Editor's note: The author's last name has been withheld for privacy reasons.
When I was nine, my father started coming home late at night. He would walk through the door like nothing was wrong. But I knew something was. My mother would shout uncontrollably at him, and even threaten divorce. But these were empty words - my mother couldn’t afford to get a divorce, nor was it socially acceptable in Chinese culture.
I later learned that because of him, my mother’s bank account was cancelled, and all her hard-earned money was gambled away at the horse races.
Pazhae Horace has a summer job with California Youth Energy Services, or CYES. It’s a program that hires youth aged 15-22 to do free “green house calls” in their communities. They go into people’s homes to evaluate energy and water efficiency, and then help install things like water-saving shower heads, or compact fluorescent light bulbs. Horace is 22, and this is her third summer working for the CYES site in Berkeley and Emeryville. She says that, at first, she was worried about talking to strangers, but now she really likes meeting new people, and helping them become more green.