Workingwomen: Obstacles and Notions by Loleï Brenot

1920 marked a turning point for women in the United States. Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, and too many other women to name were finally heard and granted the right to vote. However, while women then had the same rights for the most part as a man in the eyes of the federal government, people did not become gender blind. Only 11 years after the 19th Amendment was passed, Virginia Woolf penned a powerful piece on society and its expectations of women in the workforce. Woolf commented, “Even when the path is nominally open—when there is nothing to prevent a woman from being a doctor, a lawyer, a civil servant—there are many phantoms and obstacles, as I believe, looming in her way,” showing that preconceived notions about women being the weaker sex still ran rampant. This is still true today.

Despite being legally recognized as fully equal to men, women still face numerous obstacles in their careers today due to unfair perceptions regarding women, or familial duties many women feel responsible for, similar to what Virginia Woolf observed and wrote about in the early the 20th century.

Double standards and unfair expectations when hiring or evaluating women at work must still be overcome by teaching children from a young age that all people are equal and that; in general, standards and expectations for all should be the same. While there is American legislation ensuring equal opportunity and pay for women in the workplace, such as the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Department of Labor’s Women Bureau, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, there are still structural biases in the system. Under the seams of the corporate world, there is the dark underbelly of discrimination. In a 2014 study by the Australian Human Rights Organization, countless biases were uncovered in the Australian workforce. The results of this study reflect similar conditions in the United States and Western world and are depicted in the pictograph above. Additionally, other statistics on the subject of gender inequality in the workplace were covered in Sheryl Sandberg’s 2010 TED talk. According Sandberg’s TED talk, “Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders,” only nine out of 190 heads of state globally are women. No more than 16% of women in the corporate business world hold high-level positions. These statistics show just how grave the subject of gender inequality is and just how important it is to overcome.

Women are not only held back by others, but are also held back by self-made perceptions and by their own personal sense of need to personally care more for their families, which in most women is greater than in men. Although this is certainly not the case for some, men are seen as prestigious when they accept more demanding work commitments, whereas a woman who accepts a demanding commitment is often looked down upon for sacrificing her family life for her career.

Working women are currently in a career limbo, where women who elect not to have children are judged, working mothers are gossiped about for not keeping their families in mind, and non-working mothers are seen as antifeminist women with no ambition.

Women face more difficulty in being hired and promoted, as seen in a 2016 Women in the Workplace study, which shows that for every 100 female promotions, 130 men are promoted. This provides great insight into the hiring process. As is supported by other research as well, employers are less likely to promote women because women are less likely than their male colleagues to push for a promotion or even accept one when offered due to their familial sense of duty. These commonly held perceptions make it nearly impossible for one to find a correct balance in society’s eyes. On top of drastically holding fewer top company job positions, per the statistics mentioned before, the few high-achieving women who do make it to the top are often then judged harshly, being held to different and more judgmental standards than their male counterparts. Often labeled as “aggressive,” “bossy,” or even “bitchy” for simply doing their job and trying to push past gender discrimination barriers. Women naturally and unintentionally do not always put themselves out there or first in the workplace. 57% of men negotiate for their salary in their first entry-level job, while only 7% of women do so. This double standard that forces women to prove themselves by working harder than men is a key barrier to equality in the workplace and is a “phantom [or] obstacle” as Virginia Woolf would say.

Workplace and hiring discrimination against women, whether purposeful or unintentional, must be ended, as these are what prevent full gender equality from being reached. According to a 2014 PEW Research Center survey, a large reason why women are held back from “top jobs” is that females are held to a higher standard than men. The survey also shows data that supports the fact that women are held back because of employers who are unwilling to hire females, female family responsibilities, the perception that women are not “tough enough” or good managers. These perceptions are the ones that must be overcome in order to achieve full workplace equality and are precisely what Virginia Woolf spoke about in her essay. These hidden biases are the roadblocks that have been present since the early 20th century when women began to enter the workforce.

Virginia Woolf’s words from 1932 still pertain to the world today, as women work to overcome both outside and personally imposed workplace and familial expectations and perceptions. Pre-conceived notions of workingwomen color their ability to succeed in business and the corporate world; however, these can be overcome through thoughtful education and professional conduct. Although Virginia Woolf’s words, “there are many phantoms and obstacles . . . looming in [a woman’s] way,” still ring true today, there is a bright future ahead for women in the workplace and in the world.




Drones by Emma Patterson

Drones are the mechanized versions of assassins in today’s world. They execute highly dangerous tasks with incredible accuracy, and they are able to do so without a trace of humanity.

It is often forgotten that behind those drones are people who will, in time, be overcome by the sense of guilt and responsibility for the deaths they caused; thus, the question of morality is not as far removed than previously advertised.

The argument for drones appeals to logic and a goal to be the most militarily advanced state in the world; however, the argument against drones is equally compelling, and possibly more complex, as it appeals to our humanity and forces us the take responsibility for the lives we end, no matter how far removed we are from the damage done.

