Since September is rolling around, it is time for many of us to put down our Netflix and our bathing suits and once again start thinking about school. For most of us going into high school or secondary school, college/university applications are something that we are starting to think about. Out of all the different aspects of the process, including the essays, the standardized tests, and GPAs, extracurriculars are one of the most important as they give college admission officers a chance to see what kind of person you are outside of school and your grades and see what kind of an impact you made/will continue to make on the people around you.
Due to COVID-19, a lot of the clubs at schools and the regular extracurriculars that many of us have been planning to do are now unavailable to us. Since we are all stuck at home and are not able to go out and get jobs or volunteer among people, it can feel as if there is nothing that you can do during this time. In fact, as a rising 11th grader who will graduate in 2022, this was exactly how I felt. Extracurriculars have been a way for me to explore my interests outside of school, take a break from just doing schoolwork, and have an impact on the community and people in need around me. Therefore, when self-isolation due to the pandemic started, I felt as if I was wasting my time at home, unable to participate in all the events that I was looking forward to. However, after doing research and reaching out to other students that are feeling the same way, I have found many extracurricular activities for high school/secondary school students that can be done at the comfort and safety of your own home.
1. Remote Internships.
Although it seems as if our options are more limited now, in some ways it might be the opposite. Although many internships have been cancelled due to COVID-19, many businesses and companies are now offering remote (virtual) internships, opening up the possibility of getting internships in places that we could not before. Now, instead of only being able to get internships from your local region, you now have opportunities from the whole world. You can either email companies to ask for an internship or you can get them through websites such as the one linked below. Here are some links to help you find virtual internships:
2. Virtual volunteering.
Just like internships, while many volunteering opportunities are now being cancelled, if you really want to help out and have an impact on those less fortunate than you, many organizations are now offering virtual volunteering opportunities. With these virtual volunteer opportunities, if there is a cause that you really care about that wasn’t available for you to volunteer for around you, now you have the chance and the whole world at your fingertips to go online and search for volunteer opportunities for anything that you care about. Here are some links to start you off:
3. Virtual tutoring.
Tutoring is a great extracurricular that not only helps the student but it helps you, the tutor, know the concepts that you are teaching better as well. Tutoring students that do not have access to a good education or private tutors can also help you have a large impact on their lives. With COVID-19, while you may no longer be able to meet and tutor students in real life, you can always video call students you know, or sign up for an online tutoring service that tutors underprivileged students. Here are some links to help you start: 4. Start an online community about something you are passionate about.
This can be a blog, an website, an Instagram page, or any other type of online community where you can talk about something that you are passionate about.
5. Creative writing.
This can be anything that you want to write about: short stories, poems, or even a whole book or novel. Try to enter writing contests or get your writing published as well. You can do all this all online and over the computer, making it a perfect activity during these times.
Journalistic writing can include opinion pieces, news articles, etc. You can send your articles to local or even international newspapers/magazines/journals, such as the New York Times, and try to get your writing published. Or maybe volunteer right here at Teenagers With Experience, where you will not only get a chance to get your articles published but also to make many new friends. There are a lot of journals where you can get writing published as a high school student and I will link some of the websites here: 7. Virtual research opportunities
Especially for students interested in science and other STEM subjects, research opportunities with professors from universities can be extremely helpful in giving you experience and allowing you to explore your interests. I myself have also called and emailed professors in the universities near me and have gotten opportunities to help them out in their research. Since most real-life research opportunities are no longer available, you can email professors in universities near you or even professors from all around the world in order to see if there is anything you can do to help them. Before you email them, make sure to read what they are doing research on and read their published papers in order to see if your interests align with the professor’s work and to familiarize yourself with their work in order to show that you have taken the effort to read their work and know what you’re talking about.
