“…there was people my age who are too quick to grow up.”

This entry is from one of our Youth Interns, Kierstin Alston. See the "Meet the Team" page for more information. One of my cousins was telling me about anime that they watch, ‘cause one of my cousins is very into anime. And so he was telling me what animes to watch and he was like, “It's your birthday. How old are you turning?” And I told him how old I was turning and then he was like, “Hey, let's watch an anime together.” So we watched an anime together and he was giving me this whole entire background of the anime. And his brother comes in. His brother was just messing with me, but he got upset 'cause his brother was messing with me and we couldn’t take the time to watch the anime, and I always find it funny when my older cousins, not my older cousins, but like, you know, ‘cause I'm the oldest, right? So I find it funny when the cousins who are a bit closer to my age. So, probably around like 10 or 10 – you know, 11, 9, when they get to that age, I find that they try – they try to act – I don’t wanna say they act cooler, but they do very much so try to act like they aren't kids as well, just trying to fit in. And I always found that funny, 'cause I'm like, you don't have to fit in, you’re talking to the girl who used to play with baby dolls all the way up to eighth grade. Which is also something I found was actually pretty weird to some people because I have – see, I played with dolls for a very long time. But I like dolls. And it got to a point where I wasn't playing with dolls as much as I just liked dressing them up, and doing their hair and stuff. I feel like for me dolls unleash a creativity side of me. They always have been a side of creativity for me. I don't know if it's because my grandmother on my father's side has a doll collection, or what. But dolls have always been, like, a creativity escape for me. I can always dress them up, do their hair, do their makeup, you know, it was just easy for me. So I didn't understand why there would always…

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“I think it kind of (…) give a lesson about, like, hidden potential.”

And so, I think the closest call – or, like, the most recent call I've had was this summer. So since we couldn't really go anywhere this summer and last summer, I've been spending a lot of my time outside playing basketball. And so I remember, this was a few weeks into the summer and, you know, whenever I shot a hoop or did a lay-up or something, bees would like, just come after me. I don't know where they would come from. And so I was so confused. And so one day the ball went over the hoop. And so I go to grab it. And I see these hornets going in and out of my basketball hoop. So they were inside my basketball hoop on the backboard on the back side of it and, like the little holes that are meant for, like – I don't know what they're meant for. I don't even know why there’re holes in that. But the backboard is hollow, right? And so the hornets had made like a home inside of it. And so I go inside I tell my parents and nobody believes me for a week, because I would go and try to show them and for some reason the hornets wouldn’t come out. And then one day, I chuck a football at it and a hornet comes out and my parents see. And so my dad, he brings the hoop down. We use – I don't know what the spray is called, but it's supposed to, like, kill the bees. And so, we sprayed them, and then all of the hornets came out. And I took the screwdriver to, like, break the honeycomb. So that, like, the hornets or other hornets don't come back and, like, build a nest again. And ultimately it was very scary. But at the same time, the honeycombs are beautiful, I think it was the first time I'd ever, like, seen the honeycombs up close and I think it's just so amazing how this small creature can make something so beautiful, and I think it kind of shows like – or gives a lesson about, like, hidden potential.

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“I’m eating Smarties right now. Thats not really calming me down.”

But this comfort food? I don't know, like candy? Like food that makes you calm down. Like any food will calm me down. I mean, unless I don't like the flavor then I will spit it out and I will get mad. Like, spaghetti or lasagna -- no, not lasagna. I don't know why lasagna doesn't calm me down even though it's like one of my favorite foods. I don't know, I'm eating Smarties right now. That's not really calming me down. Though I was eating chocolate earlier, that calmed me down. I don't know. I might be getting this definition wrong.

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“Let’s just say it was ten times better.”

So, before I talk about how I celebrate these things and how it compared to last year. Let's just say it was ten times better because everything last year was virtual and it's just not the same, you know, no one has their camera on over zoom and if they do, you just see their fans. So, it was really nice to celebrate these things in person. So, I celebrated Diwali and it was really fun because in my high school we could dress up for it, and so me and my friends we wore traditional Indian attire. We also had a Diwali dinner at our school, with Indian food and a dance party with Indian music. For Day of the Dead in my Spanish class, we made an ofrenda and everyone brought in pictures of their dead relatives and things they liked. And it was nice to bond with our classmates over their families and their cultures and whatnot. So, celebrating these holidays were amazing this year because we could celebrate them in person and just bond with the people around us.

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“It was a surreal experience seeing all of those things.”

One of the prompts is "what's the coolest animal you've seen in person?" And like one of the team members, I have also went whale watching and I think that was one of the coolest experiences ever. We saw probably like hundreds of dolphins swimming right next to our boat. It was such a big -- I'm not sure what the term for a group of dolphins is called. But like, it was a very, very large group of dolphins. And there were some baby dolphins swimming right next to their moms. And there were hundreds of them. They were like hop -- sorry, jumping out of the water and they were doing, some of them were making these noises. It was, it was such a cool experience, like being at the head of the ship and so many -- or like the head of boat and so many dolphins just around us. And we did also get to see blue, a blue whale which is crazy thinking that one of -- like I got to see one of the largest mammals, or I believe the largest mammal ever. So, that was such a cool experience. And the thing with whales is that like, when we saw the whale, like the blowhole, and like its sprouting water out and it was huge, like you see it in pictures and videos like how -- in pictures and videos, it doesn't capture like how high the water goes and how much water that is. And when the whale dives back in and the tail like flaps into the water, it leaves this like glossy spot-on top, like on the surface of the water. I don't know, it was a surreal experience seeing all of those things.

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“That is my biggest fear.”