The argument for drones has many valid aspects that generate a reason for pause on the idea that drones are purely vehicles of death and destruction. We do not just reserve drones to attack foreign threats.  We have targeted and killed at least four known American citizens who threaten our security (4). The whole process must be approved through several levels of our government, including the president, National Security Council, and CIA (4).  Drones are not as expensive as many other methods our military uses, which leaves more money to help education, health care, and foreign aid (3). Drone operators watch their targets for hours.  They are able to track the presence of civilians around them, and have the ability to change the course of a missile, if the situation changes (5).

Drone operators have said that they are not just heartless killers; they take the time to be as careful as possible to protect civilian life (2).

According to the Long War Journal, 2,706 Taliban and al-Qaeda soldiers have been killed by drones in Pakistan, while only 156 civilians were a part of the cost (2). Since the U.S. military refuses to comment on drone activities, the conversation is often dominated by those who oppose the use of drones.  This leaves room for many valid reasons for the legality of drones that we may not be able to highlight, as they remain classified by the Justice Department (2).

The argument against drones appeals to humanity and makes any rational person contemplate the destruction that these machines have the possibility to breed. Among the deaths, several have been of children. A Stanford/NYU study showed that the strikes have added to trauma for the residents of Pakistan. The study suggested that relief workers no longer wanted to serve in targeted areas because of the threat of a drone strike and a lack of faith in the government to protect civilians (4). Drones have become a suitable substitute for bombing and capture as shown by the hundreds of terrorist suspects killed under Obama, and one captured (5). The reasons that drones are considered illegal is classified, and for many people that was not an acceptable response. Lawsuits filed to expose these reasons have been unsuccessful (4). Operators have recounted the horrors of killing a person that you have monitored for days. They find they know their victims significantly more than the old bomber pilots used to, so they are more aware of what is at stake (2).  They speak on the idea that their targets are presented to them as some sort of a video game in which the object is to kill, but they feel this assumption of an alternate reality is false. They all understand that their targets are real humans and there are real life consequences that their actions will have (2). Many pro-drone activists discredit the notion that the operators will develop severe PTSD from their efforts; however, these claims hold no water, as the operators are still human and are highly aware of the human lives they take (3). The operators watch hours of carnage take place in front of them, while manned aircraft pilots only spend moments in the area of destruction.  The drone operators also spend their time in isolation on shifts that take hours; this keeps them from leading a normal, healthy life (5).

The idea that terror groups can push us to the point where we feel justified in becoming the judge, jury, and executioner is a notion that inspires fear in the hearts of people.  

While terrorism does generate intense fear in the American psyche, it is imperative that we evaluate the risk versus reward in all of our actions.  

Creating fear among the civilians in the countries in which we do our work does not aid our efforts to later pave the way for peace and democracy.  All this fear does is create an atmosphere full of animosity towards Americans, and build a barrier between us and a potentially positive relationship in the future with another state.



  1. Global Issues: Politics, Economics, and Culture by Richard J. Payne

The Morality Exception for Celebrities by Ariana Fadel

The life of a celebrity seems glamorous, but as many of us know, a major problem they deal with is the lack of privacy. I can still remember when I first questioned the ethics behind these forcibly publicized lives of celebrities when I was around ten years old: I was bored while sitting in an airplane, so my mom gave me a magazine. As I was leafing through it, I saw an article entitled “Celebrities – They’re Just Like Us!” When I saw the pictures of random actors and actresses getting groceries, sitting in the park with their kids, and doing other equally mundane activities, it finally hit me: they are just like us! More importantly, this also made me realize that if someone were to take these same photos of me, that would be considered stalking. So, if these actors are indeed “just like us,” then why has this moral barrier been crossed and been so widely accepted? Why should this be considered “part of the job,” leaving actors criticized for not accepting this complete invasion of privacy?

The life of celebrities has been acknowledged as its own type of entertainment through the unethical use of the paparazzi, and I believe this is because it has become normalized and that we, as humans, are fulfilling a natural urge to find out as much information as we can about those we are interested in, such as celebrities.

You can find news on celebrities everywhere. For instance, when I go on Snapchat and look at their “Discover” page, a lot of the times it will contain at least one story of simply Kendall Jenner and/or Bella Hadid going outside. Seriously. What it will show is them leaving a restaurant, a fashion show, a club, anywhere. And instantly, upon setting foot outside, they are bombarded with cameras. If they even put a hand up to cover their face, they’re labelled as “defensive.” The lives of celebrities have become amusement – all privacy compromised – for the general public, including myself. I would not consider this great amount of the population that reads celebrity news as fundamentally immoral, however. I believe that the paparazzi, which is actually the equivalent of professional stalking, has been normalized for our generation simply because it is so accessible. If it is everywhere and practically no one is protesting it, then it cannot be wrong, right?


To put it simply – no. If you’ve taken philosophy or read Socrates, you could compare this to Socrates’ teaching that popular opinion does not necessarily mean right opinion. And that is the case here.

