Life at the end of senior year

by Daniela Morales, a senior ready to graduate high school

I’m thinking now, that maybe I’ll read this in a couple of months, or maybe a year, and think of how I was ungrateful and unappreciative of my time in high school but as I write this sentence I’ve decided that I like to live in the present and therefore, right now, I am so tired and so ready to graduate.

By this point, everything should be running smoothly. Exams are about over and classes are about done but there is one project that is hovering over my head like impending doom – capstone.

But like everything, soon enough that will be over too and I will be moving on to the next chapter of my life. If you follow me on Twitter, which you should (@MoralesVDaniela), like my bio says – “Always onto the next thing.” Also, “Middlebury ’21.”

Yes, I committed to Middlebury College. On September 4 I will be moving 1,533 miles away from home to a cold, cold area of the world. On the bright side, I will be able to experience all four seasons (there are four seasons right – living in Miami made me forget.)

Even though it’s set in stone and I definitely do not have an escape route, I was freaking out a bit about moving so far away, to such a different environment, for so long. Some of the questions plaguing my brain are “Who will be my roommate? Will I pack all I need? Will I feel comfortable living there? Will I be homesick? How do I make friends?” I have zero answers at this moment and hopefully, throughout the summer, I will be enlightened with some knowledge and no longer fear entering the next chapter of my life.

That’s it for today. I know it was a very disorganized train of thought but now you’ve gotten a sneak peek into my brain, the brain of a senior ready to graduate. Goodnight!

P.S.

It’s 12:16 am and I have my Advanced Placement Biology exam at 8 am. Wish me luck!

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Two Families, One Death, and the Beginning of Change

By the age of five I had already heard enough conversations about politics to know that I should hate George W. Bush and (pretend to) love Fidel Castro.

I’d often say  “I can’t wait for Bush to leave, then there will be Liberty” and my grandfather on my father’s side had me repeat it to other family members, showing me off as a ‘politically conscious’ little girl standing up for her country.

At that age I listened and repeated, not necessarily understanding, what adults said in hushed conversations behind closed doors.

My grandfather was a Colonel of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (Las FAR— Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias) and my grandmother was a civil worker of the FAR. Growing up under their influence, my father decided to attend the military school Camilo Cienfuegos as a means of achieving a military career. Despite gaining interest in pursuing aeronautics, my father was forced into military service and sent to war in Angola from 1987-89 during the battle of Cuito Cuanavale.

In this household, I spent most of my time as a child hearing his war stories, his pride in  servicing the government. My summers were spent elsewhere, vacationing with my mother’s side of the family— one that was against the government.

When the revolution became successful and as Fidel Castro took power in 1959, my grandfather’s motorcycle shop was brought down and then built back up, forced to function as a clandestine workshop.

For years to come, my grandfather on my mother’s side would be prosecuted. My grandmother, a soft spoken woman, tried to abide by the rules and stray from trouble by attending the Revolutionary Defense Committee meetings (CDR— Comite de Defensa Revolucionaria).

Disagreeing with the government was (and still is) punishable by imprisonment, and eventually death. Castro’s regime assigned committee leaders to city blocks to look out for activities residents would partake in— especially illegal ones— in defense against the revolution.

In 1994, my grandfather brought three of his sons to the United States, fleeing the communist government via boat like many have done since the revolution. My father also left the country in fear of government persecution.

We left the island four years later.

We arrived in 2008 just when President Obama started working on his legacy, forever impacting immigrants such as myself and my mother. Meanwhile we’d send phone calls, care packages, cash money and heartfelt letters to family members waiting to someday be reunited.

Eight years later, on Nov. 25, 2016, Fidel Castro was announced dead, after 57 years of leading the country to extreme levels of poverty, crime, and destruction.

When my mother received the news of the dictator’s demise, she half-jokingly said, “Now I can return to Cuba.”

