China Through My Eyes


Marwa Doost

If there is one thing I excel in, it’s probably the ability to stress over everything. Even during the summer, where you would think it wasn’t humanly possible to stress over anything, I was. Summer classes, the ACT’s, college applications, volunteering, and my resume were just some of the things running through my mind. When I wasn’t stressing, I usually spent my time envying my little brothers who spent their evenings tackling Naruto into the ground repeatedly on their PS3.

So when my father mentioned his upcoming business trip to China, I let myself fantasize about traveling overseas and escaping the pool of stress I created for myself. “Dad, can’t I come with you too?” I asked as I imagined speeding through the sky with a bowel of ramen before me.

My little dream bubble was popped not a minute later when I got a call from CT2 Prep, an ACT tutoring company, who reminded me of my interest in receiving tutoring. And like that, my little China dream was forgotten. What I didn’t expect was for my dad to take my request into consideration and buy me a ticket. Luckily though, that feeling didn’t stay for long after being on the receiving end of an hour-long lecture from my older sister who told me to “stop stressing because it was summer for god’s sake and to start living!”

Thanks to her, I was sitting in the window seat of ChinaAir two weeks later with a bowl of ramen in front of me as I bounced onto my seat excitedly.

Cupping and Turtles

Michael Phelps made Cupping famous when he appeared in the Olympics with dark bruised circles on his back. Well, the process of getting those marks is scary creepy. During our stay in China, my dad’s friend managed to convince my dad of getting cupping done at massage place near our hotel. You see, after lying down and getting all comfy (with your shirt off of course), a professional comes in with a bucket of twelve cups and matches. He lit up the match, placed it in the cup, and took the fire out after it blared to life inside of it.

He then stuck the cup onto your back. It hurts and right after it’s done, your skin starts turning red and swelling inside the cup. This method is repeated eleven more times until your back is covered completely to the point where you look like a turtle. After a couple of moments, the cups are taken away with a forceful grab and you are free to go. The marks will stay there for at least a week and will help heal any sore muscles you have and help your blood flow more. Props to Phelps for doing it though! The process is very freaky… I was about to get it done too, but after I saw the process I was like “Heck No! I’ll just start working out again!”

Business Etiquette

Tagging along with my Dad on his business trip was definitely an educational experience. Not only did I meet a lot of his clients and co-workers, but I also got to learn a lot about business etiquette. To my surprise, I learned that offering water to a client or co-worker was the best way to show them respect when they make the time to visit your office.

Moreover, I learned how important it is to plan ahead. I often questioned my dad why he would often meet up with new clients when he already had clients, and he would always reply by saying that “Clients will often agree to what you say, but when it comes down to it, will follow their own choices.” As a result, we had to meet up with new clients to prepare materials that we needed and might not have gotten our hands on from the previous client.

Fish and Lots of It

When my dad first told me that his friend would be taking us out to dinner, I was worried. I mean I’m not a fish fan, and this guy loved that stuff. We then ordered straw mushrooms, tree mushrooms, Chinese cabbage called Bok Choy, Cauliflower, Chinese beans, and varieties of fish and noodles in different shapes. Although there were tons of different types of fishes added into the broth, I was able to avoid eating too much fish by getting myself the soup from corners of the bowl.

Personally, my favorite part was trying all the different types of noodles. Some were thick and long and others were round and thin, and the best part was that they all had a different taste to them!

Tuk Tuk

I love motorcycles, much to my dad’s distaste, and China was full of them. The streets were always full of motorcycles and get this, there were even motorcycle taxis! This was basically a dream come true for me and a nightmare for my dad who always worried about finding excuses to keep me from getting on one. Luckily for him, I didn’t get to ride on one but I was able to ride the Tuk Tuk.

The name of the motorcycle is just as unique as the motorcycle itself. It is a big three wheeled motorcycle that looks like a regular motorcycle in the front but like the back seat of  a windowless car in the back.  It was definitely a lot less dangerous than normal motorcycles, but it still felt pretty cool to be riding in.

Being able to visit another country, especially China, was an amazing experience for me. I got to meet different people, see the culture, and try out amazing foods! Doing well in school and caring about our college applications is definitely important, but I think that being able to experience a lot of different situations is also something that will help you grow as a person. I would recommend the trip to anyone, as it is one that would be forever unforgettable!