We have come to view celebrity stalking as acceptable simply because everyone else is fine with it, which is understandable but still wrong.

We have to change this view and give celebrities, who are people “just like us,” their right to privacy.

I believe there is a definite psychological aspect to the stalking of celebrities. In fact, I think the urge to find out all this information on this select group of people is natural. This can be seen in a common practice that our generation engages in today: Instagram stalking. Most of us do it: we click on one person’s profile, scroll through their pictures, look at one picture, click on the account of a person tagged, look at their profile, and then keep going until we have forgotten where we are and feel gross and ashamed. This is just like celebrity stalking – we are slightly interested in the person for whatever reason, so we decide to learn more about them. This may have to do with some animalistic urge to compete, mate, or something of that nature – what I can conclude at the moment is that this is quite normal.

In fact, the only reason our grandparents did not do the same thing is because they did not have access to that kind of technology. What they would do instead was gossip and ask around, talk to friends, etc., in order to learn about whoever they were interested in – another form of “stalking.” While we still do that today, we have easier means such as Instagram. Again, accessibility is key to why stalking has been normalized – but also, we are appeasing a natural instinct in us to find out as much as we can about someone we are interested in.

The only thing that truly differs from celebrity stalking and the stalking of regular people on Instagram is the lack of shame we feel after stalking a celebrity. As I stated before, often we feel embarrassed with ourselves after stalking regular people on social media. Imagine liking an Instagram picture from twenty weeks ago on a regular person’s account in comparison to liking that same picture on a celebrity’s account. The first would probably send you into a panic, while the the second was probably intentional. We become only a number in a celebrity’s huge amount of fans which means that any action we take, including stalking them, is hidden in the crowd.

We are so distanced from them that nothing we do to them could ever come back and hurt us, whereas (to continue the Instagram example) if we were to like a regular person’s old picture on Instagram we would stick out as their only stalker.

This means that they could call us out for it. With celebrities, there is no fear of being noticed for stalking simply because there are so many people doing it. The fact that this is the only reason we feel secure stalking a celebrity versus a normal citizen goes to show that stalking a celebrity really should not be any different from a normal person in terms of ethics. There is no moral reason that we feel we can stalk the famous – it all comes down to the fact that, with celebrities, we can get away with it.

I believe it is indisputable that all humans realize it is, to put it lightly, uncomfortable to be stalked. This realization sadly seems to be lost when applied to celebrities, however, due to the  normalization and accessibility of stalking over the years. It has become ingrained in us that stalking is normal for celebrities and should be fine with the celebrities because it is so accessible and everyone does it. Stalking, however, is a natural compulsion, and I believe that as long as it is not actually compromising that person’s rights, it should not be outlawed or anything of that matter. There is no doubt that it is embarrassing and a bit weird, but sure – go stalk that person on Instagram. There are different levels of stalking, however – it can be harmless, or it can alter someone’s life completely.

What I do think is completely morally wrong and should be fought against is the whole idea of paparazzi.

I believe it is the equivalent of professional illegal stalking. The person who is subject to paparazzi has their right to privacy taken away and their freedom becomes limited in the process of celebrity news, turning their life into entertainment for the bored civilian. The whole idea of the paparazzi is immoral and has to be dealt with as it hurts people. These people are celebrities, yes; but this does not diminish the fact that they are real people with real feelings and real lives to live.
But, in recognizing this grand dilemma, we are left with a new and extremely difficult question – how does one get rid of the paparazzi?

My Talk on Racial Justice by Taylor Moises

This is a talk I gave to the Filipino Women’s Club of Salinas last year on September 9th. I spoke about the racially motivated shootings that have been brought to national attention along with the response of the Black Lives Matter movement. My goal was to bring awareness to my community and to start a conversation about this national issue. Before speaking to the women, I was aware of the prejudice some Filipinos have as a minority group who experience less severe racial prejudice. After the talk, many expressed their support, but those who expressed their disagreement were the more powerful voices. Their responses reassured me that having this conversation is important. Although this was months ago (and Black History Month was last month), it is topically relevant especially for those taking Peace and Justice since we are currently reading Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s Strength to Love and are discussing racial justice.


Thank you for letting me come and speak to you all. Hello, I’m Taylor Moises. My mom, Vivian Moises, is a member of the this club and I have attended some meetings before. I requested to talk to you all today about the police shootings of African Americans that have been occurring across America and the Black Lives Matter Movement that has grown in response to the shootings.

Many, if not all of you, are probably asking a few questions in your head right now: why am I, a Filipino-American teenager from Salinas, concerning myself with this issue? Why am I here speaking with this club for Filipino Women about the Black Lives Matter movement?

Basically, What does this have to do with me or you?

It’s logical to be weary or confused as to my motives to speak here today, but I ask you please listen to what I have to say with open-minds and empathetic hearts.

