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Skipping Stones

Table of Contents
Volume 15, #3
(May -- August, 2003)

Long Summer Days, Time to Explore!

Regular Departments

  • From the Editor
  • Editor's Mailbag (Ideas for Youth, and more)
  • What's On Your Mind? (I Saw Your Face, War, and more)
  • Dear Hanna
  • Poetry Page
  • Skipping Stones Stew
  • Pen Pals Wanted
  • For Parents and Teachers
  • Folktale! A Lesson for Listeners
  • Images of Cambodia

(c) 2003 by Skipping Stones. Opinions expressed in these pages reflect views of the contributors, and not necessarily those of Skipping Stones, Inc. In the spirit of ecological sensitivity, we choose to print with soy ink on recycled & recyclable paper.

From the Editor

In the Mayan "Story of the Questions," the gods of light and darkness, Ik'al and Votan, are joined together as one.* At first they live in misery, unable to move, one side perpetually stuck in day and the other in night. Eventually, they figure out that by asking questions they are able to move. It gives them much happiness to be moving, so they continue to ask questions, make compromises, stretch and grow. Ik'al and Votan choose to travel a long road, always continuing to ask questions, never resting. Each answer leads to a new question, so as they arrive, they are already departing. We, too, must also learn to say "farewell" when we arrive and "hello" when we leave.

Since this is my farewell as an editor of Skipping Stones, I would like to say hello to all of you who have taught me the importance of asking questions. Each day at Skipping Stones I have been amazed by young people all over the world who are speaking their truth and raising important questions. As I read your writings I started asking my own questions: Why does the world too often ignore young people's opinions? How can we make decisions that impact youth without consulting them?

These questions in turn led to deeper questions: Why are some people able to express themselves freely while others seem to be confined? Why is it sometimes difficult to remember our connections with other people and the natural world? How are compassion, communication and sense of connection related?

As I search for answers, I am moving forward. I am finding new ways to help youth and to facilitate better worldwide communication as an editor, a mentor, a yoga instructor, and simply as someone who will listen. I hope to never forget the lessons I have learned from the Skipping Stones family about the value of listening to as many viewpoints as possible and remaining open to where our questions and answers take us. Like Ik'al and Votan, I am preparing to leave my comfort zone for greater challenges and greater opportunities. It won't be easy to go. I came to Eugene with one suitcase and a desire for fresh ideas and new friendships. Since then I have made many friends, gotten married, planted a garden, explored the Oregon wilderness, and come to love and appreciate Skipping Stones. Still, the urge to grow pushes me on, and welcoming a new phase of life will require letting go of some old ways.

At this turning point, I am greeting new opportunities in the worlds of activism, career, community and spirituality. As I learn how these worlds are linked, I say farewell to my fears and lack of self-confidence. Each day I peel back more layers to reveal my inner-self and step closer to being the person I dream I can be. I am inspired to see so many of you also searching for your best selves, overcoming fears, and questioning through writing and artwork. We are all in the same process, connected by our questions, our answers and our choices.

What a privilege it has been to witness your moments of creativity, your thoughts and your opinions. At least once a day at Skipping Stones I have seen a student's amazing work and realized all over again how much potential we have on Earth right now for healing, insight and understanding. I urge all young people to take your power seriously, to continue voicing your opinions, and to realize that you are not alone. A worldwide network of creative minds is out there to share with. Dare to listen deeply to one another, to take action, to speak your minds and follow your inner-voices. Keep those questions coming, and keep moving forward!

-- Michelle Lieberman

* See Questions & Swords (Cinco Puntos, 2001).

Cinco de Mayo

Fiesta! Fiesta! Today is Cinco de Mayo.
The old abuela rolls flour tortillas, causing the flour dust to rise in the air.
My prima wails her multi-colored vestido around, practicing Flamenco.
The papa bobs his head as the Spanish music begins to play.

The old abuela rolls flour tortillas, causing the flour dust to rise in the air.
Mama blends the teary-eyed onion into the pico de gallo.
The papa bobs his head as the Spanish music carries on.
My hermanos swing for the star pinata filled with sweet candy.

The mama blends the teary-eyed onion into the pico de gallo.
T'a Jimena rounds the children to tell them the story of the Companero.
My hermanos swing for the star pinata filled with sweet candy.
The aging bisabuelo, slumped in the green recliner, focuses on the television.

T'a Jimena rounds the children to tell them the story of the Companero.
I push the squeaky screen door and step outside.
My bisabuelo, slumped in the green recliner, focuses on the television.
Freshly bloomed tulips and velvet red roses surround me.

As I proceed forward, I dunk my head for the birdseed in the feeder.
My prima wails her multi-colored vestido around, practicing Flamenco.
I look back and see a small, old casa celebrating a family.
Fiesta! Fiesta! For today is Cinco de Mayo!