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Not All Who Wander Are Lost


Maluck Nawabi

It is no easy task trying to decide what you want to be when you ‘grow up.’ This becomes even more complicated when you have to write a ten-page research paper on said area of interest. For my sophomore English class, I had to research a career that I wanted to pursue, which could be fun for some people who have known since they were nine years old exactly what they wanted to do with their lives. Unfortunately, I was never that person. It is safe to say that I was dreading this assignment from the moment my English teacher brought it up.

She tried her best to ease us into it by saying that we would take things step by step and work on finding people in certain jobs to interview. The following week we had to come up with our top three career choices and write them down on these posters that would be displayed in class for everyone to see. I watched as my classmates wrote down occupations such as physical therapist, non-invasive cardiologist, police officer, etc. All the while I was struggling to brainstorm two possible careers. I felt like there was something wrong with me. Why was it difficult for me to find something I was even remotely interested in while those around me clearly had it all together? I knew I had to take this assignment seriously, so I started researching careers.

To play it safe I search online for high paying stable jobs. I thought it was best to be practical and stay true to that anecdote that we have all heard: go to school, get a good job, make money, and be happy (in no particular order of course). As I was looking up careers, I stumbled upon one that caught my attention- Chief Executive Officer (CEO). I was relieved, I had finally found a job that was stable, paid well, and that I could see myself doing. Going forward with the assignment, I interviewed two amazing women in this position who gave me great advice. For a while, I thought that this was what I wanted. I had convinced myself that being a CEO or at least working in business was perfect for me.

However, the world of business was far from ideal for me because I was doing it for all the wrong reasons. I was being safe instead of being ambitious and going after something else that would make me happier. What this something else was I did not know exactly, yet I knew that I would be miserable if I just decided on a field of study based on the potential salary. I know how the world works, and you so have to factor in money at some point when it comes to deciding on a career. On the other hand, it is equally important to do what makes you happy so one must take the time to know themselves and find out what sparks their interest.

Currently, I am working on a  degree in Health Science, and I have a mild amount of interest in the subject. I am not entirely sure if I can see myself working in this area, but I know that I can always make a change. Sometimes I feel lost like I do not know what I want to do, and that is all right. There is nothing wrong with feeling confused and unsure of where you are heading. Explore all of your options, take risks when necessary because eighty percent of life is just showing up.

Author Bio: Maluck Nawabi has been an SAC member since my sophomore year of high school. Currently she is a health science major at CSUEB. When Maluck is not busy training for her dream career, she enjoys reading, swimming, and watching classic films.

Photo credit:

Pawsome Project

When K9s retire, their handler typically buys them from the city.

All food and vet care previously covered by the city is now the responsibility of the Handler.

Join us in supporting these dogs and individuals that have kept us safe.

100% of your donation goes directly to the dogs’ food and medical expenses.

Five Reasons Why Volunteering is the Most Rewarding Experience

Vaish Kandhadai

Vaish Kandhadai

Volunteering, over time, has transformed from leisure time community service into an effective tool in socially conscious professional networking. Whether you are a student, a newcomer to the town, or just a person looking for direction in your life, volunteering at a local non-profit organization is a fitting way to begin your pursuit. I have been volunteering at GiveTeens20® since March and during the course of time, I have come to know so many wonderful people who have given relevance to my search for a career fit (I am looking at you with gratitude, Kathy!). If you are on the wall about volunteering, this post might help you make the right decision. If you are already volunteering, it would help you reexamine your purpose at your non-profit organization. So why volunteer?

Know Your Community Better: As a recent transplant to the Bay Area, I have learned so much about communities and education from my short time at GT20. I learned of several thriving sub-communities around Fremont (Niles and Newark, for example) I was unaware of until a few months ago. As a part of an education-based non-profit, I also learned about the difficulties the schooling system in the bay faces and the measures that are being taken to address the shortcomings. I now have a different level of respect and appreciation for everything our teachers do to shape the students of our community.

