2017 Beautiful Minds Challenge Honorable Mentions

Posted by & filed under Challenge.

**All of the language and art are represented here as submitted by the entrant.**

“I Have” by Shayd Williams | Charleston County School of Arts | North Charleston, SC

When I read the prompt “Be The Change”, I was immediately excited. I started thinking about all of the effective things I had done in my community to bring about change and justice. However, it was not until I really started reflecting, that I realized that all of the real justice work I have done has only been in the last three years or so. That of course can be attributed to the fact that my mother now works as a community organizer, so that has opened me up to a lot of new opportunities, yet I think that I have also grown into myself and become more aware of the world around me. In becoming more aware, and completing this project, I have realized something about myself. I at times tend to glaze over the fact that it takes several people to implement change, not just one person. At times I think that if I just protest this one thing, or speak out against something, that I will see huge differences. While this is the first step, being a part of changing the world and creating justice includes inspiring and organizing other people to get involved and participate as well. Obviously I have done some organizing of my own, such as building my own team for the Charleston Area Justice Ministry or bringing friends and peers to Girls Rock Charleston events. However, I need to start doing that with every justice related thing I do. I am making a decision now, that the next time there is a Black Lives Matter march, I will invite all of my friends and peers. The next time I am about to send an email to a person on city council about something that is about to be passed, I will invite my friends and peers to send emails as well. I hope to continue this journey of organizing justice at Marlboro College this upcoming fall.

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“Solar Powered Distiller” by Julian Jaffe | Voyager’s Community School| Lincroft, NJ

Dear Panelists;

Please accept the file attached as my submission to the Beautiful Minds Competition 2016. For the Beautiful Minds Challenge 2016 prompt, I have decided to build something that not only represents technology changing the lives of others in the present but also the lives of those in the future. I believe that the nature of this project suggests that through technology we can easily change lives for the better, even in the most unfortunate circumstances. My Beautiful Minds project is a solar powered water filtering mechanism, which over time generates clean, usable water from any contaminated water source. The concept of a low-cost, electricity powered, water distillery/filter is not entirely a new one, as there exist mini water filtration machines which are made for the same purpose as my design.

I look forward to your thoughts and reactions and hope to see you at Marlboro Colege on March 30th. Thank you for this opportunity.

Sincerely,

Julian Jaffe

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“LGBTQ+ Representation in Film” by Anna Johnson | School of Inquiry and Life Sciences at Asheville | Asheville, NC

Throughout my life, I have struggled to find role models in the media. Being asexual means that many people consider me to resemble a robot in terms of my emotional awareness. However, I still have romantic attractions regardless of gender. Until half way through high school, I didn’t know their was a name for what I was feeling. I had felt like an outcast for so long, and having that name meant the world to me. I can’t begin to say what I would have done for a well written asexual character in television or film. Role models provide people with guidance to understand what you might experience in life. If I had seen an asexual character on TV I could have understood myself a lot sooner. Furthermore, I want to change the world with a medium that affects a surplus of people, film.

The film I have begun to create focuses on the senior year of three friends who all faces different challenges. The character of Mallory has been dating her boyfriend, Levi, for over a year but she’s scared to leave him to go to college. Grey struggles to understand her first relationship and Reyna can’t seem to let go of his/her ex (the character is genderfluid meaning his/her gender fluctuates). The movie utilizes juxtaposition, symbolism, and a quirky film style to radiate the connection the three friends share. No matter what happens to the characters, they always have each other. The film ends with them all staring up at the sky, stargazing and eating chocolate not worrying about their own problems but focusing on the friendship they all developed through the year.

I didn’t want this movie to end up as one of the many hypersexual, flamboyant movies on the Lesbian/Gay genre tab of Netflix. The film’s characters’ sexual orientations are never directly stated in the film to ensure that they had an identity that wasn’t focused on the fact that they are part of the LGBTQ+ community. However, there are hints of each character’s orientation through flags in their bedrooms, pronoun bracelets, or phone lock screen images. Essentially, the main point of the film is to state that the characters are just normal everyday blokes. Being in love with someone of your same gender doesn’t make you an alien. You are still you, no matter what.

