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Denebola » Hannah Thomas http://www.denebolaonline.net The Award-Winning, Official School Newspaper of Newton South High School, Newton, MA Fri, 17 Jun 2011 02:00:19 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.0.2 A Word from the Motherland http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/03/24/a-word-from-the-motherland/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/03/24/a-word-from-the-motherland/#comments Wed, 24 Mar 2010 08:17:43 +0000 Hannah Thomas http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=3850 Newton has a large immigrant population that is vibrantly reflected at South. Many students spent much of their lives in their mother countries, imigrating to the United States during their teen years or childhood. How exactly do first generation immigrants integrate and thrive in an American public high school?

Junior Amanjeet Kaur and her family came to America from Singapore when she was 14. Because the South community is full of people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, she doesn’t usually feel different from her peers.

Occasionally, however, she feels as though people don’t understand her opinions, simply because they have never realized that there may be alternative stances on certain topics. In that case, she ignores them and accepts the reality that she cannot necessarily convince other people to agree with her viewpoints.

Kaur also feels segregated when she travels domestically. “I feel like they think that all immigrants are bad, she said. Her family hasn’t returned to Singapore since their arrival two years ago.

Adjusting to American culture has not been difficult for her family and her. At home, however, they maintain their Singaporean values and culture. “I don’t eat American food at home, Kaur said. “My mom cooks only Singaporean food.

Education is heavily stressed in Singaporean culture, and dating for 16-year-olds is prohibited. “My parents wouldn’t agree [with me dating at sixteen]. They would prefer [for] me to be older, and basically, I agree with them, she said.

Junior Nimra Cheema and her parents also imigrated to the United States from Pakistan, and they have lived here for six years. A first generation immigrant, she feels isolated by her peers because she practices Islam. Religion is even more important than Pakistani culture. At one point, Cheema wore a hijab* in public, and her friends stopped speaking to her. “I wondered how a piece of cloth could change them so much, she said. She stopped wearing her hijab.

According to Pakistani tradition, parents arrange the marriages of their children. Cheema, however, knows that the religion of Islam allows her the right to choose whom she marries.

Cheema’s parents hold their cultural values close, forcing her to find compromise. “When I have disagreements with my parents, she said, “I try to make them see it my way. Initially, her extended family was angry with her for defending such d i f ferent and untraditional values. “It’s important to stand up for yourself. I would hate hanging out with my other family members if they [didn't] respect me for who I am, Cheema said.

“I am an American, she said, “but a Pakistani at heart. Cheema described the challenges she faces every day as “two different worlds: one outside of home, and then one quite different at home. An immigrant cannot assimilate as easily as a natural-born American may assume. “My life at home is all Pakistani, she said.

Junior Amy Cheung was born in the United States, but her parents moved back to China when she was young. Seven years later, they returned. Cheung couldn’t speak any English when she first entered an American school. “I was completely petrified, she said. “In China, the school system is very different¦especially [in] how you address your friends, teachers and family.

Cheung’s parents are Buddhist, so they celebrate holidays such as the Chinese New Year and the Moon Festival. “For birthdays we wear red and have elaborate dinners out, she said.

Cheung’s room is also heavily influenced by Chinese culture. “My desk is where it should be kept to do the best studying, she said. “I have paint brushes on my wall to boost my creativity and Chinese characters on my door to bring me luck.

Her parents have high expectations when it comes to grades; they expect her to expend her full effort on schoolwork.

Regarding teen romance, her mother prefers that she start dating only after she turns 21. “They want me to focus on my studies rather than romance, she said. For marriage, her parents hope that she finds a husband who is both Chinese and financially well-off.

Similarly, junior Olga Rapoport didn’t speak English when she and her parents came here from Russia when she was seven years old. The language barrier initially thwarted the friend-making process, but the situation improved when she learned English through the English Language Learners (ELL) program.

