35 thoughts on “Support Communities, Civic Engagement, Justice

  1. I believe that everyone deserves a community where they feel like they belong. When I was a freshman in high school I was just coming to terms with my bisexuality. I was only out to my best friend and my girlfriend. I only knew of a few people in my grade who were LGBT, but eventually, we got together to organize our school’s first-ever Gay-Straight Alliance for the next year, also known as GSA. We would meet after school once a week and speak freely about our identities, learn about historical LGBT figures, and provide support for one another. Eventually, I even lead a mural painting project to create a mural for the GSA to spread more inclusivity in the school.

    I made many great friends at the club. It did not matter what grade you were in, what your sexuality or gender identity was, everyone was included. I was with my friend Aurora recently and we were talking about how much we love GSA. She told me that when first went to a meeting she was really nervous that nobody would talk to her because she was just a freshman at the time, but she quickly made a bunch of friends and felt at home with us. I was so glad that something that I helped create could have such an impact on someone else, especially to a freshman because that is always a really rough time. Having these kinds of spaces does wonders for young people just figuring themselves out, helping them to feel accepted and safe in their communities.

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    • I love how you made a club where it makes everyone in your school feel welcomed. I like how it’s spreading love and not hate, keep it up!

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      • I believe in immigration. I believe in the search for better life conditions, not only for yourself but for your offspring. I believe in new beginnings, fresh starts and equal opportunities. I believe that every single person can triumph if surrounded by the right factors.
        Even being a national citizen, I grew up in Cape Verde, my parents’ homeland, and I was raised surrounded by its magnificent culture. I learned to embrace differences from each person, from their skin color to their hair type, facial structures, economic condition, social status, because that would unify us and make us the country we are. Besides our backgrounds and singular life story, growing in a third world country always made us ambition for more, to get a better life. We decided to life a life that goes beyond the horizon line. Most Cape Verdeans go to other countries to achieve and realize their dreams. In my case, I came back home. But the same dream is commanding my heart in the pursue of my goals.
        There is so much I dreamt about that I realized in such short period of time, and that made me proud and faithful I can reach all my dreams, because there are no limits to me. Changes came, problems came, bad choices came, lessons came, I grew, I achieved, I am achieving, and I am going to achieve. I’m blessed to seek a path to make my dreams true. In this I believe, for me and for all.

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    • It may sound corny to say, like something our mothers would tell us when we were younger and needed to get along with others, however I truly believe that we need to treat others the way you would like to be treated. Treating others with kindness and sincerity is truly what it means to be humans and unities all of humanity. So whether that means taking that underclassmen under your wing, or giving a random person train fare, extending a hand towards your peers for the sake of kindness is what makes humanity truly human. That’s what I base my life on, giving back to people in small kind ways.

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  2. Civic engagement is a way for individuals to contribute to the livelihood of their communities, and the civilians that comprise these communities. Being involved in the community is a quintessential part of learning the meaning of service, and understanding the importance of communal support and development. Not only does civic engagement benefit the recipient, but it also teaches the volunteer important life lessons. Many volunteers and servers of the community believe that their work provides them with inner fulfillment and helps them build lasting relationships with their communities. Volunteerism provides a foundation for mutualistic relationships between donors and recipients which leave a positive impact on both parties.
    This past June, I embarked on a service learning opportunity to the Dominican Republic with other students from the town of Plymouth, Massachusetts through the non-profit organization, Partnering People Through Service. During this service learning trip, we were able to help educate young students of all ages through creative projects, sports, and language. My group taught at a community school called El Convento in the mountains of Constanza. One of our main focuses was teaching the children English, but through the activities we also taught them the significance of teamwork, collaboration, sportsmanship, and friendship. These skills are just as important as subjects like math and science. By engaging with the students through educational activities, we built strong relationships between one another. I will always remember the students I formed intricate bonds with because I’ve never felt more loved and appreciated by a group of people. This stellar opportunity reiterated why civic engagement is essential for the prosperity and development of the community, and ourselves as individuals.

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    • Paige,
      Your story was truly touching to me as it is rare to hear on what great things are being done in the world. I find it incredible that the students were taught important life skills, as those are just as important as the typical subject we learn in school. Thank you for your time there, as it truly reminds me at the great opportunities that are readily available to help someone in need.