Based on the work I’ve completed on this project, I know for certain that I’m meant to continue to create films throughout my life. Humans aren’t their race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, etc. It can be a component of their identity but it doesn’t have to consume you. This project taught me the importance of getting to know a person rather than simply basing your opinions of them off of first impressions. Writing a character forces you to try and empathize with problems you may not truly understand. By continuing to create characters, you learn how essential personality is to a person’s identity. Each film I make in the future will be gender-blind and color-blind to allow any actor the opportunity interested to have an equal opportunity of a job. I will complete as many movies as I can with diverse cast to ensure that teenagers like me have a role model in film so they can better understand their lives and identity.

Sincerely,

Anna Johnson

(The Film Nerd.)

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“The Death of the Sea” by Felix Roeschert | Christ Church Episcopal School | Simpsonville, SC

Being the change and making an impact is incredibly important for humanity. With my sculpture of the dying reef I want to encourage everyone to be the change and make our world better. Out of sight, we forget that there’s a huge world living beneath the waters of the sea. 70% of the world consists of water and humans only explored about 5% of the oceans. If we keep living like we do now, we will destroy this world before we even know all of it. We all have to think of our planet as a home that’s not replaceable rather than thinking of it as a car that we can drive until it’s broken and then throw it away and buy a new one.

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“The Way the World Talks” by Sophia “Phoenix” Bieneman |The Roeper School | West Bloomfield, Michigan 

Dear Beautiful Minds Judges,

After the recent presidential election, a lot of students at my school were shocked and angered by the results. My journalism teacher told us that if we were angry, we should go out and do something. That night, I realized something: the thing that I do best is write. This led me to start a WordPress blog to talk about my thoughts after the election.

And yet, I felt like I was trying to do something else. I’ve been in a philosophy class this semester, and it’s gotten me thinking not only about the topics we’ve studied, but also about how best to discuss things. That combined with my neurobiology class has taught me a lot about the emotional brain vs. the rational brain, and I’ve realized that what I am really trying to do is change something about the way people talk about controversial topics, ie., get people to use their rational brains over their emotional brains.

In most circles, when a controversial opinion is raised, it’s often met with an attack. Sometimes, it’s because the opinion is genuinely malicious, but oftentimes, it’s because the attacker simply doesn’t understand the perspective of the person who shared their opinion. The presidential election was basically one attack after another, and we never got to hear all that much about actual policies. If people attack each other rather than hold actual discussions, no one learns anything.

What I want to do is promote a different kind of discussion: the kind where people explain their viewpoints to each other, and together they try to understand each other and come to some form of agreement. The best way I can see to do this is to lay out my opinions and let others weigh in, which I am currently trying to do on my blog at https://thephoenixaflame.wordpress.com/. I let thoughts percolate in my head for a couple of days, and then I put them all down in a blog post. I invite anyone and everyone to respond.

Through this, I’ve learned about myself and my own thoughts, for one, and I’ve learned how to sit and think things through. Writing down thoughts is a good way to sort them out, and I’m glad I’ve given myself the opportunity to do that. I’ve also learned how hard it is to fully think through an opinion and why I have it. This blog is the result of a lot of different thought processes I’ve been having lately, mostly about what to think and how to think it, and in the end, what I’ve really learned from those thought processes is that even though everyone hated Socrates, being a gadfly isn’t a terrible idea. I improve as a person when I question everything, and I would like a world in which the unexamined life is truly considered not worth living. I hope to continue exploring my thoughts through this blog, and I hope that others will explore their thoughts on the same topics in the comments.

However, I haven’t had much luck with the interaction side of it, though, which is why I’ve set up a Twitter account (twitter.com/aflame_phoenix) and a Facebook page (facebook.com/thephoenixaflame). I’m hoping that sharing my posts on these social media sites will garner a larger audience, and I will, of course, continue posting. Another thing that I am in the process of learning is how to promote a blog without becoming just another item in a feed desperately trying to get clicks.

Overall, this blog is improving my own ability to have thorough thought processes, and it reflects a change in myself that I would like to spread throughout the world. It is a slow change in both cases, but it is a worthwhile one.

Since I don’t have anything to attach (the best documentation you will get is actually reading the blog), I’m going to put a copy of this letter as an attached file, since I was very proud of myself for making it look all official before I realized that I was meant to paste it into this textbox.

Thank you for considering my entry.