Although they were raised in a completely different system, Rapoport’s parents also adjusted well to life in America. Sometimes, though, cultural misinterpretations hinder communication between parents and children. “When they don’t understand something, I just explain it to them very slowly, and several times, until they get it, she said.

Russian culture still has a place in the Rapoport household; Rapoport’s grandmother cooks Russian food regularly. With all foreign cultures, stereotypes arise relating to her Russian heritage. “Russians are good at math, dance, ice skating, hockey, and, of course, drinking, she said.

By and large, first generation immigrants have had good experiences at South. Some deal with pressure from their parents, some struggle with religious identity, some strive to strike a balance between two very divergent lifestyles, but all are welcome for who they are.

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This year’s freshmen put on a monster performance http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/11/25/this-year%e2%80%99s-freshmen-put-on-a-monster-performance/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/11/25/this-year%e2%80%99s-freshmen-put-on-a-monster-performance/#comments Wed, 25 Nov 2009 07:58:24 +0000 Cassandra Larrabee http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=3167 This year’s freshman play, directed by guest director Adam McLean, consisted of a collection of works by playwright José Rivera.

The 23 freshmen cast in the play delivered dark, satirical monologues and shared scenes. As clips of Rivera’s sonnets and plays were shared, new talents were exhibited.

 
The cast thoroughly enjoyed being able to be a part of José and His Monsters. “[Being a member of this year's freshman play was] a great way to kick off my South Stage career, Freshman Alex Levy said.

Freshman Sophie Scharlin-Pettee agrees, feeling that the bond the cast shared was one that would last.

“Everyone was so nice and sweet, and I became really close with many of my cast mates, Scharlin-Pettee said. Reflecting upon her time participating in the freshman play.

Freshman Nathan Matzka agreed, feeling that the time spent was well worth it. “There is nothing like doing a play with a ton of your friends. The people were amazing.

Not only were they great at acting but they are also some of the best friends I’ve ever had, Matzka said.

 
Contrary to its name, the freshman play is not just an experience for freshmen. José and His Monsters provided co-costume designer junior Paulina Sterpe a chance to dive into the world of costume design.

“I loved spending time with the freshmen, and working with my co-designer [junior] Rebecca Penzias was fabulous! I couldn’t have asked for a better experience while costume designing my first show, Sterpe said.

 
The dark and mysterious writings of Rivera stand alone as the central theme touched upon by each of the diverse works displayed throughout the production.

This connection, however, did not seem amplified enough for some members of the cast. “I didn’t think the theme was very prominent, Scharlin-Pettee said.

Freshman Zoe Clayton agreed, feeling that the connections were not strong enough and at times were confusing to the audience.

 
Matzka, however, disagreed, seeing the positives in the play. “I think it worked because all the segments had an underlying dark and mysterious theme, Matzka said.

Adding to the sense of mysteriousness, the lighting, an array of colors from reds and yellows to greens and purples, created the illusion of a dark and foreboding area where anything could occur.

 
Though the theme may cause controversy among the cast mates, everyone tends to agree that the people, whether friends or not, performed very well.

“I really enjoyed working with the cast and crew; I met so many new people through the show. I think the whole freshman cast, all the older directors [and] stage managers really bonded, Levy said. The good times seemed plentiful within the group.

“I love the cast! The size of the cast isn’t as important as the people who make it up, Clayton said.

The Freshman Play gives people the unique opportunity to make new friends.

“I am now very good friends with my co-star, Sean, who I had never met before the play; I also rekindled some old friendships too, Scharlin-Pettee said.

 
As friendships grew, so did the appreciation for the show’s director.

“Adam was an amazing director, who made some really interesting choices in the play. He was very kind and driven to help us become better actors, Levy said.

Being a part of South Stage is an experience from which many opportunities arise.

Many freshmen from the cast of José and His Monsters plan on continuing their acting careers with South Stage, and any are excited to participate in the upcoming shows, Cabaret and Sweet Charity.

“I am proud to be a novice theatre geek, Clayton said.

 

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