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Note to Self: Better Because You Are Here
Emma Chou, Division 3, College junior #ws16e-s3d3

This world is filled with violence, terror, injustice, and all the elements that produce chaos and havoc. It is a miracle that the world we live in is still functioning amidst the dysfunction. There are many in this world who wish to bring peace by trying to alleviate the suffering and pain, but their work will never end, because they are greatly outnumbered by the ones who could care less about how the person right next to them is doing. In many beauty pageants, contestants are often asked what they wish to bring to make the world a better place, and many often include “world peace” in their replies. It sounds like the simple and ideal answer, but in all honesty, I do not think that the human race, nor any other creature living on this Earth, will be able to achieve world peace in any lifetime. I believe that chaos is a part of human nature, any nature for that matter. People are able to survive due to chaos caused by competition for food sources, mating partners, and other essential opportunities. However, chaos is dualistic in nature. Depending on how chaos is carried out and how people react to it, chaos can be a bane, blessing, or all of the above.

I do not have much power or ability to make drastic changes in this world, definitely not world peace, but I am confident in my capability of making minor changes and small adjustments that will come to fruition in the long run. Life is a series of small steps towards a destination that rarely presents its true identity to the traveller. Even so, I have faith the journey to that goal will be an inspiring experience and once I finally reach the destination, I am sure I will end up in a better place than before I began.

At this stage in my life, I admit I lack life experiences, money, and connections that can help me improve the world and the lives of the animals, including humans, living in it. However, I can still make small yet impactful changes through what I have gleaned from my textbooks, from research articles, and from my professors’ lectures as an undergraduate trying to obtain a college education in hopes of making bigger and better changes in this world after graduating. What I have learned from many of my sustainability classes and through living in a dormitory that focuses on sustainable ways of living is small actions such as taking a Navy shower, which is one of the harder goals I am struggling to achieve, remembering to use the reusable shopping bag when buying groceries, taking alternative transportation options aside from driving myself, avoiding the urge to buy plastic bottled water, and using alternative cleaning products instead of the commercial brands which usually contain parabens and phthalates.

Taking shorter showers allows me to use no more than the amount of water I need and also saves a bit more water for the people who may not even have enough water to meet their needs. Using the reusable shopping bag and using reusable water bottles can help reduce the incalculable number of plastic that has contributed to marine pollution such as the Great Pacific garbage patch, which can be compared to a landfill, except that it is located in the ocean and killing marine life and also affecting human health. Taking alternative modes of transportation saves the finite energy source, fossil fuel, and reduces the amount of excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Alternative modes of transportation like walking and biking also allows me to perform the recommended aerobic exercises. Learning to use alternative cleaning products benefits my health and the health of those in proximity to me due to the absence of harmful chemicals. I might even be able to teach others a few cleaning methods that involve using vinegar and lemon or lime juice.

When I was younger, I was aware of some of the environmental issues that were publicized by the media. However, I was not as active in living the sustainable lifestyle that I am doing more now. I used to recycle paper at school and at home, which is a habit I have kept and will continue to keep. Now, I am more motivated to make these small changes because I know that I am surrounded by others who want to do the same. Contemplation and awareness are very important, but the action that follows is even more crucial if I want to change a situation. I understand that my actions are not what one would deem heroic or grand, but those attributes are not what I am after. I am only hoping that by doing some good in this world, I can help a few, and eventually, others will follow suit. Just as Mahatma Gandhi said, ““It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there'll be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”

Stop and Love
Charlotte Li, Division 1, 6th grade #ws16e-s3d1

While playing basketball with a group of friends, I was about to catch the ball when a boy from my team caught it. I asked him why he cut me off even though he knew that could catch it. He told me that because I was a girl, I wouldn’t be able to catch the ball. Then it hit me, expectations between men and women were completely off. It reminded me of the time I wanted to join wrestling. I wasn’t allowed to join the team because I was a girl. My parents believed that a girl’s body must be delicate, but mine never was. I am one of the tallest and toughest girls in our grade. My parents told me I wouldn’t be able to handle wrestling, which infuriated me. I knew my parents were trying to protect me, and though I appreciate their concern, I knew that the real reason they didn’t want me to wrestle was because I was a girl.