Give Something Back to the Community: Did you know that as a volunteer, you have the power to strengthen so many aspects of your community? By working at the eldercare ward of your local hospital, you would be helping your community’s seniors. By taking up an after school mentoring program, you would be contributing towards the future of the youths. By taking that extra step, you would be contributing towards the development of your town, city and thus, the country!

Give Your Career Some Direction: It doesn’t matter whether you are fresh out of school or just taking a break to figure out a career change. Volunteering in a field that interests you and for an organization with a respectable cause significantly increase your chances of finding what lights you up! As a person who was fascinated by social media marketing, my time at GT20 has helped me research tools and ideas related to my field of interest. This has helped me make a considerable contribution towards improving GT20’s social media presence and improve the value of my resume. There really is nothing to beat the on-the-job knowledge volunteering offers!

Make Friends and Increase Your Network: If you take your volunteering seriously (well, not too seriously, of course!), it would improve your chances of networking with other professionals in your community. How, you ask me? Non-profits host or attend several events every month. Whether it is to raise funds or support other causes, an average non-profit organization sees at least one event a week. If you are an active member of your organization, you would get to attend several of these events and meet people from wide-ranging industries. In my opinion, there is nothing to beat that!

Finally, It is Good For You: Volunteering reduces stress. The shift in focus from your problems to something else would give a bigger and better meaning to your life. Nothing really beats that!!

Vaish is a Volunteer Social Media Strategist for GiveTeens20® and a Growth Hacking Consultant in the Technology industry. In her pass time, she likes to pretend she is reading just to get out of doing household chores!

Tips on Finding Vacation Employment in Your Community

Img of author Muskan Sharma

Muskan Sharma

No one wants to hire a sixteen year old with no experience. This was the hard truth that I was becoming aware of as my job search continued to drag on. I never thought it would be this hard. In my head I always thought that I would just walk into my interview with a big smile and a go-getter attitude, charm the interviewee, and then walk out job in hand. Clearly, this was not the case. Week after week, interview after interview I was getting no response.

Finally, feeling defeated and desperate, I went to Kathy, Founder of GiveTeens20®, education non-profit that helps teens find their career fit; thinking that she was probably the most qualified person to help me with this dilemma. I was correct in going to her. Kathy was quickly able to give me some important advice on what I should be doing.

“Print out your application, take it in, and give it to a manger. This will show initiative and your manager will get to know you before your interview. A lot of times managers don’t even consider online applications from 16 year olds, or they only look at the most recent applicants. That’s why personally taking your application in is so important.”

I did as Kathy explained and went into my interview a week later and received a job offer at the end the interview. I am now happily working at a store that I really love and owe it all to an internship with GiveTeens20® that gave me access to people like Kathy.

The Importance of Staying Awake During Summer Break

Marwa Doost

by Marwa Doost

Let’s be honest and admit that sleeping is the next best thing about summer right after the absence of school in your life. For one thing, you no longer have to worry about school deadlines when you’re asleep. You’ll also able to ignore your annoying siblings as they start yet another game of “let’s annoy the hell out of the parents until they call for the oldest child to do something about it.” And if that’s not good enough, you’ll also able to get out of doing errands for your parents, which most of the time consists of getting groceries from Walmart (which just sucks because it’s always busy) or driving by Aunt Marge’s house to take her dogs to the vet (which usually subjects you to standing at the front door of her house while she spends ten minutes fussing over you, your career choice, and your cheeks as she gives in to the urge of pinching them). All in all, sleeping in is pretty great.

However, there will always be a couple of people who disagree with this and more often than not, it will usually your parents. I mean I would be complaining as well if I suddenly lost someone to push all my work and errand drives onto. Still, it can be a pain when our moms complain about our sleep schedule to the dads, which- I don’t know about you- always ends with me on the receiving end of a lecture on the beauty of sleeping and waking up early (Warning: don’t stare into your dad’s eyes during the lecture, they can be just as convincing as the gen-jutsu the Uchiha’s put on you with their sharingan in Naruto).

It isn’t as if parents are against us sleeping, because they aren’t. They just would like to control that aspect of our lives. This is a very big problem if you ask me, because Mom and Dad, I may love you, but I also love my sleep. And let’s not forget that Summer time is the only real time we get to sleep in as much as we want.