Before I go any further I would like to stress that this is a complicated issue and there is no simple black and white answer. Also, being pro-black lives is NOT an opposing view to being pro-cop. I have relatives who are cops and relatives who are black. I do not support cops who unjustly shoot people but I do not want them shot down either. I want fair trials for policemen.

Within the past few years racially-motivated shootings have been brought to national attention. I don’t know how closely you have been following them, but if you’re like me, you might remember having heard vaguely of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and, more recently, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. It was the last two shootings of the men I just mentioned, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, that sparked a need in me to investigate this national concern.

Just to refresh your memories or explain to those who have not heard about them, earlier this summer in Louisiana, two White police officers killed a Black man named Alton Sterling while he sold CDs on the street. The very next day in Minnesota, a police officer shot and killed a Black man named Philando Castile in his car during a traffic stop while his girlfriend and her four-year-old daughter looked on. The shootings were recorded and published to the public.

After watching the videos of both shootings, I was brought to tears because I was witnessing injustice that I could not and cannot tolerate.

I immediately began researching what I could do to show my support to the victims and their families. This led to researching more on the Black Lives Matter movement, past police shootings, research done on racial profiling, and examining collected data to become familiarized enough to make educated responses to the events. I wanted to find the most beneficial way for me to actually make a difference.

My goal is reasonable. I decided a good place to start is in my own community of my city, Salinas, and my community of Filipino women. I want to spread awareness of this national issue of racially motivated shootings. And while there is the argument that most of the shootings are not racially motivated or we don’t have a problem of police shootings, discrimination and racism is still a problem throughout our country. I am here today to inform you all of this national concern and to make our Filipino community in Salinas aware of the racism that we can unknowingly take part in.

This year, American police have already killed more than 600 people. Of those, 25% have been Black, even though Black people make up only 13% of the population. Overwhelmingly, the police do not face any consequences for ending these lives.

Even as we hear about the dangers Black Americans face, our instinct is sometimes to point at all the ways we are different from them. To shield ourselves from their reality instead of empathizing. When a policeman shoots a Black person, you might think it’s the victim’s fault because you see so many images of them in the media as thugs and criminals. After all, you might say, we managed to come to America with nothing and build good lives for ourselves despite discrimination, so why can’t they?

It’s true that we can face discrimination for being Filipino in this country. Sometimes people are rude to us about accents, or withhold promotions because they don’t think of us as “leadership material.” But for the most part, nobody thinks “dangerous criminal” when we are walking down the street. The police do not gun down our children and parents for simply existing.

Many Black people were brought to America as slaves against their will. For centuries, their communities, families, and bodies were ripped apart for profit. Even after slavery, they had to build back their lives by themselves, with no institutional support—not allowed to vote or own homes, and constantly under threat of violence that continues to this day.

In fighting for their own rights, Black activists have led the movement for opportunities not just for themselves, but for us as well.

For all of these reasons, I support the Black Lives Matter movement – The movement made after Trayvon Martin’s trial which resulted in his killer not being held accountable for the crime “in response to the anti-black racism that permeates our society.” Part of that support means speaking up when I see people in my community—or even my own family—say or do things that diminish the humanity of Black Americans in this country. I’m asking that you try to empathize with the anger and grief of the fathers, mothers, and children who have lost their loved ones to police violence.

Recognizing that racism and racially motivated shootings are issues is the first step. Thinking before saying things that may not mean to be hurtful, but could be interpreted that way, is also good to practice. I am not accusing any of you of being racist but I would like to address the inherent belief of certain people being inferior due to their skin tone. This still pervades today, even if does not stand out as it did fifty years ago.

Just because you are not prejudiced on purpose, does not make you immune to being racist.

Some people are prejudiced because they are evil, and some people are prejudiced because they don’t know better yet.

Saying racial stereotypes or using racial slurs is unacceptable in any form and is a form of racism.

It is important that we do not diminish the Black Lives Matter movement because we are equally capable of being both oppressors and allies. “We’re all susceptible to internalizing anti-Blackness, but we are not holding ourselves accountable when we pretend that white supremacy is the sole reason for our faults.”

Saying “All Lives Matter” undermines the Black Lives Matter movement.

BLM does not mean other people’s lives don’t matter; it does not mean black people are superior. The movement is to recognize that black people are being deprived of basic human rights. It is not to say “black lives are more important than other lives, or that other lives are not criminalized and oppressed in various ways.”

I believe our Filipino Women’s Community is a great community to be a part of and I simply wanted to share my concerns with you and to hopefully bring awareness to this issue that I care deeply about. As I mentioned before, this is not a simple problem with a simple solution. After doing more research, less shootings seem intentionally racially-motivated but the national attention to them has brought the talk of racial justice back to the table and I do not want our community to be left unknowledgeable of this inequality. According to the 2000 US Census, there are .61 more Filipinos (3.88%) than African Americans (3.27%) in Salinas. We are both minorities whose voices deserve to be heard and should not be discriminated against or fear our justice system.

