What’s in a Name?

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It has come to my attention lately that only about half of my friends know my name. While having dinner with one of my closest friends from college, we were in the middle of a very lively discussion about Gilmore Girls when I dropped a glob of ranch on my shirt, at least my third spill of the hour. “Oh my God, Cande, eat much?” I say aloud to myself, wiping the dressing off with a napkin. “Wait,” she stops me. “Who’s ‘Cande’?”

Let me explain. For twenty years, I have lived with the struggle of having a hard-to-pronounce name. I go by “Cande” (pronounced Kahn-de), which is a short version of my full name, Candelaria. I always dreaded first days of school, when teachers would call out for a “Calendar” or a “Candelabra.” I avoided going to Starbucks, knowing that the barista would mishear and hand me tall coffee cup with the word “Grande” scribbled across it. Ironic. Introducing myself to new people was my least favorite, though. It’s at least a three-step process. Say it once, normal: “Hi, I’m Cande.” Say it a second time, louder: “HI, I’M CANDE.” Say it a third time, very slow: “Hiiiiiii, I’m Caaaaaaaan….deeeeeee.” In special circumstances, there’s even the additional fourth step of spelling it out. For some reason, you’re not allowed to let go of a person’s hand until they can understand your name, and a handshake can only last about five seconds before it becomes very uncomfortable and someone starts sweating. Okay, before I start sweating.

That’s why at some point, I just started teaching people to pronounce my name as “Candy.” For years it has proven a fairly solid solution to my problem. It’s easier for me to say when I’m introducing myself, and it’s easier for everyone else to understand. What I didn’t realize, is that a name is more than just an identification, it’s part of your identity. Your name is loaded with meaning, whether your parents intend those meanings or not. As easy as it is to pronounce, there are consequences to allowing myself to be called by my anglicized name, “Candy.” I frequently get comments like, “what a cute name,” or, “you must be so sweet!” Sure, it’s okay to be sweet and cute when you’re just talking to your friends or petting a puppy, but I don’t want that to be the first association when people think of me. I stand at a whopping 4 feet 11 inches tall and I have a round, childlike face. It’s a challenge just to get the hostess at Denny’s, who always approaches with a kid’s menu in her hand, to take me seriously as an adult, let alone my professors or potential employers.

More important than what “Candy” means to other people, though, is what “Cande” means to me. Cande was my grandmother, and it was my grandmother’s grandmother. Cande is the history of strong Hispanic women who worked to make better lives for themselves and their families in new worlds and new countries. Cande is the delicate bounce of a “c” and a subtle “d,” the sounds familiar to the language of my family and my neighbors and my ancestors. Cande is my mother speaking to me, and me speaking to myself.

Your name is more than a label, it’s a part of you. There is a story behind it, and it is the title of the story you write for yourself. My friend couldn’t have known all of this about me without knowing my real name. Your name shouldn’t have to bend itself around what is convenient for everybody else. Be a good friend, a good daughter, a good student, or just somebody who adds value to the world. Then, believe me, people will want to know your name, and they’ll want to say it right.

Nuestras Raíces

When the Europeans reached the Americas in 1492, different cultures met and ways of living changed forever. Even though many things were adopted such as the Catholic religion, other things were also lost. Many indigenous traditions coming from the Aztec and Mayan empires as well as from other indigenous tribes disappeared and from all of this, a nation of mestizos (of Spanish and indigenous blood) was created in Mexico.

Even after years and years of change, we continue to be connected to our indigenous ancestors in many ways and without even knowing continue to practice activities that reach back to these ancestral times. These activities and traditions connect us back to our ancestors and remind us that these indigenous culture are not really gone at all.

Women of all ages share their story of how they keep in touch with these indigenous cultures and stay connected to their roots everyday.

 

Gabriela Prieto has found other ways to stay connected to her indigenous roots. For her, being involved in the Danza Azteca, medicine ceremonies, and other spiritual and celestial ceremonies, is a way to stay connection to past generations.” The feeling that I get out of being a part of ceremony and other cultural practices, is a sense of profound self-understanding, humility, and an always growing devotion to my community,” said Gabriela. “I get a feeling of being deeply connected to generations that passed before me and generations that will come.”