The division between revolutionaries and anti-revolutionaries created a divide between both sides of the family with me as the common factor. But, now, as the outstanding symbol of communism no longer stands, neither does the divide within my family.

InDesign: Inserting Photos for Beginners

Hello fellow followers,

I’ve recently come across some colleagues who have yet to learn the basics of Indesign and here I am to help. One of the most basic skills of InDesign is inserting photos into boxes.

First: Make a document by going to File > New > Document. At this point you can pick out the purpose of your publication and the dimensions which best fit your needs.

Second: Go over to the Rectangle tool on the left toolbar of the program > click it > click it again and drag it over the document to form your rectangle of desired size.

Third: Open the desired photograph you wish to use (for the sake of this tutorial I will be using a photo of the Rostra which stood in the Roman Forum). Click Edit > Copy (command + C).

Refer to the photo below.

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 10.36.06 PM
This photo depicts step 3.

Fourth: Head back over to you InDesign document and right click inside of the rectangle you created in step 2. When the menu of options appears, you should click “Paste Into” so that your photo takes the shape of the rectangle you’ve created.

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 10.38.01 PM
This photo depicts step 4.

Fifth: The photograph may appear like this (refer to the photo below) or other ways that just don’t please your artistic means. There is the perfect way to fix it that does not require you to be an expert in photograph resizing (and won’t leave your photo looking like it was put in a washer and dryer – all shrunken and stretched out at the same time.)

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 10.39.57 PM.png
This photo depicts step 5.

Sixth: The magic step. Click the rectangle one > Right click inside the rectangle > Fitting > Fill Frame Proportionally OR Fit Content Proportionally (whichever best suits your means.) In my case, I will be using Fill Frame Proportionally.

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 10.46.27 PM
This photo depicts step 6.

 

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 10.48.13 PM
This is a properly placed photo that is not stretched out any which way.
Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 10.48.45 PM
This is a photo that has been widened in an attempt to make it fit the frame properly.
Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 10.49.16 PM
This photo has been lengthened in an attempt to make it fit the frame properly.

I believe that every draft of any design project needs to be made as though it were the final one. That being said, properly inserting photographs into a document is a very important skill that can be easily mastered.

Reflection on “The Media Helped Make Trump”

In this article, Nicholas Kristof blames the media for the rise of Donald Trump. He specifically calls out three ways in which the media was more of a “lapdog” instead of a “watchdog,” serving DT’s agenda instead of looking out for the best interest of America by recognizing the facts. Kristof says the media failed Americans by 1. using Donald Trump for ratings (putting their own financial future first), 2. taking him and his campaign as a joke, and 3. not enough economic diversity in their coverage (talking to the middle class and hearing how DT’s message resonated with them.)

The first and second reason tie together. Because DT was taken as a joke for the most part of his campaign he was paraded around television like the newest reality show star. DT’s rise might be attributed to the media but of course, hindsight is always 20/20. I can’t imagine a parallel universe where the media would not showcase the most popular person of the moment and better its financial status simultaneously – at no apparent ethical cost at the time. If Nate Silver didn’t think DT would amount to anything, it’s a fair assumption to say that the media didn’t think DT would amount to anything.
The third reason Kristof mentions is one that can be applied all over. The media surely does “spend too much time talking to senators, not enough to the jobless” and in this specific case that could’ve offered a different outlook and opened some of the public’s eyes (maybe even DT supporters) but that is the same case with other issues, not just Trump.  
The rise of Donald Trump may be blamed on the media for putting its own financial status first, not exhibiting a clear and serious view to Trump, and only sharing other politician’s opinion of him and his politics but i don’t believe it could’ve been prevented. We can’t really condemn the media because no one could’ve known the outcome. The truth in this economy is that everyone has to look out for themselves. They bounced at the opportunity and maybe when another DT comes along the media will bounce again. It’s all circumstantial. 

