Students celebrate diversity through Multicultural Night

Various clubs of different backgrounds came together for Multicultural Night on Jan. 9 to share their heritage. Students experienced different ethnic and religious traditions by enjoying different exotic foods and engaging in activities hosted by the clubs. There were also performances from the dance clubs such as KSA’s Krew and IndoPak’s Bhangra as well as a fashion show that showcased various cultures.

EL commissioner Chiara Tommasi said that Multicultural Night started around six or seven years ago and was originally put together by the cultural clubs.

“The EL commissioners became kind of in charge of it but it’s still the clubs’ event. We’re just helping to organize it and direct everything,” Tommasi said.

The EL commissioners begin planning for the event a few months prior to the event and start contacting clubs to make sure that they are interested in participating, EL commissioner Mita Ramesh said.

“We basically give [the clubs] like a layout of what’s going to be happening and then we also contact organizations for performances. Like this year, we had mariachi and the Filipino dance group and taiko,” Ramesh said.

During Multicultural Night, each cultural club had booths set up to sell food and do their activity.

This year, Spanish National Honor Society (SNHS) sold pan dulce and had an activity for making corn husk dolls. SNHS president Collin Cheng said that traditionally, children would make corn husk dolls as a fun way to pass time.

“We also sort of reflected in our fashion show, where we have representing a traditional Argentinian rural outfit, so this is all sort of our idea of a simple everyday lifestyle,” Cheng said.

French National Honor Society made Mardi Gras masks because the holiday falls on Feb. 13 this year, co-president Noa Khen said.

“They have like a parade in New Orleans and they wear purple, green, and gold and each color has a symbol,” Khen said.

Russian Student Union decided to play durak, which is a traditional Russian card game, for their activity, president Josh Shamelashvili said.

Jewish Student Union decided to sell a variety of foods because it is a huge part of their culture, president Yarden Zinger and treasurer Ori Brutman said.

“Almost every holiday, even the holiday where you’re supposed to fast all day, after the fast, we eat a huge meal,” Zinger said.

The Muslim Student Association (MSA) activities involved a hijab tutorial as well as Arabic calligraphy. MSA president Anam Siddiqee said that because Muslims are part of a religion, they have a variety of outfits as it represents people from different parts of the world.

“In the fashion show, we have people wearing a western outfit, some are wearing Pakistani outfit and others are wearing more religious attires,” Siddiqee said.

IndoPak decided to showcase their Bhangra group because it is the most traditional dance that IndoPak does, co-president Nikhil Kulkarni said. IndoPak dance teams Bhangra and Film had performances throughout the week.

“Film is just kind of like from Bollywood movies, it’s like the dances from there. It gets put into the dance,” Kulkarni said.

National Chinese Honor Society had activities where people did calligraphy and played shuttlecock, president Lindsey Low said.

“It’s like a feather game where you kick it on the side of your feet and you don’t want it to touch the ground,” Low said. “Little kids play them to entertain themselves, and at school, students practice calligraphy.”

Japanese National Honor Society (JNHS) sold spam musubi and had an activity for students to play yoyo tsuri, a fishing game where a piece of rice paper is attached to a small paperclip hook and players “fish” for balloons.

“Basically what you’re trying to do is scoop up the yoyo tsuri without breaking the hook,” JNHS vice president Larissa Lai said. “They usually play it in a lot of festivals and to get children involved and also if they get it up, they can keep the yoyo tsuri.”

EL commissioner Shannon Cheung and Mita Ramesh said that the main purpose of Multicultural Night was to celebrate and promote diversity.

“Our purpose is to celebrate and promote the cultural diversity at Homestead, and just celebrate that Homestead’s unique quality is our diversity,” Cheung said.

Sophomore Katherine Rizkalla said that the performances throughout the week were fun.

“I think it shows how passionate people are about their culture, and it shows how passionate Homestead is about making each culture an important part of our community,” Rizkalla said.