8. Learn to code.
If you are interested in computer science and coding or that is something that you want to try, now is the perfect opportunity. Coding can be learned online through websites such as Coursera and EdX and you can even participate in coding competitions. Here are some links to help you get started:
It can seem like COVID-19 has ruined all of your plans for extracurriculars and it may seem as if there is nothing you can do right now. However, in contrast, it has opened up a lot of opportunities in some aspects since you are not limited to activities in your local area and instead now have access to opportunities from all around the world.
Have a great day!
TW: Rape, Murder, Torture
“Where are you from?”
“I’m from Myanmar!”
“Oh! Where is that?”
“It’s a small country near Thailand and India.”
That is how most of my conversations go when someone asks me what country I am from. And yes, I am from a small country near Thailand and India, but Myanmar is so much more than that. It is a country full of beautiful people, culture, and traditions. Right now, my country is going through unimaginable, terrible events and now, more than ever, people need to know what is going on in Myanmar.
The reason that most people don’t know where Myanmar is or that it is even a country is that it has been ruled by the military, under a dictatorship, for over 70 years. So, it was completely closed off from the rest of the world. Power was finally handed over to the democratic party in 2011. However, the military still kept 25% of the seats in the parliament, so the government was still never able to fully make the changes that the people wanted.
Being the power-hungry people they are, 25% was not enough for the military. On February 1st, 2021, the military staged a coup where they kidnapped all the elected officials from the November 2020 elections and illegally took over the country. On that day, all phone services and the internet were cut off and nation-wide panic set in. In 1988 and 2007, when people protested against the military rule, thousands of citizens were shot, beheaded, and tortured, and we were afraid that this would happen all over again. And it did.
On February 5th, hundreds of thousands of people started protesting on the streets for our elected leaders to be released and for the military to step down and let us have democracy. The protests were peaceful. There were no lootings or fires and we even cleaned up trash every night to make sure that we left the streets clean. Many people also started participating in the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) where citizens refuse to listen to or obey the commands of the military. This included government workers quitting their jobs. At 8 pm every night, people also started banging their pots and pans from their homes. This stems from the Burmese tradition where we ward off evil by banging our pots.
However, on February 10th, the military started shooting the peaceful protesters and anyone that has spoken out against them. On April 1st, 60 days after the coup, the military had murdered, at the very least, 573 people. The number grows every single day and by the time you read this, there will probably be hundreds more dead. People, including 14-year-old children and 70 years old elderly people, are shot in the head and killed. Police and soldiers kidnap people in the middle of the night, pour acid on their faces, take out their organs, stitch up their bodies and return them to their families the next day. Police and soldiers arrest and rape women until they are bleeding. Police and soldiers beat children, the elderly, women, men, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and the disabled until they either die or have scars and marks all over their bodies. Police and soldiers shoot into hospitals and ambulances that are trying to save the people that the military has shot. Police and soldiers burn down people’s houses. Police and soldiers throw tear gas and shoot bullets into people’s homes. Ethnic minorities that have been targeted by the military for years are having to flee from their homes because their villages have been burned down.
I hear gunshots outside my window every single day. I see pictures of people’s brains spilling on the ground because they’ve been shot in the head. I hear about girls my age being raped and killed by the military every day. I see police on the streets with their rifles and snipers. I wake up every day not knowing if my family, friends, and I will be able to see the end of the day. To have to deal with this on top of the Covid-19 virus has taken a huge toll on the mental healths of me and everybody else in my country.
I am begging the international community to start talking about this. My country is one of the poorest in the world and a majority of the people are living under the poverty line. People are living off 1, or if they’re lucky, 2 USD a day. But our people have the bravest, biggest, most beautiful hearts. We still go out every day to protest for our rights, even though hundreds have been killed. We stand united against this common enemy and we want all of you to join in as well.
Here are some Instagram pages and news articles that have more information on this topic:
Instagram: @listenupmyanmar @fullbelliesforlife @ootdmyanmar @ourfightforfreedom @documentingmyanmar @whats.happening.in.myanmar
Photo credit: Lulu
Being able to stay at home all day and get up five minutes before our classes start sounds like something that all of us have dreamed about our whole lives. However, now that it has become a reality due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most of us don’t seem to enjoy it as much as we thought. On top of the virus itself, measures taken to control the spread of it such as social distancing, quarantine, and self-isolation can make people feel lonely, anxious, and not be in a good place mentally.
