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Skipping Stones
Vol. 18, no. 4
September-October, 2006

ISSN: 0899-529X

'New Year's Day' in Korea, by Stella Tu, 12, Illinois
'New Year's Day in Korea'
by Stella Tu, 12, Illinois

The 2006 Youth Honor Awards

FEATURES

  • "Untitled painting" by Crystal Carpenter, 17, Massachusetts.
  • Writing and Art by Na’au School Students, Hawaii.
  • Diversity and Tolerance by Anupreet Kaur, 17, India.
  • Saving Ohio Brook Trout by Evin McMullen, 16, Ohio.
  • Yanran by Yanran Lu, 12, California.
  • Dumplings’ Bonds by Yiren Lu, 13, California.
  • The Magical Garden by Madeline Fine, 9, Florida.
  • Working with the Gorillas by Leyla Akay, 10, Pennsylvania.
  • My Turkish Grandmother by Haluk Akay, 12, Pennsylvania.
  • Daughter * The Storyteller by Jennifer Hu, 14, Pennsylvania.
  • The Bamboo Flute by Kamna Shastri, 12, Washington.
  • Noteworthy Youth Award Entries
  • We Are the Traffic!
  • Gandhi in the Eyes of a Third-Grader
  • Let’s Accept and Respect the World’s Cultures
  • All about Islam
  • Ramazan * The Three Fridays
  • Who Am I?
  • The Lizard Monster
  • Visiting "The Emerald City" * Gitar’s Trip to Alaska
  • A "Family" Vacation * Exploring Jamaica

REGULAR DEPARTMENTS

  • From the Editor
  • Dear Hanna
  • Health Rocks!
  • What’s On Your Mind?
  • Poetry Page (Who Decides??? * Daughter * )
  • Folktale!
  • Noteworthy N.E.W.S.
  • BookShelf
  • For Parents and Teachers
  • Back Cover: Jamaican Countryside

© 2006 by Skipping Stones, Inc. Opinions expressed in these pages reflect views of the contributors, and not necessarily those of Skipping Stones, Inc.

From the Editor

World Through the Eyes of a Youth, by Pravalika Avapati, 11, IndiaLast month, when we went to the windy Oregon seashore, I discovered a 200-yard section, right in the middle of a long, open beach, with just a gentle breeze! As I wondered "Why?," I noticed my son and his young companions busy making dams and carving the sand dunes. I decided to leave my scientific brain behind and just enjoy the beauty of nature.

As it was low-tide, we made canals and castles, collected seashells and sand dollars, ate "sandwiches," and skipped in the ankle-deep, chilly ocean water until the feet cried, "Enough."

Whenever I go to the ocean (or the mountains), I feel so tiny in the vast expanse of nature! I enjoy the wonders of the natural elements at play. But, I’m also learning that we are unknowingly impacting the natural systems drastically. In our and our children’s lifetime, many such pristine places may vanish for ever.

Scientific studies show that global warming is for real! Carbon-dioxide and other greenhouse gases from our excessive energy use have warmed up the earth’s atmosphere and high-altitude regions. Glaciers are receiving much less snow, and what they do get melts faster because of rains and warmer air! Glaciers on all continents are shrinking rapidly. Hundreds of millions of city dwellers from Afghanistan to Peru will face water shortages as they depend on glacier-fed rivers for irrigation and daily needs. Our clear liquid life-line—glacier water—is showing signs of running dry in a few decades.

We also know that increased melting of our polar ice-caps will result in rising sea levels. Many coastal areas and island nations will see more flooding in years to come. Global warming will affect climate, crops and vegetation in various regions. The resource-poor regions of the world will feel the burden even more.

With the many obvious signs of global warming, it is clear that all of us, everywhere on the planet, must take major steps to reduce our energy and resource use.

How can we reduce our consumption of earth’s resources or energy? Large tracts of forests are being clear cut to make throw-away, single-use products—excessive packaging, junk mail and advertising, facial tissue, paper towels, grocery bags, wrapping paper and cardboard boxes, to name a few. Let’s think of earth-friendly alternatives that might make economic sense and also save energy.

In many cities and communities, second-hand stores, yard sales and garage sales are gaining ground as a way of reusing resources (and thus reducing resource use as a society), and clean up clutter at home. I’ve seen many homes with Free Boxes outside them, containing usable things for any passerby to take from. Composting kitchen waste is another way people are trying to keep the landfills from getting filled. Still, the U.S. throws away billions of dollars worth of food each year!

This summer, I sold my small car that I have had for 18 years—as long as I’ve edited Skipping Stones! I had been working toward this goal for a long while. Mostly, my car sat in the parking space. Finally, I took this brave step that made me more dependent on my bicycle (and city buses) for my daily transport needs. We are now a one-car family! Many of my friends and co-workers use bicycles for their daily commutes so as to reduce our negative impact on the natural resources.