Sincerely,

Phoenix Bieneman

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“How A Small Town Taught Me The Necessity of Engagement” by Sonja Eiseman | Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School | Williamsburg, MA

While working on the Beautiful Minds Challenge, it was reaffirmed that revision is an essential part of being human. The majority of humans have a desire to better themselves and their work. This idea manifested when I worked on the written piece of my entry over and over again until I felt like my writing was accessible and authentic. The reason that I decided to combine my passion for writing with photographs in this piece is because I wanted the visual to be engaging and my words to also be prominent. I thought that showing the old fashion dress I wear as a docent as well as a picture of the museum’s country store enhanced the piece as a whole.

An aspect of this contest I especially enjoyed was That I was able to explore my own identity. I thought deeply about how my actions are impacting the world around me. Through reflection, my belief that education is necessary for change to occur was strengthened. This belief is one of the reasons that I enjoy educating my community on local history so much.

During this project, I also went beyond writing and reflecting about my contributions to the local museum. I called and met with my fellow-docent and the commissioner of the museum to make sure my facts were accurate. One example of this is I checked exactly what generation townie my fellow docent is. I feel that this act of being conscientious of historical accuracy showcases that I am able to incorporate what I learn at the museum into other aspects of my life.

Overall, it was a really wonderful experience to process my contribution towards creating positive change in my community. Often times, I am so caught up in the moment while I am giving tours, that I do not allow myself to see the whole picture. I am a piece of something that extends beyond the rooms of the museum. I am really working to preserve history, and simultaneously bring it back to life for my community. Allowing myself to be so raw and genuine in my writing, demonstrates my passion for bettering my community and becoming a more knowledgeable individual. I feel like I have made a lot of personal growth through this intimate self-reflection.

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“Butterflies” by Shelby Hammond | Casa Grande High School | Petaluma, CA

When I heard about the Beautiful Minds Challenge I instantly knew what I was going to submit. I decided to take the prompt and create an art piece. The art that I submitted represents all of the negativity leaving a person through their wrists. Many teenagers resort to cutting their wrists to escape from the pain they are experiencing. My submission demonstrates the pain leaving the person and accepting the butterflies, which represent happiness and positivity. This also ties into the written portion of my submission.


” Casting the African American (Re-imagining the Struggles of African American Performers on Broadway)” by Levonn Owens | William Nottingham High School| Syracuse, NY

Dear Beautiful Mind Challenge,

I think that the biggest lesson I have learned while writing this paper is that there is a huge issue with the lack opportunities offered to minorities in America . Although I have always known this was a problem in America, I did not know that this was a problem in a place I have called home for the last eight years, the performing arts. While going through the analytical process, I was much more open minded to seeing and understanding why there is a such thing as “The Great White Way” and why does it exist in the performing arts profession. I have sat down and studied ticket sales, performance salaries, Equity Bylaws, box office stars, type casting and so much more. So instead of arguing and saying that “this is completely unfair and why is the system like this?” I looked at the information and said “what can I do to make a difference disassembling The Great White Way? after reading this paper, how will my reader make a difference or have an affect on “The Great White Way?” After I finished writing this paper, I passed around my high school, the paper caused a huge uproar and a support system for minority performers, that I ended up being apart of my school’s drama clubs board of decisions, which I now overseeing the drama club’s problem with the lack of minority performers on stage in our very diverse high school.

At first I wrote this paper as a pointed finger, trying to blame and say that Caucasian Americans are taking away opportunities from minorities. But when the Hamilton Casting situation happened, I think Caucasian Americans understood what if felt like to be limited or exempt from an opportunity. I have highly expressed that Broadway has this issue of being “The Great White Way.” Sadly over the years “The Great White Way” is being considered a normal aspect for Minority performers. This “way” has to be changed and challenged because “The Great White Way” system is not giving a lot of performance opportunities to performers of color. I tried to accomplish in this paper reimagining this normal of the “Great White Way” system and challenging it by saying what if we lived in a world where “The Great White Way” was named “The Great Black Way?” As you read this paper, I would like you to keep this question in mind, “when will we or when is it appropriate to cast the African American?”

Enjoy The Reading,

Levonn Owens

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“Education Meditation” by Lauren Pope |Bridgewater Raritan Regional High School | Raritan, NJ

Dear Friends at Marlboro College,

My beautiful minds project has been a collection of my passions orchestrated in such a way that has allowed me to reach other people. I initiated a daily yoga practice and mindfulness meditation in my Senior English class for a two week time period to study the impact that physical movement and centering the mind has on the energy, demeanor and level of focus of students in my public high school.