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    • I completely agree! Before when I was in my second year of high school I was greatly withdrawn. I had little to no friends and didn’t interact with anyone but my main family. I felt depressed, tired and simply unmotivated. However once i started volunteering at my now present work place I became happier then I’ve ever been. I was able to interact with others without feeling as anxious and unsure of myself as before. I became friends with my colleagues and seemed to have become a whole new person. As if I hatched out of my chrysalis and became anew.

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  3. Everybody should feel welcomed and safe in their community. A friendly community where neighbors can talk to each other freely is a community that everyone should want to have. I think all communities should have a sense of justice in them, and I’m not talking about them dealing out their own personal justice, but they should feel free to call the police officers when needed. I might be more willing to trust cops than some because I’m looking to be a criminal justice major, but I believe that communities should trust local law enforcement and the officers serving in that community should make good relationships with the people living there. Having good law enforcement and community relationship can build the communities trust and moral because they will feel safe living in that community. There was a recent incident where a police officer was jumped inside a neighborhood that didn’t like cops. What happened to that police officer shocked nearby residents and communities because some of these people feel safe or, at least, better knowing that a cop is around, and these attackers just made the neighborhood feel dangerous or even more dangerous than it already felt. Justice in a community helps everybody become trustworthy and it lets everyone know that there are people in your community that care about the safety of you and the community. Support communities can even raise the morale of the residents living there and members of the community who help to make it better or keep it how it is can interact with the residents and make them feel welcomed and appreciated in their community. Everyone should feel welcomed and appreciated in the community they live in, and they should feel safe with a sense of justice in the community with friendly faces from all the residents that care about the safety and good standing of the community they live in.

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  4. The summer of eighth grade going into my freshman year I decided to tryout for the freshman volleyball team. At first the idea seemed impossible because I had never played volleyball in my life, however I was also excited to try something new. I attended all of the captains practices and camps that the varsity coach ran over the summer and was becoming a well-rounded player. When tryouts came I was very nervous, but so was everyone else. As tryouts became harder I had begun to realize that I didn’t have the skills most of the other freshman had. The thought crossed my mind, I was going to be cut. During the last day of tryouts, as they were wrapping up, the coaches began to call each girl individually to tell them if they had made it or not. First it was the seniors, then juniors, then sophomores, and then finally the freshman. When it was my turn, I walked through the locker rooms to find all of the coaches sitting in a row holding an empty chair for me. I sat down and listened to all of their feedback after which they said, “You made the freshman team”. I was ecstatic and couldn’t stop myself from smiling. The coaches then gave me the papers I needed and I ran to my mom’s car. She was so happy for me. That was when I started to gain some confidence. Then as the years went on I got pulled up to junior varsity freshman year. Then at the end of my sophomore year, I got pulled up to varsity. Then my senior year I was voted captain alongside one of my closest friends, got mvp of the team, and Hockomock All Star. Volleyball gave me a better outlook on myself and how I want to be portrayed. I believe everyone should find something that brings out their confidence and self-esteem.

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  5. Supporting communities goes further than just picking up litter off the sidewalk, or shoveling snow off a neighbor’s front porch. It goes as far as the wilderness and the national forests that surround community. Last summer I was a member of a program called the Montana Conservation corps, or MCC. In this program, I was a part of a six man crew where we would make camp in the Bitterrroot National Forest for eight days at a time and clear the trails. Clearing trails consists of clearing brush, digging water drains in the trail, relocating rocks for structural integrity and cutting trees that have fallen in the way of the trail. Due to wilderness laws, we were not allowed to use power tools, so my crew was assigned crosscut saws, six foot saws that are operated with two people, one on each end. Through this program, I learned a lot. A lot about communities, civic engagement and appreciation of our surroundings. By the end of each hitch, I cannot lie and say I was excited to go back into the woods. In fact, there were many times that I even thought about buying the next flight back to Boston and leaving without even looking back. After all, this was the most labor intensive and mentally exhausting challenge I’ve ever faced. I even came face to face with a bear, but that’s not the story I am telling today. The story I am telling today is that serving communities, weather it is even your own community is an important thing to do. I am not saying that everyone needs to join a program for an entire summer. What I am saying is pick up that litter on the sidewalk, shovel that neighbor’s front porch and make your community a better place.