Her own community is who taught her to stay connected to her roots and everyday she carries out activities that bring her back to these as well.

“My community taught me how to conduct myself in ceremony, but I taught myself how to pray and keep daily mindfulness of the profound lessons I have been given over the years.  If it weren’t for the Indigenous community, I wouldn’t be who I am today and I doubt that I would be as confident in my individuality,” said Gabriela.

I think it is important to stay connected to our indigenous roots as Latin@s/Xican@s because the Indigenous being is half of who we are as Mestizos. “I think it is time we celebrate our Native American roots and honor the history of the ancestors who laid claim to the Americas long before any other human being stepped foot here.”

For other women, being connected to the indigenous culture has always been part of their lives, they grew up learning how to appreciate this ancestral past and they continue to be connected to it in every aspect of their daily lives.

UTEP professor and Director of the Museo Urbano, Dr. Yolanda Chavez Leyva shares that her father is the one who taught her about their ancestors and their culture.

“I think it started with my father, my father’s grandmother was Raramury,” said Dr. Leyva. ” So he always raised me with the idea that we were indios and he was super proud of his abuelita…so it was something I always felt was part of us.”

She has now made a career out of staying connected to her indigenous ancestors. In her museum exhibits and Mexican American classes she always tries to include something that will show others how we are all still connected to out indigenous ancestors. She participates in danzas and matachines and the Danzantes del Sol as well as in sweat lodges, an indigenous tradition. Dr. Leyva also mentions that she lives a spiritual life where she does daily prayer in the indigenous languages.

She explains that she sees the indigenous culture everyday in life even when many don’t notice it. “I could see it in the words we would use. I saw it in the foods that we ate.” said. Dr. Leyva. “I tell my students, I ask them, how do you say grass in Spanish, everybody says zacate! Zacate is an indigenous word so you’re still using an indigenous language.” Dr. Leyva adds. “The Mexican Spanish and border Spanish is very indianized, so a lot of the words we use, we think are slang are really words in Nahuatl.”

She finds that it is important to know where we all came from.” I want us to have very firm roots of who we are, ” said Dr. Leyva. ” It helps us understand that we belong to this land. To me, these practices or this acknowledgement, it helps us to have a sense of belonging.”

To be connected to your roots means to hold that place where you came from in your heart. Even when being miles away from it or in a place where not everyone practices that culture, the everyday activities you carry is a way to stay connected to your roots and to feel that place nearby. It is up to you to maintain it alive and as long as you keep practicing these traditions, they will never die.

Like a GIRL!

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First aired in June 2014, the Always commercial “Like A Girl” pointed out a phrase that’s normally used in society—a phrase that, whether you realize it or not, has some very negative connotations.

In the commercial, people—men, women, and boys—were asked to do something “like a girl.” When asked to “run like a girl,” each person exaggerated their movements, acting weak and flimsy. When asked to “hit like a girl,” people made a show of hitting clumsily, or sometimes just slapping instead of hitting. When asked to “kick like a girl,” some pretended to drop a ball. One person, in their acting as a girl, added with a falsetto voice, “Oh, but that’ll ruin my hair.” But when the same questions were asked to young girls, they ran, they hit, and they kicked hard and forceful, like anyone would. So what does the phrase “like a girl” imply? That to do something like a girl—to be a girl—is to be weak and clumsy and, in general, to do it badly. The girls in the commercial certainly showed that this is definitely not the case.

Gabriela Moreno, a middle school student at Regents School of Austin, helped illustrate this point: “This guy told me I hit like a girl. So then I hit him like a girl and he never said that again.”

The phrase “like a girl” shouldn’t be negative—but it’s used that way.

