In our "Homeland" series of art and writing, our contributors distill the act of returning to their family's home country into moments of cultural pride, learning, and awe.
One surprising highlight of being in Shanghai, for contributor Teresa Jiang? Breakfast. Read more through her essay The Real Warriors.
For Brendon Wang, going home to Xi'an was a roller-coaster ride involving bad candy, one fateful friendship, and fireworks. Read more through his essay "Homeland".
Born in Kirkland, contributor Derek Wang views our national parks as one great expression of his homeland's beauty. Read more through his essay "My Homeland".
Finally, contributor Grace Li captures the iconic giant panda through her resplendent artwork, Chengdu Panda.
Our gratitude to our contributors and the Emerald Parents board for making this series of the Emerald Youth Review possible.
No school — yay! Mom told us to wake up, and then get ready for a sumptuous breakfast. Wow, sumptuous? We'll be eating fancy food and be in a humongous restaurant? I’m super duper excited!
“We're going to go now!” Mom hollered as I scurried out of bed.
After a while of walking, we finally arrived at the restaurant which was located right across the street in our neighborhood. I was fully thrilled until…
“How’s this special? It looks so old, but so many people are outside waiting to order their breakfast! Mom, what is happening?” I asked, confused.
“It’s a little but popular breakfast restaurant...”
I sighed with hundreds of questions. Was this really called a restaurant? I’m not sure…
The smell was floating into my nose, but the ambience wasn’t as good as I thought. It looked wrecked, broken, and little. When I touched the seat, my hands were covered with dust. Meanwhile, all I could hear was people chattering.
Shortly, a woman with plain clothes came towards us warm-heartedly with a smile, bringing us four kinds of food. She seemed to be really tired but dedicatedly cleaned the table and put the dishes in front of us.
“Thanks for your patience, Here is your order, the ‘Four Warriors’. They are the most famous Shanghai breakfast!"
I looked at the plates closely and curiously found one that held a pocket of warm air and is fragrant with sesame seeds sprinkled on top. There were some fried dough sticks that were very light. Another one was silky soy milk mixed with lots of different kinds of sauce. The last one was a ball of rice with some secret ingredients inside.
Although I was born in the USA, my mom and dad were born and raised in China. It follows that my hometown is in China. I used to go there every year until I started school. The last time that I went to China was in 2016.
When I went to Xi'an in China, I would always eat a lot of yummy foods. The last time I went back to China, I ate barbeque. I asked for no spice, but in the end, I still got a little bit. That was the first time I had ever eaten chili, and I was very proud of myself. Whenever I ate a meat piece, I would drink a lot of water, then eat another piece.
I also remember getting a toy from a movie which was about a police car. I really wanted the toy, but they didn’t sell it in the USA. The toy was only sold in China. When I went to China later that year, I got the toy. When I got to my grandparents’ house, I rushed to the toy.
Where my grandparents live in China, there was another kid with the same name as me. I played with him. Once, we were lighting fireworks. I also remember playing with fake guns. We were pretending to be the police.
I went to a wedding of my grandparents’ friend. I ate a piece of candy with something I was allergic to. After I ate it, I thought I was going to throw up. I never ate any candy from China after that day.
I was born in Kirkland, Washington. Therefore, my homeland is the United States of America.
When I think of my homeland, I think first of its natural beauty. There are many national parks in the USA. There are many cute animals in the national parks. We went to two national parks recently: Mt. Rainier and Olympic National Park.
At Mt. Rainier, we hiked up the mountains. I saw a few chipmunks. Feeding wildlife is against the law, but some people fed the chipmunks. My mom took videos, and I watched the chipmunks. My dad and my brother hiked further than me and my mom on the trail.
At the Olympic National Park, we went to the Hoh Rainforest and Hurricane Ridge.
At the Hoh Rainforest, we hiked in two trails: the Spruce Natural Trail and the Hall Of Mosses trail. We took a break after starting to walk the Hall Of Mosses trail. We saw ducks swimming in a pond. One by one, they went on a log. Then, they went back into the pond! They are like a troop who follows orders. The ducks were funny copying what everybody else did!
At Hurricane Ridge, we hiked only one trail. We walked back to the parking lot to take photos. We also saw a deer. We took photos and a video. It was eating some small plants. After taking many photos, we took a close-up view of the deer. Its ear was hurt!
Unfortunately, COVID-19 is widely spread in my homeland of the USA. Because of COVID-19, we rarely go to national parks these days. I hope the restrictions of COVID-19 can end so we can explore more national parks and see more animals without worrying about getting COVID-19.
We are now open for submissions to our 13th series, "Homeland".
With a new variant of COVID-19 spreading across borders and cities across the globe extending lockdowns, international travel remains a maddeningly tricky affair. For many of those with relatives in China, Japan, or anywhere else across the Pacific, daily WeChat calls can only do so much to lessen the distance created by departure and widened by governmental restriction.
