Everybody loves good food. Even more so, everybody loves good, affordable food, so I set out to find three of the best affordable restaurants in Boston.

Mama’s Place, 764 Huntington Avenue, Mission Hill 
Mama’s Place offers traditional Greek cuisine along with burgers and seafood. Upon entering Mama’s with Nattalie Gualdron, a sophomore at Noble and Greenough School, I immediately noticed the cozy ambiance. Customers were chatting happily and enjoying their food, and the cashiers were very warm and welcoming. Mama’s is a very small restaurant, however, so for bigger groups it may be best to order takeout. 
 I chose a BBQ burger, with pepper jack cheese, applewood smoked bacon and caramelized onions on a lightly toasted bun, plus fries and a drink for $13. Nattalie got a shaved sirloin steak and melted cheese sub, plus a drink for about $11. In addition to being affordable, the food was delicious! Everything was well prepared and we left Mama’s full and satisfied.

Saus, 33 Union Street, Downtown
Saus is known for offering Belgian-style fries, beer and 15 different sauce options. Sandwiches, salads, and Belgian waffles are also on the menu. Uche Ogbue, an 8th grade student at the Winsor School, visited with me.
Upon arrival, I was hit by just how small Saus is. Very little seating is available and the front of the restaurant quickly became crowded. That aside, I did find the decor of Saus to be very aesthetically pleasing; Uche described it as cozy.
I ordered a Liege waffle with Biscoff cookie spread and a big side of fries for a total $13. Uche ordered a Liege waffle with dark chocolate hazelnut sauce along with two diet cokes for $11. The wait for the food was not very long, only about 15 minutes. 
The fries were definitely the highlight of the meal. Though I ordered them with curry ketchup, I often found myself eating them plain because they were good enough on their own. Uche and I agreed that these were some of the best fries we had ever eaten. I enjoyed my waffle, but Uche found the texture too dense and “bready.”
Overall, Uche and I both left Saus satisfied with our meals. We will definitely be back in the future for more.

Laughing Monk Cafe,  737 Huntington Avenue, Mission Hill 
I visited Laughing Monk Cafe, which specializes in Thai cuisine and sushi, with Ify Ogbue, a student at Milestones Day School. The interior of the cafe is large and very minimal with black furniture and some exposed brick wall. Less than a minute after we walked in, we were seated. Our waiter was friendly and always doing his best to attend to our needs.
Ify and I ordered the same thing: pineapple fried rice and a can of soda for $15 each.  During our brief wait for the food, we both noted the good music selection playing in the cafe, enhancing our already great experience.
The pineapple fried rice was absolutely delicious. I particularly enjoyed the contrast of the sweet pineapple with the savory rice and vegetables. Our meals proved to be very filling. By the end of our visit, Ify and I had both decided we would like to visit Laughing Monk Cafe in the future.

Read more…
Taxation without representation: It’s time to give teens the vote
I felt the benign wetness of a teardrop on my face. Donald Trump 53%, Hillary Clinton 44%. I stared in disbelief. Some of my friends disliked Hillary’s ideas, but we all agreed Donald Trump was the wrong way to go. I began to think, if teens were allowed to vote, we wouldn't be in this predicament. 
Older teenagers are being disenfranchised by the U.S. Teens who work are getting taxes and social security taken out out of their checks. In some states, teens can be tried as adults in court. These are all ways in which teens are treated as adults, yet we lack the right to vote.
As more teens become regular consumers of social media, we’ve developed a heightened awareness of worldly issues affecting us. Unfortunately, many believe that 16-year-olds are not responsible enough to vote in elections.
Luckily, a country across the ocean has experience in this topic. In 2007, Austria legalized 16-year-old voting which has proven that “lowering the voting age does not appear to have a negative impact (...) on democratic decisions,” according to Electoral Studies, an international journal covering all aspects of voting.
Upon surveying 80 14- to 21-year-olds, I found that 76% felt underrepresented in politics.  “An older voting block might not be as keen to tackle climate change as it isn't as much of an immediate issue for them,” said Boston College High School senior Jack Shankar. 
 Of those surveyed, 94% have seen current event coverage on social media, exposing them to modern day issues. 80% have established that they read current events articles, and  100% of them have conversations about politics with their friends.
 “Social media, of course, has made me gain access to insight on political news and especially with the current administration it has kept me on my toes with what's currently going on in that mess of a White House.” expresses Shelby Casimir, a senior at Marblehead High School.
Then the main question: “Should the legal voting age be lowered to 16?” The overarching answer? Yes. With 61% of voters agreeing.

“There’s always been a lot of political maturity in young people” said Felicia M. Sullivan, Senior Researcher at The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. “There is no cognitive difference between being 16 and being 18.” 
Infact, research has proven that 16-year-olds are more likely to vote than 18-year-olds is because “they are in the presence of an educational mechanic.” or in other words they're still in the K-12 school system. 
Voting is important. The future of democracy depends on it. By including teens in politics while they're in school, they carry these habits into adulthood.
As teens, we can register to vote early and that will save us a step and allow us to walk into a polling site ready to go. We can also join initiatives for lowering the voting age like Teen Empowerment or Boston Mobilization Teens Vote. 
The one thing we can't do is allow our generation to stop participating in the election process. When it’s time to vote, get out there and do your job. When you’re mad about who's in office, I’m going to ask, “Did you vote?” 