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  6. The day that I turned 15, I became eligible to volunteer at my local hospital. This experience allowed for opportunities that I could have never imagined experiencing during high school, such as interning in the Special Care Nursery for my high school senior project, working in Radiology and traveling around the Emergency Room with an X-Ray tech, or just walking into a patient’s room with the book cart and having a conversation with them. Every new shift brought a new learning opportunity, whether this was with a nurse, doctor, or patient. Over the past 4 years, I have accumulated over 200 hours of volunteer work at the hospital. I have been a volunteer in almost every department, each bringing a new perspective on what it’s like to work in a hospital. I have always known that nursing is the right career choice for me, and volunteering at the hospital confirmed this. Being able to contribute to the community in a meaningful way is rewarding, and it’s a plus to get the experience of being in a hospital. Both the patients and the nurses are a major part of the work that I do during my time in each department, and this shows through their gratuity and kindness. These are the two words that I keep in the back of my mind while I’m volunteering, because by radiating kindness around the hospital, I feel rewarded in return. The experiences that I had at the hospital were life-changing, and they will stick with me for the rest of my life.

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  7. Junie Gervais

    Friendship and technology

    I could describe myself as not being friendly to people before. I was so shy and didn’t want to make a long conversation to others to start a friendship. My biggest fear was to not be disappointed by the people around me. One day I decided to be on social networks 24/24,I wanted to discover something new on me. And now I can say how I find friendship and technology.

    Friendship today is very different from friendship when our parents were young. Today, there is technology. Most American teens have a mobile phone and they text a lot to their friends. Mobile phones are like a warranty extension. Teenagers love their mobile phones and computers. The email replaced the mail. Finally, Facebook, a social network, and Instagram,whatsapp , Google’s instant messaging, are very popular. But is technology good for friendship?
    On the one hand, technology is an advantage of friendship. Technology helps people communicate and stay in touch with old friends. Technology balances the distance between friends. For example, I have other family members and they live in Haiti Without technology, I could only write the letters. However, I can email them, leave small messages on their Facebook wall, and chat with them through Chat. Technology is shrinking the world. Also, technology helps me stay up to date with my friends. Facebook reminds me to wish my friends a happy birthday. Besides, I can look at my friends’ pictures. I can see where my friends went on vacation and what they did. Plus, with Facebook, you can find old friends.On the other hand, technology makes superficial friendship. Teenagers have a lot of Facebook friends, but are these people real friends? The new generation lives behind a screen. It’s a virtual life. Communication is brief. This is very bad for couples and friends who talk more about the intern than in person. Some people live both lives. Friendship becomes superficial and hollow.

    Can friendship and technology coexist? Yes, technology is good for friendship but in moderation. We can text a friend to find out. Email and instant messaging are useful for keeping in touch with friends who are far away. Face-to-face contact is necessary for friendship. For friends who live nearby, it’s better to meet instead of talking on the phone or chatting on messenger.Technology is a blessing and a curse. Technology can help people become friends or stay in touch. If people want to maintain friendship then technology can only help. However, technology alone will not rain together to hold a friendship.

    Junie Gervais

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  8. I believe in the right to have an abortion. A woman should have the right to do whatever she wants with her body, because it is her body. By not giving this right to women all across the U.S., it could ruin the woman’s life. She has no future because now she has to take care of the baby. Whatever life goals she has is taken over by the baby. What if she isn’t old enough? Now she has to drop out of school to take care of it. No degree means she cannot get a well paying job. Now she isn’t financially capable to provide for the baby or herself. This not only ruins her life but the baby’s life as well. This might result in her having to put her baby up for adoption or in foster care. The number of kids in foster care has risen 2.3% or 437,465 kids just this year alone. There is also a 4% raise in infants entering foster care. This means that more and more kids are needing a family and there is less of a chance that kids get out of foster care. If a woman is raped and now pregnant but isn’t able to abort, she not only has to live with the guilt of what happened but now has to raise a baby she had no say in. I believe that women in the U.S. should be able to choose to either keep the baby or exercise her right to an arbortion.

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    • I like how you backed up your argument with facts about rising foster rates. I also believe that abortions should be completely legal. It should not be the governments choice, it should be the women’s choice!

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  9. I believe that actions speak louder than words and how you choose to act reflects more upon our character than some may realize. No one is perfect and believe me, I of all people know that. However, everyday we can put in the effort, not to reach perfection, but to be better than the person we were the day before. Actions play a large role in that outcome. Some people go around and speak about everything they are planning to do in hopes to gain notoriety in the eyes of others, while never actually going through with their claims. While others do good works quietly, and do not expect to reap any benefits from what they have done.
    Actions taken can be as simple as picking up after younger siblings who have left their toys scattered around the room, or even cleaning up the kitchen without being asked to do so. Simple little tasks that may go unpraised, but in the long run they build over time, and can change the environment of your surroundings for the better.
    On campus flashing a little smile, being friendly, or just simply holding a door for someone can affect someone else’s day. One small gesture may be overlooked in the whole scheme of life may be the difference between a person’s day turning out good or bad.
    So, the gist of what I am trying to get at is that maybe we can make our small corner of the world a little bit happier, and nicer through the actions we take everyday.
    This I believe.