In this time, we ask you to contribute your best art and writing about your family's home country -- memories of travel, perhaps, before the pandemic, or memories of learning about the culture, people, or geography, of that home country. Your imagination, the Internet, and extra research can help you fill in this gap.
Who did you visit? Where did you go? You could write about the smell of the couch cushions in your grandparent's cozy Xi'an apartment -- or the jokes that your hilarious great-uncle may have told over a welcome dinner filled with family and friends. Maybe you want to draw the architecture along the Bund, in Shanghai.
Remember to include your name, grade and school, and an (optional) headshot with your piece!
Send your work to YouthReview@emeraldparents.org by Monday, August 16th. Thank you for sharing your work with us -- we appreciate your leap of faith.
Chapter One: In Which We Must Not Waste Time
There is time, the most precious thing in our world.
How do you know? There are much more precious things.
Time can not be rewound, and nothing can be repeated the exact same.
But why? Sometimes I have to do the same things at the same time everyday.
Child, you shall stop asking about what things are. You must focus on what you are doing right now. Time will not be the same every time.
But this is knowledge, and sometimes we must learn!
Yes, you must. You shall. But right now, time is being wasted from the questions you ask by the minute.
Fine, fine. But questions are another way to see everything your way.
Yes, there are things you must learn and see, but time has fled from us right before your eyes.
Chapter Two: In Which Problems Can Be Fixed
It was a bright summer day in Alter town. Luna, a ten-year-old girl, strolled around the city, looking for some stores to buy food from. The street was bustling with crowds of people, many people walking from place to place. Luna had to be rapid so she could find somewhere to buy lunch.
Then, Luna spotted the perfect store, one that had what her mom told her to buy written right on an enormous sign. She rushed past the road, and dashed into the store. Instead of a few people, there were many -- about a count of sixteen!
Quarter of an hour passed without any movement, and only five minutes were left to spare. Would she be on time to go back home?
Just then, someone walked up to her and tapped her shoulder. The stranger said something that Luna did not understand.
“What did you say?” Answered Luna, prudently. She spun around.
The stranger laughed. “I asked if you need help.”
It was Ada, Luna’s big sister!
Luna was confused. What would she be doing at the market? Ada was supposed to be in piano class!
“Huh? I thought you were in Ms. Vitney’s house?”
Ada shrugged. “You should’ve looked at the time. Also, you are late to come back home, so mom sent me here to help you out if you needed that.”
“Hey, how did mom know where I am?”
“I’ll tell you later. Oh, and, I got the food already at another store.”
Off the two sisters went. They walked all the way back home, until they noticed that both of them, now, were thirty minutes late!
They darted back to their cabin.
“Mom! We’re back!” Ada yelled.
“Oh dear, you guys sure are late! Luna, your class is starting soon. You should get ready.” Mrs. Wilson said as she rushed to the door.
“Yes, mom,” Luna replied.
She placed her hat on the coat rack, then ran upstairs to pack. She took out a piece of paper of what she needed for a language group.
Luna stuffed everything in her backpack rapidly. She was determined to be on time for this class!
- Language Arts book
- Vocabulary flashcards
- Pen, pencil, and eraser
- Pretzels and Yogurt
As Luna walked along the streets, she saw something on a sign that caught her eye. Something she was interested in, and wanted to know a lot more about.
Chapter Three: In Which Time Can’t Be Rewound
She stared at the sign, reading about it. Woah, a mysterious island which needs to be investigated. The sign was carved with these words:
This island is unpredictable of what is on it, but we will be hiring people to investigate the island. This will help with our investigation program. Remember, it is not easy work, so if you decide to help out, make sure you bring everything you might need. This includes bags of meat, vegetables, fruits, bottles of water, a flashlight, some batteries, a small tent, a sleeping bag, many clothes, sweaters, pairs of shoes, a first aid kit, a backpack, some books, a pillow, many towels, a cell phone, and any other things that may be needed for a long, terrifying trip. Are you interested in going? Please contact 1927-313-2810. Reward is $500.
Curiosity shot through Luna. Everything seemed very interesting, but absolutely dangerous. Should she go? Luna could do this. She may be the person who could help. But it was hazardous, a decision that wouldn’t be easy to make.
If I want to help out, thought Luna, will my parents be too worried and decline my request? How should I convince them?
In The Future is the Past, Eva Chen presents us with a wild science fiction tale that questions the fabric of our space-time continuum!
In Attack of Pearl Harbor, Brendon Wang presents us with the harrowing account of one young pilot in the U.S. Navy during the historic attack.
In Ghost Town Island, Bonnie Chen pits a classic hero from Greek mythology against a fresh, mysterious foe.
And finally, in Blood and Honor, Hugo Wang cooks up a World War II imbroglio full of suspense, betrayal, and pure action.
Thank you to our contributors for this series of the Emerald Youth Review. We hope this series enchants and entertains!
“Wooow…” The wide-eyed, innocent small children of Lemon’s Facility For the Troubled And The Young gasped, their glossy pupils glued onto the frail, yet powerful woman that was their teacher.