-- Sierra Barraza, 14, Fort Collins, Colorado.

Sierra writes, "This poem shows how a Hispanic family celebrates... It is common for them to have chickens, goats, cows and other farm animals roaming in the backyard. Therefore, in the end of the poem I am speaking from a chicken's point of view."

Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexicans victory over the French Army at Puebla, Mexico, on 5 May, 1862. The Mexican Independence Day is 16 September.

Ideas for Youth

My mom, dad and I created peace symbols as a family project. We are each sending the peace symbols to different places. My dad is sending the colored symbol to senators, congressmen and other organizations. I am sending the uncolored symbol to my friends, pen pals and family to color for themselves.

The decisions our leaders make today affect our futures. Let our leaders hear what we have to say. Tell them how we feel.

I have written to President Bush. I invite youth everywhere to do the same. Write to:
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

-- Abbey Forbes, 11,
Port Deposit, Maryland.

Rebuilding Cambodia

Cambodia suffered from a brutal genocide from 1975-1979 when a quarter of the population died from execution, starvation or disease. After the genocide there was 20 years of civil war. Today Cambodia is peaceful, but its people are still working to recover from the violence that destroyed their culture and communities.

Chath was five years old when the Khmer Rouge took over his country in 1975, and the genocide began. His father died from a disease because there was no medical care. Chath was separated from his mother and put in a cruel work camp for four years. After the genocide he immigrated to the United States with his brother. In the U.S. he experienced racial discrimination and poverty. Chath found it difficult to adjust to a new culture that was very different from his own. His life improved when his high school teacher recommended him for a special international studies program. There he met friends and discussed ideas about how to solve some of the problems of the world.

After graduating from college, Chath went back to Cambodia to work for a human rights organization. Chath helps train police to treat prisoners fairly and not beat them. In his spare time, Chath gives landmine education programs in rural villages to warn children about the dangers of landmines.

Cambodia is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world. There are 4 to 6 million landmines still in the ground. The process of removing mines is very slow and expensive because they are difficult to find. The landmines are made of plastic, so they can't be located with a metal detector. The de-miner has to lie on his or her stomach and probe the earth inch by inch with a knife to try to find landmines. Cambodia and 145 other countries have signed an international treaty banning landmines, but the United States government has refused to sign.

In evenings Chath likes to visit the Buddhist temple in his neighborhood to hear the monks chant. He lights three sticks of incense and prays for world peace. The monks and nuns that live at the temples in Cambodia offer Peaceful Heart Trainings where they teach meditation, conflict resolution and communication skills. Buddhist leaders say that if true peace is to be achieved, each person has inner spiritual work to do.

"Peace will come not just by throwing away weapons. Peace comes from within the soul first and happens when our heart is calm."

Many villages in Cambodia are rebuilding salabons--open air pavilions used by the community for welcoming visitors, for Buddhist ceremonies and for community meetings. When community members come together to raise the money and rebuild the salabon, they are also rebuilding their trust in each other and their sense of connection that was broken during the genocide.

-- Carol Wagner, author of Soul Survivors: Stories of Women and
Children in Cambodia
. Photos by Valentina DuBasky;
www.cambodiansurvivors.org

I Saw Your Face

I saw your face.

Like carbon monoxide you seep through the vents,
Through broken doors and hidden crevices.
You hid yourself among the faces
Disguised as many races.

Like the Germans to the Jews
You tore through our flesh,
Contaminated our souls.

Like feuding sisters
You ripped through our veins,
Used our blood against us.

Like White men to Indians
You thrashed at our hearts,
Tried to make them cold.

I saw your face.

You exposed yourself,
Unveiled your face.
And now we know
You have no race.
You are neither pale nor brown,
Red nor yellow.

You hide yourself
Among each race
And now you know
I saw your face.

-- Grace Sinclair, 17, Battle Creek, Michigan.
She writes, "After 9/11, I noticed blame
being thrown at different cultures, and I am
inspired to stop prejudice."

InsideOut

These students from Pelham Magnet Middle School, Detroit, Michigan, participated in InsideOut, a program that brings established writers to do workshops in inner-city schools.

Broken

Cold
Broken
Sun
Water
Auntie
Mother
James

I once knew someone
who was broken. They
have never even spoken.

They dreamed of water
in the air but there was
one thing they did not share
because they were broken.

Even when the sun came out
this person could never shout
because they were broken.

They dreamed of red hair
on their chin but they had
no money to spend.

My auntie helped someone
who was broke. She helped
people who never spoke.

My auntie had to hunt for people
who care, hunt for people who share.

She had to fix shattered dreams in the air
because people were broken.

-- Lanardriah Kelly, 8th grade.