When to Stay Awake

Usually, most teens are awake from 7:00 AM to 12:00 PM during school days. During the summer, though, it’s obvious that no one follows that rule. The new “rule” is staying awake from 6:00 PM to 5 AM. Every teen knows these are the best times to pack your schedule with activities. For one thing, you don’t have to deal with your siblings as much because unlike you, parents can still control their bedtimes. And in an hour or two after you wake up, they’ll be shipped off to their rooms after daddy gives them a good night kiss. Not only does this leave you to your own devices for the next couple of hours, but it also means that your parents will be too tired from a day of watching the kids use the house as a jungle gym to criticize you for anything you might do.

What’s the good of this, you ask? Well, you can probably get away with most of the things you wouldn’t when the sun is still out. For instance, mom probably wouldn’t even blink an eye if you told her you were going out for a drive with your friend and wouldn’t be back until much later (of course she doesn’t know that the drive will probably end up with the two of you munching on IN-N-OUT after spending the night movie hopping).

Other benefit of staying awake is all the food that will be available to you during that time. Can you just imagine opening up the pantry and getting your hands on the half hidden bag of Doritos that mom covered up with the huge bag or rice? Or the Cookie Dough ice cream in the back corner of the freezer? As if that’s not already good enough, you get to jump into it without worrying about sharing!

Why is This the Right Thing?

If you’re a teen, the chances of you agreeing with everything I said are pretty high. Give or take, it would probably be around eighty percent of the readers. The other twenty who disagree would probably be full of the juniors and seniors who are already stressing about their college applications coming up soon. While you shouldn’t completely ignore the idea of doing well during the four years of high school, you shouldn’t obsess over it either. Doing so will not only give you a short life span, but sooner or later it will be the cause of you burning out. Be aware of your surroundings, what colleges expect of you, and what you think will be the best for you, but don’t forget to still enjoy the little things in life like the box of ice cream waiting for you in your freezer. You only get to be a teenager once, so you might as well enjoy it.

Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

Four Techniques to Avoid Stress and Keep Your Sanity

Maluck-NawabiWe’ve all had to deal with stress in our lives at one point or another; whether it be from school or work, it’s something that can bring discomfort to our lives. When I started high school I found myself overwhelmed with many stressors and needed to find ways to make a positive transition. I found that I was the one who put the most pressure on myself. Right from the start I wanted everything to be perfect. I wanted straight A’s, I wanted to finish all my service hours as soon as possible, and I wanted to get involved in clubs. I thought that everything would be fine, but I never anticipated that some of those things would not work out.

I struggled in Spanish and was never able to get the GPA I wanted during freshman year and this was a major blow that made me feel trapped. I was struggling and I felt like I had no one to turn to. It was during this time that I realized how important it is to ask for help.

Ask for Help

We like to think that we have everything under control and that we don’t need anyone, but in reality we could all use some assistance. You should not spread yourself too thin and just because someone else volunteers their time to do extra work does not mean that you have to do the same if that is not something that you can handle. For instance, when I knew I had a test and a group project on the same day, I would talk to my group members and tell them that I couldn’t contribute as much on a certain day. This was effective because I let them know ahead of time rather than saying I would do something and then forgetting to do it when they were clearly counting on me.

Write it Out

One must always be aware of his or her stress in order to find ways to manage it properly. Over the course of high school, I learned new ways to deal with my stress. I would keep a journal and do stream of consciousness entries. This is when you write down whatever you’re feeling as you are feeling or thinking it. I found this helpful because it allowed me to express my thoughts on paper and then see where I could make adjustments. Exercising daily was also an effective way to cope with stress as it allowed me to clear my mind. The exercise you choose to perform does not have to be complicated, it can simply be taking a walk outside to get some fresh air.

Make a Schedule

I believe that most of my stress in high school came from feeling as though I did not have enough time. When it came to picking classes, I would always load up on difficult classes that required a lot of work, both in class and outside of class. I now see that I should have come up with a schedule that worked better for me; that means taking one or two rigorous courses that I could handle along with other courses that were not as loaded. If you are rushing to complete assignments and find that you have little free time develop better time management skills, keep a schedule that includes deadlines, as well as time to relax and take a break. Sometimes I like to create mock due dates for assignments to avoid procrastination and get things done earlier.