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  10. I believe in true freedom of speech and expression.

    In this increasingly sensitive world, most of us cannot be outspoken about our true views.
    What we have forgotten is that freedom of speech also includes the right to offend. You should be allowed to say something offensive to me without any severe repercussions.
    Let me explain, by my statement “without any severe repercussions” I mean that someone’s personal views whether spoken or posted online should not be used as justification for firing that individual.
    I am an Indian and will be considered a minority in the U.S. If for any reason someone shouts racial slurs at me or misjudges me because of some false stereotypes I would NOT want the university officials to reprimand him. As a citizen of a free country he has the right to offend and I have the right to be offended. This is how humanity progresses, if we all get offended and refuse to talk to people with views different from ours, we will never overcome our differences. Political correctness is a bane to our society not a boon.
    Comedy has been the target of easily offended people online for a long time now, they fail to realize that comedy often comes from dark places. Humor advanced greatly during the most painful and horrible times in human history, the world was so grim that humor was used to put an ironic or comical twist on the horrid reality of the world. Whatever said and done comedy is an art form, and no art form should ever be policed.

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  11. You should always have an open mind because you never know if you’ll like what you might get into. I believe having an open mind creates new passages and ways for you to find out and try different things. When you have an open mind, it gives you the opportunity to be able to express yourself, meet people and make friends or even better you can put your own style to it or add your own type of flavor cause you never know what can come out of it. Many people at times are very afraid to try new things or to step out their shell because they’re either shy or afraid of being embarrassed for not knowing what’s going or not being “hip” as we young teenagers like to say. Having open mind allows you to be more exotic and creative in different ways and many people don’t realize that. When you are open to new suggestions or even try to see another person’s point of view It makes you smarter in a way because you’re literally learning something new. Just don’t have an open mind to things that you know won’t benefit your life in anyway or could put it at harm or even worse. So for me I believe you should always have and keep and open mind because one, it can create new passages or opportunities. Two, it allows you to express yourself ann three, it allows you to learn something new. Just don’t get into anything that you’re gonna regret!

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    • I love this. I never used to be someone with an open mind, but when I eventually did, it really showed me who I actually was. I have made many new friends and tried many knew things because I kept an open mind. This quality of a person is super important!

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  12. I believe the right support system can make a difference in someone’s life.

    When I first came to the U.S from Haiti, I was scared because the language was foreign to me. I only knew the basics of English. At first, I was scared because I was to be the new student from another country and I did not know how the other students were going to react to me. It was hard being in a class where I could barely understand the language. I could not participate as much as I wanted to.

    I was surprised by the amount of encouragement I received from my teachers and peers. Although sometimes I was sad because I could not keep up as well as the other students, my teachers always made sure I understood what was being taught and my peers never made me feel bad that I could not pronounce something in the correct manner. A few months later I started to participate more in class and I did not let my accent slow me down.

    The support I received from my teachers and peers made a difference in my learning experience. It helped me to be more confident in myself and my skills. Without their support, I would probably be in a different circumstance. I will forever be grateful for the people that helped me in my journey.

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    • I agree with you and thank you for sharing your story, however I have never been in a situation like yours, support is everything. Whether it is the trying something new and completely out of your comfort zone or going and doing something you have done thousands of times support can be the biggest difference in the results. I do not think most people would be in the positions they are with out the support form the people around them.

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  13. Since time immemorial, humans have banded together in groups. This is due to the fact that at our very core, we are social creatures. No one can deny this. However, while we tend to flock to each other, we have very little motivation to act as a unit. That is to say, humans are easier to group than to unify.
    No one person has the capability to significantly change this world. But when we stand together, when we forget our differences, when we dedicate ourselves to supporting those around us… Like the difference between strings and a rope, we ourselves are incomplete without each other. We all have skills, we all have strength, and we all have the ability to change what little we observe every day.
    But then, why do we ever disband and focus on ourselves, as if those around us are nothing more than tools for our own gain? Because when we fail to perceive a common threat, whether it exists or not, we turn on each other like we ourselves are threats. Following this, true enemies sink in their teeth: violence, starvation, homelessness, disease, and other such threats.
    So I propose that we declare a war, not a crusade on a singular issue or problem, but a campaign on all that’s objectively wrong in our world. Volunteer your time in worthy endeavors. Donate that which you don’t want or need. But most importantly, remember that your fellow human deserves everything that you think you do.