7 months ago from today, October 17th, 2020, I got an email saying that our school is going to go virtual for 2 months due to COVID-19. I still remember the excitement buzzing around our entire school as we all celebrated the shutting down of school. My friends and I instantly went to my house, eating hotpot and cake and generally just being happy and having fun. Little did we know as we sat around the table fighting over the last bite of cake that 2 months was going to turn into 3, 4, 5, and now 7 months. That is 7 months of not seeing anybody besides my family. 7 months of anxiously checking the news to see how many COVID-19 cases there are each day. 7 months of living life in a way that I had never once dreamed I would have to live.
During these seven months, I have faced a lot of trouble with staying positive and healthy. Most days I feel unmotivated to do anything and I would spend hours upon hours scrolling through news about the coronavirus, getting increasingly anxious about all the negative news. In addition, hearing about my family’s friends and my friends’ families getting this disease made it even harder to stay happy during these times. Being stuck all day in a tiny apartment with only my family also led to arguments and feelings of loneliness that were not good for my mental health. For anybody else feeling anxious, alone, sad, or mentally and/or physically drained and unwell, I want to remind you that it is completely normal and okay to feel this way. We are all living in scary and uncertain times but we are all going through this together and we will all get through this together. To help you get through this easier, here are some self care tips that have helped me both mentally and physically during this time.
1. Stay Connected.
Humans are social creatures and social interactions with others are vital to our health and wellbeing. According to a study from the American Psychological Association, lack of social interaction heightens health risks as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Therefore, even though it is very important to be following social distancing rules, being emotionally close with our friends and families is more important now than ever. In a digital world where all our friends are one click away, it is extremely easy to stay connected. Staying in touch with my friends whether it's through Instagram, snapchat, or TikTok, has helped me a lot during this time and helped me feel less alone.
2. Get fresh air.
It is extremely important to stay at home and follow social distancing rules. However, just opening your windows or going out into your backyard to get some fresh air can be extremely helpful. Being cooped up in a room all day can be both physically and mentally draining and getting fresh air has always been important. Since I have a backyard, I usually like to go out there to just walk around and I find that even 20 minutes a day of being outside and with fresh air and sunshine can improve my mood and mental health drastically.
3. Get physical exercise. Physical exercise has always been good for our health but with gyms and schools being closed, it can be quite hard to get physical exercise. However, there are many resources online, such as workout youtubers or fitness apps, that give u ways that you can work out as long as you have a little bit of space and a floor. I have been working out, doing yoga, going outside to play volleyball with my sister, and going biking early in the morning, in order to get some physical exercise in. This article is not sponsored but here are some of my favorite youtuber and fitness apps that has helped me keep active:
Fitness youtubers: Pamela Reif, Chloe Ting, Emi Wong, MadFit
Yoga: Yoga with Adriene
Training apps: Nike Training App, 7 Minute Workout (IOS), 7 minute workout (Android)
4. Focus on things that you can control. As tempting as it is to scroll for hours through news about COVID-19, research on vaccines, number of deaths, number of cases in your area, etc, at one point it is important to realize whether knowing this information is more helpful or harmful to you. Yes, it is important to keep up with the news. However, I find that I can get very anxious and worried as I am reading about COVID-19, even though the things that I am reading about are completely out of my control. Therefore it is important to remind yourself to only worry about things that you can control like wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, taking care of your friends and families, and taking care of yourself.
5. Rest your eyes. While a perk of online school is that we can roll out of bed five minutes before class starts, one of the many drawbacks is that it is extremely hard on our eyes. We are using our computers not only for doing homework but to attend classes as well, and this can be very unhealthy. Therefore using your phone and computer less to do things outside of work and school, going outside and looking at nature, and closing your computer and looking out your window in between classes can be extremely beneficial for your health.