‘Black Panther’ soundtrack lives up to same hype as film

Not only does Marvel’s upcoming film “Black Panther” host an incredible cast, but the movie’s soundtrack brings musical icon Kendrick Lamar to the list of creatives working on the highly anticipated movie.

Lamar announced his role in producing and curating the soundtrack on Jan. 4, when he dropped “All the Stars,” a collaboration with SZA, which is a featured song on the album. The entirety of the soundtrack was released on Feb. 9.

The album presents songs from and inspired by the “Black Panther” film, which is to hit theaters on Feb. 16. The movie has created a wave of hype, as it is anticipated to be a fresh blend of superhero action and social commentary. More tickets were sold in advance than any previous superhero film, according to CNN.

A large part of the excitement surrounding “Black Panther” is the fact that it is the first Marvel film directed by a black person and one of the only blockbuster superhero movies with a predominantly African-American cast. The movie shines a light on African culture, something often ignored in Hollywood, especially in action features.
Lamar’s album reflects this same culture from the movie. Not only does the soundtrack host some of the most prominent black artists of the industry, such as The Weeknd, Khalid, SZA, Anderson Paak and Travis Scott, but the sounds and lyrics of the album offer a range of perspectives that emphasize the values of the film.

There is a huge spectrum of variety in the soundtrack. Each featured artist is allowed to express their own style under the theme of the film, with songs ranging from the pop-inspired R&B in “The Ways” to the intense hip-hop of “X.”

Lamar keeps the album cohesive in subtle nods to his own style heard in every song. His ability to tie such a broad range of songs together into a united format shows his musical prowess. His choice to allow participating musicians such freedom in expression strengthens the message of the album through diversity.

Due to the expanse of style, it is unlikely that one person will love every single song on the soundtrack. Personally, I disliked “King’s Dead” because I am not a fan of trap rap. However, I adored the reggae-rap style of “Seasons.” These are matters of taste, and despite mixed opinions on certain songs, the album as a united work is a genuine masterpiece.

“Black Panther” is already set to break records and set new expectations as a superhero movie, and in this same manner, Lamar’s accompanying album expands possibilities for what a film soundtrack can be.

The Hart of the Matter: Women in athletics deserve better representation

The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games recently began, and my eyes have been glued to the television ever since. I wanted to ignore the politics and just “ooh” and “aah” at every perfectly executed triple axel, but the reality of the way the international competition is run cannot be hidden.

I grew up seeing the Olympic season as a time of wonder and amazement, marvelling at the most talented athletes in the world.

The Olympics were also a time whenI saw people like me. Throughout the rest of the year, screens around me were always showing men’s football, men’s basketball and men’s baseball. During the Olympics, I got to see women taking center stage, inspiring me to pursue athletics.

My wonderment towards the Olympics made it hard to recognize its fundamental issues. There is a real gender disparity within the international competition, and it breeds a hostile environment towards women.

Women make up almost half of the athletes in the Olympics. This fact is touted as a success as a representation of sexism within sports disappearing as we progress towards equality.

While the gender ratio among  athletes is close to equal, the Olympics as an organization is not. Women only make up a fifth of the members of the National Olympic Committee Executive Board, a fourth of the International Olympic Committee Executive Board and 15 percent of the International Federation Executive Board in 2015, according to the official Olympics website.

The fact that a group of only 20 percent is representing a group of almost 50 percent is a red flag in itself, and the the issue manifests into situations such as the Larry Nassar scandal.

Nassar was a doctor for the U.S.A. gymnastics team who was recently sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison on criminal sexual assault charges, according to TIME magazine. He was accused of the offenses by over 100 athletes, most of whom were underaged. His abuse was brought to light by high-profile Olympian gymnasts from the U.S., such as Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney, whose testimonies dated back through years of abuse.

Assuits were taken out against Nassar himself by his victims, those who endured his abuse also filed lawsuits against USA Gymnastics, for lack of sufficient action in regards to the reports of sexual assault.

