Community Voices

Young Observers: July 2023


by Irene, 11th grade

A Future Where “Asians” Are Properly Represented

Not long ago, I stumbled across the term “Techno-Orientalism” — the phenomenon in which Western media depicts Eastern societies as hyper-technological settings. The word itself was novel, but the concept included tropes I was familiar with. While some regard this curiosity as a means of Asian representation, as a proud Asian American, it would be an understatement to voice that such a notion damages my culture and the world’s perception of my people.

According to Elif Notes, 19th-century European scholars produced a fictional image of Eastern societies to establish Europe’s mighty capacity in the global world, otherwise known as Orient.

“European culture gained in strength and identity by setting itself off against the Orient as a sort of surrogate and even underground self,” philosopher and cultural critic Edward Said wrote in his 1978 book Orientalism.

While the 19th century appears lengths away from today, Orientalism reinforces damaging stereotypes that persist throughout the 21st century. This notion has adapted to changing times, recognized during the early 20th century as the “Yellow Peril,” in the late 1900s as the “Japan Panic,” and in the 21st century as “Techno-Orientalism.” Coined by David Morely and Kevin Robins, the concept of Techno-Orientalism blends traditional Orientalist tropes with high-end technology, frequently in the cyberpunk and sci-fi genre.

The 1980s economic boom in Japan prompted Western fears of an Asian-dominated future that featured Western societies’ diminishing value. Thus, similarly to the origins of Orientalism, Techno-Orientalism was introduced to maintain the relevance of Western culture and therefore is believed to have largely xenophobic and racist roots.

In the arts and media, this style primarily involves the fetishization of Asian women and their depiction as exotic, timid, dull, and primitive beings. Frequently assigning non-human characteristics, either in the form of robots or cyborgs, Techno-Orientalism gives rise to the “othering” of Asians—for example, in the 1982 sci-fi film Blade Runner. Set in a dystopian world characterized by “Asian” elements, including Kanji, there is no doubt that the movie was inspired mainly by Eastern culture. Simultaneously, the production involves a lack of Asian characters, perpetuating the narrative that our culture is no more than a prop used by Western societies. Though Techno-Orientalism isn’t always xenophobic, it concerns me that Western societies treat these damaging caricatures as the norm.

Asia comprises rich cultures, inspiring communities, and beautiful people. We’re human and more than deserving of that representation. Only by dismantling these dangerous stereotypes can we progress as a society.

Poetry & Illustration

by Jules, 7th grade

Pool Day

Down by the pool, it’s a hot summer day.

The cold splashes of water keep the heat away.

Children swim and splash till the sun goes down.

People smile with joy because happiness is all around.

Teen Observer

by Francine, 11th grade

Tagalog, 4th top language spoken in the US, not among the foreign language courses offered in Fullerton School Districts

Harvard University will start offering a Tagalog language course when the fall of 2023-2024 academic year begins. This news was surprising to me as a half-Filipino since Filipinos do not typically have much representation in academic courses. If they do, it is generalized along with other Southeast Asian ethnicities. So far, in school this year, I have only learned about Filipino culture and history over a couple of days in a year-long course on AP US History and while participating in my school’s Filipino cultural dance club. However, I do not think this is sufficient, considering our country’s many young people of Filipino descent.

For example, my school’s Filipino dance club, “Bayanihan,” is one of the most popular clubs, with hundreds of applicants each year vying for a spot in the annual Pilipino Cultural Night. The Filipino culture has taken the district by storm with consistently sold-out culture nights in my school and other schools like Troy High School.

According to the 2022 Census, Tagalog is the fourth most-spoken language in the United States, after English, Spanish, and Chinese. However, FJUHSD only offers French, German, Spanish, Korean, Mandarin, and Japanese, though even these course offerings are not entirely districtwide. Since Tagalog is not offered in my school, I tried to self-study just as I did with Spanish before I formally took the Spanish course in high school. What I learned on Duolingo for two months took only two weeks in the Spanish course taught in school.

If Tagalog is offered in school, I would love to see such an impact mirrored, especially since learning this language would better connect my fellow Filipino Americans and our Filipino heritage. With Harvard taking a big step on this course offering and Yale University looking to follow suit, I hope this will inspire other schools, including our school districts, to consider adding Tagalog to the roster of foreign language courses.

Proper representation is a significant step in promoting inclusivity in our communities, and introducing language courses such as Tagalog may be the spark that starts the path to unity.

Rosie LeeFeatured Pet & Animal Trivia

by Rosie, 6th grade

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Animal ID#:

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Animal Trivia

Q: What is the second largest animal in the world?

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by Mateo, 9th grade

Spotlight on the One Indispensable Thing

in the Stores

You are at the grocery store and are about to check out and pay for your items. You hand your items over to the cashier, who scans the items and tells you the price of your groceries. You pay for them, receive a receipt, and you are out of the store and on your way home in almost no time.

This quick and easy experience in the grocery store is only made possible by the barcode on each product. Before the innovation of the U.P.C., or Universal Product Code, grocery store owners had to count every product in stock and then use punch cards to track their purchases. This expensive, time-wasting, and inefficient process slowed the growth of these stores.

Now that we have barcodes, a quick scan will automatically display a product’s price on a screen and remove the product from the inventory list, allowing for more efficient shopping. We celebrated the anniversary of the first purchase involving a barcode with National Barcode Day on June 26.

Here is a brief history of how the innovation came about and how the monumental purchase went down.

Shortly after the development of the punch card in 1932, people realized that this innovation was costly and required large machines to work correctly. As a result of the nationwide dislike for the new system, two Drexel University graduates by the names of Bernard Silver and Norman Joseph Woodland searched for a more efficient alternative to the punch card that would serve the same purpose.

The idea of the barcode came about unintentionally when Woodland, inspired by Morse code, drew a circular outline in the sand of a Miami beach. He realized he could make different circular codes for various products, thus solving the issue. He and Silver underwent further research on the design, and in 1952 the pair received a patent. Although the idea was great, the innovation was underdeveloped, and it failed to solve many of the problems caused by punch cards. The codes were used in the railroad industry for a while to keep track of each rail car as they passed into a station. However, a new, more efficient radio system quickly phased out the barcodes. Just as the barcode was facing its final days, a new invention, the laser, swooped in to save the day.

Lasers could efficiently scan the barcode without causing physical problems to the product itself, initially a big issue for the codes. After this sudden revelation, the Universal Product Code was developed to represent each product as a 12-digit number. This allowed for the creation of the modern-day barcode, and in 1974 the first commercial purchase involving a barcode was made in the small town of Troy, Ohio. A pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum was scanned and purchased successfully, and the rest is history.

So, the next time you see a barcode on a candy bar or a box of cereal, look for its barcode and admire the decades of hard work and intense research used to give you a better experience at the grocery store.


1 reply »

  1. Very interesting and fun articles by the paper’s youngest generation! I learned something new – from all of them -and especially enjoyed the thought-provoking articles by Irene and Francine.