Engage in Prep Work

If you are anything like me, you probably tend to get a little lost during lectures simply because you are so preoccupied with mindlessly copying down notes from the PowerPoint. To get a better grasp about what your teacher is talking about during lecture, try reading the chapter before the lecture. In high school you will be faced with assignments that seem difficult; however, it is important to break down large assignments into smaller parts that you can work on a little bit each day.

My high school experience consisted mainly of trying to deal with stress. This got in the way of me enjoying high school and making the most of new experiences. Do not allow stress to play a bigger role in your life than it has to because in the end it is truly not worth it. Find methods that help you relax and clear your mind. Have a support system of people who you can easily turn to for help and do not be afraid to ask for help. Some high school courses are more difficult than others; therefore, you must find a way to balance your schedule and make the most of your time. High school is an exciting time in one’s life, and no matter how intimidating it may seem at first, you just have to remember that everything will work out well.

Image Courtesy

By Maluck Nawabi


May 2016 Newsletter

Here is the May 2016 Newsletter, Featuring Kathy’s Corner and details of some GT20 upcoming events.

Kathy’s CornerKathy

Greetings, Teen Supporters! Check out some of the upcoming projects GiveTeens20® is currently working on:

  • GT20’s Career video with Tyler Layfield and the late Kalimero continues to inspire teens to become K9 officers. We are starting a K9 Retirement Fund for Fremont Police Association (FPA) as all expenses rest on the handler’s wallets once the dog is retired. Join us at our Chamber Mixer, July 7th Concert in the Park, and the Fremont Festival of the Arts to support this effort.
  • GT20 continues to encourage and equip teens by providing in-class presentations at no cost to schools. In the sessions, teens are encouraged to Know Themselves by honest self-assessment, then to Learn about careers they now know are interesting to them and are given no-cost tools to accomplish this. Contact to get on our schedule.

Upcoming Events

May 24, 5-7pm
GT20 Fremont Chamber Mixer
at Critosphere,
7100 Stevenson Blvd., Fremont

Concerts in the Park
July 7, 6-9pm
Supporting the K-9 Officers
Retirement Fund

August 6 & 7
Fremont Festival of the Arts
Supporting the K-9 Officers
Retirement Fund

September 8, 6-10pm
All in White Casino Night
Magnussen Lexus

Thursday, September 8th 6-10pm
at Magnussen Lexus of Fremont $50 per person
Available Monday, May 24th on or from any GT20 Board Member
All in White Casino Night
39270 Paseo Padre Pkwy #446
Fremont, CA 94538


Given by the organization’s Founder, this award honors an individual who has made a substantial contribution of time and talent to GT20 that has significantly impacted the organization’s progress.

The 2016 Founder’s Award will be presented to Loyal Mealer with Enerongoso, a web services consulting business, who was GT20’s first partner and cheerleader. Loyal has provided invaluable support and expertise since 2011.

The GT20 Teen Champion is nominated by the community at large, voted on
by the GT20 Board, and recognizes an individual, or individuals, who provide
teens with opportunities in learning/education, training, societal awareness,
employment and advancement. The 2016 Teen Champion Award recipient will be presented at our All In White Casino Night.

Brittany Hang graduated Long Beach State with a degree in Journalism in May, 2014 and was brought on as GT20’s Social Media Intern. She was hired by Facebook in July, 2015 and states, “Reason why I’m getting an interview and have gotten this far is because of my work with you. I have you to thank for this!”


Download a PDF version of this newsletter:

GT20_Newsletter_May2016 pdf

Choosing a College Goal: Personal Interest vs. Career

Is career choice an either-or situation?  When students foresee the goal of their college education, they are caught in a tug-of-war between the sensible prospect of job security or a career path tailored to their passions and interests.  Rarely do they overlap.  They may consider the kitchen their happy place, but know that majors in Culinary Arts fall on the lower end of the college grad income spectrum.  Therein lies the conundrum: What should be their focus?

Out of a pool of Freshman polled entering UCLA, the majority listed a decent job as their top reason for attending college.  This is a clear shift from 20-30 years ago, when gaining skills and exploring interests reigned as the core ideal.  As expected, this correlated with an overall deviation from the number of awarded degrees in science and the arts.

