Young Observers: July Edition

Young Observers is not just a group of student volunteers who write for the Fullerton Observer. Now in its 4th year, the club has expanded to include a separate group of volunteers who have come together to cultivate friendship with students from under-resourced communities and inspire them to nurture their writing, public speaking, and social skills.

Ten students from Balete Family Farm School of the Philippines participated in the program that was conducted by volunteer students from local OC schools who also helped raise funds for the farm school. After monthly assemblies and team projects held within the school year, the Young Observers International (YOI) wrapped up the school year with its first annual friendship conference last month.

Young Observer International USA group photo.

Young Observer International Philippines group photo.

Below are some notable reflections shared by YOI members.

CHESKA (8th Grade) Philippines: “To write well and be heard…we need to have courage and confidence to do these things so we can change our world for a better future for us and the next generations.”

RHENE (9th Grade) Philippines: “Because I have learned to communicate better, I have also started building plenty of good relationships in my life. I have always wondered what other people go through and how differences in the environment change the way people act. It’s a wonderful opportunity to finally have an idea of the perspectives of people from another country.”

JANINE (8th Grade) Philippines: “Participating in the program is very important for me, because it improved my social skills, and I will take it with me as I get older.”

JAIMA (8th Grade) Philippines: “My most memorable experience as a participant in the YOI program for the school year 2021-2022 was the getting-to know-more-about-each-other email. I was nervous at first but after getting to know my friend, It feels nice. I also loved the team games which were fun and exciting.”

PRINCESS (9th grade) Philippines: “Having friends from another country makes me very happy and thankful because it has taught me how different we are and yet we can be friends.”

KRISHA (8th Grade) Philippines: “I lost my confidence in speaking publicly during the pandemic since we only  stayed home and were not able to interact with other people or to talk to them, so having this opportunity to be able to write and speak again in front of many people was such an achievement for me.”

REYNA (10th Grade) US: “I think it is a rare opportunity to be able to talk to someone across the globe. It is another experience in which we step out of our usual social circle and interact with someone else. It is important for me to empower other girls because I want to correct misconceptions about women.”

IRENE (10th Grade) US: “The greatest aspect of being a YOI member was having the opportunity to learn and meet students from across the world. Without this program, I would have never had the opportunity to build new friendships and broaden my view of other cultures outside of my own. Throughout my time in YOI, I’ve gotten a lot of insight, advice, and empowering messages from my partner. I believe it is really important for young women to have this opportunity to share their voices. I have always felt that YOI is built with the warmest individuals and community that truly offers a space for me to listen, as well as share my own thoughts and feelings.”

ARUM (10th Grade) US: “It was so fun to learn new things through the emails as well as the monthly assemblies. My most memorable experience is probably the annual conference we recently had. It was a way for all of us to connect.”

ALLI (10th Grade) US: “[YOI] gave me experience with taking a leadership position. It was also very exciting to have a friend from another country.”

FRANCINE VUDOTI (10TH GRADE) YOI Founder, US: “Building friendships and being generous with our time, talent, and treasures gives us an opportunity to make this world better and happier. Students from 6th through 12th grade are welcome to join YOI. Club activities take place when school is open from September to May. A member application form is available at

Meet “Mad Dog” Madison, the happiest pit bull mix on Earth (that we know of). Everyone adores her cheerful personality. Maddie loves treats and has already mastered tricks such as sitting and shaking hands. While she may need a little time to warm up to you, once she gets to know you, she’ll always want to be by your side. She’s definitely a Velcro dog. While Mad Dog has never roomed with another dog before, she has displayed nothing but politeness to the puppies she has met while in the OC Animal Shelter’s care. Visit or Call (714) 935-6848 to set up an adoption appointment.

Endangered Animal Trivia

Q: What is a Sunda Pangolin? And is it related to an armadillo?

A: The Manis javanica, more commonly called Sunda Pangolins, has been described as “walking artichokes with tails.” They have been compared to armadillos, but in fact, their closest relatives are the carnivores. Sunda Pangolins make their habitat in countries across Southeast Asia. Due to poaching, they are exceptionally scarce in the northern portion of their range. They are also listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. They feed on ants and termites, using their incredible sense of smell and hearing to locate exactly where the prey is.

As evening falls, the City residents flick switches, and suddenly light pierces through the black space. Although darkness evokes fear that many behold, the night sky has many benefits to us humans. Darkness provides natural medications that keep us humans healthy. Our bodies need darkness to produce melatonin, a hormone that can prevent health issues like cancer. Ignoring this fact, many instead stay awake, focused on devices at night; artificial light has been linked to sleep disorders, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and depression. The night can also supply solitude and peace. Traditions like stargazing, and meditating to bring peace and release stress inspire many to paint beautiful artworks of the night sky such as “The Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh. From releasing burdens of stress and pressure, to keeping our bodies fit, the dark is not an enemy but a medicine for us.