Men and women are always treated differently. Women even get paid less than men! Additionally, girls and women have to live with the expectation that they are supposed to look a certain way to be considered beautiful. This expectation is very damaging because there is no one definition of beautiful. Everyone is beautiful in their own way. Girls are body shamed and are the number one target for everyone to bully because they are expected to look perfect. When I was younger, I would get bullied over how I looked. Everyone expected me to be tall, skinny, and pretty. I was really hurt until I decided not to listen to harmful words. Now, I am not scared to speak my mind and am happy in my own skin.

I want to live in a world where girls can be whatever they want to be, where girls can choose their own careers and have control over their lives. Men and women should be equal, because women are equal to men. Women are strong and powerful, and are just as capable as men. Society is wrong, even in 2016. Women should have all the same rights as men. We are not the weaker sex and we are not just decorations for men.

Equality for women is what I am supporting. I, and most other women have experienced the discrimination that women face. When a girl is trying to be a leader, she is considered bossy, even though guys do not have to deal with that. If everyone believes that men and women are equal, society will become a much better place.

Rebecca Wei, Division 2, 7th grade

As a toddler, gazing towards chattering adults, I would imagine being a super hero, saving the day with cameras flashing and cheering crowds all around, my face covered by a flashy mask. But as I grew older, those daydreams became fantasies, and those fantasies became a shining, glistening star in a dark midnight blue, so far out of a straining arm’s reach. Now, I know superheroes are not real. None of those imaginary adventures apply to my extremely mundane life. Large endeavors relating to worldwide problems, such as world hunger, poverty, abused animals, and many more… Those are the twinkling stars taunting from a distance, mocking those who try to catch it. Yet, there are lanterns hanging along walls, through doors, fluttering by oblivious people, waiting to be lit, to stare back at those shimmering stars and defend those who dare to make a difference.

The light of a golden yellow lantern meanders through a room, illuminating a bright smile beaming in the suffocating darkness. Dull eyes sparked with elation. All one needs to keep throughout a day is a positive attitude. Genuine laughs and radiant smiles animate those around the positive thinker. Moods lift, mouths grin wider, dark thoughts fade to the recesses of a suffering mind. To help those trapped within a murky forest of torment, all that’s needed is a lantern to guide their way out of the obscurity, into the sunlight, with rustling leaves and brilliantly hued meadow.

An irate red lantern drifts up towards the clouds, away from the out-stretched hand, fading to bobbing dot flitting to the unknown. In a world full of hurt and anguish, all that’s needed is to simply let go of the hate in one’s heart. Only one path is open to those whose animosity is locked away in a cage, drifting aimlessly around a winding trail, shadows encircling them, pending the break of the lock. The unleashing of the hatred-restraining gate finally arrives, lifting the fog. A lucid view unfolds. The obstructive branches dissipate into different directions. All that’s left is a lantern, set amidst the drifting wind, propelling skyward.

A pulsing orange lantern twists and bobs just out of reach of curious fingertips. Support someone who needs an outstretched hand to pull him out of the water. Comfort him, make him feel at ease. Let the anxious person feel a strong force, lifting his weary body out of a raging sea. Dry him off in front of a crackling fire. A lonely figure, left to float in the dark, stormy sea until a light from an afar rowboat illuminated the darkness. A warm palm offers a lending hand lifting the lone figure out of his miseries. Together, they spot a dot in the horizon, steadily growing larger. They smile, because they found their escape.

