Vol. 20, no. 1
January Febuary, 2008
Welcome to our 20th Volume!
From the Editor
As we begin our 20th year, Skipping Stones was honored with the 2007 N.A.M.E. Children's Publication Award. This national award "for outstanding contribution to the field of multicultural education" was presented to us during the 17th Annual Conference of the National Association for Multicultural Education. The awards ceremony was held in a very multicultural setting at the African-American History Museum in Baltimore, Maryland on 3 November 2007.
As we work on this issue, a succession of several winter storms with gusty winds are passing through the Northwest. Yesterday, our electricity was out for many hours due to downed trees on power lines. But when we lit a candle, it made a huge difference in the otherwise dark home. We used it to light more candles. I thought of a poem from childhood (in my mother tongue, Marathi) that begins like this: "This one little earthen lamp of yours can light countless lamps..."
This morning, I bicycled to work in heavy rains and gusty winds, past countless puddles, rain-soaked leaves and garbage cans strewn on their sides every which way. I didn't at all wish that I was in a car. I actually enjoyed my road adventure. As kids, we loved jumping in rain puddles!
Recently, I read that Hurricanes Rita and Katrina damaged some 300 million trees in the U.S. Gulf States alone. That will result in increased greenhouse gases in the air as the trees decompose (and they won't fix carbon from the air as living trees do during their growth with photosynthesis).
We depend on electricity for computers, appliances, heat and much more. We're sure to encounter many storm-related power outages. Global Warming will likely increase the frequency and intensity of weather systems.
While oceans are warming up faster, we are putting in even more CO2 in the air. Our governments and industries are not doing enough to curb the impact of human activities on this accelerating greenhouse effect, which is responsible for increased Global Warming. As future world citizens, we must ask our government and industrial leaders to act now, and to do everything they can, and then some, to lower energy production and consumption. This will surely mean business not as usual.
Our Spring issue traditionally features nature awareness, conservation and ecological stewardship. I invite you to share your thoughts -- articles, stories and poems -- for inclusion in the upcoming issue. You might also send us copies of your letters to newspapers, congressional representatives and industrial leaders.
Be sure to enter your best creations in our 20th Anniversary Contest (page 6) by June 20th.
Best Wishes for 2008!
-- Arun Tokι
I am honoured that you read my poem at the 2007 NAME Award Ceremony and thank you for doing so. Your magazine is a wonderful opportunity as both an output for creativity and an input to discover the talent of youth, around the world. I would love to be involved with this magazine through my various writings in the future. Congratulations to the magazine for winning the NAME Award.
-- Tarini Chandak, 14, Canada.
I especially liked the cover illustration of the last issue (Vol. 19, no. 5) very much because it showed a symbol of all different religions intertwined into one exquisite masterpiece. The symbolism of peaceful coexistence was very inspirational.
I enjoyed the color of the front and back covers in particular. It would be nice to have a few more illustrations in color. I would also like to see more articles on life-experiences of young people from around the world, maybe on their education, lessons, time spent in class, extra-curricular activities, to compare and contrast... such as in South Korea, where more than 30% of young people are addicted to internet.
-- Haluk Akay, 13, homeschooler, Pennsylvania.
SELCO is proud to support your program that provides students in Lane County public schools with multicultural magazines in an effort to promote diversity and nature appreciation.
-- Jan Burch, director of Community Involvement,
SELCO Community Credit Union, Oregon.
There is nothing like turning the pages of Skipping Stones to make me feel the reality of planetary citizenship. For twenty years your unique forum has provided a superb, globe-spanning hospitality, accommodating, with disarming and often breathtaking honesty, the first-hand experience of the world's children in all its heights, depths and breadth. As an adult reader, I am moved by the art and literature of young creators, who in different moments are frankly exulting, earnestly inquiring, confiding their sorrows, sharing important life lessons, and struck with wonder. I especially marvel how Skipping Stones maintains its buoyantly positive spirit -- both playful and purposeful -- while also attending the difficult aspects of children's experiences, including their poignant encounters with death, divorce, displacement, poverty and prejudice. Here I find the personal dimension of international news and history, rejoining me to a common humanity that bridges cultural and political differences.