But sometimes, things can get a little too much and overwhelming even if you have been taking care of yourself. This is completely normal and don’t be afraid to reach out to any helplines if you ever feel like you need it.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (US): 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish
Suicide Prevention Hotline (UK): +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90, call 116123
Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990
SAMHSA’s National Helpline 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and TTY 1-800-487-4889
Suicide hotlines of every country
Have a great day!!
Photo credit: Kenzie
What’s up? How are you? It’s been a while since we've talked but I just wanted to check in and see how you are doing. The last time we talked, I remember you telling me about your new significant other. How is your relationship going? And do you have any idea what you are going to get them for a Valentine’s Day gift?
I know how hard it can be to be in a relationship while we’re self-isolating. I haven’t seen my boyfriend since last March either and even though we still Face-time and text everyday, it is so different from being able to see each other in real life. Especially for special days like Christmas, New Years, and his birthday, I had really wanted to be able to see him in person but it just wasn’t possible. Not being able to see each other has definitely put some strain on our relationship, to be honest. Sometimes, I would get mad at him just because I miss him and when we get into fights, trying to work things out just by texting or calling can be really frustrating.
However, one thing that has helped is that we have been sending small gifts to each other just as a reminder that we love and are thinking of each other. To us, the price of the gift was never what mattered but instead it was the meaning behind each gift that made them important and the fact that we were showing our appreciation for each other through these gifts.
Since Valentine’s Day is coming up, I have been doing a lot of research on what gifts to get my boyfriend and I thought that I would share some of my ideas with you. I know it can be hard to go out and get a gift during COVID-19, so these are all gifts that can be bought online! And as disclaimer, I am not being sponsored by any of these companies; I just really love these gift ideas.
My first and one of my favorite gift ideas is a bond bracelet. They are a pair of bracelets, one for you and one for your significant other, and when you touch the bracelet on your side, their bracelet will vibrate and buzz to mimic your touch. Each bracelet can be delivered to a different location so this is a perfect gift to give while staying socially distanced. Especially when you guys haven’t seen each other in so long, this bracelet can help you feel like you are next to each other and have them right at your fingertips. You can customize these bracelets to be any color that you like and they are even waterproof! This is such an adorable gift and you can get the bracelets from this website if you would like: https://www.bond-touch.com/pages/learn-more.
My next idea is a couples magnetic bracelet, which are two bracelets - one for you and one for your significant other- that each have a magnet. So, when you guys meet in person after the pandemic is over and have your hands next to each other, the magnets will be attracted to each other and connect! This is a really cute gift that can help you feel connected to your significant other when COVID is over, since you guys will literally be attached to each other! You can get these bracelets here if you would like, although there are many more shops and websites that sell them: https://www.etsy.com/listing/851482253/1-pair-personalized-adjustable-braided?ga_order=most_relevant&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=couples+bracelet&ref=sr_gallery-1-1&col=1.
My third idea is a love box that you can buy online and have it directly delivered to their door. This will allow you to send love notes, drawings, or photographs from your phone to your significant other that will appear on the screen of this adorable little box. The cute little heart on the lovebox will also spin when it receives a message. This is a really nice gift to show that you are thinking about them and you can buy yours here if you like the idea: https://en.lovebox.love
My final idea is to create a personalized comic book of the story of you and your significant other. In this comic book, you can include the story of how you guys met, your journey so far, or just all the reasons that you love them! You can also even customize the setting, cover, and characters to make it look 100% how you want it to. This book would be completely unique and special to you and your relationship and would be perfect as a valentine’s day gift. If you would like to create a book, here is a link where you can do so: https://love-toons.com
So those are all my gift ideas for Valentine’s day and I hope you found them useful! Please write back to let me know how you are doing, how your relationship is going, and what you decide to get for Valentine’s Day. I know that relationships can be hard during these times when you guys cannot see each other, so if you have anything you would like to talk about just let me know!