A lavender lantern rustles on a peg, scrutinizing an empty street, devoid of life, except for a lost sniffling child. Relationships based solely on selfish purposes never last. They are not around when you’re bawling on the cold, hard surface of reality. They are gone when you’re shivering alone on a dimly lit park bench. They watch as an outsider, not a friend. A toddler happily skips her way across the sidewalk with an ice cream and balloon clutched tightly in both hands. She trips and falls. The balloon drifts away and the ice cream tumbles to the ground. All that’s left is a lantern, weaving its way in front of the wailing child to pick her up. Friends aren’t true friends if they leave you sobbing, lost, desperate, and alone. True friends sling you on their back to a happier place, telling tales of fairies until a smile returns.

A cobalt lantern strays closer to a disheveled student with eyes raw and puffy, hair mussed and tangled, and cheeks flushed red. His eyes, chock-full with sadness and self-doubt, observes as his body shakes in the musty alleyways of school. Pills spill from fingertips, blood drips from a cut wrist, a frail frame falls to the unforgiving tiles. To lend a kind word or two to someone being harassed or tormented could mean a sanctuary to them. You could lift them away from a barren wasteland dictated by another’s hurtful words. A spark rekindles in their eyes and their spirit releases from the tight grip of imprisonment. Courage surges when they know someone will be there to shield them from the torrent of hate-filled words, to encase them in a haven provided by another human, regardless of whether they are a stranger or not. A boy lays defeated, neglected, and shivering on the frigid stone surface, as the walls of the buildings closes in. Shivering but still, sniveling but at ease, because he has given up. Until a lantern, a guiding light calmly lilts towards him, to warm him and tell promises of a better tomorrow. To push the walls back, to warm the ground beneath his feet, until the confines are his palace to govern.

An emerald green lantern paves a way through the showers of rain, through the musty, dark forests, across frothing seas, to the horizon, forever reaching forward. To be true to others, I have to be true to myself. Yelling out what I believe is right, being quiet if my mind tells me to, standing up if everyone’s sitting down, breaking off because that’s what I believe should happen, having the courage to do what others are not doing, is being brave, courageous, and unique. In simple words, be myself. If I forge a path, made solely of decisions and actions, then it forms a bridge for others to cross, to join me on my quest of virtue and fulfillment. I will live with no regrets, as I will do what I believe to be right at the time. A lantern sails across dense plains, through fogs of smoke, across rolling hills, witnessing lanterns being discovered, and lighting and the true beauty when problems are solved.

The Planet is in Your Hands
Laura Benavidez, Division 3, College junior #ws16e-s3d3

The subject of the environment can be an intimidating and daunting task to consider when asked how to improve it. The reason being, that when we think of the planet, we think of all of those places that we cannot see. Making the world a better place begins with our selves and our local communities. There are two ways to make the world a better place when it comes to the environment, through a social shift in our perspective of the environment and through personal accountability.

For centuries people have been privatizing resources for capital gain. As our natural resources have diminished, the wealth of those resources has gone to a limited number of individuals. The way that our society, specifically developed nations, sees our environment is either as a source for monetary gain or as a place for leisure when possible. Our separation from the environment has lead to generations of people not knowing how to interact with the earth; children don’t even know how their food is grown because of how separated we are from the environment. The indigenous people have not lost their connect to the earth and therefore see it through a different lens. In
Bolivia, a law passed in December of 2010, named “Ley de Derechos de la Madre Tierra” or Law of the Rights of Mother Earth. It is a plurinational legislation that allows the indigenous people to file claims on behalf of the welfare of the environment and the people that that environment sustains. On October 15, 2012, Bolivia again passed a law named “La Ley Marco de la Madre Tierra y Desarrollo Integral para Vivir Bien” or The Framework Law of Mother Earth and Integral Development for Living Well; this is a law with even more detail than the one passed in 2010. The way of seeing earth as an entity that deserves rights is vital to our future on the planet. It seems that corporations have done a lot of damage to our environment thus far and by giving communities the same legal power to represent the land they live on is an amazing and forward-thinking undertaking. If we can change the perspective of future generations to understand that the environment is something that should be respected and taken care of because it literally sustains the very life that they have, is something that will eventually be a necessity. Changing the mindsets of entire societies is, however, a huge undertaking that will take decades to achieve. Making it part of the curriculum of classrooms and having cities create opportunities that helps people understand the environment, the ecosystems and the life that thrives in those systems and what our part is in it, is a great start to beginning that shift in paradigm as a long-term goal.