I gathered general information about the participants’ expectations of and emotions towards the practice and many of them shared that they were unfamiliar with yoga and meditation and that they hoped it would help them relax. It was quite fascinating to me that so many different people had such a commonality in that they felt stressed out.

As I presented my plans to participants in my project, I felt a bit anxious that my peers would not be enthusiastic or willing to take part in what I hoped to be a wonderful new experience. I was pleasantly surprised that everyone was open to trying something new and that we all shared a desire for a change in the classroom.

Every human being has a mind, a body, and a spirit and helping others to be more in tune with theirs is so fulfilling for me. For this reason I was excited to discover that my classmates enjoyed the yoga meditation so much that we worked together with our teacher to dedicate a time period one day a week to continue our practice for the rest of the school year. My teacher shared with me that she also noticed an increase in students’ focus after doing yoga and was ecstatic that we wanted to continue the project as a part of our weekly routine.

The results of my Beautiful Minds project have allowed me to connect with people in a meaningful and unexpected way and show them the value that comes from honoring the connection between mind and body. This has inspired me to go forth and continue to find creative ways to help others reach their full potential.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Lauren Pope


“Hard Work Project.” by Mahmoud Adel | Dhofar School for Boys | Cairo, Egypt

I will try to talk about my life, my steps, my project and my dreams simply.
First, who am I?
My name is Mahmoud Adel Hamouda (Goda) as a nickname, I was born in 22\12\1997 in Egypt and I am 18 years old .
Graduated from high school last year in 2015 (Dhofar School for boys In Oman) after that I wanted to study my passion as I am a Photographer since 2011 and I Had fallen in passion with Cinema and filmmaking from that way. because of Stanly Kubrick, David Lynch, and others from different cultures so I decided to study cinema after Graduation. at first, I started to study filmmaking with my own by the same way I started with photography from some books and internet lessons.
After graduating from high school I get back from Oman to my main county Egypt to study Film directing in High Cinema institute in Cairo, Submitted to the tests in 2015 In fact not accepted, I accepted that maybe I don’t have enough experience so I decided to study harder from professional books as Michael Rabiger, Federico Fellini and some diary books such as Sergei Eisenstein and Mohammed khan, and I get trained in some film locations as an assistant of DOP, sec assistant of Director to get the experience that can make me study abroad in good film school, but unfortunately it didn’t work.
because of high fees and small obstacle my language, I used to study and read in Arabic but it’s not a big deal it will disappear by diligence and time.
After that, I did my first short film (oscar’s crisis) about psychodrama or psycho people with a very small crew and low budget. I decided to enter the test of high cinema institute again in 2016… they didn’t accept me again!! This time Some of my friends said that acceptance is not based on talent or tests but on other things like if your father a director or a person from your family in the artistic community. I don’t want that accused, but this happens in many of Egyptian institutions so I am not surprised.
I accepted it and I began to complete my way without the academic education as Stanley Kubrick. until I saw the scholarship and I get some hope again
but If I will be the next Kubrick I can take care of every hard moment forever.
Second, My project and what it is about.
Hard Work It was planned to be a documentary film, but it turned to be a photography project because of some government Procedures and I can’t find a Produce company cares about that kind of movies. Acutely I found one but they told me that (we do not trust on your experience, you are very young to do that as a professional film that we can sell!) so I turned it to Photography project but I believe one day I will make it as a professional documentary film.
Hard Work is a project about Some workers in the non-governmental sector Who work in a particular craft workmanship, that need much time and effort for a small amount of money. Amid the present events, nobody feels about those workers, not by the governments or general people. I hope that people can feel that suffering to earn livelihood Life.
My Dreams,
No one likes to talk about his dreams much but simply after the big dream The oscar of course
I am planning to build a college for arts without exorbitant amounts for all nationalities from all over the world.
I don’t know how this will be done In that circumstances, but I know that there are some countries will provide a helping hand such as the UAE and if that didn’t happen that mean I had gone when I am trying to do.
If you accepted me in the scholarship to study film or not I accept that there is someone worth it more than me.
with all due to respect.
Related awards,Certificates
First of the class in high school and the third of the school.
Two rounds with Outwardbound Oman.
Best picture for Salalah Desert – 2014 “Oman” Ministry of Tourism.
First prize with تراثي “Tradition” Award for Photography – 2016 “Egypt” Ministry of Culture.
Human Development trainer and public speaker. CTCHD supervision By Dr. Amal El Feki – Excellent degree.
Internship with AIESEC India creating impact in AHMEDABAD,INDIA at schools, and charities in a positive way.

