Things That Matter

This Week’s Google Doodle Is About One Teen’s Appreciation For Her Colombian Mother’s Sacrifices And I’m Sobbing

Even since 2008, search engine Google has dedicated a contest to aspiring young artists around the world. With a yearly theme, the company challenges these young people with the task of creating a specialized Google Doodle. This year’s theme was announced to be “When I grow up, I hope… ;” a hopeful look at the future of our society. Each year, thousands of entries are submitted and one is selected as a winner for each age group. Of those winners, only one is declared the overall winner of the Doodle for Google contest. 

This year’s winner is Georgia teen, Arantza Peña Popo.

Twitter / @scottbudman

Entitled “Once you get it, give it back,” the doodle depicts a representation of a real picture of Peña Popo and her mother when the artist was a baby. In front of this display is the artist and her mother imagined in the future when Peña Popo will repay her mother’s devotion and care for her in her old age. 

According to a press release from Google, Peña Popo describes her mother, who is from Colombia, as a person who lights up any room she’s in. Also, the teen hopes to one day be able to help her mother to travel around the world and do all the other things in life that she hopes to do.

Peña Popo’s win was announced Monday night by Jimmy Fallon on “The Tonight Show” where she appeared as a guest. Her doodle was picked as the winner out of over 200,000 entries.
“I wanted to make it more personal to me,” the teen artist said in her interview with Fallon. “So, I decided to make it about my mother. You know, she’s made so many sacrifices for me so I kind of wanted to show me paying it back in the future”

According to Peña Popo, she has been interested in art since she was three but was suffering from a major artist block while working on this piece. 

Twitter / @GoogleDoodle

“I came up with the idea at the last minute, actually the day of the deadline,” she shared. “I looked at the photograph of my mother [the real version that inspired the drawing] and thought, ‘Hey, why don’t I reverse it?’ I wanted to focus more on a message of helping out my awesome mother more than anything else.” 

This is just the start of Peña Popo’s promising art career. Last Spring, the Colombiana graduated valedictorian of Arabia Mountain High School. In the Fall, she plans to attend the University of Southern California and wants to publish alternative graphic novels and comics in the future.  

The win also comes with some amazing perks for the artistic teen. 

Twitter/ @FallonTonight

As an aspiring artist, Peña Popo will get some of the best exposure in the world. Google.com will display her winning doodle for the entire day and it will appear whenever the search engine is used. The teen artist will also receive a $30,000 college scholarship to help with her as she attends the University of Southern California. Finally, Peña Popo will go on a trip to Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California.

Reactions to Peña Popo’s beautiful illustration and the story behind it have been incredibly supportive.

Twitter / @leeshaheard

Most people can relate to the story of sacrifice and love told by Peña Popo’s Google Doodle. Basically, it makes us all think about our own mothers. No wonder her entry won; it tugs at all of our heartstrings. We can’t help but want to support this young artist. 

This tweet credits Peña Popo’s win to #BlackGirlMagic and we have to agree with this based on her undeniable excellence.

 Twitter /@destinyiyabo

We always love to see a woman of color succeed but we are especially proud of this Afro-Latina and her accomplishments. It just goes to show that brilliance and talent can’t be contained by bigotry, bias or colorism. We have to label this win with #AfroLatinaExcellence.

While Peña Popo was both the winner in her age group and the national champion of this year’s Doodle for Google, she wasn’t the only one to win

Google / Amadys López Velásquez

Natalia Pepe of Connecticut won the K-3 grade group with a doodle that honors the farmers of America. Amadys López Velásquez of Puerto Rico won the 4-5 grade group with a doodle that celebrates the power of imagination. Texas student Christelle Matildo won first place in the 6-7 grade group with an entry that hopes for a better tomorrow. New Jersey native Jeremy Henskens won the 8-9 grade group with a comic book-inspired doodle. 