The second part, and the part that we, as individuals have most control over, is our own actions. We have to have a desire to change our habits and to learn a new way of living. Small tasks like carrying a water bottle or reducing water use, are small things that we can realistically achieve and that overtime become habits that make a difference. It is so easy in this day and age to overlook simple solutions because they don’t show instant results, but those small habits, when combined with everyone else around us, can have a very big impact on environmental protection. Sometimes changes in local laws can be seen as inconveniences, like the ban on plastic bags, but as individuals, we can adapt very quickly. So, personal accountability and structural accountability make a difference on environmental issues as achievable short-term goals.

In conclusion, the two ways to make the world a better place when it comes to the environment are through a social shift in our perspective of the environment as a long-term social goal and through personal accountability as small tasks that we can take on to achieve permanent good habits.

Not Too Painstaking After All
Eric Lin, Division 2, 7th grade

Have you ever wondered how you could help the world? Have this thought ever crossed your mind? I want to help the world, but it seems too painstaking! Well, one way to make the world a better place is by planting a garden. The task is not all that time-consuming, and best of all, it is enjoyable. Creating my own garden means that less food will have to be imported from other countries. This will decrease the amount of fuel being released into the atmosphere as fewer transportation vehicles are needed for delivering fruit and vegetables from one point to another, the amount of fossil fuels and energy used will definitely be decreased. Modern farming also uses a lot of petroleum to create synthetic pesticides that consumes more energy than planting and harvesting crops. Most significantly, it means that my family and I will have fresh food every day, untouched by pesticides and fertilizers if our garden turns out to be fruitful.

Growing flowers in a garden would help the world as well. Pollinators, such as bees and birds that are attracted by flowers are disappearing because of the use of insecticide and pesticide, which is the reason an organic garden will help exponentially. If you are into having an organic environment that is healthy for both you and the plants, that means creating an organic garden without any use of pesticides and other preservatives. Many farmers use pesticides to keep insects at bay, but the run-off water, which has been mixed with the pesticides goes in to our groundwater and contaminates it. Plants actually are more resistant to pests and other things by staying healthy, just like people. I do believe bees and birds are helpful for plant growth and we cannot have them extinct. The healthier a plant is, the more resistant it is.

A person can have a big backyard or a green thumb to benefit from gardening. Even if one does not have space for a garden or his own plot of land, participating in community gardens is also a virtuous idea. Plants also act as an air freshener, as they take in carbon dioxide and turn it into oxygen. They also reduce erosion by keeping the soil down. With a good harvest, a person will not have to spend as much money to purchase fruits and vegetables from supermarkets and stores as often. Growing rare produce that would be very difficult to find or expensive in stores is another great incentive for having one’s own garden, especially when these plants possess valuable health benefits. In fact, it is legal and appropriate to sell produce in a community, in which an individual might even be able to sell it to stores and local restaurants.

Gardening is also a great form of exercise. It has been proven that gardening can lower cholesterol levels, make people happier, reduce stress, get the blood moving, and lose excess weight. For a person that is about 150 lb., gardening will help burn 272 calories per hour, which is equivalent to walking for an hour. Gardening has a positive influence on the mind and may decrease the chance of getting dementia, with a 36%-47% lowered chance of catching the disease than non-gardeners. Studies have shown that merely looking at plants or a garden can help a person relaxed, and change brain electrical activities. Instead of going shopping or drinking a cup of at a coffee shop, try gardening instead. Multiple sources such as antioxidants, bioflavonoids, phytochemicals and micronutrients are very beneficial to a person’s health. By growing a garden, I can obtain a large amount of these nutrients. Weeding is actually quite beneficial to both the garden and me, as weeding tends to relieve stress and will also allow me to get up close with the plants to access what the plant needs for it to flourish.