One story is, so we have like these weird weekly Spanish vocab tests and I'll just say, I never studied which I'm not really proud about. But, yeah. Anyway, so we'd pick our own vocab words. I would pick the easiest words to ever – to, like, to be possible, like the easiest words possible each week and I would just get a guaranteed good score. Like it was just broken. So all I had to do was look at the list, pick the easiest words and then I’d write the vocab words for the test and then I’d get an easy grade. So anyway. I mean, I haven't been studying for tests up until this year because it's high school and I guess it's starting to get important, but I don't enjoy studying so I don't do it very often. I mean, usually, I just remember the content of tests without having to, you know, study for it or anything like that. But I am – my greatest fear is that one day I will not be able to just not study and I’d be required to study, which absolutely sucks. Like, that day would be like – that is my biggest fear.

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“But I mean, we are the Great Lakes State, right?”

I thoroughly believe that if we had a Christmas tree with it, like, embodied, Michigan, it would be, like, some way, shape, or form made out of water. It's ridiculous. But I mean, we are the Great Lakes State, right? So, like, maybe like a pole or something could be, like, there, and then there's, like, just water shooting up of it and it, like, goes down in, like, these cascades and makes like a waterfall, you know. I don't think it's actually, like, possible, like scientifically, but it's still cool. And I'm pretty sure – I feel like that's what would embody Michigan the best. Maybe, like, we could add a bunch of apples to it. Like just, like, throw some apples onto the water. And, like, then it would be great. Um, maybe – I don't know, like, maybe some deer, too. Not like real deer, you know, like just, like, ornaments of deer and we could, like, put them all around the tree and that – I feel like that would help embody, because, like, Michigan has a lot of wildlife. And I mean, we could also, like, represent the huge different amount of seasons because like, I've lived in other places and I know that there's places where it's, like, cold all year round or, like, warm all year round. However, we experience all four seasons. So maybe like each corner can be, like – first, it's super hot in the summer, which it can be, like, yellow and then the other side's, like, blue to represent winter and then we just have, like, cherry blossoms to represent the spring and, like, a bunch of dead leaves to represent the fall. I think that would be cool. So pretty much I think a tree would look like a giant pole sticking out of the earth. It's making, like, water. So like to shape the tree, with a bunch of apples on it and deer ornaments with each side of it being a different season.

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“…then the person in front of us turned around and they were like, ‘Oh, are you fans of Marvel?”

So the concept of a stranger definitely changes over time and as you get older, and that is why I've had -- I have had discussions with strangers. Again, staying safe, obviously. Nothing too crazy. But one of the more interesting ones I can remember is I remember waiting in line at Cedar Point, and it was a long line, and it was a hot day. People were tired. People just wanted to, you know, get on those rides. And me and my friends were discussing I think, like, a Marvel movie that we had watched that we really really liked, and then the person in front of us turned around and they were like, "Oh, are you fans of Marvel?" And we're like, "Yeah, we're huge fans." And then suddenly there's this whole conversation that just stemmed for that -- from that. And we went into like the whole Cinematic Universe, kind of geeked out in a way, but Marvel is such a popular part of, like, society, I guess, that -- that I don't think that's the right term. But Marvel is such a popular part of pop culture and it's a reference that is loved by, or it's -- it's, you know, a genre of movies loved by people of all ages. So it was interesting to see how three of us were just having a conversation on our own and suddenly these people in front of us turned around, and they start talking getting so excited about the upcoming movies, what happened in the past ones. We made sure that we're not spoiling anything for each other, and it was just a really fun conversation. And who would have thought that someone we randomly met in a line for a roller coaster, we would have had something in common with them.

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“So me and the grill, now maintain a good social distancing”

Have you ever had an unfortunate kitchen mishap? So I'm known for my reputation for being a bad chef. I've blown up 9 microwaves, burned two grills, and broken three ovens. And these are completely true statistics. My best story is the grill one. So I remember my dad was grilling steak and he wanted me to keep an eye on them while he went to the bathroom, but he didn't like give me a spatula or anything. So I was watching the steaks and a bee came and sat on one of the steaks. So he didn't give me a spatula. I didn't have a spatula. So, I grabbed this tree branch off the ground and I wanted to like whack the bee, but instead I whacked the steak, which fell like through the -- through the holes into the grill, or into the fire. And then, I don't know what happened, but a lot of things started falling and then something fell on the gas tank thing, underneath the grill, which caught fire. And thankfully my neighbor had a fire extinguisher and, you know, stopped the fire. But let's just say I got into a lot of trouble and I also got banned from being near the grill. So me and the grill now maintain a good social distancing. Get it? Social distancing? Cause of like the pandemic? Okay, you guys get it.

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“This week I’m grateful for so many things, but I’m especially grateful for my teachers.”
School teacher's desk with stack of books and apple

“This week I’m grateful for so many things, but I’m especially grateful for my teachers.”

This week I’m grateful for so many things, but I’m especially grateful for my teachers. Not just my current teachers, but my previous teachers as well. This weekend, I made it a point to contact some of my previous teachers and let them know that they made a big impact on my life and shaped who I am. I realized that me and a lot of other kids literally spend more than half of our lives at school, and so, the environment our teachers and our peers create at school makes a big difference in our lives. The responses I got from my teachers were very heartwarming. One of them said that being a teacher is a roller coaster of a profession. And sometimes teachers really ask themselves, especially in the pandemic, they ask themselves if what they does really does make a difference. And so my email to her really made her realize that, you know, what she does, does make a difference and it reminded her why she loves what she does. And that made me feel really happy because she was one of my favorite teachers and she definitely made an enormous difference in not just my life, but in the lives of all of her students.

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