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Young Observers: Mid April Edition

I first joined a club in 4th grade. My interest in coding led me to join the robotics club in school and I competed through 6th grade. I acquired skills in building and coding robots, made new friends, and learned the value of teamwork.

There are more clubs available to students in junior high and high school that provide opportunities to pursue interests and create a hotspot for making new friends. In junior high, I joined the CyberPatriots club and spent after-school hours learning cyber security and participating in competitions. Despite the pandemic limiting high school club activities this year, I am able to actively participate in the California Scholarship Federation through online volunteer projects and Zoom meetings.

While school clubs offer a wide variety of options based on a students’ interests, I realized I was looking for something more. When I officially became a teen at 13, I started thinking beyond doing well in school. I wanted to grow into a person of strong moral values with a keen sense of social responsibility while exploring career options and cultivating friendships with other teens who have similar goals. This led me to join the Girls Club of Southern California whose mission matches what I was looking for. Started over 20 years ago by a group of parents, the Girls Club has grown into 13 mini-clubs. Meetings are held once a month over a two-hour period that include games and crafts, a class on values, and a career talk by a guest professional.

I enjoy all of the activities in the Girls Club but I always look forward to the class on values because it is a rare opportunity to nurture my personal life. During our Zoom meeting last month, I learned the value of understanding the worth of women both in the workplace and at home. Like a typical high school student, I am so caught up in planning for my future career. The class made me realize that while there is nothing wrong with my mindset, it helps to also understand the women’s role at home. This means that just as I am preoccupied with preparing for college, it is also important to train myself in managing my future home. I should not use my homework as an excuse not to do chores. I should train to be as skillful in cooking or cleaning the toilet or bath just as I am working to excel in math or science. The class also reminded me that I need to express more gratitude to my mom for all her hard work in maintaining a happy home. These practical tips are so valuable to me and I find them so heartfelt because these are given by older teens who are also striving to do the same thing.

Although I know the career I want to pursue in the future, I find the career talks very helpful. Through the industry information and personal experience shared by the speaker, I gain insider information from different professionals working in a variety of fields and I feel their passion through powerful presentations and stimulating Kahoot competitions.

Additionally, the welcoming vibe of the club encourages me to continue participating in the monthly meetings. The warmup game is a great way to break the ice especially for the shy ones. The club leaders screen-share a grid with characters showing different emotions. We share which emotion of the character we feel and get to express ourselves, which I find very inclusive and engaging.

Periodically, we hold activities like visiting a nursing home (not possible during the pandemic), sending homemade thank-you cards to front-liners especially the doctors and nurses, or donating supplies to homeless shelters.  Just recently, each club member did a community service project. For my part, I gathered canned goods from our house pantry and my collection of small bottles of shampoos, conditioners, and lotions from hotels we have visited in the past. Then, I asked my parents to drive me to the homeless shelter where I volunteered before the pandemic. As I unloaded my donations, one of the residents told me she is very grateful because it is a great help to them. I was touched by her gratitude because I never thought such a small act of kindness would make a great impact on someone else’s life and I knew I received a greater gift than what I had given. Knowing firsthand how my donation has been greatly appreciated, I felt a rush of serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine, the happy chemicals in my body that nourish my mental health. It also reminded me that my purpose in life is not just to secure my future but to also think how I can use my skills and resources to help improve the lives of others.

I never thought clubs could make a huge difference in a young person’s life. Whether it is athletic, art, music, academic, foodie, or charity club, I think it is worth giving it a try.  For school clubs, you can ask your teacher or visit your school website to get information on clubs.  For other clubs, you can ask family and friends for recommendations.

Earth Day is right around the corner on April 22. It is the day we celebrate the beauty of the Earth by cleaning it up. However, because of pollution, the Earth isn’t looking too good. There are solutions to combat this problem and many of them are easy to include in your daily life. If you choose to make Earth-friendly choices, you could help save the Earth one step at a time. Earth Day is a great day to start. Here are some simple steps you can take to make the world a better place:

1) Dispose of trash properly so it doesn’t end up in the ocean or get eaten by an animal, which kills millions of them each year.

2) Limit use of electronics and gas-powered devices. These give off harmful emissions, like carbon dioxide, which not only pollutes the air but traps heat inside the Earth, making it warmer and leads to climate change. Nine out of 10 people around the world, possibly including you, are currently breathing polluted air because of this.

3) Recycle.  Give your trash a brand new life instead of throwing it away where it can end up in the ocean or in a landfill. There are recycling stations that buy empty cans or plastic containers  so you can even make money by recycling.

Three simple habits can make our world a happier place. Our world is precious, and if we don’t keep it safe, who knows what will happen to the next few generations?

Warner Bros. and Legendary Entertainment’s latest movie, Godzilla vs. Kong, screened in US theaters and HBO Max on March 31 and has received positive feedback from audiences across the country ever since. The movie was released in China a week prior to its debut in the US, and amassed $70 million in only three days. Likewise, this action film generated $16.7 million domestically in a two-day period — a record breaking earning during this pandemic. On a global note, the movie raked in $121 million in international box office revenue.

Theaters expect the film to be played in over 3,064 locations across the country. And with more and more in-person theaters opening in the US, this movie suggests a turning point in restoring the film industry that struggles from COVID-19 safety restrictions. Godzilla vs. Kong opens the prospects of a return to “normal life” prior to the pandemic.

The Infinity Courts follows Nami, a girl who has the perfect life—a supportive family, the boy of her dreams, and a party to get to. It all goes downhill when she’s murdered and wakes up in a world known as Infinity where human consciousness goes after their physical bodies die. From there, Nami discovers that Ophelia, a virtual assistant used by humans, has taken over this twisted afterlife and is forcing humans into being mindless servants. In a world devoid of emotion and full of deceivers, Nami soon learns that she can trust no one but herself.

Akemi Dawn Bowman’s storytelling is truly unmatched, the world of Infinity is rich with the smallest details and backdropped by an atmospheric eeriness that draws you in deeper. She strings together phrases with unimaginable skill, creating a masterpiece of words and stories and pure emotion, and with every word I read, I fell a little bit deeper in love with it.

The Infinity Courts is a story of contradictions—love and grief, life and death, lies and truths—a story that, once it seeps into your heart, you will truly realize how powerful it is. It left such an impact on me that when I finished, I felt honored to have witnessed the beauty that is this book. This really was such a solid fantasy debut; I don’t think any review I write could possibly begin to do it justice, and I can’t wait to see where Bowman will take this series next.

1 reply »

  1. Wow! Francine, i love reading your article! Indeed, i felt the rush of serotonin and oxytocin in my body after reading about your experience in the girls club. It reminded me of similar stories i heard of girls who also joined the girls club here in Manila. Keep it up! Thank you for sharing your experiences!