Gardens can also help when residents decide to sell their house. It gives a house curb-appeal and will probably help the owner to seal the deal faster than the average homeowners without decent landscaping. Be sure not to use invasive plants, as these types of plants have few natural enemies. They grow and take over the landscape very aggressively.

Gardens are usually filled with a bunch of different types of plants in sizes and colors, which actually helps to beautify the environment. Gardening is not difficult to start. Think about how much money you will save without purchasing fruits and vegetables from supermarkets and stores as often. Come and join me in making a greener world where we can have healthier air, save resources, and see the smiles of our next generation.

The Power of Music
Katie Cheng, Division 2, 7th grade

What do you think of when you imagine a perfect world? I would imagine a world that is clean and pure, with not a cloud of smoke or any type of pollution in the sky. A world where everyone has a home as well as plenty food and clean clothes. I would imagine a world with no conflict, arguments and absolutely no wars, whatsoever. A world where no crimes are committed and everyone is at peace. There might also be a majestic waterfall or two with sparkles all over the place. Basically, the world is in harmony, like a choir hitting all the right notes of a song.
The world we live in today, compared to the perfect world, is full of chaos. Countless numbers of people are homeless and in poverty. Wars are happening everywhere. People are making the wrong decisions performing crimes. Even in your neighborhood, there’s pollution from millions of cars driving around. In a nutshell, our world is not at all in harmony. It’s like all the people in the choir are singing different songs or hitting sour note.
Have you ever listened to a song that makes you feel pumped and ready to tackle on any challenge or obstacle you face, or maybe there’s that one song where it makes you feel sympathetic or inspired to the song’s message? Music has the ability to alter moods, get messages across, and even get stuck in your head. I believe music also has the ability to change the world.
Music is often used to express feelings and emotions, especially immense feelings of love and hope. You have probably seen commercials that tell you to donate money to animal shelters. Those adorable pictures of poor puppies always make hearts melt and it’s always hard to resist saying “aww”, but what really sets the mood is the slow, sad song in the background. Imagine those commercials have energetic, happy songs. The message the makers of the commercial would be ruined. The mood of the commercial immediately changed from slow and sad to happy and energetic. As to quote Jess Bowen, ""Music can change lives. ""Whether you are having a good or bad day, the power of music can change one's mood""
Music is a kind of freedom. It doesn’t matter what gender, race, or religion you are to enjoy music. You don’t need to pay to listen to the radio and no none will necessarily judge you on what you listen to. Music can take you away from reality when you are tired of this world. It’s a companion that will always stay with you while people come and go in your life. Music can set you free.

I believe we can harness the power of music to change the world in many ways. For example, imagine if someone were to make a song that can change someone else’s life by giving them hope or love in a situation. If that person were to share that song with his friends and change their lives, and those friends share it with others. The song would spread everywhere like a disease and eventually, the whole world would hear the song and the world would change. Another song would be created and the world would change again and unlike speech, music will live on and never be forgotten. That might seem a little extreme, but there are other ways. I can take smaller steps by joining a choir and spread love and hope through music at hospitals and churches to those in need, or I learn how to play an instrument and compose music. I can also pursue a job becoming a singer or a songwriter and create songs that inspire others and fill them with love and hope. If I don’t want to sing, I can donate money to choirs or bands to help purchase instruments or help cover transportation. Even donating a few dollars makes a big difference. I can do all this and more, and so can you.

If everyone in the world was a music note in the song of the world. Every music note counts. If someone made a choice, it would change the entire music. We, as individuals, can help others make the right choices through music. As to quote the great singer and songwriter, Bono, ""Music can change the world because it can change people."" If the world made the right choices, the world would be in harmony and we would someday achieve the perfect world.

