Edward Velazquez, 16, says he’s been judged for his beliefs. “People have told me: ‘I don’t know how you can pray and believe in an invisible God,’” says Velazquez, who attends Brighton High School. Often, people make decisions about others and create wrong opinions about teens without even knowing them. Teens say that just because some don’t like the way a person dresses or acts or what they believe in doesn’t mean they should be treated rudely. Seventeen-year-old Mu Xian Chen, from the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science, says she’s been called short and skinny. ‘‘You should think before you act,” she says. Amal Egal, 16, thinks that judging people without knowing them is unfair. “Everyone deserves a chance, because as cliché as it sounds, we are all the same,” says Egal, who attends the O’Bryant. “I don’t think we can stop society’s judgments. However, if everyone individually reflects on themselves, we might be able to change.”
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Miguel Martinez, 17, of Boston Arts Academy, says that if he were given the opportunity to do anything on his bucket list, he’d do it right away. “The thing I want to do the most on my bucket list is to swim with dolphins,” he says. Martinez believes that it would be a memorable experience. Teens want to live like there is no tomorrow, freely with no regrets or fears. Like others, they have a mental list of the most interesting things they want to do before they die, ranging from the simple to the more daring. “If I got to dunk over Michael Jordan -- that would be pretty amazing,” says Melvin Gonzalez, 17, of Lower Roxbury. Anjelique Casiano, 16, of Boston Green Academy, says she is determined to get everything on her list checked off. “I don’t really have anything extreme on my bucket list,” says Casiano. “I have many simple things, but I do want to go skinny dipping in a nice lake or go drag racing.”
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Lidzt Gaelle Lubin, 17, from Hyde Park, knows how her parents would react if she pursued her goal of becoming an actress. “They would be mad,” says Lubin, who may study medicine instead. Many parents have great expectations for their children’s futures. For Haitian parents, the hopes can be especially high for their kids to become successful professionals -- doctors, lawyers, or engineers — even if it is not the child’s choice. According to cultural specialists, Haitian parents want their children to help support the family financially in the US and not waste the educational opportunities they came here for. On a larger scale, such prestigious jobs are viewed as an important way for offspring to one day bring wealth and knowledge back to the Haitian homeland, and raise the country up. Now, many Haitian teens find themselves caught in the middle: between pleasing their parents and following their own dreams. Kimberly Cajuste, 15, from Urban Science Academy, says that if she tells her parents that she wants to be a dancer or a singer, they would have a simple question: “Why not a doctor?”
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Culture Club
Click. Life without a cellphone
Jeanean Brown, a 14-year-old from Jamaica Plain, says she’s fine with not having a cellphone. “I don’t have to check my phone every minute to see if I receive a new text message or a notification,” she says. Today, 78 percent of young people ages 12 to 17 have a cellphone. Brown is not one of them. No worries, she says. It saves her money. Plus, she says, “If I do need to contact someone for something important, I use my house phone.” The teen world might be better off without so many cellphones in hand, Brown says. “When I’m talking to my friends about something important, I notice that they’re always taking out their phone to check if they got a new text message,” she says. “I think it’s really rude because I feel like they’re not listening to what I have to say.”
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Eighteen-year-old Matena Barry, from Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers, has some weird and some, OK, over-the-top-weird obsessions. One of Barry’s many obsessions is that she cannot sleep without the sound of an air conditioner. No matter how cold it is she has to have it on before she can doze off. It gets so bad that, during the winter, Barry says she takes the AC out of the window so it won’t get damaged by the snow and just sets it down on the floor and plugs it in. Meanwhile, Nadia Singh, 16, is fixated on food. “I even dream about food -- well, fried chicken mainly,” says Singh, from Boston Community Leadership Academy. “It’s weird, I know, to dream about food, but I do.” For Kadidiatou Bah, 15, as long as it’s sweet and edible she is quite all right. “Candy will be the death of me,” says Bah, from Health Careers Academy. “I just can’t live without it.” Bah is stuck on candy and treats it as a special food instead of just a once-in-a-while treat. “I’m telling you, in health class they missed a food group,” says Bah. “Candy is a food group.”
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