How can we protect nature? It’s not just a question of saving remote places like the Arctic Wildlife Refuge; it’s about the future of humanity. Be a "Dr. Kilowatt," an energy detector, and find ways to save energy and resources, at home, school and work. It is always a challenge to live up to high ideals and values. But if we don’t take on the challenge, who will?

We invite you to send us your writing and creative art, for our upcoming issues, sharing how you are living your values and ideals.

Welcome to our Back-to-School issue featuring the 2006 Youth Awards.

-- Arun Toke, editor

2006 Youth Honor Awards

Hearty Congratulations to the winners of our 2006 Youth Honor Awards for their outstanding entries!

  • Madeline Fine
  • Stella Tu
  • Leyla and Haluk Akay
  • Yanran and Yiren Lu
  • Kamna Shastri
  • Jennifer Hu
  • Evin McMullen
  • Crystal Carpenter
  • Anupreet Kaur
  • Na'au School, Hawaii

Not only are these talented authors and artists featured in this issue, but each winner will also receive an Honor Award certificate, a subscription to Skipping Stones and five nature and multicultural books.

We also thank all of you who participated in the Awards—we truly enjoyed reviewing your entries. So much so, in fact, that we are also publishing some of your entries in this and upcoming issues. Keep up the great work—we can’t wait for next year’s competition!

* The Skipping Stones Team *

New Year’s Day in Korea
(
Cover Art) by Stella Tu, 12, Illinois.

"My mom is Korean, and my dad is Chinese. I speak both languages and often travel to my parents’ hometowns. I enjoy reading, drawing, painting, playing music, and hanging out with friends.

My artwork was inspired by my family’s\ Korean tradition on New Year’s Day. All the children of our whole family would dress up in our traditional clothes and receive blessings from our elders. Then, before feasting, we would go outside, and we children would ride bikes and fly kites, though not in our traditional dresses. The setting of my picture is inspired by my visit to China and Korea a few summers ago. I noticed that the ancient palaces where emperors used to live were very similar in both Korea and China. They had a unique design for the roof with the edges flaring and strong walls. The colors were usually bright blue, red, and green."

'Untitled' by Crystal Carpenter, 17, Massachusetts

Untitled Painting Depicting Diversity
By Crystal Carpenter, 17, Massachusetts.

My cultural background is American Indian and Black. I do not speak any other languages yet, but it’s one of my goals. I am home-schooled and also take classes at the art museum to better my skills in art. I started donating my artwork to hospitals, hoping to inspire kids. My family and I support Feed the Children, and we’re also trying to find a way to raise money to help them feed more children. Also, we are in the beginning stages of writing a children’s book.

What inspired me to create this piece are issues going on in the world today. I tell myself we don’t have to wait for a big tragedy to happen to lend a helping hand, or to change someone’s life. Most of the time we close our eyes, and think everything is okay. The truth of the matter is, these issues are everywhere, even in our own neighborhoods. We all need to be aware of what’s going on around us and take responsibility. To put hope into the world is one more step to stopping the hurt and pain. When we give help or love to a person, it makes them feel like someone does care. Like my mom says, "People are people, and they’re hurting.

Who Decides?, by Pravalika Avapati, 11, India

Who Decides???

What is Right, what is Wrong?
Who is to decide where one should belong?
In the city, in the village, or in the forest,
Where should one stay and take rest?
The place that gives food, water and fresh air to smell–
Is it not the place where one wants to dwell?
The place one works, the place one took birth,
Who decides one’s home and the hearth?

Yes! No one but one decides for oneself.

Why the struggle and the plight,
So much for the land, such is the fight?
If one thought not just for oneself but also for another,
There would not be such a problem and so much to bother!
When there is no consideration of one for its own kind,
What could be the condition of the ‘other kind’?
Each one comes from the same lot,
Who decides one is superior and other is not?

Yes! No one but one decides for oneself.

It is very clear that fresh air, water and food
Are not the only things that one ‘needs’
It is to fulfill the ever increasing want of one’s ‘greed!’
Each one is craving for more and more,
Resources are depleting to the core,
Who decides one should have less or more?

Yes! No one but one decides for oneself.

Resources are not for one but for all,
Why wait for nature’s fall?
If one decides to want less,
It will reduce the stress; there cannot be any mess.
It is ‘want’ that keeps one moving and doing,
If this is progress then where is it going?
Violence is today’s movement,
Who decides whether this is ‘development’?

Yes! No one but one decides for oneself.

When peace is found only in silence.
Why the killing and the violence?
It’s time we think and ‘ACT WISE,’
Or else things would be otherwise.
The world is changing one says for better,
Who decides the change that would matter?

Yes! No one but one decides for oneself.

Change is vital for mind, body and soul,
If one decides on change for the soul,
The world will change and be seen as whole.
Living will have a completely new meaning,
The land is for each and every living being,
At least for once just be a human being!

Decide to Preside.

-- Tejal Dhulla Vishweshwar,
Maharashtra, India.