Writing to Inspire the World
Cindy Liu, Division 2, 10th grade

On June 4, 1984, a man stepped in front of a line of tanks bearing down upon him and changed the world. For a tense moment, time stopped for the lone figure who crossed a street with grocery bags in hand and stared silently at the tanks, refusing to allow them to pass. He wasn’t a soldier, he didn’t cure cancer, nor was he a multimillionaire. In one of the most iconic pictures of the 20th century, the “Tank Man” was an ordinary citizen who stood up in the face of a seemingly unstoppable adversary and inspired thousands across the globe.

I remember the shiver that raced down my arms when I saw the picture for the first time in class. In the overhead document screen, the picture was faded and fuzzy around the edges, but the raw emotion was clear; it spoke of courage and the unyielding side of humanity. Within it, I saw not the power of one individual, but the power of inspiration. I believe we all have a purpose in our lives— to be inspired and in turn, inspire others. In a world where people are too often afraid to be different from the crowd, it is all too easy to sink into the safety of uniformity. To truly inspire others means that I have to be different; I have to be willing to take action, and pursue what I love doing. For me, that means following my passion for writing.

My passion for writing has been developing for as long as I can remember. What started out as narrating make believe worlds in my mind soon blossomed into short stories and essays about my experiences. In third grade, I had my first experience of impacting others with my writing.

Every year at my elementary school, there was an acting troupe that would travel to our school to act out various stories written by the students. They were the Imagination Machine, a group of fun loving people whose humorous renditions of our stories were always eagerly anticipated by the students. After years of watching my classmates’ stories being acted out, mine — a short story about the adventures of a curious hamster— was finally picked.

I remember the laughter that rippled across the room, and the smiles on my classmates’ faces as my story was performed. A warmness settled into my heart, and it was the most incredible feeling to have witnessed a genuine reaction to my writing. Afterwards, I remember how my teachers and classmates approached me, smiling and telling me about how my story had made them laugh. This experience, compared to other groundbreaking changes that happened in the world, doesn’t seem like much. I have not dramatically changed someone’s life, yet I managed to make someone happy, and that was enough. If only for a moment, I was able to make the world around me shine a shade brighter and make it a little better. I soon realized that to make my impact on the world, I cannot do so single handedly; it is through touching the lives of others around me that I can make the world a better place.

As a writer, I know the strength of words and the effect it has for those who listen. Words can pull someone out of a spiral of ugly thoughts. They can spark a flame inside your heart that refuses to be put out, and words can push you to overcome limits you never knew you were stuck behind. I will continue with my writing in hopes of inspiring more people, for the emotional impact of writing makes it the most powerful way of inspiration.

Popular misconception has it that stories have no power, that the label fiction means that it cannot impact the world. This is untrue. Through my experience in the world of words, I found that stories are reflections of real life; they dare to speak of the raw aspects of life we often pretend don’t exist as we wade through our days. Stories can shine a spotlight on what we can’t even admit to ourselves at 1 o’clock in the morning — that we are lonely, or that we are afraid. On the other hand, it also illuminates otherworldly ideas— the perspective that sees a dandelion as a wish instead of a weed, and the concept of slipping into another universe.

I know the long-lasting power of words, for while I have impacted others with my writing, I have also seen the effect of other people’s words. A few years ago, while surfing the Internet, I stumbled upon a poetry blog. At first glance, the simple site didn’t seem like much, but it was the poet’s words that caught my attention.

“There is freedom waiting for you/ on the breezes of the sky/ and you ask ‘what if I fall?’/ Oh but my darling/ what if you fly?”

Her poem managed to capture the elusive essence of hope and beauty within its five lines. I sat there utterly bewildered by the emotions tingling through my veins, tasting the words again and again as they slipped over my tongue. I was not the only one impacted by her work. All over her site, I saw comments from people all over the world who were inspired to write, were emotionally touched, and used her writing to carry them through dark times.