You can check my online portfolio, kind of my photography work
https://500px.com/g0oda
https://www.behance.net/mahmoudgo06fb9
Contact
https://twitter.com/Mahmoud_G0oDA
Mahmoud.go0oda@gmail.com
002 01027817344


“Medical Supplies” by Jillyan Corrales | Nease High School | St. Augustine, FL

Hello,
My name is Jillyan Corrales and I am a senior at Allen D Nease High School in St. Augustine, Florida. I first leaned about this challenge through fastweb scholarships and I decided to give it a try. After reading the prompt and thinking about it for a few days, I was amazed at all the things in life that a single person could possibly change. From the ridiculously long line at my school to taking the time to help out at charity event, my life seemed so ripe with the possibility for a positive change. After listening to my mother talk about a patient who needed a new wheelchair but was unable to get one,I decided to work with my own mother to attempt to help those in need of medical supplies, with no way to get them cheaply, receive the things that that they needed. to do this, we looked for donations from other patients, good smartens, and the local charities. After receiving items, we worked to match them up with a person in need. No matter the size of the donation, everything was extremely helpful. This challenge, regardless of the outcome, has really helped me to see how much of an impact one person can have on someone else, no matter how insignificant it might seem at the time.
Thank you,
Jillyan Corrales


“The Change Inside” by Lucy Johnston | Malibu High School | Agoura Hills, CA

Writing this essay has made me reach down into some of the darkest days of my childhood and adolescence so that I could evaluate the effect they have had on me. As I looked back on my youth, I was able to realize how having a difficult childhood has affected me and has made me into the person I am today. It also made me think about how when I was a kid, adults were always telling me they wished they could go back to being a child because being an adult is far worse. This always made me feel sad and anxious because I wasn’t having the halcyon childhood adults were telling me I should be having. I thought that if what I was going through then was supposed to be golden compared to adulthood, then my future would really be Hell. I think adults tell children and teenagers this because they are trying to tell them to enjoy their youth because soon it will be gone. This has the good sentiment of living life in the present but if someone’s youth does not live up to these expectations that he or she could become depressed by hearing that it all is going to be downhill from there.
As I wrote this essay, I have been able to identify traps of negative thinking I tend to fall into and ways I can potentially fall out of them. Furthermore, as I wrote, I began to open up to my mom about the issues I have had with my body. Talking about body image is something that has always been too hard for me but as I began to tell her how I have felt she shared similar stories of struggles she has had with herself. I have realized that most people, especially women, have gone through periods or a lifetime of hating their bodies. I have also found that, although it is hard, it is important to share our stories because it teaches others of ways to avoid the toxicity of our culture and how we can grow from our pain. Along with my essay, I have included a few pictures of my mom and I to show how we were as we went through our struggles.


“Hope of the World” by Je’Dah Palmer | Penn Foster High School Online | Princeton, WV

As we all know the world, over the course of several years, has changed from a world of great possibilities and positive messages, to something dark and often full of hate. Many who were once positive about the future have given up, and lost faith in the good qualities of humanity. Unfortunately, many people from different nations have the mindset “Nothing is going to change, and It seems to only be getting worse. In many conversations you hear “Why try anymore?”. Most are being affected by the feelings of being terrified. Terrified of a destructive inevitable ending. Most people in our society look at me as only a “Child”. As well as many others my age. We are continuously silenced, and told to stay in a child’s place. I had done this for awhile, but I will no longer.

I’ve learned that we are all responsible for the state, and shape of our world. No matter what age you are, there is something you can do to make a difference. I’ve heard many say “They need to fix this, and they need to fix that.” But we are they. Hope of the world is in our generation. If you want change, you have to be willing to lend a hand. See the world in a new way. Use our experiences of pain, and hurt. Transform it into Growth, and knowledge. We need uplift people To make kindness, and love known again. It starts with us, It always has.

My name is Je’Dah Palmer, and I am 17 years old. I surrendered who I was for what I could become. I have identified my passion which is music, and now I’m turning that into one of many; My purpose. I travel the east coast with my band “The Change” To reach out to different generations with a message of hope, and unity. Something I’ve been wanting to do for so long. I hope to connect with others around the world someday. This is a short video of my journey. This is my story.