After the Nassar trial, the chairman, vice chairman and secretary of the board of USA Gymnastics resigned, according to the New York Times. Kerry Perry is the new CEO and president.

“New board leadership is necessary because the current leaders have been focused on establishing that they did nothing wrong,” the United States Olympic Committee’s chief executive Scott Blackmun said in a statement. “The Olympic family failed these athletes and we must continue to take every step necessary to ensure this never happens again.”

Larry Nassar’s years of inflicting abuse are a product of what happens when female athletes are represented by a board of men. USA Gymnastics and the Olympic committee made the correct decision in  replacing  these complacent men with a Perry, woman who understands the issues that women face.

However,  Larry Nassar is not alone, and his years of molesting are not an isolated event. Until the Olympic Committee Boards are equal, the Olympics are not equal.  

The call for justice of youngest siblings everywhere

The youngest sibling has it the hardest. The truth of birth-order stereotypes can only be confirmed when the story is heard from all perspectives.

Growing up as the youngest most definitely has its perks, yet, there are some major struggles the elder siblings will never understand.

As the youngest, this is the last chance parents have to raise a child right. This is the root cause of many complications from the primary years, to all the way past high school graduation. The youngest always has to battle for independence.

From miniscule mistakes to dramatic ones, any blunders older siblings have previously made will predispose an extensive list of unnecessary rules.

The varying age gaps between siblings seem to be the way of determining the amount of imaginable equality assigned. This works as a disadvantage for the youngest, as the gap grows bigger.

Then there is the emphasis on the innocence of the youngest sibling. With innocence comes assumptions of immaturity, leading to being treated as a kid even though you have proven yourself to be responsible.  

Other scenarios that cause further complications for the youngest sibling is the glorification of the eldest. Often found, the oldest sibling has already set the bar high, and as a result the youngest are expected to meet or surpass said standards. These expectations heavily influence a child’s development, according to Dr. Sylvia Rimm. They encourage feelings of inadequacy and encourages unhealthy competition.

These scenarios are most often disregarded as a nuisance one has to deal with however, there are situations where these disadvantages can be manipulated to mislead parents and serve to one’s own benefit.

There will come a time when the youngest siblings will no longer have to accept getting left out, not being taken seriously nor being tormented by their older siblings. But until then, we’ll have to live with it.

The Impatient Patient: Video game addiction more than a virtual reality

Part 1 of this series can be found here https://hhsepitaph.com/6416/opinion/the-impatient-patient-video-game-addiction-more-than-a-virtual-reality/

Gaming addiction now has a place into the World Health Organization (WHO) International Classification of Diseases. However, there has been debate over whether or not the decision to brand it as an actual disorder is a premature choice. The gaming world is already very stigmatized, and there are concerns that with its induction as a disorder, more stigma is added.

Are cases in which people have died due to overexposure from video games simply an anomaly? Perhaps — the American Journal of Psychiatry published a study that seems to refute the validity of a gaming disorder, in that only a small part of the population may qualify for a diagnosis of it.

In addition, according to Professor Mark Griffith of Nottingham Trent University, an author on the study, to diagnose gaming without looking at other factors is harmful, as there is the possibility of a pre-existing mental disorder present, and that it is not just video games themselves that incite such destructive behavior.

However, in Asia, where video game addiction is surging and has taken form in its own culture, larger cases of those affected by gaming addiction have been cited. According to the U.S. Library of Medicine, in a study done, figures of 10 to 15 percent gamers addicted have been recorded in the East, compared to 1 to 10 percent of western gamers.

According to Nigel Henderson, president of Mental Health Europe, a lack of social connections or a supportive network of family and friends may spur an individual to turn toward  video games.

The need for human interaction is inescapable — in fact, friendship and intimacy have their own tier on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs — and for obvious reasons. The advancement of human civilization was not borne out of a single individual making great leaps, but out of groups of individuals.