My heartiest thanks and congratulations.
-- K. Pavani Nagaarjuna, Oregon.
Congratulations to Skipping Stones from MultiCultural Review for 20 years of promoting multicultural children's experiences!
Since 1988, you have given young people from across the globe a space to tell their own stories through poetry, prose and art. They share this space with adult authors and artists, creating a beautiful multicultural and intergenerational mosaic. This is one of the rare magazines for young people that invites its readers to join in as contributors and as critics -- not only generating the content but also evaluating print and non-print materials. In this way, Skipping Stones is not only a product, but also a process, one that hones young readers' abilities to think critically about the things they read, listen to and watch.
In MultiCultural Review's mission to promote a better understanding of ethnic, racial, religious and cultural diversity, and in my own writing on multicultural and environmental issues, I have found a kindred spirit in Skipping Stones. Thank you, Arun and your staff, for twenty wonderful years. It hasn't always been easy -- and the challenges we face today are as difficult as ever -- but you have given us a wonderful resource and model for going forward into the next twenty years!
-- Lynn Miller Lachman, author and editor, New York.
A Life without Human Values,
In his famous play "Hamlet," Shakespeare glorifies human beings as the "paragon of animals." Now this means that humans are supposed to be the ultimate model of perfection among all animals. But we know there are many animals that are faster, stronger and more powerful than us humans. Then what is it that makes us the "paragon of animals?"
As human beings, we have incredible potential to achieve anything we want. Our capacity to think and reason and our ability to shape and transform our lives give us an edge over other animals on the lower rungs of the evolutionary ladder. But for these innate qualities to be fully expressed and realized, we need to acquire a sense of human values.
Human values are the norms and behaviors that lend meaning and purpose to our existence and serve as guiding signposts on the path of life. They help us bring balance and discipline to our lives. A person without values is morally and spiritually dead and his life is comparable to a body without a soul, which is merely a rotting carcass left to waste away into nothingness. The world cannot be a place worth living if there are no values to be realized.
We all have a set of core values, not because we belong to a particular religion or culture, but because we're human. These human values form the bedrock of all civilizations, cultures and religions. They influence and determine all the choices and decisions we make and the way we relate to the rest of the world. Values like respect, love, honesty, responsibility and service enable us to live effectively in a society and can be acquired only through interactions in a living society.
The essence of all human activities and relationships is defined by the presence or absence of values. For instance, it is the qualities of patriotism and loyalty that distinguish a true soldier from a mercenary and earn him the respect of his countrymen. Similarly, the great luminaries who shaped the course of history are remembered and admired for their contributions to mankind and the values they stood for. A shining example is Mother Teresa, who brought about a sea-change in the lives of the underprivileged and spread the message of love and service throughout the world.
Hence, values offer the possibility of a better individual and social order, by leading individuals away from despair and societies away from chaos.
Unfortunately, we are witnessing a gradual erosion of values, which is wreaking havoc in the society. As man's selfishness, greed, materialism and killer instincts grow, the mutual trust and brotherhood among fellowmen diminish. Instability, restlessness and frustration have become the hallmark of our lives. Social problems like crime, drug abuse, corruption and juvenile delinquency are on the rise. These days our world is being dominated by oppression, alienation and conflict. The situation is grim.
Nevertheless, all is not lost and we still have some vestiges of hope left. Armed with the determination to change our lives and our world for the better, we should all strive to revive and realize the noble human values. I hope that a day will come when our posterity can say with pride that human beings are truly the "paragon of animals!"
-- Anupreet Kaur, 18,
past Youth Award Winner,
Idle Not, Waste Not!
With winter weather in full swing, comfort and ease increasingly become a priority for many people and their families. Puttering minivans and SUVs can be seen running motionlessly in driveways, shielding against the cold mornings and chilled air. Kids sit snugly in their seats and parents wait patiently at the steering wheel for the engine to warm up before heading out for school, sports activities and other errands.
