Dear Mr. "President"

Dear Mr. "President"

Let's be united in times other than hard ones...

Dear Mr. Trump,

My name is Jaraya Johnson, I'm a 20 year old African American woman, studying at Winthrop University. African American woman... getting an education. I'm going to be working closely with males with the same degree and one day, I will be in charge of those men. Why? Because women can do that, women can be in charge of men and we don't need men to help get us there.

But let's talk about you. When you became president, I had no choice but to give you a chance, give you the benefit of the doubt because hey, maybe someone saw something in you that strikes you as a good leader. At first, I was like "okay, we can give this a chance, his campaign was just for show, to get votes, but not it'll be better". You were okay at first, then you started scaring me again. The wall, the immigration laws, the transgender laws, the national beef we picked with Korea, I'm scared again. But when I saw that you actually passed these laws, most recently, the law about immigration and DACA repeal, it made me physically sick.

Please help me understand your thought process when you decide to pass the laws and these rules or when you approve these repeals.

I'm not doing this to bash you, though I could seeing as it's my right, but I'm just confused. You say you want to make America great again but you have been in the White House for almost a year and I have yet to see things get better or "great".

The only time I see people of different races and cultures bond together and genuinely mean it is during a natural disaster. During the hurricanes this season, members of different backgrounds helped each other and saved each other's lives. THAT, sir, is what makes America great. The fact that we have the ability to put our "pride" aside to figured out what's right.

You, on the other hand, and some of your supporters, are not like that. Mr. President, I've seen instances where people are laying dying in a hospital bed refusing medical care from someone of the opposite sex and/or race. Now that's ludicrous.

How many people have to die? How many things have to go wrong for all of us to realize that despite the color of our skin, the clothes on our backs, shoes on our feet, or the people we hang with, we all bleed red and we all live in this country? The United States. So when are we going to begin to show unity? When are you going to push the issue of this? When are you going to take a stand and show us what unity is so we can make the next step in making America great? When are we going to work together as a real team?

So, sir, the ball is in your court. What's next?

Cover Image Credit: Unity of the Oaks

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El Espinito, Honduras Taught Me The Importance Of Giving Back

The moments I spent in Honduras are ones that I will never forget.

While many spend their first spring break of college lounging on a beach dozens of miles away from home with a martini in hand, I decided to dedicate mine to exploring a foreign country teetering at the edge of the equator, hoping to immerse myself in a culture I have never experienced before. At the crack of dawn on my first day of break, myself along with two dozen college undergrads flew to El Paraíso, a region of Honduras where communities value camaraderie and warm welcomes and weren’t afraid to share them with a group of foreigners; for a week, I discovered a new home away from home, one that I miss today even if it’s been days since I’ve left.

As a group of business majors, we came to Honduras to help El Espinito, the community we were assigned to, by empowering them with knowledge and different perspectives about microfinance and microenterprise, as well as aiding community members with any issues encountered within their local economy. Starting out, the question of how much we could actually help the community lingered in my mind. Alternative spring break service trips tend to have the negative stereotype along the lines of that students who go on these trips come in with saviorist mindsets. In other words, oftentimes students may think that they’re helping to “fix” a community entirely, or contributing more than they really are, two notions which completely contradict the reason for volunteering abroad.

During my time, I strived to make an impact on the community in whatever guidance it needed. However, I also hoped to learn as much as I can from community members as well. Throughout my five days in El Espinito, our team got to know community members, building bonds and relationships through food, dancing and laughter that made both groups of people with vastly different characteristics feel comfortable with each other and feel like a family, breaking down our disparities and learning from each other despite language and cultural barriers.

I do believe that unfortunately, voluntourism can be prevalent if students attend trips like the one I did with little care for long-term growth or, holistic sustainability of communities. The organization I attended the trip with, however, made certain that every volunteer was aware of the holistic model it followed to help El Espinito as much as possible, which calmed my nerves by establishing that the work we were doing was actually valuable. From creating business plans to conducting market and community research, the work we performed was greatly appreciated by the community members and will be useful in any endeavors they decide to pursue.