English poet John Donne once wrote no man is an island, and this makes for more than an impactful peace of poetry. According to psychologist Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a lack of social connections with peers increases chances of early death by 50 percent.

Does the culture in Asia mirror feelings of isolation, where social connectivity is perhaps not such an inherent part of the culture? It is possible, seeing as the Korean Institute for Health and Social revealed 90 percent of Korean adults were under some form of stress daily, while  Newzoo, a market intelligence provider,  reported that 49 percent of gamers in Korea are adults between 21 and 35.

As a matter of fact, WHO’s prospective induction of gaming addiction stemmed from pressure from Asian countries, according to WHO officials. In particular, the South Korean government has funded campaigns and treatment centers all centered around the problem of gaming addiction.

South Korea has even set laws in place to limit screen time within younger children. Noted in the Shutdown Law passed in 2011, in which children younger than 16 were disallowed from video games between 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Though this law has since been dissolved following backlash, the addition of it highlights the South Korean government’s battle against video games.

While gamers in Korea do not fall into the age range of that of teenagers, the precedence of the Shutdown Law marks that methods of prevention are being implemented to rid of the use of gaming and the possible dangers it might incite among youth.

If stress and lack of connectivity are concurrent factors that might result in a video game addictions, Korean students may just be at risk. According to the New York Times, 53 percent of Korean students with thoughts of suicide attributed academic inadequacy as main contributor to such thoughts. Among teens in the rigorous Korean school system with little free time, the refuge of video games is an outlet for coping with stress from school, according to Engadget.  

In the end, it is undeniable that video games and their culture induced from stress pressure, whether in the East or West, has been elevated to a point where it causes seriously destructive incidents for those affected. An individual dying from playing too much video games is rare, but the fact that there are such individuals should be a cause of concern.

While a small group of individuals may not reflect an overall population, who is to say that similar incidents may not follow? It may be better to not propose a war on video games just yet, but making available treatment options for those in danger of spiraling can only do more good than harm.

Teacher feature: the classrooms

Same genre, same culture, same upward trajectory for Migos

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lmost a year after their sophomore album, “Culture,” debuted to much acclaim, Migos, the Georgia-based hip-hop trio, released their latest album, “Culture II.”

Becoming the subject of speculation inside of the rap community, the project was first teased in June 2017, with a handful of singles being released this past December and January.

Southern hip-hop had never been my favorite subgenre of rap; most trap music, save for that of Gucci Mane, seemed one-dimensional and uninspired to me. However, “Culture,” specifically songs like “T-Shirt” and “Bad and Boujee,” opened my ears to the region.

The distinctive voices and styles of Quavo, Takeoff and Offset — the three members of Migos — blended with the darker aura of a trap beat sounded fresh and intuitive, qualities southern rap previously lacked.

Thus, my expectations for “Culture II” were not merely high, but overinflated. I was almost disappointed that the first track, “Higher We Go,” was largely a generic trap song, with little lyrical substance (unless you consider lyrics about illegal substances substance).

During my initial listen, many of the songs fell short of my expectations in the same manner: more mindless drivel about drugs and cars, and more repetitive and uninspired hooks.

However, a few tracks stood out, namely the December single “Stir Fry,” with its active, pop-like beat, allusions to southern food and cooking and a hook by Quavo.

I finished listening entirely unimpressed, but gave a couple sections of the album a second try. Remarkably, I wasn’t nearly as disappointed the second time around, with adjusted expectations and more clarity on the direction of the music.

Migos hasn’t done anything revolutionary or groundbreaking, nor have they created a masterpiece that will eventually be used as a time capsule for trap music. Nonetheless, “Culture II” has its appeals, both to those with more refined ears for rap and newer listeners who are getting their first taste of the genre.

The first few songs, including the January single “Superstars” and “Walk It Talk It,” are largely similar to the rest of Migos’ discography, with one member singing the hook and rapping a verse and the other two rotating in for a few bars of their own. Quavo leads the two tracks, and while his hooks and lyricism aren’t exactly ingenius, the more unique beats on the two tracks compliment his tangy southern accent well. The features on the first few tracks, being Drake and 21 Savage, both blend well with Migos, but neither was particularly spectacular.