Have you ever used the phrase “like a girl” to describe something someone’s done badly? You’ve at least heard it. Many don’t even realize what they’re implying. As school director Monica Moreno pointed out, “I have heard that expression for a long time and haven’t felt that it was something sexist. But then I realized that it’s used as an offense. That shouldn’t be an offense. It’s the same thing as the phrase ‘be a man!’. A woman can be strong and tough, too. Actually, we are. We need to educate people, show them that these phrases are wrong…most people don’t realize what they’re saying, we should show them what it really means.”

When doing something like a girl is an insult, how does that make girls feel? “It makes me feel weak and embarrassed,” high school sophomore Mackenzie Henson said, “It bothers me because there are girls who are stronger than most guys. By saying that you are demoting girls and making them feel inferior.”

So what does being like a girl truly mean?

Being a girl can be tough, especially when using expressions such as “like a girl” negatively is so prevalent in our society. But being like a girl is anything but bad. It’s being awesome, true to yourself, strong, and confident in who you are. Westlake High student Hannah Young adds that “Being a girl means that you can kick butt and wear high heels at the same time. It’s the ability to never let people belittle you or make you feel bad just because you have boobs.”

Just look at all these women in history who have left a mark on the world: Rita Moreno is a legendary singer, dancer, and actress and is the only Latino who has won the prestigious EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony)—like a girl. Mexican Hilda Solis is the former labor secretary and helped labor unions by pushing wage and hour laws and job safety regulations—like a girl. Julia Alvarez, a Dominican poet, essayist, and novelist, wrote pieces that changed the world—like a girl. The list could go on forever!

Gender should not stop you from being strong and powerful. “Being a girl is amazing,” says 15-year-old Rachel C..

“If you want to do something, do it. Being a girl does NOT make you handicapped at ALL. It makes you who you are. If someone says anything like “you ____ like a girl” you should say it’s because you are a girl and believe in yourself,” she adds.

So run, kick, hit as hard as you can. Be yourself, be proud of being a girl. And next time, whenever someone says you or anyone around you does something like a girl, you can go up to them and say, “That’s a nice compliment!” Because it really is.

18 Things to Do Before You Turn 18

10974162_390886677749379_2469496210793465877_oAdulthood is relative, some people have to grow up very young and start to have many responsibilities as a 40 year old person. And some of us are really lucky and we get our time to adapt to this new stage of our life. If you’re like me and you’re about to finish high school and haven’t started working or going to college, or if you really know how to manage your time, you need to do these 18 things before you get all caught up in the new things that will come to your life.

1. Go on a road trip with your best friends

This is something that you really should do, a road trip is an amazing experience that you need to do at least once. With this experience you’ll learn how awesome it is to travel with the people you love (outside your family), probably get to see so many different places and observe things in a way that you haven’t done before, and will be able to things that you don’t normally do.

2. Go camping and sleep under the stars

Whether you would like to do this alone or with someone else, camping sets you free. You get a day/night without technology and a place to appreciate what nature has given you.

3. Eat exotic food

Eat food from another country, as I read on the internet “food that you don’t know how to pronounce.” Even if it’s some simple drink to a fancy dish or a weird combination of food. Trying new food makes you aware that not everything in the world is the same. Not everyone shares the same food traditions and recipes. Even if you don’t like the food, you’ll get a good story about how the food gave you food poisoning or it was so spicy that your mouth felt like it was on fire.

4. Go to a music festival

The energy and the intensity of going to a music festival is indescribable; you see all kinds of people, outfits, music and everything! You get to meet new people and listen to great music. Music festivals are an amazing experience because of the different environment.

5. Make new goals

This is the time to set new goals for your future, whether these goals are academic, financial, of relationships or self improvement; being open to change and to accomplish new things says that this person is not stuck on the same and wants to become someone better. Life is about this, always moving forward and trying to do something good with our existence.

6. Learn to play an instrument

Taking the time and patience to learn how to play a new instrument will give you some tools to take advantage in the future; playing an instrument is not just because you want a future in the music industry, it can be as a stress reliever, it increases your memory capacity, enhances your coordination and it’s something you can do when you’re bored!

7. Learn the basics of a new language

Or learn a new language! This will not only help you when you’re trying to get a job, because it looks good on a resumé, this also helps you for when you get the chance to get out of the country and you can communicate better with the people living on it. Learning a new language is really fun and it gives an opportunity to explore another culture.

