Out of My Shadow – Matthew Burns

“These things made it hard for me to come out of my shadow.”

My first year at Heritage I was in a class that was too crowded. But there were good and bad things about it. It was great working in the class sometimes. Teachers and students could also be respectful and kind. Things that were always on my mind were kids that were not listening, always talking back, people using bad hand signs. There was really bad times, I saw people fighting. One kid really bothered the whole class that talked about how the world was against him, he did that a lot, that frustrated me. These things made it hard for me to come out of my shadow.

I used to care a lot more about things being clean. If I saw anything that was out of place or dirty or leftover I had to clean it up. I didn’t want anything on my table. It bothered me that people put things there and did not clean them, even one piece of leftover trash or food was a mess to me. I also did not want anything shiny like glitter on me, my clothes, or my table. It was on my mind. But I could still do my work.

“One kid really bothered the class talked about how the world was against him.”

I wanted to be like normal people when they worked for a business and had a job. Vocational Pathways helped a lot. I used to work at Wy’East Middle School. I worked at Union High School. Just doing the jobs really helped me. I got stronger, I got out in the community. My skill and growth got me there. I have been able to control my thoughts and emotions. Eventually I stopped caring as much about the little things that people left behind, I didn’t obsess over it anymore.

“I got stronger, I got out in the community”

People: myself and others, helped me get out of my shadow. Working in groups more and more helped me. Talking with people that I trusted helped me. In particular I trusted Ms. Barrett, she told me “it was good to get out in the community”. I used to always have a hood or towels over my head. My mom taught me “try not to always put things over my head”. After I took off my hood I stopped worrying about it.

“When I took my hood off I could see the world better.”

When I took my hood off I could see the world better. I noticed other people more. I noticed girls looking at me and smiling at me. It was easier to make eye contact. I started caring more and knowing more about other people. It made me feel better. I became happier. It was like coming out of the dark and into the light. I had come out of my shadow.

“I had come out of my shadow.”

I am a Dreamer – Jose Cruz Gonzalez

Growing up as an immigrant has been a very rough ride, and a lot of things that I’ve been through. I don’t remember much about Mexico because I immigrated to America when I was four years old.
My dad had been in the US for a longer time and  he sent for us . He had a small apartment in California, where we first lived. I thought I was still in Mexico, because when we crossed the border I was fast asleep with my older sister next to my side. I remember waking up to see my dad talking and hugging my older sister, my mom came after she took a bit longer to cross because children and adults crossed differently (if you had money to).

Over the years my parents would always tell me that I was like everyone else, but I knew I was different because I couldn’t speak like them. I started school late because I didn’t know how to speak English.When I was in 3rd grade there was a teacher that would give English classes after school.

As I got older, I started to notice that the fact that I was an immigrant had many effects on me. At stores I would hear people whisper how much they hated Mexicans or how we did not belong in this country simply because we weren’t born here. One time my mom was paying at the cash register when an older many in his late 30s came up to her and asked her if she needed help. The way he asked was how you would talk to a puppy you are trying to command. I told him we understood what he said and he said “ okay b**ners I won’t help you then.” It didn’t really bother me because at the time I was still young, but the older I got, the more I understood that we went welcomed here by many people. I noticed that I wasn’t the only one of  hundreds of thousands of people that went through what we did.

When I was in my last years of middle school that’s when everything really bothered me. I remember that I got called b**ner by this group of kids, me at the time was already in Mixed Martial Arts and got in a fight with the kids, they school called my parents and we had to talk to the principal. I remember that the principal told my parents that I got in the fight because I was called a racist name and I took matters into my own hands.

Nowadays being called names or having people say bad thing about my race doesn’t bother me anymore. The only thing that does bother me is whenever people, especially politicians say the phrase “Illegal Alien.”

Why the name “Alien?” Am I a small green creature with big eyes that takes you into outer space?  Am I from another planet? Why is the term “Alien” used to call people from another country?  Why can’t they call us something different.

We immigrants, we are all humans,  we all feel pain, we all have feelings, we all have families and dream, we all bleed the same color blood as everyone else in this country. I am not different than you, or the person next to you, or the person behind you, but my ethnicity and where I come from. Why are Mexicans and other races targeted for being human?  As far as I know Mexico welcomes people. Mexico doesn’t have a border that stops people from coming in, in fact they want people to go to have fun on their vacations, or even to move there.


