Love bridges cultural gap

When I first met my boyfriend’s mother, Mee, she looked at me in disgust. It wasn’t because of the way I dressed, talked, or even acted, but because I was not Hmong like her.

I come from a dirt-poor, steaming hot country called Paraguay in South America. My mother, Susan Covey, adopted me. Beyond that, I know next to nothing about my background or heritage. I’m an American girl, but dating Seng Thor has opened up a foreign world to me here in Minnesota – the Hmong world.

Sex by text

“Bow Wow,” a 16-year-old boy from New Prague, has between 20 and 30 pictures of semi-nude to naked teenage girls on his cell phone. Those photos are called sexts, or sexting, and came from both friends who forwarded the pictures to him by cell phone and from girls who sent him the pictures themselves.

Squash the relationship if it's abusive

When a teenage relationship suffers from dating violence, it is like a pop bottle being shaken up — you’re worried about opening the cap because you know it’s going to blow up in your face.

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Two cultures, one family

Like hundreds of Twin Cities couples, Laura Lee and Abe Knudson are trying to raise their kids, hold two jobs, pay their bills and manage to find a little time for themselves.

What they are also doing is blending two cultures that stretch 8,000 miles from Minnesota’s Iron Range, where Abe grew up, to the highlands of Laos, where Laura’s parents were born.

May Your Turn winner

I always loved learning new things until my freshman year in Geometry. I was the only 9th grader and I even had some seniors in my class. I was uncomfortable at first about being so young and I didn’t know anyone in the class.

On the first day my teacher asked if anyone knew what the Pythagorean Theorem was. I looked around the room and no one was paying any attention. I raised my hand and told him what I knew and a senior girl next to me just scoffed and said, “Look at this little freshman tryin’ to be all smart.”

April Your Turn winner

These days, a lot of kids are less concerned about living out their youth and more concerned with racing toward maturity. Enjoying the time you have while you have it is no longer as important as reaching your goals, only so you can make new goals. This practice forms a recurring cycle in one’s life: to satisfy the task at hand only to create new expectations, never quite reaching fulfillment.

A roommate taught me to see beyond differences

When I first made my way into my dorm room at the start of my freshman year, I saw four lofted beds, and I began to get worried.

There’s no way I could have three roommates, yet there were four names on the door, and mine was one. Later, I learned that the university had run out of dorm rooms and put the overflow – including me – into what had once been student lounges.

I’d heard stories about roommate problems. How would four of us ever get along?

Working with deaf toddler teaches passion and love


February Your Turn winner: death can't stop a daughter's love

Do you remember how we used to have tickle fights? I would be laughing so hard that I would cry!

And I won’t forget to mention your sneaking around in my “secret diary.” I still remember your answer to why you read it. “If you didn’t want me to read it, you would have hid it.”

Your Turn runner up: Cowgirl Diaries

It’s no secret that my relationship with my father had been on a slow decline since the cowgirl days of childhood. Every so often, he would do something that would startle me, things that I thought were out of his nature. However, trends that cannot be dismissed, and must be acknowledged as aspects of character. Whenever confronted with criticism, his hot temper takes control. My mother has taken the heat for seventeen years, but in the summer of 2008, it was my turn.

Your Turn runner up: 2008 -- Year of change

I lost control, and before I knew it, blood was staining my long-sleeved shirt. Looking in the mirror was just another reminder of my sagging self-esteem. My face was loosing color, just like the days lose light.

January Your Turn Winner: A Dramatic Life Lesson

When Anna drove away alone to meet a stranger — who claimed to be a photographer seeking young female models for a new magazine — at his home one winter night, her friend was left behind to make a difficult choice: tell their high school dorm director what was happening and risk losing their friendship, or keep Anna’s secret and risk Anna’s life.

Simple and sweet: Ways to woo your boo

Valentine’s Day can sometimes take on an ugly feeling, like in elementary school when trading valentines could easily become a popularity contest decided by who got the most and who received none. The stereotype of adult relationships is that husbands always forget to buy flowers, and wives end up feeling unappreciated. But Valentine’s Day is about showing those you love — friends and family, as well as girlfriends and boyfriends — that you care about them. It isn’t about buying stuff, or who gets the most valentines.

Reporter Teddy Woodward put together this short, but sweet, list of things to do with your love that simply show them you care, and enjoy being with him or her, which is the best valentine of all.

College students' love advice to teens: Love can wait

With Valentine’s Day this month, love, crushes, and relationships are on the minds of many teenagers. Teen dating can sure get complicated, so luckily, college students at the University of Minnesota were willing to share their dating experiences and advice for their younger peers.

When asked what advice they would give their 16-year old selves if they had the chance, there were a variety of different answers. One recurring theme in the students’ advice was commitment. But their advice about commitment probably isn’t what you’d expect.

Resolve to help others this New Year

Start with a menu of fruit and protein shakes, mix in a gym membership, add a pinch of New Year’s eve optimism and voila: a typical New Year’s resolution.

Usually such a recipe has an expiration date around the end of January — resolution unresolved, goals forgotten. The typical resolutions, such as lose weight and make more money, seem to be a concoction for failure, so I am proposing a new recipe.

Instead of resolving to helping ourselves, the new recipe would call for us to help others.

Thank you to partners, donors, students who made workshop possible

A grant from the Carolyn Foundation allowed ThreeSixty, a youth journalism program based at the University of St. Thomas, to offer six-week introductory journalism classes to Minneapolis teens in the fall 2007 and fall 2008.

Teen pregnancy on rise after 15 years of decline

A baby means love.

Dora Rosales, 19, grew up thinking her mother never liked her, much less loved her. Her father died from AIDS and having no where else to go, she turned to the only source of love coming her way – her boyfriend.

Befriending exchange students broadens horizons, world view

At Eden Prairie Senior High School, Karin Paul is known as the foreign exchange student who stood up in front of the entire student body at a pep fest and asked if anyone wanted to go see the band Coldplay with her. She’s experienced many American traditions for the first time this year, including Halloween, Thanksgiving and skiing on Minnesota’s “hills.”

Karin Ingrid Anne Maria Paul, 18, moved this summer from a small town in Sweden that was established nearly a millennium ago to Eden Prairie, a 1880s-farming town that is now a Minneapolis suburb.

Befriending the exchange students at your school can show you a perspective of America only a foreign student can show you, and can teach you about other world cultures.

MySpace vs. Facebook

Social networking sites have become more than just something fun to do in one’s spare time, but a necessity for teens everywhere. Two of these sites stand out in particular: MySpace and Facebook. These two sites, and the differences between them, have become a hot topic at among teenagers. The ultimate question is: Which one is more popular, MySpace or Facebook?

October Your Turn winners

The winner of the $100 prize for Your Turn’s October contest is Luis Romero, 16, Humboldt Senior High. Congrats, Luis! The $25 runner-up prizes go to two anonymous writers, and Rachel Mosca, 15, Humboldt and Sparkle Jones, 17, Humboldt.

Teen sex

By Luis Romero

I’m walking to my classroom and I see a boy and a girl holding hands. I walk into the classroom and see notes being passed around decorated with hearts and “ILYs”. I’m at the cafeteria and I hear a group of girls talking about how they are on the pill. I continue walking and overhear a group of boys talking about how they have condoms. At the end of the day I’m walking to my bus stop and see people selling weed, smoking, and making out.

Learning, having good grades, and doing all your work isn’t as half as important as being in a relationship and getting “laid.”

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