8. Do nothing for a whole day

Yes, even if this sounds silly and really easy to do, your mind and body will appreciate this because you get the most amazing day to rest and to enjoy doing nothing; just watch a movie or TV show marathon, play video games all day long or just sleep for 24 hours. Because once you grow up, you won’t get as many lazy days as you used to.

9. Do Something Nice For A Stranger

Buy food for a homeless person, give out money to charity, smile to people, hold the door for someone, give a compliment, whatever it’s fine! These actions can change someone’s day or even their lives! Doing something good for someone can be pleasing for you as well!

10. Start to work out

I know it’s not like a fantastic thing to do before you hit the 20s but this will do great things to your body and mind. Staying healthy and in good shape gives you a better life quality and probably add years to your life and of course, it boosts up your confidence.

11. Make a new friend

Making friendships is really important, that bond is so different and unique and at this age (and at every other age) we need someone to share our best and worst moments with. Someone new to have inside jokes with, someone to laugh and cry at the same time, someone to tell your life story to — who knows, they might even become your best friend. Making new friends doesn’t stop in high school.

12. Get a makeover

Reinvent yourself, do something good for you and/or for your image. Change is always good and giving yourself a change will make you feel different. Want to try that cute new hairstyle? Do it!

13. Learn about your heritage/ family history.

Ask your grandparents/ great grandparents about your family, any good things or events that marked your family, or just listen to them and their stories. They have so much to share with you, pay attention to them and they’ll open up to you.

14. Volunteer on a non profit 

Join an organization that does something good for the community, besides doing your good deeds, it’s a good way to spend your time and energy because it’s a positive thing to do for you and others. Plus, you get to meet new people and retrieve a little of what life has given to you.

15. Make a scrapbook of all the special moments that you had

Take pictures, write something on them, keep your movie/concert tickets and special things and paste them in a scrapbook. Or save a shoe box or cookies box with memorable items. Years later you’ll look back at it and be thankful that you kept all of those things.

16. Start a journal

Write every day; a simple verse, a meaningful quote, anything! Write something that happened to you that day and keep writing every day. It doesn’t matter if it’s something short, at the end of the journal/ year read a few pages and see how much you’ve changed.

17. Ride a “dangerous” roller coaster

Not dangerous “Final Destination” type; a super big/tall roller coaster that you may be afraid of. Those that make your stomach twist; get on one and defeat the fear of heights and feel the adrenaline. Plus, you’ll have a cool story to tell to your friends/ family.

18. Write a letter to your future self

Write the things you want to tell your future-you; what you expect of her and things you are sure you’ve already accomplished. Tell her that you need to be happy and achieve everything you want in life, tell her silly things about her that she surely doesn’t remember and needs to; some memories, weird habits, and even a photo! Open that letter in 5-10 years and see what has come true and what has changed about you.

Step out of your comfort zone! Even if you don’t plan to do any of these 18 points, do something that you think is fun or different. Your future-self will look back and thank you for taking risks and having fun.

Communication Challenges with Family

A huge problem that happens in almost every household everywhere in the world is handling family relationships. Almost everyone has experienced this at some point in their lives. You love your family and you wouldn’t change them for anything, but that doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t change a few things about them. Sometimes this can lead to having serious arguments with one another, so what happens when it escalates to a huge argument? What happens when there’s a bad communication? When you don’t get along with your mom, dad, brother(s) or sister(s)? What needs to be done to fix this?

Talk about your differences.
Communication is one of the best things you need to do at first when you see that things are not working out. If someone’s talking behind your back, doing things against you that you don’t like, offending another relative or anything similar, you need to talk it out. According to Stress.about.com, if you have some problems with someone you should “see where each of you may have misunderstood the other or behaved in a way you would change if you could, offering sincere apologies, and in other ways resolving the conflict can heal the relationship for the future.”

Communication may solve most (not all) of the problems you may face with your family. So, instead of ignoring the problem, or doing something you may regret, talk it out!