For now, I am only on my first steps to change the world for the better. Like the Tank Man, I will take action and make a difference. Even though I may not stand in front of a line of tanks, I will take a stand; I will reach out and inspire with my words, one person at a time. With writing, I will make the world a better place.

Contributions for the better of our World
Audwin Chang, Division 2, 7th grade

What is the best way for me to make the world a better place? Well, there are millions of ways to do so, but some are better than others. I believe in going all or nothing. Rather than making small changes, I would try to make a big difference in our world today. The best way to do so, however, may just be solving global warming. Few people believe that global warming even exists at all. However, I can assure you it is real. According to Conserve Energy Future, “In the past decade, the global mean sea levels have doubled compared to the 20th century trend of 1.6 mm per year. The global sea levels rose about 6.7 inches in the last century.” This shows that the sea level is rising due to melting ice caps. Melting ice caps can only show the elevation of global atmospheric temperatures. Independent Co Uk states, ”Hurricanes form when the sea's surface temperature increases above 26C. They result from a chaotic interaction between the difference in sea and air temperatures, humidity, and wind.” This lead to horrendous storms such as Hurricane Katrina. This majorly affected many people, caused billions of dollars in damages, and priceless lives were lost.
Based on evidence, educating people regarding what the global warming is, the side effect of it ,and the solutions to global warming would be the best path to take. For the start of my plan, I will do it thru the internet. The internet is where everything is today. Trends and ideas are mainly spread through the World Wide Web. Adults and kids all over the world use the internet to find articles, gain knowledge, and stay connected. Realistically, the most efficient way to spread information about global warming is through websites or videos. I have knowledge in coding , and I’m going to create an interactive website to spread the word of global warming. On this website, I will post tips, ideas to conserving energy and to reduce carbon emissions. I can create fun videos to teach and inspire people about global warming, and its negative effects. I will try to encourage people to stop and do their part to reduce carbon emission and greenhouse gases. For instance, I can make a daily life simulator, where the objective is try to save energy. From there, people can move their game habits and apply it to real life. Another solution regarding online methods, would be Youtube. Youtube is one of the biggest online platforms that allow innovators to spread ideas, trends, and content. I can create a Youtube channel to spread ideas of conserving energy. I will create funny and motivational videos, mostly aimed toward the millions of teenagers surfing Youtube for content. If my content spreads, bigger Youtubers may make videos based on my content. These trendmakers can start a global warming trend, where the goal is to stop global warming.
Another effective solution is school’s club. With my fellow peers from my middle school, I will create a club at my middle school. In this club, we shall educate our community about global warming, and make petitions to limit industrial pollution. We must bring up problems to the Mayor of Los Angeles, to support us for our cause. We will try to ask celebrities to make speeches on global warming. We are going to ask athletes and celebrities to participate in the plan. This will be very beneficial toward the environment. Celebrities have big influence and can start bandwagon. If we can bandwagon global warming, more people will be interested in solving global warming.
As you can see, I have come up with efficient strategies to help solve global warming in today’s century. Trends and bandwagon make up a huge part of things people do in everyday life. By following my plan of using the internet and celebrities, I can finally accomplish my goal in trying to help make the world a better place.

Making a Difference One Life at a Time
Christina Chen, Division 3, Graduate school #ws16e-s3d3

“World peace”…two simple words as a universal response to what it might mean to someone for the world to be a better place. Although the words themselves are straightforward, how can the concept itself be accomplished? It would be nice if world peace could happen quickly and effortlessly, but both history and current events prove that it is not as easily attainable as it might appear to be; if it were, then it would already be a reality. While it may be difficult for us as individuals to achieve this seemingly impossible goal, that should not deter us from doing what is in our power to make the world a better place. Every person in the world, no matter who he/she is, has his/her unique strengths, values, and positive characteristics. However, it is up to the person to decide whether or not to exercise his/her will to choose to use these attributes to his/her capacity to benefit others and make the world a better place.

