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On our way

From politics to passions, students share diverse summer adventures

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Fighting for representation

Story: Chloe White

As senior Jenna Chang walked into Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s office, he shook her hand, as he did with everyone else in their small group. He asked for everyone’s name and introduced himself, a small action that touched Chang and set him apart from other politicians to her.

While she’s been a supporter of O’Rourke for a while, this meeting only solidified her support of him. O’Rourke was the only one she saw ask for people’s emails if he wanted to know more about their opinion.

This face to face meeting with O’Rourke happened over the summer when Chang attended the three day Korean American Grassroots Conference in Washington D.C. where Chang and other Korean Americans spoke and met with politicians to discuss issues relevant to them.

On the second day, Chang met with Pete Sessions, Beto O’Rourke and Ted Cruz, who all answered questions related to the Korean American community such as North and South Korea relations and the Korean adoptee issue.

“It always felt like we were in the back, or we got lost in the crowd and nobody was really hearing about our issues,” Chang said. “I thought it was really cool to hear them say, ‘we hear you and we want to know what you have to say.”

At the event, a panel including Rep. Sam Park and Delegate Mark Keam talked about their experiences as  Korean-American politicians and the limited representation Asian-Americans have in government.

“It inspired me a lot because whenever I look at politician figures there isn’t a lot of Asian representatives,” Chang said.

Chang is no stranger to political involvement. She’s attended March For Our Lives events, been involved in Students Demand Action, and has attended a Cruz campaign event.

Recently I’ve been getting interested in politics, and the government’s role in our lives, and I thought this was a really great opportunity because I got to meet people all over the country,” Chang said. “I got to meet politicians you only hear about in the news. I got to sit down and say ‘this is my opinion, what about you?’”

 

Home away from home

Vibrant campaign music blared from the stage, people danced and scents of food wafted across the area. Despite the hot and humid weather, thousands had gathered. Junior Shalina Sabih and her family stood a short distance from the stage where the current prime minister of Pakistan Imran Khan was speaking, mainly encouraging people to get out and vote.

“It’s way more different than the campaigns here,” Shalina said. “It feels more like a party than a campaign. It makes you want to get out and vote.”

Last summer, Shalina spent over three months in Pakistan with her family, where she lived until eighth grade. Shalina’s family typically does not go to campaign events like this, however they felt security would be better.  

“After watching so many years of corrupt prime ministers be in Pakistan, it’s kinda nice to have someone who’s actually going to do something about [the corruption],” Sabih said.

Going to Khan’s campaign event was just a small part of Shalina’s trip to Pakistan. Shalina spent her entire summer in Pakistan, catching up with family and friends, and visiting her pet ostrich she’s had for four years.

The first time Shalina saw her pet ostrich, she could see the large figure looming over her in the dark. As a kid she never expected ostriches to be that tall, but soon realized just how tall they were when she got her own ostrich as a pet. When she found she had been gifted an ostrich her first thought was, “Woah, hold on, an ostrich?”

While Shalina wishes she had a bigger role in taking care of the ostrich — her visits are typically about 10 minutes — she admits it’s “pretty cool” to have a pet ostrich.

Besides visiting her pet ostrich, Shalina and her brother, freshman Saif Sabih spent the majority of their time in Pakistan spending time with family and friends.

“It’s kinda nice being back in that culture and seeing so many people that I haven’t seen [in a while],”  Shalina said.

 

Riding the road to change

Story: Alex Anderson

Red faces screamed. Their hands grasped the hilt of their guns as more and more people filed through the doors of the gym. Even though they were across the street and separated, the threats of the protesters were felt by the Road for Change attendees inside the gym’s walls.

Inside the gym the bleachers were full of people, all waiting for the same reason. They wanted change to happen, and they believe that it should happen now.

Senior Lalita Kunamneni attended the Road to Change event in Fort Worth, a national tour started by March for Our Lives and the survivors of the Parkland shooting on July 7. The survivors went to 68 cities and spoke to hundreds of people to educate them and get them registered to vote.

“Security was super tight,” Kunamneni said. “Obviously these kids have been getting death threats, so I get why.”

Among the list of panelists and guests were Delaney Tarr, David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez who have been the face of the March For Our Lives movement.

“I was kind of in shock,” Kunamneni said. “They’re people and that kind of got it into me that I could really do something.”