Thank you, again, for letting me speak to you today and I hope this has covered a topic you deem has significant importance. There are different ways to take action in this movement, but being educated on the matter and then being aware of it is the most crucial aspect. Thank you and please have a lovely weekend.


How To Be a Perfect President by Iris Kang

Two weeks ago, a president was impeached for the first time in Korean history.

In the five-month process of the impeachment, I was overwhelmed by the information about scandals regarding the president and big political jargon used in the articles. After scrutinizing them, I realized how influential the president’s role is and learned a lot about politics.

Here are some things that led to the impeachment of the first female president of Korea, Park Geun-hye:

The major problem was that she significantly lacked communication with the citizens and was very opaque in terms of running the country and making policies.

Koreans were beyond mad when a news channel reported that the president’s close friend, Choi Soon-sil, had great influence in crucial political decisions without any official government title. For instance, she edited some of the president’s most crucial speeches and pressured the president to appoint certain people to a high government position. Moreover, in order to sponsor her own daughter who was a horseback rider, she pushed the president to extort a huge amount of money from big businesses illegally.

The first article of the first chapter of Constitution of Korea says, “The Republic of Korea shall be a democratic republic,” and continues, “The sovereignty of the Republic of Korea shall reside in the people, and all state authority shall emanate from the people.” Clearly, Park has violated these most basic rules, so of course, people were furious.  Thousands of people came to the boulevard in Seoul with candles to express their anger. Even elementary school students joined the candlelight rally. After a long period of anticipation, the Constitutional court officially removed Park from the office. Currently, Korea is preparing for an election in May.

The impeachment was highly symbolic because it meant that the voice of citizens was finally heard.

One of the most liked comments on the article about her impeachment said: “Justice is alive”. I stopped and pondered over those words. I could not agree more. Despite the scandals, people fought for justice and the winners were the people in the end. The candlelight rallies that have been happening every Saturday for months really did make a change.

Witnessing such a historical moment in Korea, I gained lots of knowledge about politics. Even though I was still not eligible to vote, I was mad when it became evident that the voice of citizens was ignored. That meant my opinions would be ignored. Then, I thought, the only way for me to make change is to be more knowledgeable about politics so that opinions of my generation are acknowledged, and this kind of incident never happens again. I was born and raised in Korea, but I knew very little about Korean politics, if anything, before this incident. Frankly, I was not interested in politics in general. Sometimes, I tried to read some articles and understand what was happening, but it never worked out well. News articles about politics were always unappealing to me because of all the political jargon that I had no clue about. I tried to force myself to read more, but I let go and thought, “Oh well, I guess politics are only for adults. I’ll stay out of it until I get to vote.” When I came to the States, I was afraid that people would ask me questions about Korean politics and I would not be able to answer them. Although I still have a lot to learn, I can say I am more informed now.

After the impeachment, I became aware of how significant democracy is. The president has a huge responsibility to help South Korea become a politically stabilized nation. Being the president is indeed a very challenging job; the president has to listen to everyone’s opinions and come up with the best compensation so that everyone is satisfied. Of course, it will be impossible to form a policy that every single person in the country will be happy with. But presidents should try their best to meet the demands of the majority. Had Park communicated with the people rather than her friend, the people would have been happier with her. She demonstrated that because the president is elected by the people, the president should always keep up with the citizens and be transparent regarding her policies.This is how democracies work.

Now that Korea has taken a step forward towards becoming a stronger democracy, I am looking forward to positive changes.

It’s all about progress and improvement.

In addition, it is about time for me to get involved in politics. I want my voice and the voice of the rest of the rising generation to be heard. Although the process has been rough, the people have proved that the democracy is alive, and the whole incident will have a positive effect on Korea in the long run.

Confirmation Reflection Letter by Isabelle Redfield

I definitely wouldn’t consider myself an open book in general, especially regarding religion. But, a lot of my spirituality has actually come from my being here at Catalina, so considering I probably will never have another chance to talk about my religion in front of a large group of people I actually like, I want to share my honest and unedited letter to the bishop about why I wish to be confirmed in the Catholic Church, because it sort of doubles as a reflection on my time here. It goes like this:

Dear Bishop Garcia,
I have wanted to continue my Catholicism this year through Confirmation for several reasons. Perhaps my most driving force is that I never want to lose faith. I am headed to college next year. I am certain I will lose my way more than a few times. I will no longer be required to show up to Sunday mass, and in many ways I’ll be held less accountable for my actions. I never want to forget or push aside some of the most spiritually formidable moments I’ve had these past four years.
Until Catalina, religion was never incorporated into my schooling or daily life. My parents had me baptized as a matter of course, I had my first communion, and I went to mass maybe six times out of the year when I lived in San Francisco. It was not until my sophomore year here when I really felt the value and the extremely strong connection to God and the saints that I do today.

The simple comfort of having the doors to our Rosary Chapel open at all times has enabled it to serve as my safe space. I’ve cried in those very pews and questioned life, my existence, and my purpose more than you’d think.