Have a great day!
Gilmore Girls. A classic television show about a mom and a daughter’s unbreakable bond. A mom and daughter that shared everything with each other. Growing up watching shows like this, I had always wanted that “perfect” relationship with my mom. One where we spend countless nights talking about boys while doing each other’s nails, or spending hours baking together while singing along to old Taylor Swift songs. However, this was never the case for me. My mom and I had never had that easy relationship where we could talk openly to each other. Our time together consisted mostly of sitting in silence and both of us hoping that somebody would say something to get rid of the awkwardness. I was even less close with my dad, with him coming home after I went to bed and leaving for work before I woke up. For the first 15 or so years of my life, a strong bond with my parents was something that I had always longed for yet did not know how to start working towards.
For most of us, our parents are one of the most important people in our lives and having a good relationship with our parents can help us become healthier socially, mentally, and emotionally. Our relationship with our parents can determine our relationship with other people in our lives and affect how we interact with them. For most of my life, my relationship with my parents had not been the best since we would usually either be screaming at each other, or not know how to talk to each other. This would often cause me to be in a negative mood and I found that I had a hard time maintaining healthy relationships or opening up to my friends due to my unhealthy relationship with my parents. My relationship with my parents is still not perfect but over the years, I have learned how to slowly start building stronger bonds with them.
One of the most helpful things for me was finding what similar interests I had with my parents to find things that we could do together. Even though sitting down and trying to talk usually just ended up in awkward silence, finding an activity that we both liked to do ensured that we would have fun and put less pressure on making conversation. For example, driving was an activity that both me and my dad liked to do, so we would make plans for him to teach me how to drive every night. Since he was busy teaching me and I was busy learning how to drive, we did not feel like we had to talk and were also both having fun at the same time. In addition, doing this activity together gave us something to talk about even when we weren't driving.
The next thing that really helped me out was just starting off simple by telling my parents about my day. Throughout the day, I would make an active effort to notice things to tell my parents when I would see them later. For example, if one of my friends spilled their lunch all over their shirt or if I saw a dog with a broken leg on my way back home, I would make a mental note to tell my parents about that when I see them. Even though these small things do not seem like they would have much impact on improving your relationship with your parents, these small steps can have the biggest impact in the end. You do not have to tell them about the deepest darkest parts of yourself immediately, and starting off small and working at your own pace based on what you feel comfortable sharing with your parents was something that I personally found helped me a great deal.
The final thing that was really helpful was realizing that every parent-child relationship is different. I used to watch TV shows of parents and children with amazing relationships or see my friends have ‘perfect’ relationships with their parents and would feel jealous that I did not have the same with my own parents. It took me a long time before I realized that every relationship and every family is different. I had always thought that my unhealthy relationship with my parents had stemmed from me not being good enough or them not loving me enough. I had always been focusing on all the “perfect” relationships that I had seen around me and was trying to forcibly have the exact same relationship with my parents. This took me away from being able to see that my parents do love me and show that to me, just in a way that was different from what I saw on TV. Yes, I don’t talk about boys late at night with my mom or go on camping trips with my dad. However, my parents show their love by always supporting me in everything I do and by being there for me no matter how much I mess up. Realizing that every relationship is different allowed me to see what’s special and unique about my relationship with my own parents and this can be such an important step in fostering a positive bond with them.
Our relationships with our parents are not always the easiest or the best and it is completely okay to go slow and take a break from spending time with your parents if it gets to be too mentally straining or uncomfortable for you. However, if you are looking for ways to slowly start improving your relationship with them, I hope that I was able to help!
Have a great day!