A member of H.O.P.E. (Here On Project Environment) of Greater Mumbai, she writes: "This happened through me, while thinking deeply on land issues man-animal conflict, forests, the tribal rights bill, the wildlife amendment law, our efforts to help mother nature help us. One needs to change oneself to see change all around."

"We cannot have an ecological movement designed to prevent violence against nature, unless the principle of non-violence becomes central to the ethics of human culture." -- Mahatma Gandhi

by Jessia Amii
-- Artist Jessica Amii, 10, Hawai'i
says, "I am adopted from China."

Daughter

I am the daughter of the Chinese peasant,
Working in the rice fields by day,
Sleeping in my hut at night,
Shivering in the autumn cold.

I am the daughter of the American farmer,
Getting up at the crack of dawn
Praying for the Lord to keep me,
Wondering of my life in this New World.

I am the daughter of the Chinese emperor,
Dressed in richest silks and satins,
Sitting in my lovely pagoda,
Feeling the autumn breezes on my cheek.

I am the daughter of the American merchant,
Dressed in a gown of palest pink,
Posing for my portrait like a still, marble statue,
Holding my embroidery in one hand.

I am the daughter of the old Chinese kingdom,
And the daughter of the New World,
I am the daughter of the poor and rich,
The old and new, the proud and the strong,
I am the Chinese-American.

-- Jennifer Hu, 14,
Pennsylvania

Diversity and Tolerance:
First Steps toward a Brighter Future

"Can you eat the same bread and butter everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner?", or "Can you wear a single color throughout your life?" No, because we all crave variety or diversity. The diversity of multicolored flowers in a nursery, of clothes at a store, of food at a restaurant, of animals at a zoo—all of it attracts and excites us. But why then, are we so wary of the diversity among the people with whom we share this world?

We humans have different races, religions, cultures, sexual identities, age groups, physical attributes, abilities, beliefs, views, ideas and opinions. This diversity is clearly visible in our homes, our neighborhoods and classrooms, on TV ... practically everywhere. It enriches and lends beauty to humanity. Just as the biological diversity of an ecosystem increases its stability and productivity, the diversity among people brings together the resources talents and experiences of many people for the mutual benefit of all. Sadly, the differences amongst us have always formed the basis of fear, bigotry, harassment, conflict and even violence.

We fear diversity simply because we are used to the way things are, and change makes us feel uncomfortable. Some of us perceive it as a threat to our own power. Factors like ignorance, misunderstanding, misinformation, lack of education and awareness, too, make us resist diversity.

When we don’t understand another’s values, lifestyle or beliefs, it becomes easier to belittle them. As a result, on the basis of differences, we start categorizing people, labeling them unfairly or saddling them with stereotypes. These stereotypes are generalized assumptions concerning the characteristics of all the members of a particular group. They are reflected in the media and our surroundings in statements like: "All Indians are ..." or "Old people always ..." and so on.

Stereotypes often give birth to prejudice, i.e., a premature judgment about a group or its members, made without proper knowledge or thought. It demonstrates an unfair bias, violating the standards of reason, justice and tolerance. It is this prejudice, that has conjured the feelings of suspicion and hatred and is manifested in personal bias, discriminatory practices and violence.

As a result, the world is now splintered at each and every level. Families are fragmented on the grounds of economic status or personal differences. Schools categorize students according to appearance, athletic achievement, style, race and academic achievement, so they are included in one group and are excluded from others. The atmosphere at our workplaces is stiff, and now at the slightest provocation, we snap all ties with our neighbors and friends. Gays and lesbians are harassed or assaulted to an extent that they lead their lives in fear or attempt suicide to escape ostracism. Women, children, senior citizens, the disabled and the economically weak, too continue to be the victims of bigotry. Many racial, ethnic and religious groups fall prey to hate crimes. Wars, terrorism, aggression, bombings, vandalism, looting, physical assaults, and threatening mail and calls have become a routine affair.

Something must be done to change the future, if we are to have a future. This is where tolerance comes into play.

Tolerance is a personal decision that stems from the belief that we are the children of one God and share one world. Each one of us is special and deserves to be respected and accepted for who we are. This means, we reprogramme ourselves to treat each other with automatic love and respect and stop all prejudices that have been on autopilot for so long. Reach out to different people, say, the elderly gentleman sitting beside you on the bus or the neighbor’s child who walks with crutches.

Mahatma Gandhi said, "You must become the change you want to see in the world." So we must be a role model for others and take a firm stand against hatred, bigotry, injustice and inequality. Let us build a peaceful and productive society based on human rights, diversity and inclusion in a spirit of respect, tolerance and mutual understanding. It is a tough job, but it can become a reality.

-- Anupreet Kaur, 17
India
She writes, "While doing research and writing my essay, even I learned a lot about my own deep-rooted prejudices and my intolerance toward people who differ from me. I’m now trying to inculcate the values of tolerance and love in myself and apply them in my own life. I hope that I’m able to inspire readers to be more tolerant towards those whom they cannot like."

 

 

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