Video: Hope for the World


“The Flip Side” by Illana Herrera | Judson High School | Converse, TX

My school has a multitude of amazing people. However, a lot of them turn to less than decent ways to express that amazingness. As an artist, I joined the art club, looking for a good time. Unfortunately, what I found was a small group of kids who just sat around in a classroom and talked. So, the next year, I became president of the art club. We increased in new members this year and a lot of returning members as well due to the many community service projects, art competitions and murals we designed and painted. I am now historian, I had my time in the spotlight, now it’s time for someone else to take art club a step higher than I did. I pray that my example will lead the future artists of Judson High School who, like me, turn to art for the expressiveness we all search for.

The photo below is an original piece I did for the club the year I was president, it was named The Flip Side(hence the title above) because of the creative way the person expressed herself.


“The Tolerance of an Owl” by Mcgovren Moore | High Mowing School | Wilton, NH

Through the centuries of our human history great disputes have been started over petty arguments, awful miscommunications, or someone sharing their truth and another rejecting it. We refuse to accept the things we don’t understand, and often refuse to even try to understand if we don’t agree. What we need as a culture is to listen, to remain calm and to let things take place, to let people learn their lessons, to let the world grow. This notion is what my owl is meant to show. The owl is calm and collected in the most chaotic situations, she looks inward, and allows for the storm to pass. If we as people looked inside our souls more often and allowed for people to have their opinions and their truths while we stay calm and accept that what we think is true and right is not what is true and right for everyone else, we would not be so quick to be hostile to and attack each other. We all need to find our own way to look inside and contemplate. Stained glass is the medium I’ve found to look inside myself and work through my thoughts, experiences, and troubles. This is the change I am trying to be, this is the change I wish to see, and this is how I can artistically express it.

“Making Brighter Moments” By Monique Quintana, Breanna Marquez, and Monica Garcia | Middle College High School | Highland, CA

In Making Brighter Moments, we plan to address the issue of families who do not have any clothing. Families may be struggling for whatever reasons that they may or not be able to control. In San Bernardino, the poverty rate is very high. Many families struggle to provide clothing for their children due to this fact. We aim at easing worries for any parents that are struggling to provide clothing for their children or for themselves also. We all have struggled in our own lives, and knowing what that feels like is why we want to provide something for those in need that might not have free clothing, shoes, or toys available to them. Unlike the Goodwill, we do not want to charge people for used items that they really need.
We are addressing this issue by setting up a “Making Brighter Moments” center in the corner of our avid teacher’s classroom. We decided to get a little creative and make up the name to go along with the initials in our group; Monique Quintana, Breanna Marquez, and Monica Garcia. We want to ask other students and teachers for any clothing donations. After we get donations, we plan on adopting a family through Mary’s Table or Arrowhead United Way in San Bernardino. We will get in contact with the family or these organizations and ask for a description of the family (size, age, and gender) to sort through what we have available for them. Instead of these families having to gather money for clothes that are gently used and buying them from the Goodwill or thrift stores, we want to branch out and get enough donations to eventually help out more than one family a month. We decorated a corner of the classroom with a christmas theme so we can make this project more fun and creative. We made flyers and presented to each class at Middle College High School.
This idea may be seen to others as unoriginal, but we came up with this aiming to help others with the same experiences we’ve had growing up. We have learned that we are fortunate enough to realize that we can make a difference. We did not know that our peers had the same struggles we did, growing up. We learned that other students are eager to donate to help our cause because we all want to make a positive difference in this city. We are high school students taking college classes and we want to use this as an advantage to make a change not only at Middle College High School but also San Bernardino as a whole. The feeling of subtle frustration is how we’ve felt growing up not having many clothes. We wish there would have been an opportunity like this for us growing up so our parents wouldn’t have had to stress as much. Now we know that we can make brighter moments in the lives we are affecting by simply donating clothes, toys, and shoes to our cause.