Kunamneni attended the March For Our Lives protest on March 24 earlier this year. The Fort Worth march had over 7,000 attendees, and Kunamneni also spoke at that event,

Kunamneni and fellow senior Jenna Chang are starting a new group, Students Demand Action. They are planning for their first meeting to be in September and are actively seeking new members.

“We’re really wanting to get more of people our age involved in issues that they care about and voting,”  Kunamneni said. “Keep persisting and change will come.”

 

Tugging heartstrings

Story: Alex Anderson

As the group of middle and high schoolers filed into the building, they were met by young, energetic refugee children. Smiles erupted onto their faces. This was the reason they had come. This was what made the long bus ride and lack of sleep worth it.

Last July, senior Callie Bailey went on a week long mission trip to Kansas and Arkansas.The group consisted of middle and high school students from Trietsch Memorial United Methodist church in Flower Mound. They stopped at multiple locations, including homes for the elderly, other churches and refugee centers and  performed a program of religious songs. The groups plays a variety of instruments like the keyboard and the guitar. Bailey plays the cello.

“It’s really cool, for me at least, to see how music impacts people,” Bailey said. “It does a lot more than just words or just talking to somebody. Music really speaks to people.”

Bailey’s group was nonstop traveling for the whole week. They would stay in various churches throughout the trip on air mattresses, while traveling from city to city on one bus. Working off of only about six hours of sleep, the group of about 40 teenagers would perform at two to three venues a day. Another student in the group, junior Kaeli Alpha, describes the trip as being a great bonding experience for the group.

“Going on the trip, you get to be more personal with them,” said Alpha. “You’re spending every single day with them. You get to learn way more than you knew before. It just helps you grow close relationships with them.”

Visiting locations like the refugee center left a lasting impact on Bailey and the other kids. The refugee center housed a number of children from ages 10 and 11, many of whom had lived their whole lives in various refugee camps in Africa and the Middle East.  

Many of the children didn’t know how to operate and use things many consider common knowledge, like electrical appliances for example. Bailey describes one experience with a child not knowing what her cello was as very eye-opening.

“It’s really humbling,” Bailey said. “The fact that somebody else never had the opportunity that I did.”

Bailey and Alpha both said that these kinds of trips were enlightening and helped bring them closer to God. The trips gave them a new perspective on the world and other people.

“It serves as a reminder that there are people who have a lot less than you do,” Bailey said. “It’s important that you devote at least some part of your life to helping other people better their lives.”

 

A trip for the ages

Story: Alex Anderson

Walking into the plaza, senior Anusha Hegde watched as groups of tourists and locals gathered in front of a fountain. The arcs of the fountain were illuminated against the night sky in time to the music playing overhead. It was called “Font Mágica”, the Magic Fountain of Montjïc. The fountain perfectly captured the beauty of Barcelona, Spain.

“It just felt super magical,” senior Anusha Hegde said. “After a super hectic and stressful day, going here and there, that was so relaxing and amazing.”

Over the summer, Hegde and her parents went on a two week tour of Europe, visiting Spain, Italy, Greece and Scotland. After spending a day in Barcelona, she and her family traveled to Venice and Rome, as well as Santorini and Northern Scotland.

One of the main highlights of the trip for Hegde was the immersion into the culture that she had already studied in school. She was excited to experience the history that she had been learning about for years in her classes in person.  

“It’s all stuff that we’ve already learned about whether in World History or Human Geography,” Hedge said. “By going and actually visiting these places, I could learn more in depth about the brief stuff that we covered.”

Hegde had been dreaming of this trip for years, and as she walked around the island of Santorini, Greece, her dream had become her reality. Blue roofed houses painted the landscape of Santorini, and the oceanline stretched past the horizon with other small islands dotting the perimeter.

Hegde said the trip helped widen her knowledge of foreign countries and allow herself to dive into other cultures. This had been Hegde’s biggest trip, and she hopes to continue to travel internationally in the future.

“I would love to study abroad in college,” Hegde said. “I don’t even really care where. I just want to go somewhere [because] no matter where you go I feel like it’s an enriching experience.”

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Alex Anderson, Entertainment Editor

Hi, my name is Alex Anderson, and I am a senior this year, and this is my second year on staff as a writer. I love film and film journalism, so I plan...

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