Congrats to Peño Popo and all the other winners. We hope the real future is half as beautiful as the one they’ve doodled

Brazilian Researchers 3D-Print Part Of The Face For Cancer Survivor

Things That Matter

Brazilian Researchers 3D-Print Part Of The Face For Cancer Survivor

@mr_nobody / Twitter

A Brazilian cancer survivor has been fitted with a prosthetic eye and face to cover the hole that a devastating bout of skin cancer left. Denise Vicentin, 52, beat her cancer a decade ago and has since been living without a part of her jaw and her right eye ever since. Vicentin was so self-conscious about her battle scars, she became afraid to go out in public. People would stare at her everywhere she went and, soon, her social life and marriage fell apart. “[Before] when I was on the metro or train, I tried not to pay attention to the stares. At places like the bowling alley, I felt them looking, and the person would even leave when they saw me,” she told the Daily Mail.

Ten years later, researchers were able to create a custom prosthetic using just a smartphone camera and a 3D printer. Now, she feels like she has her ‘missing piece’ and says she is so happy that she even sleeps with it on.

Years ago, she was offered a hand-made prosthetic, but it would have cost her half a million dollars.

CREDIT: @MR_NODOBY / TWITTER

A portion of her right jaw was removed, making it difficult for her to eat and slurring her speech. One of Vicentin’s most painful wounds left behind by the cancer was her inability to navigate throughout society without being ostracized or made to feel different. When doctors offered her the opportunity to have a prosthetic made for her, she had no choice but to turn it down. It would have cost over half a million U.S. dollars. 

Waiting for the right moment may have paid off for Vicentin. As technology has advanced, the capabilities of 3-D printing are only just now being realized. Vicentin sought out an alternative treatment at São Paulo’s Paulista University just last year and is already walking into 2020 with a new lease on self-confidence.

The final prosthesis just took 12 hours to create and a fraction of the cost thanks to 3-D printing technology.

CREDIT: @VAZIYETCOMTR / TWITTER

The research team at Paulista University formulated a plan to give Vicentin her ‘missing piece.’ Vicentin would have to undergo several surgeries over the next year in order to fit the prosthesis. Then, the doctors took 15 photos of Vicentin’s right eye socket from a simple smartphone. From there, they were able to use all the images to digitize a 3-D model that would eventually become the blueprint for the 3-D printer. 

The final model was printed and refined in just 12 hours, from a mixture of silicone, resin, and synthetic fibers. After the 3-D printer created the technical piece that would sit flush on Vicentin’s face, a bit of human artistry was applied to make the prosthetic as realistic as possible. The researchers painted the prosthetic to match Vicentin’s exact eye hue and skin color. They even individually secured lashes to resemble that of her other eyelid.

The research team has been perfecting 3-D prosthetics since 2016, offering new levels of confidence to over 50 patients so far.

CREDIT: @CANAL_44 / TWITTER

Dr. Rodrigo Salazar has specialized in maxillofacial prosthetics for the last few years and has married technology with medicine to create lasting change for his patients. In order to get a proper model for a prosthetic, he used to have to create a mold of the patient’s face, on the patient’s face. Today, he needs only a smartphone camera to capture the necessary data to create a model prosthetic. 

Vicentin never expected skin cancer to become a defining chapter of her life.

CREDIT: @VAZIYETCOMTR / TWITTER

When Vicentin was in her early 20s, she found a strange growth on her face and went to the doctor. It was a tumor, but it was benign, non-cancerous. She had it surgically removed and thought that was the end of it. It returned again, once again, benign. She had it removed a second time and enjoyed nearly 20 more years tumor-free. Ten years ago, the tumor came back, but it was malignant, slowly ravaging the right side of her face.