Now that I am in high school I really notice what I really am affected by, I received my DACA status, or Deferred Action for Child Arrivals, during my freshman year of high school. DACA is for people that are not from the U.S, but arrived as children to this country. I need my DACA status be able to work, go to a college or university. My DACA status allows me to fulfil my dreams of becoming anything I dream of being. Without my DACA status, my dreams of becoming an Animal Biologist are gone, and everyone’s dreams are gone without it. Now that president Trump is in office, DACA has been challenged and whether to keep it or have DACA be taken away will impact thousands of immigrants.

I am afraid that DACA will be taken away, I’m scared of losing everything that I have accomplished, scared for what my parents have done for me, scared that I might never have a chance to become who I believe I am. I have dreams, we have dreams and that’s why us, all of us with DACA status, are called “Dreamers”.


  • Words and Photos by Jose Cruz Gonzalez



Unity by Jo Agard

On May 26, 2017 three men defended two girls on a MAX train from a man who screamed racist and Islamophobic slurs. Rick Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche died as heroes, while Micah Fletcher survived after defending innocent girls who were only trying to get to their destination. This hatred has become more vocal due to our current political situation.

This is not saying that it didn’t exist before 2017, but it’s just become easier for people to say or do horrible things because someone’s ethnicity, culture, or religion is different than their own.

Bigotry is something that is dividing society, and the sad part is that it’s something that can be reversed. Bigotry is taught out of ignorance. Jeremy Joseph Christian is just an example of how far someone’s pure hate can reach. A memorial was created to remember the 2 men who lost their lives, and to unite the community. Almost all of the messages written involved loving one another, and fighting against hate of any kind. Coming to a memorial like this is incredibly emotional, and multiple people did show their feelings about this random act of violence. This memorial also brought so many diverse groups together. Unity is the best word to describe it

The combination of new and wilted flowers, candle wax, posters, and messages written in chalk created something beautiful but heartbreaking. I was nearly brought to tears because of the knowledge that innocent people died here for defending others.

As someone who has dealt with racism throughout my life, this hit me much harder than I would have imagined. What if I was in a situation like that when I was going to the store? What if I could have died almost like those girls because of the color of my skin? I have personally never experienced being hated for my religion, but I do relate to being hated because of who I am. This has always bothered me. Why must society always constantly be divided? It seems that we’re only united as a people when a tragedy like this happens.

We can prevent things like this from happening if we punish people who hate others for no reason. Common racism or Islamophobia or any other kind of random act of violence needs to be addressed. This brought on multiple discussions towards race and fighting against racism and brought on talk of improving our resources to help the mentally ill. Some people think that Christian was mentally ill, while others think that he was fully aware of his actions and did out of hatred. Hatred is not a mental illness. It is something you are taught. It’s also something that can be unlearned.

I sadly have a feeling that this event will be quickly forgotten, just like the girls who were picked on for no reason. I took these pictures because I had a big need to document such a big thing like this. I don’t want this event to be forgotten. Let’s hope it doesn’t.









Words and Photos by Jo Agard

Concerts by Karen Rosas

The excitement leading up to this day and during it is something I wish I could experience over and over again. Concerts are my favorite place.The first time I ever attended a concert I was 12 years old and it was an Austin Mahone concert. Since then I’ve tried to increase the amount of concerts I go to each year. The people I’ve met through these concerts have impacted my life in a way that I can not describe, they have become some of my best friends. I would have never thought that would happen because I had never intended for that I just go with the intention to focus on having a good time and making sure I don’t pass out in the middle of a crowd. It’s amazing being at a concert and experiencing it with thousands of people you do not know but in that time you all have one thing in common and it is that one artist, I once heard this saying that said you can have one person singing out a song to thousands of people and every single one of them will sing it right back to you for a different reason and that is the beauty of concerts.