I once spent some time with a legitimate horse whisperer and he told me something that has stuck with me forever and that is: “You are 100% responsible for 50% of every relationship that you’re in.” So, my intention in going through Confirmation this year has been to at least try and figure out if I can even get my “relationship percentage” with God up to 10%.  My biggest hope for the future is to one day never see religion as an on-and-off switch. It is so easy for me to connect with God and pray in troubled times when I’m upset, confused, and in doubt. That said, when things are going well in my life, and I am content with where I am, I have much more trouble connecting to God and the saints.

But I no longer want to lean on my faith only in times of trouble; I want it to be present with me at all times.  I truly want my faith to withstand my life’s journey, and I hope that one day my faith will become a more fluid part of me.

I see God in the unexpected places. I remember sobbing in these pews when my grandfather died, when best friend’s dad committed suicide, when I was in the middle of the college application process, and when I’ve been tested in relationships with loved ones. I can distinctly recall a flash of light, a flickering of a candle, and other more personal signs that have made me certain I am not alone.
I have so much hope and expectation for my future. I have so much happiness and love within me. God has blessed me in more ways than I can count. I am extremely thankful. My greatest wish is for God to continue to guide me through times both troubled and wonderful, to bless me in moments both good and bad, and to always be with me—even when I’m in doubt.

It is my promise to God and our world to give back and share the gifts and talents he’s blessed me with.

I hope throughout my life that God continues to instill graciousness, humility, and strength in me. I want to continue to become a better friend, daughter, student, employee, and leader. As I continue to grow, I want to act more softly with more kindness, openness, and love. All around, I am so blessed and could not be more thankful for the life I have been given. I will miss this time in my life, this chapel, and those who have touched me. I will always hold my years here at Santa Catalina deep in my heart, knowing it was my purpose to spend my time here and not anywhere else. I thank you for your time, for the gift of my confirmation, and my future. Please bless me, my family, my loved ones, and those in need.
Lastly, to God, I thank you from the bottom of my heart, even when I don’t express it.

Isabelle Redfield

Confirmation Reflection Letter by Charlotte Wade

Dear Bishop Garcia,

“God loves you.”

This is the statement of love that I get from my grandparents every time I see them.  In fact, they only recently started saying “I love you” to me, without the intercession of God. Thus, needless to say, God and religion have been a large force in my life. Baptisms and first communions and even funerals, the few I have gone to, are celebrations when the whole family comes together. However, I think for a long time this was all religion meant to me–a few rituals and a time for me to see my family. I have taken significant pride in my contribution in church as an altar server, but I didn’t know precisely what any of it symbolizes and what exactly the Church’s teachings are. I knew to treat others the way you want to be treated. I knew to offer up your sufferings for your sins, which was told to me by my mother any time I was in pain or complaining.

Recently, I have come to really appreciate all the teachings that the Catholic Church has for us as followers. The unending and undiscriminating love preached from the Gospels and Catholic social teaching have inspired me to think deeper about my actions, my understandings, and my relationships with others. Not too long ago, I heard something that really struck a chord with me:

when you are in a relationship, you may be tempted to think it is a give-and-take relationship when really, it should only be giving, you giving all you can with nothing expected in return.

The unselfish and pure love and respect of the Catholic Church I think is demonstrated in those few words. Keep giving what you can, being the best version of yourself you can be, and expect nothing back.

Confirmation class has really given me a chance to think about my role as a person under the teachings of the Catholic Church, and I am excited to live my life out in a kind and loving way.



Charlotte Wade


Confirmation Reflection Letter by Taylor Moises

Dear Bishop Garcia,

I have grown up as a Roman Catholic. I was baptized as a baby and received First Communion and did First Reconciliation in second grade. I go to church weekly and have participated as an altar server, lector, and usher. I also have gone to a Catholic school for thirteen years. Because of my schooling and religious parents, my knowledge of the Catholic Church is pretty vast. The majority of my relatives are Catholic, and my friends from childhood were also primarily Catholic. Filipinos and Mexicans are traditionally Catholic, so at my Catholic School in Salinas, Madonna del Sasso, and as a part of a Filipino family, it was the norm for people to be Catholic and less common to be protestant or unreligious.

Being raised in an environment primarily made up of Catholics, and growing up learning almost all there is to know about Catholicism and scripture, I have strong roots in my religion.

Beginning in my teenage years, however, I began questioning my faith. This is the common time for kids to reassess values and beliefs, in attempts to differentiate what we believe from what we have been told to believe by our parents. I started going through this process in middle school, when I started to feel distanced from God. I realized I had stopped praying to Him as often as I used to when I was a child. It had been a while since my nightly prayers with my parents before going to bed. I would only pray sporadically when I wanted something from God, rather than just talking to Him or praising Him.
For a while I tried to resolve my faith issues, and at one point during my freshman year I decided I wanted to be known as the girl in my class who had the closest relationship to God and her faith. Although Catalina is a Catholic school, fewer of my peers here are Catholic than were at my elementary school. Perhaps as result of that, I felt closer to God when I was ahead of my classmates in Scripture class, since I already knew the ins and outs of the Bible and Catholic traditions. However, again after my freshman year,

I realized I wasn’t actually closer to God; I only knew Catholic traditions and what to do in mass better than others who do not have the same background as mine.