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  14. I believe that everyone is a part of a community where they have a sense of belonging. For a large chunk of my life, I thought that the word “community” strictly referred to the neighborhood or city you live in. As I learned more about it, I came to find out that “community” is a far broader term. It could refer to a local area, but it could also refer to a family, state, region, hobby, fandom, religion, group of friends, ideal, culture, and infinitely more. The word “community” is simply defined as “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.” Some examples of communities I belong to are Umass Dartmouth Class of 2023, New Englanders, and Mountain Dew lovers. In my senior year of high school, I took a class called 2030. This class was all about creating change in our community. We then applied what we learned into a project in which we actually create a lasting change in our communities. I’m going to use my own experience, as I don’t wish to imply that this is the only way it can be done. In my experience, I learned about the advocacy hourglass. This is a tool used to visualize the process of creating change in the community. I started out by identifying a community issue, and then narrowing it down into a focus issue. Then, I used participatory action research to search for systemic, rather than individual, root causes to my focus issue. After that, I set goals that could combat the systemic root causes that I identified. Finally, I contacted targets and applied tactics that could help me reach the goals that I set. Anyone reading may have noticed that I chose to omit the details. I did this because I would like the focus to be on the process. This isn’t the only process you can use, but it works very well for creating a positive, lasting change in your community. This is what civic engagement, in my opinion, is.

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  15. I believe that everybody, no matter your race, gender, ideologies, beliefs, or sexuality, deserves the right to speak openly about whatever they want, even if it’s considered offensive. This belief includes those that align themselves with hate groups. Obviously it should be within reason, if somebody says something that physically gets somebody hurt or threatens to hurt another then it should be stopped, but I think people should be able to say anything besides that. Many people are under the impression that this is how it works modern day, but that simply isn’t true. Often times people who align with hate groups like white nationalists or Nazi’s have their voices suppressed. This is an issue because this will only create more hatred and will end up increasing the number of people that support them. When a person is beaten down they don’t just get up and move on, they form a hatred for those that attacked them. As time grows and more incidents occur people become even more divided they begin to blame the other one for their misfortune, if they didn’t already, and then they might begin to lash back in anger. This isn’t something that needs to occur, if we as a society just sat down and discussed why we think what we do we might be able to see some common ground and eventually close the gaps between us, but when you censor people because of their opinions you only cause the gap between us to divide even more. I realize that some people are stubborn and not everybody can be talked down but it’s important to give those that can a chance to. I believe that everyone, no matter who you are deserves to speak their mind publicly without being restricted or censored in any way. I want to make it perfectly clear, I’m not asking for people to be friends with members of the various groups, I just want an open judgement-free discussion with everyone.

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  16. “…And justice for all’
    There is no such thing as Justice for all especially for people of color, LGBT, and women. Black people are being killed by the police and these police officers who are supposed to serve and protect are literally getting away with murder. LGBT people are under attack because of who they are as a person. Immigrants are being hunted down by ICE and ripped away from their families but some people think it’s what they deserve. Women are losing rights to control what happens to their own body because men think they know what’s better for them. Everyday it’s something new and with Trump as our president it’s only gotten worse. Justice to me is for the rich who can afford good lawyers and pay their way out and not for the poor minorities who are left to suffer. An anti-immigrant gunman can decide to walk into a Walmart and murder innocent people because of his beliefs, some people claim he is mentally ill. You hear this type of story for almost every shooting, all you hear is how the shooter was mentally ill or how he was being bullied. In these type of situations the victim is blame for the perpetrator actions like the parkland victims who were blamed because they ostracize the gunman and the same thing happens to victims of rape. Justice is like a cryptid, some people believe in it while others think it has never existed. This justice system of ours is so messed up in corrupted that there probably is no way to fix it but I hope that someday it will change and justice for all will no longer be a myth.

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    • Kayla, your perspective on the justice system in our world and particularly in our country is interesting to read. I found it especially impactful that you began your statement by citing the last few words of the Pledge of Allegiance, something that we have all probably recited a countless number of times and should all know the meaning of by now. You then go on to point out the fact that minorities, such as those of different racial backgrounds or members of the LGBT community, have not been experiencing the justice that they deserve, that our nation was founded upon. Not only that, but you also point out that at the time we’re living in, it seems like the entire definition of justice has been skewed so that true justice is only for the higher- ups in society, those with the money to afford it. I agree with your statement that this is not how a fair government, one that makes the best interests of the people in mind, should be run. Good job, this is well written!