“I used to fight with my mom all the time, until one day I got tired of it and sat with her and talked for hours, problems minimized and now we have a much better relationship” says, Paola Lopez, 15.

See the consequences of your actions.
Don’t do anything you may regret, don’t say anything that you may regret in the future. Think about the situation and what may happen before acting. You don’t know if the other person is going to react the wrong way or take your words or actions. Don’t say anything while you’re angry. Because most problems can be fixed and they will pass, and if you say something hurtful, it may not be possible to take it back.

“I regret some things I said to my cousin, and after 10 years, we are finally talking again,” shares Arely Zapien, 20.

If you can’t see the end of the differences, distance yourself from bad influences.

If you’ve tried to work things out several times and there’s no good answer from the other person, the best you could do is distance yourself from them. You’ve tried and tried, and you’ve done everything in your hands to fix the problem but if things are still the same, it’s time for you to walk away. Even if it’s for a while, distance yourself from the problems and let things cool down a little bit. Don’t hurt yourself no more, be free from that complication and live your life knowing that you did the best you could to work things out. Maybe after a few months, the other person will realize that this thing is not worth risking your relationship for.

“I had to get away from my problems for a while, my aunts didn’t come to their senses, the problems have lowered and now after a long time, they’re realizing they were wrong to judge me,” says Gloria Lopez, 18.

Redefining Mental Illness

It’s not physical, it’s not easy to understand, and, most of the time, it’s completely ignored or called “just a phase.” I’m talking about mental illness. In the Latin@ culture, stigma often follows mental illness. Your “abuelita” may have tried to cure your anxiety with home remedies by rubbing an egg all over you to get “el malo ojo” out. Or your tía saying to “get over it” because it’s only a phase. Deep down we know that it’s not that easy to remove what we’re feeling. Everyone has a battle to fight, but, chicas, you’re not alone.

Dealing with Depression

I experienced depression at a young age, but it became more evident in high school. I lost weight, I had no appetite, and I was becoming extremely introverted. The effects of all this led to more serious symptoms, bone pains, insomnia, and stomach cramps. My parents took me to various doctors to “fix” the problem, and the doctors would check my blood and do all kinds of crazy tests. To them, the problem wasn’t there because it was in my head.  Not once did they ask me how I truly felt. I had a boyfriend, I had great friends and a great family, but I just wasn’t happy. I didn’t see a purpose in life.

One day I was even taken to the emergency room due to serious joint pain and stomach cramps. Nothing was found, of course, except that I hadn’t eaten in 2 days. Through frustration my father said it was “all in my head.”  His words hurt me, it hurt a lot. He didn’t understand, but how could he? Growing up in Mexico meant that mental illness didn’t “exist.” I couldn’t blame my parents for not understanding what I was going through.

Depression followed me to college. Episodes happened, sleep was lost, and concentrating on my schoolwork was extremely hard. One day, through extreme insomnia, I made the decision to see a specialist. It was really difficult for me to get to this step in my life, but I knew I had to do something.

I held my rose gold iPhone in my hand, Student Health Center’s phone number on display, but all I could hear in my head was my Tía calling me crazy, saying it was all in my head, or saying this is a result from leaving to college. I was scared of the criticism, but I overcame it and finally made the phone call.

I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, but I felt uneasy about the diagnosis. Self-doubt led to thinking if it was really in my head, and knowing what I had just made me feel more insecure! Luckily, my specialist, a very understanding Hispanic doctor, calmed by nerves by saying to “not feel insecure about this; mental illness is just like any other illness and it should not be considered any less. It’s serious and I’m proud of you for coming in on your own to get help. That’s brave. ”He mentioned how anyone who feels something wrong should always look for help. I was prescribed medicine and I was given techniques for my anxiety. For once, I felt the feeling of being able to concentrate on schoolwork and I could breathe without a bad sigh.