“Compliment Challenge” by Gabriella Flores, Jamie Hernandez, and Yesenia Mendoza  | Middle College High School | San Bernardino, CA

22 November, 2016
Being a member of a corrupt century in which society has such a different sick mentality, it evidently lowers anyones confidence and self esteem. It modifies the way a person performs on their day to day activities but most importantly it greatly impacts the way they view the world around them.
We went on a mission to find the insecurities of young teens. Particularly the youth that resides in the city of San Bernardino. When this project was first initiated, the results were shocking. All twenty people that were surveyed simply stated that they were unhappy with a characteristic about themselves, whether it being physically or mentally. By the cause of these statistics, we created such a simple way to change the world all around and, since it is said that the youth is the future, that matter was taken into consideration to make it come true.
We interviewed 20 people one by one and one interesting response that was provided was “Being a member in the hometown of San Bernardino does affect me but, not necessarily in a negative matter. It provides more fuel to do better and better. It has made me stronger and made me the person that I am today. If everything was handed down to me super easy, I wouldn’t learn how to work for what I earned, I will still continue to work into my goals and soon say that I have grown into such a beautiful successful and hardworking woman.”
It was such a unique response by the cause that, obviously a different answer was expected. San Bernardino has a bad reputation but now knowing how it can contribute to someone’s life in a positive way, it is safe to say that it isn’t as bad after all.
Our 20 designated people were to walk around with bright sticky notes that drew attention to their insecurities. It was such a beautiful moment when they got together and clearly stated how those insecurities were so irrelevant and they complimented each other. It was a moment filled with joy.
Not to mention, they later wrote was they strongly loved about themselves. Even though it was a much more smaller number than insecurities, we are a team so we slowly built on and learned self love. Provided that, the number of insecurities shrunk and positive comments increased. We had a personal talk about self love and as to why it is crucial and that really impacted us and opened each one of our eyes in a shocking realization. Who is going to love us if we don’t love ourselves?
Our goal was to not just make it part of a project and finish but, it was truly, make it a lifestyle where we always compliment people and make everyone feel good. After all, what others think does make an effect on a person. It has been a week since we completed our project and everyone is filled with positive and loose vibes.
It has been a week since we completed our project and everyone seems to have a different outlook on themselves than when it was initiated. It is amazing to see what we are capable of and what we can do for ourselves.

Sincerely,
Jamie H. Gabriella F. Yesenia M.

 