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  17. All people encounter obstacles in life, and the lessons we learn as we overcome them change our worldview and help grow us as people. One critical growth lesson I have learned is the importance of teamwork, both for the success that it provides, and for the feelings of mutual support and unity which are felt within a team. While I had heard the words, “teamwork is important” I had never truly experienced why, but this changed during my first encampment.
    The Civil Air Patrol is the civilian branch of the United States Air Force, and is responsible for maintaining radio communications, participating in search and rescue operations, and training future leaders through its Cadet program. Encampment is a week long program of CAP, which closely mimics the experiences of military boot camp, and is a requirement for advancement into the officer ranks. On the day we arrived we were checked in and were put in a flight of cadets, assigned a flight sergeant and sent to orientation. After orientation all hell broke loose and the rest of the day was spent trying and failing to meet expectations. Along with our flights we were continually berated for our failure to do so. This lasted until bed, and when awoken with bullhorns and an air raid siren the next morning, it continued. As our failures during the week mounted we slowly realized that as individuals we could not possibly meet all of the standards. While some might excel in the physical aspects they might fail in others like room maintenance, which demanded attention to detail and interpretation. We were always with our flights, eating meals, exercising, drilling or sleeping. If we wanted to go to the bathroom we had to take our wingman. As the week went on the members of my flight and I began to lean on each other for support, we began to help cover each other’s weaknesses, we learned to trust that the team could find a way to succeed and soon began to meet the high expectations set for us. Over that week I came to a simple and profound realization; we would either succeed or fail as a team. If an individual failed, so did we as a team. Failed to meet the goal, to achieve the standard, but more importantly failed to support the cadet that struggled. We had learned to teach, to mentor, to trust, and to lead. The idea that a diverse team working together can accomplish more than any talented individual seems like such a simple, obvious thing. It’s something which we’ve all heard many times in our lives, but that was the first time I truly understood those words rather than just repeated them because I had been told they were true.
    My entire flight made it through encampment, despite the high dropout rate that year, ultimately earning a commendation for Honor Squadron. I’ve found that how I interact with others in a team has changed greatly. I was reluctant to work with a team because I failed to trust, but now understand how vital teamwork is. I understand that despite any amount of effort there will eventually be something I fall short on. When I do I hope I can lean on the right team, the right community, for support. And if I’m lucky, support them when they fall short.

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  18. I believe that keeping with traditions and family can allow you to be part of a community that will support you in any way possible. Growing up portuguese, you are introduced to several different aspects and traditions that are maintained through each generation. From music to food to folklore, everything is kept as it was years ago!
    At a young age my mother would always play Portuguese music that I would always dance and sing along to, this helped not only learn the language, but also feel closer to my traditions. Around seven years old, my mother forced me into Portuguese Folklore dancing known as “Rancho”. At first I did not like it, but soon I realized I was part of a community much larger than I thought. Over the years I became a great dancer, started playing the accordion and even singing! I began to know people from across the country, but also across the world.
    The “Rancho” community is very large and helpful through any tough time someone has. When people lose loved ones, everyone is there to give their condolences and even send gifts through the tough times. This community has broadened my outlook on the world as a whole because it has showed me that just a little thing as dancing is truly loved and adored by millions across the world.
    Just because my mother played Portuguese music when I was younger, I was eventually apart of a massive community that helped each other through any struggling times, while also keeping our traditions alive!

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  19. All over a skin color

    Imagine being beat down because of a “broken tail light”. Imagine your father’s or mother’s face being shoved in the ground, and his last words was “I can’t breathe”. Imagine hearing a police officer say “he looks like a bad guy”, just because he saw the color of your skin. Imagine your father or mother not being able to raise you because he is in jail.
    Why? All we can ask is why? All over a skin color? Why does my rich dark melanin skin bother you? Why does it make you feel uneasy when I walk in the room? When in reality we’re all the same. We can all do the same activities and we can all be future astronauts, doctors, firefighters anything you can think of being black or white.
    The origin of the Black Lives Matter movement is rooted in the unfinished revolutions of the 1960s and the more recent work of groups like the Organization for Black Struggle (OBS) and the Malcolm X Grassroots Organization. Founded by three Black queer women as a call-to-action in the Fall of 2013, #BlackLivesMatter emerged as a response to anti-Black racism and state-violence. Such as police brutality. It has grown as a movement and has become a nationwide activist network, a political organization, and a global rallying cry. Activities undertaken under the banner of #BlackLivesMatter have included street level disruptions, high school walkouts, boycotts, meetings with politicians, national conferences, and campus protests.