Read more…
5:30AM - my alarm shatters the landscape of my dreams. I stand for two seconds before collapsing back onto my bed. At 5:43, I roll off my bed and look for my clothes. After brushing my teeth and dressing, I glance at my watch—it’s 6:00AM, I have to leave soon. This is my life as a METCO student. 
The Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO) was founded in 1966 with the aim of providing educational opportunities to inner-city minority students. The program  seeks to increase diversity and reduce racial isolation by placing Boston students in high-performing suburban public schools. METCO has helped break down cultural barriers in predominantly white institutions. However, one question remains: How do METCO students feel?
After surveying 21 METCO students from different districts, one common theme emerged: Boston teens have a strained relationship with their city. 81 percent of teens wanted to spend more time in Boston, and 71 percent felt either little or no connection to Boston and their neighborhood. The study also found that those who had joined in their high school years had a better relationship with Boston due to having grown up in the city.
Desiree Brown, a 2016 graduate of Marblehead High School, joined METCO in second grade. Brown said she only felt accepted once during her entire school career—when she was picked to coach her school’s powderpuff football team. 
“In that moment there was no ‘METCO student,” Brown said. “There was just me... Desiree.”
Brown’s peer had accepted her once, but the administration of her school never did. Each district in the state has a designated METCO director who is supposed support its METCO students. However, Brown did not feel supported. She wishes that METCO directors would realize that their job is to be there for the kids. “For many of us, our METCO director is someone who we look up to, sometimes the only African American role model in our life. So when they turn their back on you and side with someone else it hurts… alot,” she said. 
 Sarah Simpson a 2016 Swampscott METCO graduate, shared a story of her fellow METCO friends being expelled for having weapons. Simpson’s friends carried weapons to protect themselves from the gangs they were formally in. Sadly, many did not see it as protection, but just students carrying weapons. 
“I mean, they hear rap about how difficult the black life is, but the moment they see it face to face they act as though it's a new thing.” explained Simpson. Simpson’s friends had left their gangs to achieve a better education. “The same education they were ready to kill for was lost when the cultural distinction between Swampscott and Boston deepened.” explained Simpson.
METCO is a great program with good intentions. Sadly, somewhere in it’s history the cultural lack and understanding between METCO towns and their students deepened. Students lose their Boston friendships due to increasing suburban friends and often feel unwanted.
 In the future, I believe METCO students need to put their foot down. We need to be heard. Be strong and courageous in your voice. Your teachers understand your life is hard and you need a little bit more help than others. Don't allow them to treat you as though you can handle everything they throw at you. During the summer, create more Boston based friends by trying out new activities. Speak to your METCO directors, they are there for YOU.

Read more…
Atomic Blonde is a great action movie that shows the determination women can have. The moment Agent Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) first appears on the screen in her heels and long white coat walking like a goddess, you won’t even want to blink.

Set during 1989, the film begins when Agent Broughton is sent to East Berlin by her boss Eric Gray (Toby Jones) as an undercover spy to get a list that contains the names of German spies in the U.S. With the assistance of Agent David Percival (James McAvoy), Agent Broughton jumps out of buildings, fights cops and sends multiple cars flying into the sky—all for the sake of completing her mission. 
The movie isn’t just about action. When Agent Broughton creates an illusion of a relationship with a female German agent in order to obtain classified German information, her feelings become real in an instant.
One of the strongest parts of the film is the special effects that create a sense of magic. From the beginning of the movie, Agent Broughton seems to do the impossible. She bathes in a shockingly cold ice bath and makes some amazingly accurate gunshots, all adding to the fierceness of her character.
I also enjoyed the film’s historical connections. It takes place just before the fall of the Berlin Wall and correlates with the events of 1989 for a feeling rich in historical context.
The best part of the movie was Charlize Theron’s performance. Movies are mostly led by a male figure but this one has a strong woman fighting in a land surrounded by enemies. Agent Broughton knows how to fight, survive and look sexy. She isn't only an agent, but a woman that knows how sex appeal can change the game. 
Much like this year's hit film Wonder Woman, which portrays a female warrior, Atomic Blonde demonstrates how women’s role in society is evolving. In past action movies, we mostly saw women at home while men risked their lives fighting crime. That's why everyone, men and women alike, should buy tickets for Atomic Blonde. In this movie, women are no longer being saved by men; women are saving the world. 
Atomic Blonde will be released on iTunes, Amazon Video, DVD and Blu-Ray in October 2017.

Read more…
If I were Bonita…
Caminaria with confidence
Estaria content with mi misma
No sentiria the world’s stare on me

I would smile more, una sonrisa verdadera
A smile that no one podria borrar, 
Take away, nor eliminar

If only society no definiera 
Humans based on los números
My weight would be una medida solamente
My clothing size would only be un número in a tag

If only no nos definieren by our skin
My acne wouldn't make me insecure, no usaría tanto makeup
Different races no separarian the world
No importa how much melanin tenemos

If only no nos definiera by our body types
Entonces my curves no me molestarian
Entonces transgenders, agenders and other 
members de la comunidad LGBTQ tendrían derechos
Sin embargo, if you had not noticed, we are defined por estas cosas
Beauty, in our society, se define por numeros, skin and body type
For this reason, soy como soy, solía ser happy, proud, content with myself  y tendria confianza.

Pero hoy, I am not happy, contenida with myself, ni tengo confidence
Sobre todo, no soy bonita

If I were bonita, I would smile all the time,
Bailaria a lot y seria less timid or embarrassed
Pasaría more time with other people, publicaria more selfies, si fuera bonita… 
Pero no soy bonita, not in my eyes nor society’s.

Read more…