Video: Compliment Challenge 


“Know Your Power” by Rachel Bork  | Agoura High School | West Hills, CA

Change.
I believe that within each moment passed a part of me has died, and within each new moment a part of me has been seen for the first time. I am becoming more and more of whom I know I will continue to be as I grow old, acquire a job, settle down, and slowly dwindle away my life. That pessimistic, over-simplified viewpoint is one of few that haven’t changed for me, and while I have consistently disproved the idea that people stop growing at a certain age, I have still consistently become more afraid of that path for myself. This easily relates to my stubbornness, and blind faith in romantic ideas, possibly from a way I was raised, possibly from my genes, or possibly from some sort of side effect of living in the twenty-first century. Some things never change. Only, everything changes, that is the law of life, right? A cocoon houses a caterpillar just until she is strong enough to break through, forever physically changed, a boy who busies his mind with planes busies his mind with other boys as he grows older, and the pursuit of education of a college undergrad completely shifts as that adult seeks monetary value over inner growth. Each of these examples shows a loss of a sense of childlike wonder, the not yet fully developed form, or the values children often keep so dear to their hearts. They are raised already as the purest forms of humans, unaware of complex pain or the reasons to create that pain around them, and completely lonely in their own minds, only they have yet found the criticism to label their feelings as loneliness. I believe that their being, before they have been made self-conscious, anxious, depressed, full of lust, anger, greed, and all the other characteristics of society, is full of a pure life that is the center to all of us. Each person can recognize love, joy, and a feeling of home in another because they feel their connection to this core knowing of imagination, power, and again, love. Let’s face it, children are incredibly hard to care for, put a lot of stress on their parents, take away years of sleep and “hard-earned money,” as adults would call it, and yet adults are obsessed with them… because they spark what many have spent years losing, years changing themselves to be practical, reasonable, logical, and anxious. Before they are changed, children hold the solution to all of life’s endlessly complex and scary problems through their ability to find the core of all life, and know their power.
This is where teenagers come in. Teens have a bad reputation around adults for wanting to overthrow the patriarchy and reject rules, but they have a very near and dear space in my heart. The teen-adult feud stems all the way back to the first time the first child became a teen and its childlike wonder was met with the crushing monotony of the “real world,” and all of its complex errors. That teen had to face the major dilema of what teens all around the world are facing today; the process of becoming an adult. Often this can feel like rejecting what instinctually feels right, strong, and real for something that has so much noise and pressure around it that it scares people into losing their humanity. I can see my friends knowing what their passions are, and simultaneously being so scared of what the world will take of them (an insecurity built into them through age) that they have chosen to go an easier, less exciting, but more acceptable way on their lives. This seems to be the case for most people, and the cycle keeps repeating until we are all disgusted at other humans, unable to reason with each other, and completely out of tune of our core, empathetic selves. I have often heard that the first thing someone was once passionate about as a kid, before they were able to judge its validity, is the same thing they are destined to do in life. However, people are really, really scared of following those childlike dreams, and in result don’t try to change into who they really want to be, strong and compassionate and in love with their lives, because they use the judgement they were taught as they transformed into adults to convince themselves the jump isn’t worth it after all. This is where we get the standard stereotype of adults of being in their heads, unfulfilled, lacking meaning in their lives, and extremely critical of themselves and others. Years and years of manipulating their once imaginative, intuitive, and kind brain results in losing the connection to who they really are, who they know they should be, and the pure good of life. Adults without passion are not likely to find the cure to cancer, raise thoughtful and connected future adults, or spread a positive and loving motion through the world. Still, we are at a time in human history where we seem so disconnected from each other that the thought of all the work we would have to do to bring ourselves back to the basic intuitive love we all share depresses me. It is not an easy path towards positive change, but it is the most noble one out there. We can not lose hope. There is the possibility for change in every person alive. And so I sought out to find it.
My main goal in this project was to inspire my friends to reimagine themselves as beams of change in their own lives. I asked them two simple questions, and without judgement from myself or the judging minds they are learning how to have, their inner child came through. Their responses are not of practicality or dismissal of their true passions, but of hope for a brighter future for themselves and for those around them. Had they been talking to a less hopelessly-romantic best friend of theirs, I can’t say their responses would have stayed the same. I am privileged to see their bits of childlike wonder come through, and to be apart of a community where we feel connected enough with each other to reject a lot of what adult life seems to teach us that does not seem to fit our true knowing, and to express ourselves with the wonder and trust of children. I chose to interview teenagers because they are at the schism between positive change and stagnant neutrality, or even evil. They are full of the thoughts of children, searching for a better way to exist, but are aware of the pressures of adulthood that want them to forget their truths. There is a lot of stress on their shoulders from school, the lack of sleep they get, and their future, and yet they stay bright and excited to make real change happen. In times of great pressure and anxiety I have found people are most likely to disregard everything and seek out their true meaning, becoming so overwhelmed that they drop the idea of being overwhelmed and just exist. Their existence often turns into something revolutionary, as they live and think in a way never before seen, without worry or practicality, which manifests in revolutionary movements of thought, art, dance, medicine, and kindness. I hope that when my friends get to the edge they remember their truth, calmly stated in the video to follow, and forget the power anxiety and self-doubt once held on them.
Working on this project taught me a lot about self-discipline and my basic state of procrastinating even the things I really enjoy doing. I think my fear of failure keeps me from working on personal projects more often, because I don’t want to “waste” the time. I really appreciate how the project turned out just because I was able to get through my stubbornness and complete it. Beautiful Minds gives me an outlet to try new things, like taking fancy pictures of my best friends and interviewing them a bit about their philosophies, because I would never have made the time for myself to do so without the Challenge. I definitely learned to experiment more from this trip down makeshift cinematographer lane, as it was my first time using iMovie, interviewing anyone (which is something I’ve always thought sounded cool,) and taking photos of people that were actually meant to be decent photographs. Interestingly enough, I learned a lot about the concept of change by working on my project documenting change. For starters, I realized all of my close friends share a similar goal for their futures, and that they truly want to help people and be a kind person. I didn’t ask them to be positive or explain their impact on their communities, but they had all already decided it would be important for them to give back and share their joy with others. I can’t express how much love I felt for them, all my best friends who had agreed to let me record them speak about something very personal to them, while I heard what they had planned for themselves. Those moments with each of them individually were apart of a big movement happening in my life right now, where I’m learning how much people really care about each other and how enriching real connections with people are. It was much more rewarding than I had ever imagined to try something new and foreign to me, like taking pictures with strategy and interviewing, and I got a lot of joy through two forms of expression I had never given real thought to because I just assumed they weren’t for me. I am developing into a different person everyday, and I shouldn’t limit myself based on the image I had of myself yesterday.


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