AFH Photo // Szu-Chieh Yun
Mariam Camara, 15, from Dorchester, is the only girl out of all her siblings -- a fact she feels all the time.

“I see a huge difference between how my parents treat my brothers vs. how they treat me.’’ says Camara. “Even though I am the oldest, my brothers still get more freedom than I do. I have a curfew and my brother, who is one year younger then me, can come home any time.”

Being a daughter in any household can have its stresses. But being a daughter of African parents, teens say, can be filled with high expectations and low levels of leeway.

“When I started middle school,” says Odia Bah, 17, from South Boston, “my mom gave me and my brothers ‘the birds and the bees’ talk. It wasn’t until after this event that I realized my parents treated my brothers differently from me. My mom told my brothers they could date as long the girl of their choice is respectful. She told me that I wasn’t able to date until I graduated college.”

Fifteen-year-old Mariatou Camara, who goes to school in Dorchester, says many of the household duties fall to her.

“In my culture,” she says, “it was always  said that a girl should be brought one  day take the mother’s place.”
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Jeung Soon Takeda
Miguel Marte, 16, cringes when asked about a brother at home.

Marte definitely feels a sense of sibling hierarchy as he says he finds himself looking after his older brother, who is 17, making sure he gets up in the morning for school and knowing where he is all the time.

“He’s the middle child but he never takes responsibility for anything,” says Marte, from the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science. “He’s older than me yet I have to be the one to watch over him.”

In a stereotypical household, one would expect the oldest sibling to be the most
responsible, the middle child to be mostly ignored, and the youngest one to be babied
to death.

But these days, with scattered work and school schedules, and differing degrees of youth maturity, nothing is typical.

“I have mixed feelings about siblings and being the youngest,” says Joanne Leu, 16, from the O’Bryant.

She doesn’t have many responsibilities, she says, but then her parents can also be overprotective.

McCain Boonma, 16, from the O’Bryant, is an only child, so he doesn’t have to deal with brother-sister status.

“I don’t envy anyone with siblings,” he says. “I like not having to share anything.”

Except those days when he’d liked to share a conversation.

“Being an only child can get a little lonely,”  says Boonma, “especially not having anyone  to talk to.”
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AFH Photo // Cuong Huynh
Anthony Carr, 16, understands the value of having friends at school. They can help keep him on track to crack the books, he says, and also do the right thing.

“They assist you in doing work when you’re confused or don’t understand,” says Carr, from Boston Latin Academy, “and also motivate you to make good decisions at school.”

In a teen’s life, there are neighborhood friends; friends from back in the day; and those friends you see all the time at school.

Yekalo Tesfazion, a junior at BLA, sees the importance of school relationships beyond the basic social aspect and as a way to build future business networks.

“School relationships are important,” says Tesfazion, “because they help with employment opportunities and with connecting with people.”

For Edil Mohamed, a junior at Boston Latin School, school friendships help her
get through those inevitably tough high school moments.

“Your friends at school, especially the  ones that are very close to you,” she says,  “will always have your back and be there  for you, especially during hard times.”
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AFH Photo // Dominic Duong
Even as many young immigrants strive to master English, they are facing pressure at home not to abandon their native tongues.

“My dad wants me to remember my roots and language is a pivotal part of that,” says Elebetel Assefa, a junior at the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science, who came came to the US from Ethiopia in 2012.

Staying bilingual allows these teens to continue communicating with members of their community.

“It creates a bonding relationship with people who share the same language as me,” 16-year-old Ibrahim Yousof, who goes to school in Roxbury, says of his Somali exchanges.

Karen Situ, a junior at the O’Bryant, says she still feels more comfortable speaking Mandarin to her Chinese friends as she tries to improve her English.

“I think it’s because I have an accent,” she  says, “and it is not good enough.”
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Cover Story
Extra!!! Extra!!! Teen Tops Ticket!!
AFH Art // Andrew Chaupetta
Say you were elected the first teenage president of the United States. What would be your top priority? 
Sixteen-year-old Rayven Heath, from Dorchester, believes first and foremost that the brazen misuse of guns poses a colossal threat to America itself. 
“As soon as I step into office,” says Health, “I’d institute a standardized state test where the person has to follow a specific protocol -- otherwise they face unfavorable consequences.” 
Heath wants intense, ongoing scrutiny of the potential gun owner, including questions about why the person needs the weapon, and training for that individual about when and when not to shoot. 
Penalties ranging from gun-license revocation to prison would be levied on those -- both civilians and law enforcement -- who betray their stated intentions of firearms use, says Heath. 
Of course, as far as any teen actually topping the ticket, Article II, Section 1, of the US Constitution clearly states: 
“No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.” 
Putting constitutional constraints aside -- as some of the major party candidates have seemingly already done in their quests for the White House -- teens say that by raising serious concerns about the future of the country, many youth have displayed more maturity than at least several of the clownish, adult contenders. 
For 19-year-old Abbie Williams, of Mattapan, job one would be to repair the shredded state of race relations in America by putting those who feel left out and left behind on more equal footing with those who hold a superior power standing in society.
“Adults and children should see role models who have a high status, who have influential positions, and more importantly, these people should look like them,” says Williams. 
Part of that could be accomplished, teens say, through heavy educational investment. 
Sixteen-year-old Maya Alaoeasheg, from the South End, feels that building high-quality schools would help level the field for kids from different backgrounds and give them the same opportunities to advance. 
“America has numerous disadvantage gaps between the rich and the poor,” she says. “In my opinion, the education gap is most detrimental. It’s expanding and it does concern me. I would build the best high schools all over the country and have the best certified teachers enlightening future generations.”

Here are other major issues on the minds of American teen members of Generation Z who were polled in 2014: 
  • • Equality for all; 
  • • Universal, free healthcare; 
  • • The right of everyone to become a US citizen regardless of where they were born or how they came to the country; 
  • • More college affordability; 
  • • Being better educated about personal finances; 
  • • Commanding their own futures. 

Source: Northeastern University

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