Despite technically-driven majors leading to the highest paid entry-level careers (Engineering in particular), such programs offer little if any skills in communication.  According to Bloomberg’s “2015 Job Skills” interactive graphic, the most desired and rarer attributes would sorely lack in technical programs: Leadership, Creative Problem-Solving, and Communication.

Speech 101 may cover the basics, but GE courses typically only dip the student’s toe into the pool instead of drilling deeper into specifics, as they are intended.  Those students of technical study must then train themselves via self-education or consciously step outside their area of expertise by enrolling in courses unrelated to their degree.  This more than likely parallels our earlier mentioned tug-of-war.

Unrelated courses may inspire and motivate, while required material feels more like a tried and true job; it may lead to possible dislike and eventually resent toward their field.

As with life, students should find that golden balance between necessity and passion.  Avoid relying on an illustrious career as a renowned author, but find a way to weave your writing prowess into a job with a proven record for stability.  Who knows; actively pursuing creative hobbies on the side may end up paying the bills, too!

This blog was provided by Westface College Planning.  For more tips and information, sign up for a free College Funding workshop or webinarcall us at (650) 587-1559, or send us an e-mail.

Future Investing with Summer Programs and Internships

watermelonWith summer approaching, you and other high school students may first bask in the glow of three months away from essays and assigned projects.  Once that feeling subsides—particularly for all of you wonderfully ambitious students—you’ll wonder if any options exist to keep your mind stimulated, prepare yourself for their future careers, or possibly explore avenues they have yet to tread.  So what’s the answer?  Summer programs and internships!

Science? Art? Communications? There’s a Program for All of Them!

For our California pupils, here are a few local opportunities orchestrated by colleges over the summer that may peak your interest, courtesy of the Los Altos High School College and Career Center:

Academy of Art College in San Francisco
“Six-week intensive art program offers up to four classes either online or onsite in San Francisco. Get a glimpse into college life, meet other young artists and explore a variety of art & design fields. Note: Students staying in Campus Housing must take four on campus classes.”

COSMOS (California State Summer School for Math and Science)
UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC San Diego and UC Santa Cruz

“Cosmos is a four week residential academic experience in math, science and engineering for top high school students. Students can participate in one of the many clusters of the COSMOS program at any of the above UC campuses. Some sample clusters are Under the Sea: Exploring Marine Organisms and Their World, Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering: Robots and Flying Machines, Medical & Veterinary Responses to Infectious Diseases, and Environmental Sciences and Experimental Ecology.

Students apply to one of the four University of California’s COSMOS campuses — UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC San Diego and UC Santa Cruz. Each campus may have a different focus.”

Internship Programs

Stanford Institutes of Medicine Summer Research Program
Palo Alto, CA

“An 8-week summer internship program open to high school juniors and seniors. Hands-on research under guidance of a one-on-one mentor. Choose from immunology, stem cell biology, neurobiology, cardiovascular medicine and cancer biology.”

ZOMA Worldwide
Palo Alto, CA

“An international internship program for high school students based in various industries in Shanghai, China. Must have completed sophomore you and have strong academic records and proven leadership abilities. Chinese language is not required by students enrolled in Chinese language coursework is preferred. Internships are available in the areas of high tech, marketing, public relations, advertising, law travel and hospitality and architecture. Bilingual resident assistants are on-site 24 hours for supervision and assistance.”

Make a Decision Based on YOUR Goals

If earning some cash on the side is your driving force, an internship may not be your best choice for this summer.  While internships add bulk to an otherwise sparse resume, they are often notoriously unpaid.

On that same token, unpaid internships and volunteering may seem like thankless work, but both can easily lead to a future “in” at a company.  A connection with them on LinkedIn® assures an open-ended opportunity to re-connect once you’re finishing up the last requirements for your degree.

We all deserve some R&R, but with three long months ahead of summer 2015, why not devote part of your time to a worthwhile investment in your future (and bank account)?

This blog was provided by Westface College Planning.  For more tips and information, sign up for a free College Funding workshop or webinarcall us at (650) 587-1559, or send us an e-mail.

Photo Credit: Harsha KR