    Don’t get me wrong, all lives DO matter but black lives should be included. As we all know the known story that has brought this to our attention was the killing of Trayvon Martin. A 17 year old boy who was murdered because George Zimmerman felt threatened by his hood on, pack of Skittles and Arizona drink as a weapon. A young black young man casually walking and all of a sudden killed in a instant. What makes matters worse is he is still walking free today with no remorse in his heart. A jury found him not guilty in July 2013. The list continues of the many deaths that happened over the past years especially with the police killing our black men and women. How many deaths does it take for the world to realize this must stop? Why is the white community shouting all lives matter but can’t come to the fact that black lives should be included as well? Everyone goes silent when we’re mentioned and that must comes to an end.
    To my understanding white people do not understand the BLM movement. They’re thinking that we want to overrule everyone when that’s not the case. White people are in charge of everything in America. That includes the government, businesses, real estate, and every industry that matters and yet guess who feels like they’re discriminated against? Of course, white people. The NPR poll shows 84% of whites believe discrimination exists against racial and ethnic minorities in America today, so they almost unanimously acknowledge that there is racism against minorities but they’re saying they too are discriminated against.
    Overall, black people just want equality. Black crime has always been used as an excuse to deny black people their civil rights. In 2017, there were 2,220 victims of anti-black or African American hate crimes. The underlying logic is clear, in order to deserve equality in the eyes of whites, black people must be essentially perfect. Which of course, that cannot happen. We shouldn’t have to work 10x harder for approval of the white folk. White people can do the same crime as a black person and get less jail time. We are just like them. My message to you is that we all have a voice and we must be heard and we will not stop screaming BLACK LIVES MATTER until justice is served. We need to help the generation that’s entering adulthood very soon and the generations to come. We need to show them that we’re not what they think we are. Our young men are in trouble because the police think they’re a threat and always assume they have a weapon. We need to prove them wrong and show them that we’re capable of doing things they can do too. I believe that things could change and that we won’t see each other as a different color. We should all be treated equally. Until then we are all human beings and fighting each other all because of a skin color.

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  20. In the spring of my junior year our school district got a new superintendent. Barely knowing our district, he abruptly decided to cut multiple teachers from the high school and the middle school due to “a combination of declining population and budgetary problems”. One of these teachers happened to be my 9th grade english teacher, Mr. McArdle. Our english department was already losing a staff member due to retirement. Mr.McArdle would have filled that position, having the bare minimum of teachers in that department but alas, he was cut anyways. I knew many students, like myself loved Mr.McArdle because he was the teacher that went above and beyond for his students. I was infuriated when he told me that he was being cut. So I decided to gather a few of my friends and created a petition to send to the school committee, giving the students a voice. On the first day of signing, I got over 200 signatures. It soon turned into a town wide issue. Students and parents alike were showing up at school committee meetings and shared their opinions about the growing population in our town, why we needed our teachers, and why the authority of the school committee could not undermine the voice of the community.Although after many months of work, efforts didn’t succeed but it taught me to never stop fighting for what I believe is right. Many people are scared about voicing their opinion but without saying something, nothing will ever get done.

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    • Celina, thanks for sharing your story. I found it to be really inspiring as you fought for people you cared about which ultimately garnered support from those around you. I wholeheartedly agree that one should never stop fighting for what they believe is right and would add that they should even challenge what they believe is wrong. Ultimately, I enjoyed reading your statement and urge you to keep up the good work!