Again, I struggled with my faith and felt lost from God, especially as I learned about the scandals the Catholic Church has been through in history classes and through media outlets.
I knew my school offers Confirmation every two years, and I knew my parents wanted me to get confirmed, but because of my growing weariness from my religion, I had been waiting to tell my parents I did not want to get confirmed. However, my parents were not backing down. While they will occasionally let me skip Sunday mass when I’ve been overworked from school or extracurricular activities, they were not going to let me go unconfirmed. I joined the Confirmation classes grudgingly, along with my other classmates.
However, my reluctance was misplaced; Confirmation has strengthened my faith and has been a wonderful experience I am forever grateful I went through. Mr. Riley, our advisor, relayed to the others and me early during the process–in response to my concerns about my struggle with my faith–that

“faith is a personal, ongoing process.” This simple statement opened my heart to a willingness to work for my relationship with God.

By giving my faith back to me and making it less about the Catholic Church as an institution, I have been able to pray for myself and do things at my own pace. With my long commute to school, forty-five minutes each way, I take some time while I drive to thank God for ten things and ask God for his blessing for ten other things or people. Additionally, during these past few months, Confirmation has been my weekly moment when I get to gather with my friends and just get to be in their presence. Some of my best friends are going through Confirmation with me, and it is such a joy to go out to dinner before Confirmation meetings or stay late afterwards talking with them. Confirmation has confirmed my faith within me, and it has given me precious time to spend with my best friends. Although it was hard sometimes to stay late on a school night, having this repetitive carved-out time to reflect and talk has been a much-needed experience during my very busy schedule. I’m forever thankful for this opportunity and look forward to completing this process on Saturday.

Taylor Moises

Social Media Diet by Isabelle Redfield


I felt consumed by my online life, profile appearances, and the carefully-picked, highly-thought-out, edited pictures that showered my days. Considering unfollowing someone is the equivalent of saying, “I really don’t care about you.” I found myself seeing posts from acquaintances I could have sworn I never agreed to. Inevitably, I lost the daily interest to keep up with so many people’s manicured lives. I wanted to take some time for myself.

The bathroom, Chapel, formal dinners, the laundry room, a five-minute walk around campus, lunch with friends. These are just some of the many unnecessary appointments I made certain my phone joined me for. A well-worn love quote, “You’re the first thing I think of each morning when I rise; you’re the last thing I think of when I close my eyes,” essentially illustrates my former affinity towards Instagram. After turning off my morning alarm, Instagram was the first app I opened. At night, after setting my alarm, it was the last app I closed. One Sunday evening, I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to delete every last social media app my phone held. My fingers worked hastily.

Once the deed was done, I put my phone down, and something in me, even if it was minor, shifted.

Though my act was a seemingly insignificant and rash adjustment, my life felt very different. Logistically, I hardly ever had to charge my phone. Until now, I was convinced my iPhone 6 battery was faulty; I’ve since figured out it’s me, not you, Apple. This realization is still slightly difficult to accept. My mornings became more peaceful, I paid attention at the lunch table, and I couldn’t be disappointed by a lack of notifications–there were no tagged memes to be notified of. I poured my time into my friends, myself, and my schoolwork (not that there was much). The items scattering my various to-do lists were checked off immediately, and I finally started going to bed at a reasonable hour.

Other than WSJ articles, there was simply no reason to sit on my phone anymore. Each day I got hours of my life back.

Since even in the most boring of moments resorting to the ‘explore’ page on Instagram was not an option, I instantly became productive in my free time.

Whenever I had the urge to type “Faceb-” into my search bar, I clicked on this blog instead. Any time I had nothing to do in Environmental Science, I clicked on this blog. I replaced scrolling with writing. As I think anyone will agree, there’s something so satisfying in the production of tangible work.

I missed two things while on my short-lived diet. Naturally, I missed the hilarious life moments I’d normally capture through Snapchat. I was forced to take camera roll pictures and send them in group chats. Perhaps I lived slightly more in the moment, but my humor proved less effective. Secondly, I genuinely missed the search bar of my Facebook. Random questions like, “Where does she go to school again?” or “What’s her boyfriend’s name?” went totally unanswered.

I was reminded daily that our generation’s main form of communication is through social media. Of course, I talked to dozens of people via text and FaceTime over the two weeks. Not that I questioned my friendships, but it was reassuring to see these relationships prove stronger than a mere like or comment.

Best of all, I felt autonomous. I didn’t feel excluded.

Instead, I felt a kind of purposeful and peaceful detachment. By the third day I had no urge to get back online.

