What does it mean for my humanity as an Asian-American woman when you can only see me as an object?

Compelling personal stories
told by the people living them. At the beginning of this year, I became obsessed with foraging for vintage objects. I spent hours perusing Facebook Marketplace. Unsatiated, I started following vintage Instagrammers in Pittsburgh; one bio described their account as selling “joyful and thoughtfully chosen thrifted home goods.” Local Pittsburghers sourced thrift stores, estate sales and their grandma’s attics, populating my Instagram feed. I found myself impulsively buying a Le Creuset Dutch oven shaped like a tomato, delicate beaded grapes and pears, and a mid-century modern wooden cheese plate.


As a Han Chinese woman in Pittsburgh, I see the Atlanta massacre exposing how media, government and academia fail Asian women

Six weeks after I moved to Pittsburgh to begin a graduate program, a mass shooting took place at a synagogue 2 miles from my apartment. Six weeks before my departure, another mass shooting hit close to home. 

This time, the hate crime took place in another state, but it targeted Asian women. On March 16, eight people were gunned down at three Asian spas in the Atlanta suburbs – two Han Chinese women, four Korean women, and two white bystanders. The victims’ names are Tan Xiaojie; Feng Daoyou; Yue Yong Ae; Kim Suncha; Park Soon Chung; Hyun Jung Grant; Delaina Ashley Yaun; and Paul Andre Michels. A ninth bystander, Elcias Hernandez Ortiz, remains in the hospital.

Changing the lesson plan: A Pittsburgh teacher looks back at the year of teaching online

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A great lesson starts off with a plan — a sequence of steps methodically followed and strategically simulated with an end goal in mind. Sometimes, these lessons are  nationally mandated. Other times, they’re crafted by an academic coach or dictated by district curriculum. In my opinion, as an 11th- and 12th-grade U.S. history and social justice teacher at Pittsburgh Westinghouse, the classroom teachers are best suited to create such plans for the children that sit in front of them. They — we — can tailor to our students’ specific learning styles and needs.

Luke Chinman, 17, photographed outside his home in Squirrel Hill. He is a senior at Taylor Allderdice High School. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

Pandemic isolation helped me better understand my queer identity

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Social isolation changed the way we communicate. When my family and I began to quarantine last March, shifting my junior year at Taylor Allderdice High School online, suddenly every single social interaction I had was intentional. Every exchange was with someone I knew very well—I wasn’t striking up a conversation with a classmate in the minutes before my physics class would start or running into an old friend inside the Rite Aid down the street from my house. I was only keeping in touch with those closest to me, and, like most people, I wasn’t making an effort to reach out to the people I kind of knew. 

But that distinction, at the time, felt like a drop in the bucket of societal changes brought by the worsening spread of a deadly virus. As the days of quarantine dragged into weeks and then months, it manifested itself in different ways: Some people cut their own bangs, tried their hand at home hair dye, shaved slits in their eyebrows.

Dakota Castro-Jarrett, 17, is a senior at Taylor Allderdice High School. Here he is photographed at Allegheny Commons park, which is near his home in East Allegheny. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

COVID-19 has shown that students like me deserve more of a say in the decisions our schools make

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The recent debacle over a proposal to close six city schools is just the latest in a series of disappointments many of us have been feeling about Pittsburgh Public Schools over this chaotic past year of schooling during the pandemic. I’m a senior at Taylor Allderdice High School and a member of the Northside community. I was among those distressed by the consideration to close these elementary and middle schools.  

The schools under threat include Allegheny 6-8, Arsenal 6-8, Fulton PreK-5, Manchester PreK-8, Miller PreK-5 and Woolslair PreK-5. The proposal also included changing the grade levels that several of the schools teach, like making Minadeo PreK-5 a middle school. Since this idea was first brought up at a Feb.

Teaching can be a ‘joyful slog,’ but during this pandemic, I found myself looking for ‘joyful’

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Teaching is hard work but, when it’s going well, I find it hard to imagine any career more joyful or fulfilling. I have shared both of these realities with a number of student teachers, interns and new colleagues over my years in the classroom. Before March 2020, I would tell anyone who would listen how much I loved my job. It adds great value to my life. Alongside the fulfillment of teaching, I have made intentional choices throughout my career to achieve a healthy work-life balance and have counseled other teachers to do the same, always with the mindset that we need teachers with valuable experience to persist in the profession for the long haul and for the benefit of our students.

In the shadow of the opioid epidemic, how should we care for patients in pain? Reflections after breaking my neck.

I broke my neck four months ago. I fell in my backyard and landed on my head, fracturing my first cervical vertebra in three places and dislocating my first and second vertebrae. Within 24 hours, those vertebrae were fused with surgical screws, rods and spacers, and I woke to a series of frightening, disturbing — and probably entirely typical — hospital encounters. 

To friends, I’ve described my post-surgical hospital care as characterized by “pain mismanagement” — but I don’t think my experience was either unusual or against any rules of in-patient care. Rather, I suspect, it was the result of an attitude that is embedded in for-profit medicine and enhanced by institutionalized suspicion of patients’ accounts of their pain. 

I’ve found myself pondering what it is that drives the scorn many of us notice in medical personnel when it comes to pain care: is it narcophobia, understandably driven by the opioid epidemic, but inappropriately applied? Or is it a dimension of the objectification that is necessary to a model of care driven by profit?

Commentary: Pittsburgh is America’s apartheid city

Like the children in Alex, Black children in my hometown were growing up in one of the nation’s least livable and unequal cities for Black Americans, according to the landmark race and gender equity study published in 2019. At that moment, I had arrived at an uncomfortable truth. Pittsburgh was America's apartheid city, not the nation's most livable city.

As a community health nurse, I know a barrier to health care when I see it. The COVID vaccine signup process is one that can cost lives.

Health systems that prioritize people who are able to go online for hours, hunting for scarce vaccine appointments, are creating barriers for vulnerable people who often have spent most of their lives pressing their noses against the window of a healthcare system that doesn’t seem to care about them.