Today, Vicentin has titanium hooks surgically placed around her eye socket in order to be able to securely wear the prosthesis and take it off when she pleases. So far, Vicentin has been wearing the prosthetic for just a month and she loves it. ‘It was a long time looking at a face which was missing a piece, so I am so happy. I only took it off to clean it – I even slept with it,” Vicentin told the Daily Mail

Travel Restrictions Limit Americans To Only Flying Into Havana But Sube Let’s Americans Explore The Island

Things That Matter

Travel Restrictions Limit Americans To Only Flying Into Havana But Sube Let’s Americans Explore The Island

subecuba / Instagram

The progression of Cuba’s modern world has been a slow one, but it’s also been eager to thrive thanks to the younger generation. The integration of the internet didn’t arrive on the island until the late aughts. Back then, when U.S. relations with Cuba became friendlier under the Obama Administration, it looked as if Cuba was ready to get online. However, it wasn’t until 2007 that Cuba decided to team up with Venezuela in order for the country to help them venture into the digital age. Now, under the Trump Administration, who is putting the breaks on the Cuba/U.S. relationship, the Cuban people have something more to aspire to. 

A Cuban startup has launched a cab service that will help tourists get around the island now that the Trump Administration has blocked airline travel to all areas of Cuba except Havana.

Credit: subecuba / Instagram

The company is called Sube (which translations to “get on” or “hop on”), and it’s basically a ride-share service like Uber and Lyft, although their intention is to seek out tourists who wish to visit the areas outside of Havana. 

Late last year, the Trump Administration issued a travel ban throughout the island, which meant that American airlines could only fly into Havana. All other airports in Cuba were forbidden. The announcement didn’t automatically erase flights that were already booked. U.S. travelers can only arrive in Havana, so if they have plans outside of the capital, getting there is trickier and expensive. The solution is Sube. 

Sube wants tourists to know that their service is safe and that they can provide an exciting and fun way to get around the island.

Credit: subecuba / Instagram

“Sube is a ridesharing app founded in Cuba,” their About section states. “Our drivers will help you move around safely and fast while sharing their knowledge of our customs and culture.”

One of the most popular attractions in Cuba is their vintage cars. So how can these old cars keep up with this new motive of transportation? Sube owners say all cars, vintage ones as well, are in perfect condition and can drive long distances. All drivers have verified licenses as well. 

The app launched in 2018, and since then, the app has been downloaded at least 10,000 times and so far has 6,000 registered users.

Credit: subecuba / Instagram

“We knew the trouble people go through in Cuba to get to work every day, to get home, or if they just want to go out,” Claudia Cuevas Alarcón told NBC News. Aside from Cuevas Alarcón, a 27-year-old, Sube’s creators include 26-year-old Damián Martín, 26, and 27-year-old Darién González. 

What makes this company even more fascinating is that these young entrepreneurs have found a way to work the system to their benefit. For example, U.S. credit cards are prohibited on the island, which means travelers can only use cash. 

Sube creators registered their company in the U.S., so this makes it possible for travelers to download the app before they leave their home country, upload their credit card information. Once they arrive on the island, they have already reserved their car service, and the exchange of payment is not needed. 

It’s not just tourists who use the app, locals are using Sube to get around the island as well.

Credit: subecuba / Instagram

“If you are visiting Cuba this December, move with SUBE and pay from abroad,” one of their beautiful Instagram posts says. “We have 70 registered and available taxis, which will make your trips more enjoyable and safe. You can book them before your arrival at the airport, until departure. Do not hesitate.”

Other ways to use Sube is pretty straightforward. You can use Whatsapp or Facebook to reserve a cab. Travel experts also suggest that if you’re traveling to Cuba, you should also download apps that will help not only with travel information but translation, money exchange, and texting capabilities. Here are some useful apps that extremely useful: Maps.me, XE currency, Google Translate, Pocket, Havanatrans, Zapya, AlaMesa, CubaMessenger, and ProtonVPN. And, of course, Whatsapp and Airbnb. 

It’s very exciting to see young Cubans not allowing connectivity or travel regulations (or any sort of limitation) stop them from progressing into a new frontier of digital capabilities.

READ: The Trump Administration Took Another Swipe At Cuba By Banning Almost All Flights To The Island