This may seem like a common routine for many. But believe it or not, there is a very serious and very real downside to these seemingly harmless habits. So what exactly are we sacrificing for these comforts that so many of us take for granted? What are the consequences of those few extra moments of warmth for our children and ourselves? The answers may not seem evident now, but the way in which many of us use our vehicles may have frightening effects on the next generation of children and teenagers. Cars running even at a standstill put out just as much smog into the environment as a moving car. Cities located in valleys or with lowered geographical locations are hit the hardest with this type of pollution. Surrounding mountains keep fuel emissions hovering over valleys long after the exit from the exhaust pipes of cars and trucks. It's not hard to imagine what this means for the inhabitants of these cities and towns. Pollutants caused by fuel emissions can injure health, harm the environment and even cause property damage. The Environment Protection Agency has identified six major pollutants (Carbon Monoxide, Lead, Nitrogen Dioxide, Ozone, Particulate Matter and Sulfur Dioxide) that contribute to smog. All of these pollutants are present in urban areas, but in excess, human health can be adversely affected and very serious health problems can occur. For instance, particulate matter that hangs in the air due to pollution can affect breathing, aggravate existing respiratory and cardiovascular disease, alter the body's defense systems against foreign materials and damage lung tissue, contributing to cancer and even premature death. Children, as well as elderly people and asthmatics are the most sensitive to the effects of particulate matter. The members of our society that we care for and value the most unfortunately are getting the short end of the stick. Although many of us do not realize it, those few minutes of extra comfort gained by warming up our cars in the morning comes at the cost of others health and well-being.
We are a society that values our youth. We support our children readily and only want the best for them. Whether it concerns education, sports or careers, our youth are supported in so many ways that such a serious issue as pollution adversely affecting their health and futures should not be ignored. Without a healthy, safe environment for our next generation to live in, careers and futures don't matter. We are digging ourselves into a deeper and deeper hole. Hopefully it won't take a drastic or tragic event to make people realize the seriousness of the threat that fuel emissions and smog pose to our environment, and in turn to our children. Until we can break these habits that are having such a serious impact on our future and collectively take the steps to curb these effects, we are stuck at a standstill.
Granted, many people cannot afford to stop driving a car in this day and age. So, if we do choose to drive, let's make conscious decisions about where we need to go and plan our routes to minimize driving time and thus cut down on fuel emissions. On cold mornings, we don't need to warm up the engine for long. We can put on a warm coat or jacket instead. By doing this we reduce the amount of smog we put into the air, and also save energy and money. For short distances, consider walking or riding a bike. That way, we'll save on gas, reduce fuel emissions, and it's great for our health. With the proper mind set, the benefits of being more environmentally-conscious far outweigh the negatives.
So the next time you need to go out by car, think "NO IDLING." Think how those few minutes of extra warmth and comfort will affect our future. It may take a majority to make a change, but it takes an individual to start that change.
-- Sam Gehrke, high school senior,
On the Cover: Raindrop Elephant
Within the "Raindrop Elephant" painting, there is symbolism tying the painting to human impact upon our planet and global warming. The topic of global warming has been analyzed extensively in the last 20 years, yet people have different views on the issue. Everything in our planet contains life or assists in the organic growth of an organism.
The painting is encased in a raindrop; water is what planet Earth has to support life. Essentially, without water, there is no existence.
The elephant within the raindrop is standing delicately, almost precariously on two thin lily pads above the water, away from the flowering plant. Our actions have a great weight on the world. Human beings also must perch carefully, for we do not want to wet our feet in the evolutionary pool, risking regression.
There is a single vibrant, red flower that symbolizes the beauty that our planet can support. It is up to us, however, to preserve this beauty and leave it undisturbed to flourish in its own time. The flower is a water lily, a plant that can rise above the muddy waters to reach high for survival.
The Japanese characters at the top left, meaning stillness and tranquility, communicate peace between humans and the environment, but also a wariness to impact the world negatively. Stand still to think before you act. The painting did not start out with such deep views, yet evolved during the painting process.
-- Kalia Bistolas, 14, Japanese American,
Skipping Stones Magazine