Although I have my limitations and weaknesses, every day I make a conscious decision to do the best I can at what I love doing…being a school psychologist. Even though I am only in my internship year of my graduate school program and am under supervision getting trained, I can already see the positive impact I am able to have on the lives of the students I work with. I cannot wait to finish my internship and attain my school psychologist credential so that I can be a nationally-certified school psychologist. I would also like to eventually obtain licensure as a psychologist so that I can open my own private practice and work with students on a more long-term basis.

The job of a school psychologist consists of three main components: counseling/therapy, special education assessment, and consultation. Personally, my favorite part of being a school psychologist is being able to do counseling/therapy with students. As children/adolescents, the majority of students feel that they have no control over most aspects of their lives. Whether at school or at home, they are mostly being told by authority figures what they can/cannot do. On the contrary, they usually do not feel that they are being heard. Rather than being able to express themselves, most students feel that their thoughts, feelings, and emotions are getting repressed. While this may be the reality throughout the majority of students’ days, counseling/therapy sessions provide an “exception to the rule.” Counseling/therapy sessions provide safe spaces for students to talk about anything they want in confidence while being heard and not judged. (Of course, the exception to that rule is when there is an indication of possible harm to the student or others). Through the therapeutic relationship, the school psychologist is then able to meet the students where they are at and help them get to where they need to be.

Admittedly, working as a school psychologist is not the easiest career one can choose; many days, if not most, are pretty emotionally draining. However, it is arguably one of the most rewarding careers, and I would not trade being a school psychologist for any other occupation. I love kids and adolescents, and every morning I wake up looking forward to going to work to having the opportunity to make at least one child/adolescent’s day a little better. Not only do I get to do a job that I love, but I also get to make at least a small difference in students’ lives.

Ultimately, my goal is to be able to change the lives of the students I work with. However, I know that that cannot happen overnight; it takes a tremendous amount of empathy and patience. A student may love me one day but hate me the next, but I cannot take it personally. No matter how I may feel about any particular student, I still have to be there for him/her. I have to help him/her understand that even though he/she may have pushed other people in his/her life away, I am not going anywhere. While other people may not treat him/her well or may even have given up on him/her, I will always be there for him/her and will support him/her in any way I can. Even if he/she may not believe in himself/herself, I believe in him/her.

I have learned that the key to even having the possibility of making a difference in students’ lives is to develop a positive rapport with them. They need to feel that they can trust me enough that they can show their vulnerability to me without the fear of being judged or having their confidence betrayed. They need to know that even if I cannot fully understand what they are going through, I will always be here to listen to what they have to say and do what I can to help them myself or get them the help they need. Once I am able to establish this connection with them, then I can work with them effectively.

Although the job of a school psychologist is often difficult and stressful, it is equally rewarding, if not more so. Having the privilege and honor for a student to feel comfortable enough to disclose aspects of their personal lives to me is rewarding. Being able to witness a student’s resilience in the face of adversity is encouraging. From the many students I have had the opportunity to work with, I have noticed that in addition to children’s/adolescents’ innate resilience, they need the support and guidance of someone like a school psychologist to provide them with the courage they need to go on and not give up. When a student I have been working with for a while and/or his/her parent(s) express their appreciation by saying, “Thank you” or even directly tell me how much they appreciate what I have done to help them, I know that the time and effort I have put into working with this student was not in vain.

As rewarding as it is to know that I have made a difference in one student’s life, I am acutely aware that it cannot stop there. My hope and desire is that the students I work with would take what they learn and use it to not only help themselves, but also to help those around them. If each of the students I work with and have a positive impact on then pays it forward to make a difference in other people’s lives, those people then positively influence others, etc., then that is how the world can be a better place.
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