Imagine this: it’s Thursday afternoon and you’re sitting down at your desk with every intention to work. You have an essay due at midnight tonight but you are barely three words in. Then, three hours later, you find yourself at a YouTube video titled, “How giraffes pee,” with no idea how you got there. Not only did you put off starting your essay until the day it is due, but you also just wasted three hours laughing at YouTube videos instead of starting your essay. Sound familiar? If so, you are not alone. You are just another victim of a terrible monster. A monster that rudely intrudes upon our lives no matter how unwelcome it is. A monster that is most commonly known by the name ‘procrastination.’
Procrastination is a trap that many of us fall into almost everyday. Some people mistake procrastination with laziness and think that it is an insignificant issue that can be easily solved. However, to those of us that have to deal with procrastination, we know that it is more than just being lazy. Laziness suggests a sense of apathy and an unwillingness to work. On the other hand, people that procrastinate have a desire to complete the task, yet put it off in favor of other, more enjoyable tasks. In addition, while laziness suggests a sense of choice and choosing not to work, most procrastinators do not even realize that they are procrastinating until it is too late.
Personally, I have always been a large procrastinator, not starting assignments until the night that it is due and ending up in tears, having to beg my professor for an extension. While there are many reasons for procrastination, I have found that I procrastinate starting due to the fear and anxiety that I would not be able to complete the assignment well. However, when I do procrastinate, I find that I end up with even more anxiety about how my teacher is going to react, whether he/she would call my parents in and how this could impact my family life. Therefore, procrastination for me is a vicious cycle that starts with anxiety and ends with even more anxiety. That said, over the years, I have become much better at managing my procrastination and here are some tips that I have found to be quite helpful:
- Recognize that you’re procrastinating.
The first step to overcoming your procrastination is to realize and admit to yourself that you are procrastinating. Only then will you be able to take measures to stop yourself from doing it.
- Figure out why you’re procrastinating.
Next, figure out exactly why you’re procrastinating. There can be many reasons for procrastination including: feeling overwhelmed, anxiety, perfectionism, fear of failure, etc. When you figure out why you’re procrastinating, you can work towards solving that underlying problem.
- Break up your assignment into small tasks.
Sometimes, we procrastinate because the assignment seems too big and overwhelming. Therefore, it could be helpful to break up your assignment into small parts, so that you have shorter and simpler tasks to complete rather than a big, confusing project. For example, if you are writing a research paper, you could break it up into smaller tasks such as writing your research question, coming up with focus questions, researching each focus question, and so on. In addition, set a deadline for each small task and have a specific date and time of when you want to finish each part of the assignment.
- Let yourself take breaks.
It’s important to take breaks so as to not overwhelm yourself. Taking short breaks will let you work for longer as you will be giving your brain a rest and won’t feel as mentally drained. However, during these breaks, make sure you are not using your phone or watching YouTube, which could get you distracted. Instead, you should walk around or get some snacks and water. I recommended the Pomodoro method which breaks down your work time into 25 minute intervals with short 5-10 minute breaks in between.
- Reward yourself.
Everyone loves being rewarded and promising yourself rewards can be very motivating. For example, you could tell yourself something as small as, “If I work on this assignment for two hour, I’ll let myself watch Netflix for an hour,” or something as big as, “If I get perfect grades this semester, I will buy myself a new phone.”
- Get rid of distractions.
It’s important to get rid of all potential distractions before you start: turn off your phone or close that Netflix tab. Make sure that you get rid of anything that could get you side-tracked while you are trying to work.
- Have someone hold you accountable.
You are more likely to give up and stop working if you are the only one who knows about your goals. Therefore, telling a friend or a family member about what assignment you want to finish or how long you want to study and making them hold you accountable would motivate you to keep working. In addition, if you start getting lazy and wanting to stop, they can be there to remind you of your goals and help you keep working.
Procrastination can be very hard to overcome and for most people it takes weeks, months, and maybe even years to do so. However, no matter where you are on your journey to beat it, I am so proud of you and I just want to let you know that I am in this with you. I have every trust that you can and will overcome this, and even reading this article and trying to stop your procrastination is a huge step in the right direction.
Have a great day!