By Chiu-yi Rachel Ngai, 16, Arkansas.
Lanterns bloom like flowers, the light and colour of crowded city streets. Folded paper, a slinky of patterns, Dancing as the candle flame flickers a pattern silhouette. There are plastic lanterns these days, thick and rubbery with a strange smell, Lit up with a mini LED bulb. They come in all shapes and sizes, pop culture and cartoon designs. Mickey Mouse, Power Rangers, Doraemon. I remember my cousin had an Elsa once, a matching pair with her Anna-toting sister. We met with mooncakes under a full moon, Lotus paste sticky sweet, salted egg yolk seawater respite. Our ancestors looked up at the same moon, and now we stand in their light— A product of their mistakes and triumphs. We stand tall, a proud new generation, Eager to take on the world outside our Hong Kong, Not knowing how much our bubble would change in the years that watched us grow. I was fourteen when I left on a fifteen hour flight to the United States, Creating a half-globe’s distance within my heart. I write this at sixteen, a full lifetime for so many before me, a full lifetime for still too many. Arkansas is American Southern, dry and green and different and not a bad place to be— And yet I remain a daughter of the Asian East— My bones do not feel like they belong. I sat under the ever-present moon last Mid-Autumn, my second in the States, Eating mooncakes gifted by my art teacher, the only other Chinese person I know in the area. I look up to the sky, to the stars my cousins do not see, the stars drowned by neon light— I look up to the sky, to the moon my family looked at thirteen hours ago, the moon my ancestors saw a woman’s story in. The moon keeps me close to home. By Chiu-yi Rachel Ngai, 16, Arkansas. She adds: "I grew up in the bustling streets of Hong Kong. I moved to the U.S. when I was fourteen in order to get a better education. I am fluent in English and Cantonese. I can understand Mandarin/ Putonghua better than I can speak it. I am working on overcoming my internalized racism towards myself for being Chinese, and I decided to submit to Skipping Stones as part of my journey towards accepting myself and finding pride and joy in my cultural identity."