Stigma within the Latin@ Community

Stigma regarding mental illness is fairly common within the Latin@ community.  The National Alliance on Mental Illness found that lack and/or misunderstanding of information regarding mental health, language barriers,  lack of health insurance and/or legal status, misdiagnosis, homeopathic remedies, privacy concerns, and  religion are some of the leading causes that contribute to being resistant to mental health care, help, etc. In fact, Latinos are “less likely to seek mental health treatment.” This poses a risk since Latinas have higher risks of depression and suicide. A study on depression and anxiety within the Latin@ community by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University found that “First-and second-generation Hispanics/Latinos were significantly more likely to have symptoms of depression than those born outside the U.S. mainland.” Mental health is real, and it should not continue to be stigmatized and treated as if it’s not.

Linda Eguiluz, a graduate from the University of Texas and now a graduate student at Lewis and Clark college, is familiar with dealing with mental health within the Latin@ community. As a graduate student, the pressures of school has led to dealing with anxiety.

“I think [being a Latina has] definitely affected the way I dealt with [anxiety] initially, and sometimes even now. There is no way to disassociate my ethnic identity from my mental illness, and it is a struggle to reconcile the cultural values placed upon me regarding mental health.”

“I know it is not an easy task to confront our own mental illness when we come from a culture where we are automatically labeled as broken. Educating our loved ones is not our primary responsibility, so it is important to reach out to people that can advocate for you and can guide you through the process. Family is important for latin@ folk, and having that extra layer of support is incredibly important for our well being and progress through medication and psychotherapy,” she adds.

So, chicas, please seek help if you feel that something isn’t right. You are not alone in this, and there are so many people who would love to help you. Seek help from a teacher, counselor, an adult, or make the decision to seek professional help yourself. Mental illness is just like any illness and it is not a joke.

Finding the “Right” One: College Edition

Preparing for college will be one of the hardest decisions you’ll make in your life, but by being reflective of your strengths and passions will help make the college decision process feel like a breeze! Here are some helpful tips for the college search process:

Finding the “perfect” college

First, make a list of all the colleges/universities you want to attend, be realistic and choose twelve at most. Then, look at the programs each college offers and select the one that fits your college plans. During your college search, be sure to look up the percentage of admittance, the overall accepted GPA, population of students,  job/internship opportunities, financial aid opportunities, and how accredited the college claims to be. These areas will help you get a better understanding of the campus, student population, and whether or not it will be a good fit for you.

Another great deciding factor in choosing a college would be to decide where you want to live for the next few years. Look at the schools’ hometowns and research those areas, then whittle your choices down to which university or college offers the best programs and opportunities for you. If you’re torn between staying home and going out of town for college, realize you are beginning a new chapter in your life. You’ll never know unless you try. Rocio Rangel, an admissions officer for St. Edward’s University stated, “College is a time to put those values your parents gave you to practice. It’s also a time to become independent. If it had not been that I left home to go to college, I would never have known how to pay my own bills, or what it meant to provide for myself. There’s a great sense of pride in that.”  Living independently is terrifying, exciting and rewarding.

 

Selecting the right major/area of study

Think about what you enjoy doing,something you excel in, and/or something you see yourself doing for many years. Selecting the right major will depend on your interests, passions, and, most importantly, how much time and money you see yourself realistically investing in. If you’re still in a slump on your future study subject but want to go to college right after you graduate high school, don’t stress, most colleges offer an “undeclared” major which gives you a whole year to contemplate. And if that’s not enough, every college requires a few general courses and electives that will help you discover what you’re really interested in. You are young and have the rest of your life to figure out who you are, but it takes a lot of reflection in college to figure out your strengths and passion in life. Try different extracurricular activities and volunteer opportunities to find out what you like and don’t like — trust me, experiences outside of school will help give you an idea of what your future career will be.

Still need help narrowing your college or area of study down? You might want to talk to your educators, parents, older siblings or friends who have already been to university.