 

 

After the Era of Westernization: Papua New Guinea Holds Witch Hunts

There is a world of information out there. A person who regularly checks the news and reads articles can always find some kind new information and be fascinated by either an atrocity or humble act of human kind.

I recently came across an article on twitter – the conveyor of information – about witch hunts in Papua New Guinea and how its participants post the acts on social media as a form of boasting. This particular article is more like a series consisting of five chapters where a writer, Kent Russel, tell the story of his visit in order to research the then viral witch hunts.

For 16 years of my life, i had been completely oblivious to the possibility of there being a country in this day and age so backwards and barbarian; I though witch hunts and witch trials had been left in Salem more than 300 years ago.

In communities like Warakum, PNG, women are hunted down on the belief that their use of sorcery caused death or sickness for another member of the community, including their own children. Women are stripped of their clothes, tied, and blindfolded as men strap them to a log over a pile of refuse. With a combination of fuel and fire, the members of the community watch the woman burn. When all that is left is a burnt figure only slightly resembling a human being, men run their truck tires over the supposed “witch” and the rest (including local officers) stare intently, without a flinch.

According to Russel’s recount, fishing decapitated women out of a local river isn’t cause of awe – it’s as usual as fishing for fish.

The world became aware of this cultural ritual about two years ago when a particular “witch’s” story became viral.


The witch was a 20-year-old mother of two who had been blamed for the death of a 6-year-old neighbor boy in her Papua New Guinean shantytown in 2013. Based on his symptoms, the cause of the boy’s death was most likely rheumatic fever. But in PNG, any death that cannot be chalked up to simple old age is believed to have a malevolent agent behind it.

A group of 50 or so of the dead boy’s relatives apprehended the young mother, stripped her, tortured her and burned her alive in the settlement’s landfill, just outside the city of Mount Hagen. A number of bystanders were uniformed police officers who helped turn back a fire engine when it whined to the scene.

This particular witch killing splashed across the homepages of international tabloids because members of the crowd had snapped photos and shared them proudly on social media. Journalists descended, ascertaining a few grisly details as well as the woman’s identity (which cannot be said for many victims of sorcery-related violence in PNG): Her name was Kepari Leniata.


I’ve only just become aware of this and after further research, found that these occurrences aren’t only happening in PNG but also in some parts of the Middle East.

The entirety of Kent Russel’s story is on the following link. Read it if the topic interested/surprised you as much as it did me.

http://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/they-burn-witches-here/

MUSIC UPDATE

I love listening to new music by new artists and my taste is constantly changing. I never linger on one genre for too long.

A new New Yorker friend I made whilst my week in Washington D.C and I have been sharing our music tastes lately and he’s introduced me to Kodaline; i can officially say i’ve fallen in love. The latest i’ve been into is Twenty One Pilots and they’re an indie/alternative pop but Kodaline is a slower indie rock/pop. At first, I didn’t think i’d like Kodaline because i was into a faster, more moved type of music but they’ve completely stolen my heart.

I shared about my new obsession on twitter and found that even some of my school friends knew about Kodaline and they feel just as strong as I do.

Below are my favorites from both Twenty One Pilots and Kodaline.

KODALINE

Can’t just see the one part. You’ve got to watch the second too!

TWENTY ONE PILOTS

CHCI Summer Program – Washington DC

I’ve been fortunate enough to – for the third time this year – go to Washington D.C, our nation’s capital. This time it was with two non-profit organizations, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and the Close Up foundation.

These two organizations gathered 70 Hispanic high school students all sponsored by State Farm, Ford, Southwest Airlines, Macy’s and took them to D.C to learn about the legislative process and hear stories about successful Hispanics who literally started from the bottom.

This past week was nothing like i expected. I met and befriended people who I never thought i’d click with. My peers and I spoke the same language, Spanish, but somehow we still managed to confuse each other. I heard accents from here and there. I listened to the stories of the students who have been deported but found a way back, the stories of not being able to pay for college because Dreamers can’t obtain any form of financial aid.

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