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  21. Women’s rights have always been an important topic to me, but I really didn’t understand the severity of these issues until I was personally shoved into the middle of one. Within the last year, one of my close friends was sexually assaulted at a party by two men while she was unconscious. She had only felt comfortable enough to tell me and a few of her other friends to which we all urged her to go forward to the police. She was terrified- she didn’t want to talk about what happened, she stopped coming to school for fear of seeing them, and she got severely depressed- trying to end her life three times. She eventually came forward and told our schools resource officer what happened and then within three days everyone at our school knew. The boys she was accusing were both significantly popular at the time so instead of receiving a wave of support she was met with severe criticisms- anyone who supported her was as well. Multiple people’s tires were slashed, houses were egged, and physically fought over this issue.
    After having gone to the police she was forced to tell her parents since she was under 18. Her Mother gave overwhelming support, even confiding that she had been raped in high school too, but was too afraid to come forward about it. Her father on the other hand blamed her- said it was her fault for being intoxicated, for going out, and he worked to get her to not press any criminal charges against these boys. My friend had already gone through hell at school and she now had to with the police as well- giving statement after statement, having to relive it over and over, going to the doctor to be examined for any evidence, getting pictures taken of marks on her skin, then having to go to school and get ridiculed for something that wasn’t her fault. The most horrible criticism even came from other females- “why would he even want to have sex with her she’s so ugly,” “He’s too handsome he wouldn’t do that,” “She’s totally lying for attention he’s such a nice kid.” Then came time for these boys arraignment in court, one was given no time at all for complying with the police so nicely and the other was given a three month plea deal- with nothing on both their permanent records. My friends lawyer even said “this is more of a victory then most girls get so you should be happy.” How could she be? She had gone through living hell for an entire school year for no result from our justice system and she’ll continue to go though it every time someone brushes up against her arm in a certain way or someone smells like they did. She will have a lifetime of torture while these boys walk free. The women’s rights issues in this country are rooted deep and I didn’t understand until I was personally affected by it. My friend is still living today because of the support she received, so stand along side other females- build them up, don’t add to the problem. Stand with your friends (or anyone) who has suffered abuse- be their advocate, be their voice when they need you to be because it will make all the difference in their lives.

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  22. I believe that as a whole the youth needs to speak up more on issues involving politics. I’ve always been one of the younger kids in the class, and I was surprised to see that almost all of my classmates said that they didn’t want to vote, or didn’t care to.
    I started to realize how important it is to get involved when I started hearing some of the things certain people in the government where saying. I wasn’t happy about these things, and starting to stand up for the people I believe in. Even if I wasn’t in the majority.
    I believe that the media portrays our generation as a one sided group, that’s not the case, we are a diverse group with many different positions on political issues. I believe that if everyone participates and discusses the issues that matter to them, and votes for them, as a collective group the country will be better for it. Complaining about problems without doing something to change it only hurts the country, and no matter which side of the aisle, nobody wants that.

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  23. I believe in democracy. What is democracy? The form of government committed to represent the people elected by the people. However, those who represent us in some areas only represent themselves. Most of these elected officials are wealthy individuals who are thirsty for power. Some of them have been in office for almost 20 years. For other elected officials, they become someone they are not. They switch political parties due to the heavy support of another party just to be elected while a political party will give an official or candidate money to believe things, they may not agree with themselves. Thus, it created the polarized and divided country today. We need compromise that benefits everyone in all communities. Though not all persons will be truly represented to the fullest, our officials are to do what is right for all. Politicians are the peoples voice. They are expected to hear what we need whether it is healthcare or gun reform. When we are dissatisfied with the work they are doing, or if they have been in office too long or we need newer ideas from younger people, we need to recognize and act on it with respect to the constitution and the election process. We as a country should express our opinions without hate and violence. Let us peacefully work together to build on the foundation which our founders created. This is what will make a true democracy with equality and respect to all.

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  24. One of the hardest things that I will have to let go when moving to and living at UMASS is leaving behind the community I have been a part of in my town for all of my life. Of course it’s an instance of temporary concern, but it still matters to me a great deal. The community I have been a part of in East Providence in Rhode Island will always be incredibly special to me, as it has shown me the amount of great things that can be accomplished if we were able to work together towards a respectable goal. Ever since I was young, my parents and family were engaged in many community affairs, especially in regards to educational aspects. I cannot even recall the amount of school-related events that me, my family, and my friends have participated in for the sole purpose of bettering the livelihoods of the community and those who view our town. Whether it be large scale events such as playground builds at our local elementary schools for children who lack equipment to use at recess or to simply help out during fundraising to purchase new books and materials for them to use in school to help them learn, I will always appreciate the fact that I was able to help be a beneficial part of my community and just overall provide a better experience for everyone in my town. Although, my family, some of my friends, and my community will be in far distance based on where I will be living for this semester, I will never forget what it has taught me and how I will apply those teachings both in and outside of school, as well as everyday life moving forward. However, I do not see this as a loss, as I have a totally new community to experience and be a part of. I just have to look for it, and see what I can do. And I can’t wait to get started.

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