“Tell us another story! About you, Mrs. Adeline!”
She sat on a worn-out little wood stool in front of the class, speaking in a hushed, dramatic voice during the telling of the story.
The story of her past..
“Alright, alright, settle down....”
She smiled, her head remained motionless, but anyone could feel her gaze laid upon them.
What a strange woman.
“It all begins in 2020. The year I was born. Hard to believe it’s been only 30 years.” She sighed, looking at an inconspicuous plant in the corner of the room. Holding its gaze for a few moments before standing up abruptly, beginning to pace in front of the children.
“You see, when I was born, we thought our golden years were over. That technology in America had peaked.” She chuckled, although not without a hint of bitterness.
“When I was two, the Teleport, better known as the Port, was first invented. It teleported small objects to a place of your choosing. Then came the TellerPort, which could teleport anything, big or small. And then the Transport. It could take humans and animals. Finally, in 2031, the Time Traveler was invented. I don’t need to explain that to you, do I?” She laughed a little.
“Anyways, after that, tech took a different turn. They started working on robots, but I was still stuck with a fascination with the concept of time. I was creating time loops, paradoxes, breaking the laws of time that were put in place simply to protect everyone from the dangers of having this much power.”
“What a fool I was.” She sighed again.
“We should be expecting her soon… I’m sorry, children.”
A blinding light filled the room. The children covered their eyes, throwing themselves onto the rough hand-knitted carpet, trying to shield themselves. A few of them burst into tears, confused and shaken.
The light dimmed until it was back to normal. But it was not back to normal. There was a lady, dressed in a plaid pinafore dress. She looked to be in her early twenties, with a stern, slightly sad, expression on her face.
She looked to be a younger version of Adeline.
“I’m sorry, Addy.” Her voice was clearer, softer, higher.
“This is all because of your meddling. Your fault. Your fault.”
The older Adeline tilted her head downwards towards the ground. Nobody could know what she was feeling, if not for the small droplets of tears that fell from her pit of shame.
She took her younger self’s hands, and took one last look at her students that she considered to be her own children.
“I knew this day was to come… I dictated this rule myself, but a small part of me… didn’t want to leave. It’s for the best.”
“Because you see, I was the one who reset our technology. I am the culprit.”
And with that, she was whisked away forever.
The younger Adeline watched the scene play out, rolling her eyes.
“Well, looks like I’m going to have an interesting life. Better start living it.”
She shot a grin at the traumatized children, before disappearing herself.
John Brown, a 16-year-old boy, is in the US Navy. On the morning of December 7, 1941, John Brown was listening to the radio. Suddenly, he heard that the Japanese were attacking. At first, he thought that it was a drill but when he went outside, there was a bunch of Japanese planes. He quickly went to the navy airship launcher and went to one of the planes. Suddenly, one of the Japanese planes bombed the place where John was just standing. He was determined the shoot all of them down.
“We have more planes coming in,” said John’s boss. He was one of the best pilots in the Navy. John always looked up to him. When he grew up, he wanted to be just like him.
A very big plane zoomed by John. He had already seen the red dot of Japanese planes on it. He turned his plane around and prepared to shoot the plane. When the plane was in the target range, he shot the plane down. The plane exploded when it almost dropped another bomb. Just then, another Japanese plane flew by and this time, it was targeting John. John was very afraid and started to turn and run away but the other plane had already shot. John was scared as the plane plummeted from the air.
John slowly opened his eyes. He was crashing from the sky. The plane was turning around and around. Just then, there was a raging fire and the plane crashed on a beach.
“Hello?” asked a nurse, “Are you awake?” The nurse dragged John to a temporary hospital near the beach.
John finally woke up and asked the nurse who she was.
“My name is Mary Webster,” said the nurse, “I found you on the beach near a plane crash. We have trained doctors to help you.”
When she said that, a doctor walked into the room.
"Hello, my name is Doctor Robert Bell. I am very pleased to help you. I will make sure that all your wounds will be gone."
The doctor gave John a drug which made him go back to sleep. The doctor then sewed the wounds on John. When John woke up again, he looked as if nothing had happened. Just as he was waking up, a bomb had been dropped onto the hospital where his friends were working. He instantly jumped up and run towards the hospital. The hospital was collapsing, and people were rushing out of the building. John went into the building to rescue some people. He first went to the floor where the doctors were working. He saw that they had already escaped but some other people weren't that lucky. John helped some of the doctors to get out of the building before everything fell apart.
When he helped another doctor out of the building, the building couldn't hold anymore and collapsed. John felt sad for the sick people who couldn't escape the building. He knew that he had to go fight the Japanese navy again but there was a small problem: every single plane was blown up. He decided to shoot from the ground.
"Watch out!" shouted another person as a bomb flew above John. John ducked and got a machine gun. He started firing at the sky above him. He had successfully shot down a plane.
John was even more determined to shoot down more planes. He had helped a lot in reducing the attack on Pearl Harbor.