In the end, one of the main parts of the trip that will be ingrained in my mind is that in any effort to volunteer abroad, it is important to have compassion, understanding, and the goal to genuinely impact the community you’re working with in a sustainable way, eradicating saviorist notions and encouraging the mutual exchange of knowledge. From teaching schoolchildren the importance of saving for the future or presenting possible local business ventures, the moments I spent in Honduras are ones that I will never forget.

Cover Image Credit: Safia Ghafoor

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6 Areas Of Your Life You Can Eco-Improve

At the end of the day, a few adjustments create a giant change.

So I am a fan of being lazy. I hope that at least some of you can identify with me. When it comes to being "eco-friendly" or what I also call being a "conscious consumer" some may associate the idea with working extremely hard or forcing yourself to be a martyr for the environment. Guess what? You don't have to be. My philosophy on stepping into the world of Eco-friendly is simply this: Do what you can and make the difference in the sector you can because every little bit helps. I am here to give you the "lazy person's guide" and the easy way to making a difference.

Before you try to become eco-friendly and you google what to do--Don't! You will be overwhelmed and you will quit before you even start, unless you have Captain Planet resolve.

For those of you that don't have that resolve but still want to make a difference, stick with me as we explore the way I categorize the sectors available for improvement. There are 6 sectors: Energy Consumption, water consumption, waste reduction, Transportation, consumerism/shopping, and food! Hopefully, you can make 2-3 changes off of each list. There truly is no rush as you integrate these into your life, so If you want to take a whole month to work on one list item so it becomes a part of your nature to do the eco-friendly trait, I encourage that. It takes 66 Days to create a habit.

1. Energy Consumption

This sector addresses how much energy is being used when we are going about our normal lives.

-Put on another layer of clothing when it is cold before adjusting the thermostat

-Use LED bulbs in any lighting fixtures

-Turn off lights, TVs, personal computers and other electronics when you're done with them.

-Fix windows or doors with drafts

-Keep a comfortable temperature set on the thermostat and rarely adjust it

2. Water Consumption

This sector addresses how much water is wasted when living day-to-day.

-Only wash full loads of laundry

-Fix leaking faucets and malfunctioning toilets

-Turn off the water while shaving or brushing my teeth.

-Shower for 7 minutes or less.

3. Waste Reduction

This sector addresses how much waste is created when living day-to-day.

-Reference a recycle guide to ensure that you recycle correctly and consistently

-Use a refillable coffee cup

-Carry a refillable water bottle

-Use durables (reusable) cups, dish-ware, and utensils instead of disposable

-Carry a reusable bag with you to use in place of plastic bags

-Recycle electronics (E-Waste) at an E-Waste recycling station in retails store

-Set the default to double-sided printing on your personal computer

-Designate a bin or folder for scrap paper to reduce paper waste

-Donate usable unwanted goods to a consignment store instead of throwing them away

-Prioritize shopping at local thrift stores and farmers markets

4. Transportation

This sector addresses the many pitfalls that come with getting around.

-Use your local bus system at least once a week

-Use Carpooling, Zipcar or Zimride

5. Shopping/Consuming

This sector addresses how much consuming during our day-to-day can create consequences.

-Use recycled content notebooks

-Use recycled content printer paper

-Use a refillable pen

-Keep a houseplant to improve indoor air quality and health

-Use phosphate and bleach-free cleaning supplies

-Use natural hair, body, and beauty products

-Use cold-water, efficient, or natural laundry detergent free of harmful chemicals

-Use 100% organic cotton towels

-Use 100% organic cotton bed linens

6. Food!

This sector addresses how much food is wasted when living day-to-day and the consequences that come with traveling demand.

-Cook with residual heat

-Eat less meat (possibly try a meatless Monday)

-Grow your own food

-Start a compost pile (make sure to compost correctly)

-Eat locally as often as possible

-Shop 'on season'! (meaning you only buy the produce when it normally would be harvested)

Those are all my tips, but trust me there are many more. These would make a big change. I just want you to remember:

At the end of the day, a few adjustments create a giant change.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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