When this life is over, some teens say, it won’t matter whether you are rich or poor. As Dorchester Academy senior Bintou Conte says: “There’s no Mercedes in heaven.”
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Teens in Print staff writer Sara Cacho spent a week in Malawi, Africa, this June with other students in the buildOn program – lugging water from a stream, digging a hole for a foundation, and laying bricks as they helped construct a school. Here is an excerpt from her journal chronicling her journey.   TUESDAY, JUNE 17, 2014 The night was long. I was waiting for today to come for sooo long and now it’s here. I got single braids yesterday by my cousin Brenda. My head hurts a little but it isn’t going to keep me from being happy and excited to meet my new family. I still can’t believe that I have the opportunity to go to Malawi, Africa, to build a school in a village called Namisu. I hope to be able to have a good relationship with everyone during and after the trek and also get to know everyone. I am so nervous about the food out of all things. I LOVE meeting new people from different parts of the world, but I’m not sure that my stomach will allow me to eat every type of food. I really hope that this experience will change my mind.     Malawi Journal Pic2 Malawi Journal Pic3
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The way many see it, gay guys are not cool but lesbians are fine. “I don’t think anything is wrong when a girl likes another girl,” says Ferlando Chery, 14, from the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science. “Well, I personally wouldn’t like seeing two boys together, but I understand that people kind of don’t choose who they are.” This is a hot topic on Internet message boards. “It’s still a man’s world  so men influence  how society feels more than women do,” one post explained. Marcelo Monteiro, 14, from the O’Bryant, believes that men need to be more open minded. “People have the freedom to do whatever they want,” says Monteiro, “and if someone wants to be with someone, others should just let them be happy.” Jerisia Silva, 14, from Boston Green Academy, agrees. “It’s no one’s business what people  choose,” Silva says. “As long as you’re in love, no one should be in the middle worrying.”
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Success Road Stock Art Success is about how much you believe in yourself and ignore those people who seem to feel better about themselves when they see you fail. When I was in 9th grade, I used to be an honor student — responsible and capable of doing my best. As time passed, I saw that the people around me didn’t care about my effort, about my grades, or how hard I had tried to succeed in a country with a new language and a totally unfamiliar culture from the one in DR. Then I received the news that would change my life. I was pregnant at 18 years old. I knew that people believed I would never be someone in life, especially now that I was going to be a teen mother. I used to spend hours inside the bathroom, crying days and nights. I had to find the strength to continue with my everyday routine, even when everyone seemed to be against me. While other teens were having fun, I was doing homework, revising the mistakes I had made on past tests, and reading so I could get better at English. In fact, I knew I was better than what they thought. All this hard work and sacrifice paid off when I received my second term report card. My lowest grade was B-plus. At this point in my life, I am confident about what I want — to become a lawyer — no matter what others may think.
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Eunnindy Sanon, 15, from Roxbury, says texting a person you like can be a little scary. “Sometimes I get nervous only because I wonder what they are going to say,” she says. Texting first can be nerve-racking because you’re always scared of rejection. Teens say they can feel their hearts speed up while waiting for a response. “Your heart starts beating a little fast and questions run through your mind,” says Jaciah Espaillat, 16, from Hyde Park, who feels it’s like going through an obstacle course finding the right words to say. Chelzea Montan, 15, from Roxbury, has found herself staring at the phone, thinking: “Should I text him?” Montan says, “I really want to talk to them but I don’t have the courage.”
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