To The Little Girl I Heard Crying On The Flight

To The Little Girl I Heard Crying On The Flight

I'm sorry I can't make it easier for you.

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Recently I was fortunate enough to reconnect with a friend while on a trip to Mexico. I was traveling by myself, and on the flight returning home, I was seated next to a mother and an eight or nine-year-old daughter. As the flight began to take off, the little girl laughed and talked with excitement about how she was going to watch Disney Channel on the plane. Before too long I realized that both the mother and daughter were bilingual as they spoke both English and Spanish during the flight.

When the pilot said we were landing I realized the girl who was giggling hours ago as we took off was now sobbing and hyperventilating in what appeared to be a panic attack. I tried to mind my own business and just assumed she was afraid of the plane to land. Because she was speaking both English and Spanish I couldn't fully understand what the issue was. Eventually, I decided these tears would've stopped by now had they been about landing.

I overheard the girl cry out to her mom that she didn't want to go back to school because she didn't want to be bullied. She knew that as the plane landed she would have to go back to everyday life and that included going to school. As I heard her sobs, and then heard why they were occurring my heart broke in two. I cannot imagine the heartbreak that mother was feeling for her daughter. The little girl said, "They make fun of me because I'm different". Presumably, they make fun of her because she's Mexican.

The plane landed, and I had to leave the plane, but that little girl's tears stuck with me. Her adamancy on not getting off that plane and her mother's pleas on how "This year will be different" was not lost on me.

I think that often we take for granted just the ability to be able to attend school because there are so many girls that aren't able to. But once we appreciate the fact that young girls in this country are able to go to school, we need to recognize that the children in these school systems can suffer too. As a white female, I have a level of privilege to where I've never experienced being bullied because of my ethnicity or race. I've never been the "different" person. I felt ashamed that I couldn't relate to what that little girl must've been feeling.

All I knew was that I was sorry. Sorry that this girl was growing up in a country where all the anger and hatred involved in politics was being passed down to the children. Sorry that she was going to school where children recognized their differences but instead of celebrating them, put them down. Most of all I was sorry that this little girl had no way of seeing how much better her life would get. She couldn't see in that moment that in 10 years she will be away from those cruel children and be looking at such a bright future.

I wanted to tell her that the very thing that makes her different will be the number one thing she flaunts. That once high school comes around those kids are going to need help with the language they laugh at you for speaking. That just because she is "different" than the other children, that difference is what will take her further.

I was ultimately left with an uneasy and sad feeling after that flight. As members of this society, I think it is so important we realize that children are sponges. When they see their parents display such anger and hatred towards one group of people their children replicate that behavior. This isn't a political statement because there's hatred on both sides, just in different forms. My point is that instead of constantly pointing out all the differences among us in a negative way, let's teach children empathy, and to look past the differences we first see. In the end, we are all human, so let's teach them that.

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I Visited The "Shameless" Houses And Here's Why You Shouldn't

Glamorizing a less-than-ideal way to live.
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After five hours of driving, hearing the GPS say "Turn right onto South Homan Avenue" was a blessing. My eyes peeled to the side of the road, viciously looking for what I have been driving so long for, when finally, I see it: the house from Shameless.

Shameless is a hit TV show produced by Showtime. It takes place in modern-day Southside, Chicago. The plot, while straying at times, largely revolves around the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. While a majority of the show is filmed offsite in a studio in Los Angeles, many outside scenes are filmed in Southside and the houses of the Gallagher's and side-characters are very much based on real houses.

We walked down the street, stopped in front of the two houses, took pictures and admired seeing the house in real life. It was a surreal experience and I felt out-of-place like I didn't belong there. As we prepared to leave (and see other spots from the show), a man came strolling down on his bicycle and asked how we were doing.

"Great! How are you?"

It fell silent as the man stopped in front of the Gallagher house, opened the gate, parked his bike and entered his home. We left a donation on his front porch, got back to the car and took off.

As we took the drive to downtown Chicago, something didn't sit right with me. While it was exciting to have this experience, I began to feel a sense of guilt or wrongdoing. After discussing it with my friends, I came to a sudden realization: No one should visit the "Gallagher" house.