Snapshots of Mom

My mother is in her bedroom watching TV, a silhouette in the small amount of light slipping through the window. Mom adores the autumn sun. It's not brutal, yet still gives you that sane feeling of serenity that goes throughout your body when you first get in front of the fire after sledding all day.

I run in with a virus; I have a nasty headache. I lay down near my mother. She gets a hot compress and delicately places it on my pounding forehead. She then tells me to think of happier thoughts and begins to stroke my hair so gently that I am just able to feel her fingertips leaving the ends of the strands. She has the softest touch; no other person in the world has the warmth of my mother.

Mom is in the kitchen making her specialties, creating new recipes. I sit in my room completing my homework. Something smells delicious, and I know what it is. I don't even have to walk down the hall. It's better than s'mores with their gooey, oozing marshmallow. So much better because my mom puts more effort into the food she is making. Every inch of her cheese and spinach quiche is filled with one more bit of her warm heart. When I go to other homes I eat their food, but it's no match for my mom's.

Much of her soul is reflected by what she cooks, making her meals great on the outside and in.

Mom walks in from work. She's an administrative assistant. Traffic on the highway makes her stressed, but she still continues to commute. Arms at her sides, annoyance in her voice, she's breathing heavily. Mom is aggravated, dragging her feet throughout the house as if five pounds of bricks were in her shoes. At dinner we all talk about how our day was. As usual Mom has undergone the most stress. How she handles it, I will never know. Dinner is done. Mom walks to her room to lie down. I hear a sigh of relief. Mom is off to sleep and not a moment too soon. Mom's day is done and not in a minute less than her 24-hour life.

-- Aimee Laitman, 15,
New City, NY.

You Know There Is
Something You Could Do!

Why is it so much easier to hate
Than to love?
Is it because we are afraid?
What are we afraid of?
Afraid of everything that's different?
The figure nor color nor religion,
Does matter to what is in the soul.

Why do we fight for riches,
When it only causes hatred and jealousy?
Why do we spend so much money
On weapons and on war
When there are people around us starving?
Put yourself in the position of the poor,
And think of when you threw them away
When they were begging at your door.

How can you look at yourself in the mirror the next morning
And know that you went stuffed to bed
And they were starving in a rotten shelter?
How can you feel comfortable
In your warm and cozy bed
When you know there are people around
Freezing to death?

How can you throw away
The food left on your plate
When other people have nothing to eat?
What happens to us
When we start loving money and power
More than people?
We lose control of the kindness inside us
And get hatred in return.
What we need to learn in this great big world
Is to think of each other more than ourselves!!!

-- Vegard Bohlerengen, 14,
Czech Republic

War

Dead is life
and truth
and love
twisted grey
and broken brown
charred and murdered
blackened our
life is gone and with it love.

Greed and lust doth rub
drive to death
all beauty
cold steel glints
and gleams
mockingly reflects
a warped version
of light and warmth.

Truth
a myth derided
in scorn.

War destroys and kills
our world
browns and grays
all earthly forms.

Khaki color
rules
dead is life.

-- Justine King, 8th grade,
Elka Park, New York.

A Summer to Remember...

Grow a garden....
windowsill garden... back yard garden...
herbs patch... salad garden...
plants in big pots... a garden on the rooftop...

No space for garden?
sprout in large glass jars...
mung beans, alfalfa, lentils, sunflowers...
soak overnight and rinse twice a day...
drain well with a cheese cloth...
put the jar at an angle or on its side in a dish drainer. ..

Eat fresh vegetables and fruits in season...
buy organic and local produce if possible...
isit farmers market... stop at roadside stands...
go to U-Pick farms...
strawberries, raspberries, blueberries... yummy...
spy blackberry patches in your neighborhood...visit them in season...

Read books...check out multicultural or nature books
visit the local library
keep a journal... record your thoughts, things to do...
write poems, stories, letters to relatives far away, and penpals
write to editors, leaders, business executives...
stretch your imagination... paint... draw cartoons

Cook simple vegetarian meals
try new, ethnic foods...
make banana smoothie... cucumber raita... spinach cheese pita sandwich
prepare whole grain meals... brown rice,
whole wheat breads...chapatis, homemade pizza

Cool morning walks, evening walks, jogging, swimming, biking...
explore nearby nature, look under rocks, sit under a tree..
Join a hiking club, enjoy the outdoors
sixteen hours of sunshine

Learn something new... family history... that you always wanted to learn...
a game, hobby... skill, musical instrument
soak up the warmth... make friends... meditate... seek solitude
Enjoy your Summer...explore life...

-- Arun N. Toke'

 

 

Skipping Stones Magazine
P.O. Box 3939
Eugene, OR 97403 USA.
Telephone: (541) 342-4956