Table of Contents
Caring for Others
My mom used to be a foster parent for children who had been neglected or abused. At first, I did not understand why she would want to take in more children because she already had four of us to take care of, and my dad too. I really did not want to have to share our things with others, but I soon changed my mind. I did not always get along with the kids who came to stay with us, but I learned how to accept them.
My mom explained to us that she felt sorry for kids who were abused or neglected because their parents were alcoholics or drug addicts who could not even take care of themselves, let alone their children. She did not like to see a child go through all the hurt of not having anything to eat or not even having clean clothes to wear. She felt that everyone needed a safe place to go because the world can be scary. She wanted us to help her make these kids feel at home with us until their parents could get help for their own problems.
Our whole family has learned how to accept people for who they are. We try to understand how they ended up the way they did, and we do not put anyone down for not having as much as we do or for having a different life style. My mom feels that being loved and accepted is the most important thing in the world, even more important than money. She thinks that love gives you the confidence to go out and try new things even if it means making mistakes. She knows what it feels like to be abused because she was once, and she wants kids to realize that the abuse is not their fault.
I do not know how my mom could take in people and just take care of them, but she did. We had kids with us who ended up going back to their parents and kids who had to go into group homes because they just could not accept help. We also had kids here who just stayed for awhile because neither of their parents wanted them. Some kids had disabilities because their moms took drugs while pregnant with them.
Even though my mom is not a foster parent any longer, we have a teenager living with us right now because his mom did not want him to stay with her anymore, and he had nowhere else to turn. He is now looking for a job to help out at our house. Everyone knows that they can come here and stay whenever they need a place to go. We always have someone sleeping over even if it is just a friend. My mom takes in stray animals too. We've had birds, cats, frogs, fish and dogs.
My mom taught us how important it is to care for people. I think that we will be better people for helping others.
Nick Emanuele, 14, Gibsonia, Pennsylvania
Hina Matsuri: Girl's Day in Japan
Most of my classmates have only one name, but I have two: Lindsey and Aiko. Lindsey is my Nana's family name. She is Scottish and we wear kilts to her family gatherings. Aiko means 'love child' in Japanese. My father is from Tokyo, Japan. We wear kimonos at certain times of the year and for family photos, especially when my O-baachan (Grandmother) and O-jiichan (Grandfather) visit us from Japan.
My parents call me 'peace baby,' as my birthday is August 15, the day Japan surrendered to the Allied Forces and ended World War II. I am eight years old. Last year I received my first real kimono on 3-5-7 Day in November. On this Japanese festival day, girls aged three and seven-receive kimonos and thousand-year candy for a thousand years of happiness. They go to the shrine and pray for their health and happiness. Boys get their kimonos when they are five.
Our family eats at the 'world cafe,' as my mom calls it. We mostly eat a Japanese diet of rice, soy foods, and fish, but my mom also makes chicken rogan-josh from Mongolia, banana leaf curry from Singapore, paprika chicken from Hungary and more dishes from around the world. I ate meatloaf at school for the first time. It was okay. My mom shows me and my sister how to make simple recipes like rolled sushi on a bamboo mat and rice balls with pickled plum inside. I enjoy cooking. When my Nana visited Italy she brought me back a cookbook for kids in Italian. Another friend gave us a cookbook in Spanish.
It seems like every month we celebrate something. In January, we celebrate O-Shoogatsu, the Japanese New Year. We eat special food and wear kimonos to visit friends. We also call relatives and friends in Japan, and wish them, "Akemashite omedetoo gozaimasu," or "Happy New Year." Kids get red envelopes of money from relatives. We also fly kites on New Year's Day. Also in January, we go to the teashop wearing our kilts for a Scottish dinner, bagpipe music and to listen to Robbie Burns's poetry. I want to go to Scotland some day with my Nana and see the Loch Ness Monster.
March 3 is Hina Matsuri, Girls' Day in Japan. We set up the Emperor and Empress dolls and eat rice snacks that are pink and green. We wear our kimonos after school and look at the displays of the Emperor and Empress dolls and their courtiers at major hotels and department stores.