The plot largely revolves the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. It represents what Southside is like for so many residents. While TV shows always dramatize reality, I realized coming to this house was an exploitation of their conditions. It's entertaining to see Frank's shenanigans on TV, the emotional roller coasters characters endure and the outlandish things they have to do to survive. I didn't come here to help better their conditions, immerse myself in what their reality is or even for the donation I left: I came here for my entertainment.

Southside, Chicago is notoriously dangerous. The thefts, murders and other crimes committed on the show are not a far-fetched fantasy for many of the residents, it's a brutal reality. It's a scary way to live. Besides the Milkovich home, all the houses typically seen by tourists are occupied by homeowners. It's not a corporation or a small museum -- it's their actual property. I don't know how many visitors these homes get per day, week, month or year. Still, these homeowners have to see frequent visitors at any hour of the day, interfering with their lives. In my view, coming to their homes and taking pictures of them is a silent way of glamorizing the cycle of poverty. It's a silent way of saying we find joy in their almost unlivable conditions.

The conceit of the show is not the issue. TV shows have a way of romanticizing very negative things all the time. The issue at hand is that several visitors are privileged enough to live in a higher quality of life.

I myself experienced the desire and excitement to see the houses. I came for the experience but left with a lesson. I understand that tourism will continue to the homes of these individuals and I am aware that my grievances may not be shared with everyone -- however, I think it's important to take a step back and think about if this were your life. Would you want hundreds, potentially thousands, of people coming to your house? Would you want people to find entertainment in your lifestyle, good and bad?

I understand the experience, excitement, and fun the trip can be. While I recommend skipping the houses altogether and just head downtown, it's most important to remember to be respectful to those very individuals whose lives have been affected so deeply by Shameless.

Cover Image Credit: itsfilmedthere.com

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4 Breakfast Spots Near The University of Kentucky That Will Actually Get You Out Of Bed In The Morning

These places will satisfy all of your breakfast cravings.

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If you're a breakfast foodie like I am, you know that is an absolute priority to find the most popular breakfast spots despite the city you may be in. You don't want to visit the touristy and basic restaurants that everyone else goes to, but instead, you are determined to uncover the locations that are the best of the best. Most foodies will go to great lengths to discover these places. As a University of Kentucky student and major foodie, I have searched all over Lexington to find my favorite places to visit on Saturday and Sunday mornings. This took my entire first semester and many trips to the ATM, but today, I am now blessed to say that I am a regular at all 4 of these incredible breakfast spots.

1. The Great Bagel

The Great Bagel is one of my all-time favorite restaurants to visit on Sunday mornings. The restaurant offers a variety of bagel sandwiches and freshly squeezed orange juice, and it makes for the perfect early morning start to a day filled with homework or relaxation.

2. Chocolate Holler

Though not a true restaurant, Chocolate Holler is one of the most popular coffee shops near the University of Kentucky. Because it is only a 3-minute drive from campus, Chocolate Holler is always buzzing with UK students who come to socialize or study. The coffee shop is most well known for its chocolaty drinks and the music is great there, too!

3. Stir Krazy

Stir Krazy is a local smoothie bar down the street that serves protein shakes, smoothies, and tea. Though It only consists of these three beverages, the shakes at Stir Krazy are enough to fill you up for breakfast or lunch. Each shake or smoothies range from 200 to 250 calories and serves as the perfect energizer before a workout or a filling recovery drink after a workout.

4. La Madeleine

La Madeleine is a French breakfast and lunch cafe conveniently located on campus (and only a 30-second walk from my dorm). Their breakfast is served all day long and their croissants are to die for. I highly recommend building your own omelet for the most fulfilling experience. Not to mention, their iced caramel macchiatos are a great refresher on the side.

No matter which city, state, or country I am currently in, I make it my mission to eat as a local would. In Lexington, Kentucky, these four breakfast spots are guaranteed provide you with a plethora of different types of food to get you through even the worst cases of morning hunger. Though these places are my current favorites, I am now looking forward to containing the search for more breakfast restaurants, cafes, and juice bars throughout my next four years in this city.

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