I’ve always gawked at the few people my age whose lives exist purely offline. Only after my digital “cleanse” did I face the simplicity and beauty my everyday life presented me with, but that I typically ignored.

I’ll leave you with advice you’ve heard before and will hear again. This is because it is pure:

Our accounts are highlight reels of the most photogenic, manicured, and bright times in our lives.

With that, we still reconstruct, censor, and doctor our most “postable” of moments. Almost nothing on a screen can paint a full picture. As much as I try, neither my pictures nor my writing will tell all. This is the way social media goes, and we’ll accept it. However, we must not lose ourselves in a series of small squares.

US-Chinese Power Relations and Threats: Moving Forward by Loleï Brenot

China does clearly pose a threat, not yet major, to the United States, due to this rising power. To manage this and keep civil relations between the two countries, our President-elect must practice great caution and respect moving forward in economic and political dealings with China.

The Economist article entitled “The Dangers of a Rising China” aptly points out, “Chinese leaders’ history lesson will have told them [that] the relationship that determines whether the world is at peace or at war is that between pairs of great powers. Sometimes . . . it goes well. Sometimes . . . it does not.” Currently, many are concerned about American relations with the world at large, particularly China, due to the recent presidential election. The recent resurgence of Chinese economic and trade power due to a rapidly rising population has led to predictions pointing to China soon overtaking the US in terms of economic power. What this means for the United States is yet to be seen; however, China does clearly pose a threat, not yet major, to the United States, due to this rising power. To manage this and keep civil relations between the two countries, our President-elect must practice great caution and respect moving forward in economic and political dealings with China.

Chinese manufacturing and production has a current, crushing hold over the entire world that would be difficult to overcome, should Chinese global relations sour. As was pointed out in the Economist article entitled “Made in China,” Chinese global manufacturing, currently at nearly 25%, has risen dramatically since 1990, when it made up under 3% of global manufacturing output. This very rise in production is what has catapulted China to the top of the power spectrum, as the world relies on Chinese products, with China supplying nearly half of the world’s products. This hold over the world is why US-Chinese relations must remain strong, as China has an extreme power hold on the United States in terms of manufactured goods, similar to the leverage of oil-supplying countries. However, it must be kept in mind that while China’s economy as a whole may overtake the United States’, the country’s prosperity will likely not be as widely shared as it has been in the United States, with many Chinese citizens still living in rural poverty. This is a possible major threat to United States power, although not a direct one, as complete reliance on the Chinese can lead to extreme problems if a disagreement were to occur.

Already since the election of President-elect Donald Trump, waves have been made in regards to Chinese-US relations.

Already since the election of President-elect Donald Trump, waves have been made in regards to Chinese-US relations. Although a phone call may seem trivial, a call between Trump and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen reported by The New York Times has had the world on the edge of its seat, as Trump hints about recognizing Taiwan as a sovereign state, rejecting the decades-long “One China” White House policy, in efforts to make trade and other agreements. This American threat to Chinese power and sovereignty could possibly lead to China becoming a greater threat to the US, if it exerts its extreme power over America more fully. Trump’s already bold moves have threatened to send the world into a tailspin of anxiety, speculating as to what will come next. Professor Wenran Jiang of the University of Alberta points out in a Globe and Mail piece that “Mr. Trump has again demonstrated that he is perfectly willing to disregard traditional foreign-policy norms in Washington, even with a country that has enough military and economic might to challenge U.S. global supremacy.” The Obama Administration has also spoken out against Trump’s actions, noting that the decades-long, bipartisan-supported “One China” policy should not be used a a “bargaining chip” in American-Chinese relations, as reported by the States News Service. Additionally, the Chinese government’s response to Trump’s phone call with Taiwan was not one of ease, as the government stated that it is “seriously concerned,” as The Independent reports.

These actions of President Trump are only a taste of what is to come from his administration in the next four to eight years. While such an extreme statement is a bold way to begin the period immediately after his election, one should expect nothing less from a figure like him. But whatever the shock value of moves like the Taiwan call, there is likely definite forethought and an agenda behind any such action on President Trump’s part. CBC News reported International Studies Professor Wang Dong of Peking University pointing out, “‘This is a very deliberate move, calculated to test China. If China reacts strongly, then he might back off a bit. But if he perceives China to be soft, he will become bolder.’” While the President’s actions may appear to be brash and uncalculated, if Professor Wang Dong is correct, Trump’s dealing with China in the coming years may adapt and be influenced greatly, being less black and white than it appears, and making the threat of future relations souring quickly perhaps less immediate.

Nonetheless, moving forward, it is likely that President-elect Trump will continue to uphold his appearance of dealing with foreign policy in a manner similar to his business dealings, in hard-hitting and direct ways. This can be viewed both positively and negatively, as, while more may be done, the reactions of other countries cannot be gauged completely prior to these actions, and one can only hope that our future president does not ruin relations that have been carefully constructed. However, it must be kept in mind that China is a soft but rising threat facing the United States, as its power continues to grow, and great caution will be required in dealings with it.