On May 5, we celebrate Tengo no sekku (Boys' Day) by flying carp kites from our roof. We also display samurai (warrior) armor so our brother will have strength and wisdom. He wears his kimono and shares special snacks with us. Before dinner we fly home-made kites.
We have Lederhosen (leather pants) from Germany that we wear to Oktoberfest and also at Nikolaus Day, December 6. On the evening of the 5th we wash our shoes and leave them under our German feather tree where Santa will visit and stuff our shoes with fruit and chocolates like Mozartkugel and Milkabars. We also get small toys and oranges. But that's only if we are good. If we are bad, we get a potato. The next morning we open our shoes, and have a big German breakfast with cheeses and meats from Germany. I wear my Lederhosen to school with my sister and brother and talk about Nikolaus in my class.
At the beginning of May, we go to the Annual Scottish Games and wear Nana's family crest with our tartan scarves. We see the different Scottish families as they march onto a field. We hear bagpipes and eat meat pies. My Otoosan (father) tells that it's important to know where you came from so you know where you will go. Our heritage helps us to make decisions in our lives and know how we are to act. The best thing about me is my family village: I am part of Japan, with culture and customs from my father; I am part of Germany, with culture and customs from my mother; I am of Scotland from my Nana, and of America from me. I have a large world village to share it with all.
Lindsey Aiko Kanno, 8, Cranston, RI
Our Chinese Culture
The Chinese culture is very different from the American culture. There are a lot of differences in our food, eating habits, celebrations and language. For example, in Chinese restaurants we order different kinds of food, put them in the middle of the table, and share. This way each person can eat a variety of dishes. We eat using chopsticks, while Westerners eat using spoons and forks.
We also eat food that is different from the typical food served in America. For example, we eat "brown eggs" instead of regular white eggs. Brown eggs are actually hard-boiled eggs braised in soy sauce. We also eat squid, which is not too common in America, and serve fish with the head on instead of a fillet. Instead of ice cream, we eat crushed ice topped with red beans, tapioca, and condensed milk.
During Chinese New Year we eat rice cakes, while Americans drink champagne at their New Year. Chinese children get red pockets, which are small red envelopes that have money inside them. We use the lunar calendar while Americans use the solar calendar, and during the Full Moon Harvest Festival, we eat moon cakes. For birthdays, we eat fish for good luck, and noodles for long life, while Americans eat birthday cake.
The Chinese alphabet has 36 characters while the English alphabet has 26. The Chinese language is hard to learn because it doesn't use the alphabet to spell things, but has an individual character for each word. The English language is read horizontally from left to right, while Chinese is written vertically from right to left. The hardest part about learning Chinese is that every word has to be spoken with the right tone or it will be a totally different word.
Although there are many differences between the Chinese and the American cultures, there are still many similarities. Families are very important in both cultures; they both celebrate New Year and Independence Day; they both pass on traditions by telling stories and singing songs.
Eric Cheng, 12, The Woodlands, Texas
What Is Fire?
Fire is a kind of rage that flows into a controllable ball. I sometimes put it in a little box with all the other fireballs. That box stays in the back of my head and sits there flaring and filling up. Fire makes me want to do things unordinary, such as juggle blocks of burning wood, or punch hot blocks of steel. When you look into my eyes, they'll tell you to stay away from me. I am fire. I am unordinary. Alvin is fire.
This is what I'd like to do with that fire. I want to say the world is fire and you can see it in my eyes. I want to take that fire in my eyes and burn the mask off of the man who tried to rob me. I want that fire to make concentrated smoke. I want to make that fire scare away the toughest bullies, and the maddest dogs. I want to make that fire change colors and spit it at the sky for everyone to see. They will see my fire. They will see the fire that burns in me.
Alvin Eugene Carter Jr., grade 8, Detroit, Michigan
Skipping Stones Magazine