My favorite concerts are the more intimate ones, small venues and besides the hot room with hundreds of sweaty people those are the ones you will most likely find me at. Smaller up and coming artists are my favorite artists, they make those shows better because there’s not as many people such as arena tours. You feel more closer and I feel as if those make you feel more aware of everything going on, not just for the artist but for yourself. I recently attended a concert on Thursday and I waited for hours with my best friends and in that moment I remember saying I hated the waiting part of concerts but I know that if I was given the chance to do it all over again I would, just for that excitement and anticipation for the show.


The emotion that comes out of it when it’s over is sadness, in that moment you don’t realize how fast it goes by. You focus on that one moment so much that when it’s over you feel as if you have nothing to look forward to, and that’s also the same reason why I keep finding myself going back to concerts. A lot of people tell me it’s quite stupid of me to pay to see someone for only a couple of hours but the thing is they aren’t really aware of the friendships and memories that go with it, I have a memory box filled with concert tickets, pictures or anything that has to do with concerts and on my worst days or days when i’m not feeling all that great I look back at the box and it reminds me of some of my best memories. Concerts aren’t for everyone and some people don’t enjoy them at all, but for me I love them. I’ve heard so many stories and even have friends who have even traveled to different places just to see their favorite artists, although the farthest concert I will be attending is in Seattle next month it’s still something.



Concerts give you this rush that I wish every single person in the world could experience, concerts are my favorite memories and my favorite experiences to talk about and my best friendships were made at them as well. Despite the many bruises I walk out with if I could redo every concert I attended, I would. These shows are real and I find myself dealing with every emotion, sometimes even half way through a concert i’ll have tears streaming down my face because of how happy I am in that moment, every emotion you feel in a matter or just a couple hours. The screaming and pushing is something you overlook and worth it at the end, I hate using the term “my happy place” but that is the best way I could describe concerts for me.



Words & Photos by Karen Rosas

The Colors of Culture – Emma Kang

 I grew up in Canada, where there was a lot of Indians and Indian culture. It was so easy to get exposure to our culture and customs. But here in Vancouver, WA it’s much harder. This is why it’s so important for families to expose their kids to their own culture,  language and community. I was lucky enough to have lived in Canada and go to school with people who spoke the same language and had the same background as me. It’s important to get diversity but it’s even more important to make sure you know who you are and where you come from.

At home my family speaks Punjabi. We attend Indian functions, wear the traditional clothing and jewelry, go to the temple, and eat  traditional foods.


My younger siblings  were never completely surrounded by our Indian community like I was. They barely know how to speak Punjabi, let alone understand it thoroughly. And this is hard to understand considering they grew up with parents who speak to them in Punjabi. Because of this, they don’t fully enjoy spending time with their grandparents due to the communication barrier between them. It breaks my heart that they didn’t get the exposure I got having gone to school in Vancouver WA. When I was younger, many kids were narrow-minded towards my race, culture, language, and because of that I never appreciated my background, I didn’t like who I was. I wanted to be like the other students.

Now that I’m older I have learned to embrace myself and my culture. I’m not afraid to be who I am. I’m proud that I have a different culture. I can speak a foreign language. I have different customs and ways of doing things compared to most people at my school.

When our family first moved to America, we used to watch Bollywood movies all the time, and we would watch Hindi shows, listen to Hindi songs and go to lots of Indian parties. We rarely spoke English. But the longer we stayed here, the more we drifted from our background. We never watched Bollywood movies anymore, rarely listened to the music and only sometimes did we go to parties and see our community.



We still speak Punjabi in our house, since it’s my parents’ first language, but not as much as we used to. Its crazy how much can change the more separated you are from your community. I’ve noticed that the smaller the community is, the harder it is to keep in touch with your cultural side.

Culture and background make you who you are. It’s a huge part of your life and what shapes you to be the person you are. It’s vital to embrace who you are and where you come from. Your culture can give you a connection to different types of social values, beliefs, religions, customs and unity. You know why you may think or believe in certain things, or why you have moral values that may be different than others. Your culture gives you an understanding on why your family has different customs or may do things much different than other families.

Culture influences your life, your moral values, views, desires, and fears. Culture provides an easy way to relate to others who share the same mindset and values you do. Society cannot function without culture. Culture is a beautiful thing that can bring so many different people together. It’s so intriguing seeing different cultures and people and how different they can be from my own.

Because my culture made me, I live in a colorful world.

Words & Photos by Emma Kang