 

 

Teen’s Guide for Finding a Job

Money2Recently, my family and I went on a very cool family vacation in South America; every day was filled with fun-in-the-sun, hanging out with cousins, and no worries, whatsoever. When you’re a kid at 15, you don’t want to be worrying about anything but what fun thing you’re going to do that day. However, upon returning to the United States, I was immediately hit with the realization that all my friends were getting jobs.  I was VERY surprised that so many of my friends were already taking on this huge responsibility! Not wanting to fall behind, I immediately searched: “What do I need to know about getting a job as a 16-year-old?” Well, I found a lot of great info for chicas like myself wanting to get a job, but not knowing where to start.

Getting Started:

Find the basic information like hiring practices and salary. Most places that hire teens will start doing so at 16 years old, however, most states restrict what kind of jobs teens can do, and how many hours we can work. If you’re 14 or 15, for example, you can work a maximum of 8 hours on a school day, and 16 hours a week during the school year.

It is always good to know that there is a minimum on how much you are required to be paid, and each state has its minimum, which you can check at this link: http://www.dol.gov/whd/minwage/america.htm For a reference, the United States Federal minimum wage is $7.25.

Finding the Right Fit:

While not all places will hire teens, some great places to start looking for a job if you’re a teen include fast food and restaurants, or retail shops.  If you love little kids, why not be a baby-sitter? While it is not necessary if you’re working for your close grown-up friends, getting a baby-sitting certification class is always a good idea so you can show other adults you have experience once your customers start to grow. If you need help thinking of other jobs, some likely ones are as library assistants if you love books, as a lifeguard at your local pool, or maybe a job at your favorite arcade or amusement park, or as a sport coaching-assistant.  If you’re good with computers, you could work at your local technology appliances stores, like Best Buy– depending on your technical skills you could easily be earning $15 an hour!

Building your Work Experience:

If you’re working for a store, or other business, don’t expect to get your ideal job position right when you start if you have no previous job experience. In most cases, you will be getting paid minimum wage and working cleaning, delivering, and filing jobs before you can move to handling money or becoming a restaurant server. Don’t be discouraged, it takes time but you WILL get there.

However, because of the mentioned above, I advise you to start your OWN business, be your own boss! If you have a lawn mower at home, you could easily start a business and be getting a bigger portion of the pay! Start by asking around your neighborhood or around a close neighborhood that has bigger lawns. If that’s not for you, simply think of a hobby that you have, and see how you can use it to your advantage, be creative! If you like art or crafts, consider making your crafts to sell at a local market or fair. Use any of your skills to help get the job done for other people, in the end, you have more control on what job you will be doing and you will definitely be making more money for your work.

All you need is to make sure you have thought of a plan on how you’re going to run your business, and stay committed. Soon, the money will start rolling in!

Diary of an International Student

A story of an international student 

I look to my old self now and think: “Oh I’ve changed a lot.” A few years ago, I decided something that would change the rest of my life. I decided to come to study in the US and to leave my home in Mexico. My main motivation to come here was to follow my dreams. I’ve always wanted to do something different and positive that would benefit a lot of people. I wanted to become a journalist. So why not study in an American university and start working on my dreams now!

Not everything was easy.  I was really afraid. First of all, it was college and it’s a different environment from high school. Secondly, it isn’t my home. Most of the people around me used to say that I wouldn’t make it. A lot of them told me that I would come back before my first semester ended and some didn’t even want me to move away from my home! I also had to work on improving my knowledge of the English language. I fought against all the bad vibes and made it through.

Even if it’s a few minutes away between the my hometown of Juarez, Mexico and the neighboring border city of El Paso, Texas, everything’s different. I moved across the border to attend college and become an international student. The culture changes, the language, the ways people interact is different. At first, I wasn’t really excited about the differences. At the beginning, my surroundings were very different from what I was used to. People acted differently. It felt like not a lot was similar to what I was used to seeing every day. After a few days of “analyzing” the place and observing, I realized that it’s not that different. It’s just a different stage of my life. It would have been the same back in Mexico. It is just that I was growing up and that I was about to enter a new chapter of my life.

It’s hard at first to adjust to a new place. It is important to not to try to “fit in” and be like the rest. What I did was act like myself and adapt to something new. More than a year later, here I am telling you my story and my journey through it.