However, the highlights of the album are in the middle, being “CC,” “Stir Fry” and “Too Much Jewelry.” Gucci Mane makes an appearance on the first of those; his unique voice lends itself well to the more traditional trap beat. “Too Much Jewelry” features veteran producer Zaytoven on the beat, with Takeoff rapping the majority of both the hook and verses.

The latter portion of the album, while nothing special, is equally as solid as the first part. The premier single of the album, “MotorSport,” features a pair of female vocalists in Nicki Minaj and Cardi B. The project’s third-to-last track, “Made Men,” is another standout, with a relaxed, upbeat vibe, not dissimilar to that of R&B-influenced hip-hop.

The question surrounding the album is not whether the various standouts make it a success, but rather whether the remaining generic, uninspired filler tracks drag the album down.

Migos, one of the most prolific acts in hip-hop, needs to focus less on proving themselves to everybody, but rather show the industry whether or not they will take trap music in a new direction.

In a way, “Culture II” does that, probably exactly in the manner Migos wants it to. The album oozes Atlanta vibes and conveys the feelings and emotions of a hustler in a way only rap could. In a a genre where the best music follows a strict formula, the group does a solid job of stepping in a new direction while staying true to their culture.

A maniacal fall out of flavor

W hen I was in middle school, Fall Out Boy played constantly on the radio, making it almost impossible not to hear one song a day. I was more than okay with that. Songs like “Centuries” and “Uma Thurman” filled my earbuds and I loved listening to rock music, which contrasted my usual Taylor Swift or Miley Cyrus songs.
As the years went by, Fall Out Boy faded from my playlists and I forgot about them. Then came “Mania.”
Before Fall Out Boy’s new album was released on Jan. 19, I had high expectations for Fall Out Boy’s new album. I expected an alternative vibe which was the reason they appealed to so many fans and what had made me listen to them all those years ago. Imagine my distaste when I found the album was nothing I thought it would be.
In their new album, Fall Out Boy blindly follows the new norm of giving an electronic background to their songs instead of using classic rock instruments. For example, in the first single of the album, “Young and Menace,” there was an extremely long interlude showing off the electronic backbone of the song. The large instrumental portion seemed overly long, and I found myself bored waiting for the vocals to appear. Overall, it didn’t fit the style that rock music normally portrays.
Instrumental is not the only problem in “Mania.” “Heaven’s Gate,” a song that focuses on a religiously sinful type of love, tried to mimic a soulful vibe like Hozier’s “Take Me to Church,” but falls short of the 2014 single. This was partly due to lead singer Patrick Stump’s voice, which gave no depth to the song, and therefore, no soul.
The songs melted into each other as I was listening, creating a whirlwind of unmemorable and identical tunes. “Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)” and “HOLD ME TIGHT OR DON’T” have the same snapping beat, and “Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea” is not actually about the popular tea drink.
The only great song to come out of this album is the second single: “Champions.” “Champions” is the closest song to the original rock that Fall Out Boy is known for, and it delivers on all the aspects the band became famous for.
In the song, Stump sings, “If I can live through this, I can do anything,” inspiring listeners to keep on going and find where their strength comes from. The song mirrors the same hard hitting, inspirational energy Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” gave. “Champions” goes back to Fall Out Boy’s alternative roots rather than displaying the electronic music present in all the other songs, and delivers a perfect message for this day and age.
As someone who was way too excited for Fall Out Boy’s new music, I would suggest listening to the previously released singles before deciding to purchase the full length album. It’ll give a small sample to the album and then one can decide for themselves whether or not “Mania” is worth it.

  • Artist: Fall Out Boy
  • Release date: Jan. 19
  • Genre: Alternative
  • Price: $11.99
  • Stars: 3.5