What do I miss? I miss my old friends. I rarely see them. When I do, there isn’t enough time. I miss spending every minute of my day with them and doing the crazy things we used to do. A good thing is that I made new friends, and I appreciate every single one of them.

I love being here. I love the reason why I’m here. I’m here to follow my dreams and to become a better person. If you’re in the same situation as I am, that is amazing. This is a great purpose and you can achieve everything you want. If you live in another country and your dream is to come here to the US, do it. You can work hard for it. Some people may be against you and your ideals, but at the end it will all be worth it. While I’m still far from achieving what I want, today I can be happy because I’m on my way.

Driven By Emotions

It can seem like life is a rollercoaster of emotions with feelings like anger, sadness, fear and nervousness. You may feel like one day you’re up with happiness, the next you find yourself feeling down. Millions of things and situations can make us feel all sorts of emotions and these include bad emotions too. Have you ever done something you regret doing because perhaps you were too busy thinking about what you were feeling and not about the consequences? It is important to make sure that emotions are you not driving you to bad decisions.
Making Bad Decisions
Mariana Govea, age 17,  got an injury on her knee. She recalls how she felt upset, angry and scared and all these emotions led to bad decision making. “The moment I got hurt I was very upset and angry at myself for the fact that I knew I had hurt myself really bad. At the moment, I was very angry and I was kind of scared of telling my mom that I had hurt my knee. So I kept it for a while and I did not tell my parents and unfortunately that led to me injuring myself even more.  I think that if I would of actually express my feelings to my mom, told her what had happened and not let myself get driven by the anger and fear, that wouldn’t have happened to me.”Sisters Mariana and Fernanda Gutierrez, ages 14 and 11, tell similar stories where they both lied when they got taken over by emotions.

“There was this time where my friends were like trying to joke around,” said Mariana. “They were saying that they wanted to have a sleepover and they didn’t technically invite me so that kind of got me angry so I told them I was also going to go to a sleepover party even though I lied to them.”

“I lied to one of my friends that I was going to go somewhere with them and I ended up not going and they got really mad at me,” added Fernanda. “I lied to them because I had a lot of things to do. I had homework and a project coming up that had to involve a book report I had to read over the summer. I couldn’t do anything else, I felt stressed and pressured on.”

Hiding certain things from others or lying to people are very common things to do when you are driven by fear anger or stress. You may do it in order to not upset others or as a way to defend yourself. Yet remember that these decisions can end up being worse and at the end you may end up doing just that, hurting someone else of even yourself.

Once the emotions wear off you probably find yourself  wishing you hadn’t done what you just did. When you’re stuck in this situation there are two things to do. First, think of any way that you can fix the situation. A great example is apologizing. When you know you hurt someone’s feelings without intending too, taking responsibility for your own actions and mistakes shows that you are responsible and that you care for that other person. Hey, everybody makes mistakes, what counts is how you react to them.

Avoid Bad Decisions

Once you’ve apologized there’s one more thing to do. Reflect on what just happened. What a mess right? It is now time to think of how you can avoid all of this from happening again. Think about what steps you can take next time to avoid making the wrong decisions when you’re rushing with emotions.

Jeanette Ortiz, Mariana Govea and Bianca Castrejan give some advice on what to do before acting on impulse and making wrong decisions.

“Stop. Breath and take a minute to think before you act,” shared Jeanette Ortiz, age 24.

“Think about what you’re actually doing because if you don’t stop and listen to what your doing you can commit something that you might regret later and might actually turn worse than how it would of been if you actually took the time to pay attention to what’s going on,” shared Mariana Govea, age 17. “Feelings are just feelings and they can go away if you know how to handle them.”

“The best thing is to try to calm yourself down.When you’re full of emotions it’s hard to think at that certain moment but I think it’s better to just leave the situation and take the time to calm down and once you’ve calm down then you can address the problem that you had,” added Bianca Castrejon, age 24.

Emotions can be controlling and sometimes they can lead to making the wrong decisions. So the next time you are being driven by one of  these emotions just…stop, take a breather and take a minute to think before you act!