Bringing People Together
Elisabeth Tian-Rei Kam, Winner
Every Chinese New Year, my family gathers for an evening of steaming hot broth, beef balls, tofu, all varieties of seafood and thinly-sliced meats, vermicelli noodles, lots of laughter, and good conversation. It is my favorite meal of the year- hot pot! Not only do I love all these foods, I also enjoy the special time with my family. We usually spend two to three hours lounging around an electric pot of boiling water, slowly cooking and savoring all the delicious foods. It is a wonderful, relaxing Chinese meal that I wish everyone in America could experience. If I were President of the United States, I would institute a National Hot Pot Day. People are always rushing around, busy with school, sports, or music. Hot pot would be a great way for Chinese-Americans to encourage their community to slow down and to build relationships. I have lived in my current house for four years and only know two neighbors. I hope to change this by inviting all of my neighbors over for hot pot.
Recently, I read a book called Dumpling Days by Grace Lin. It is about her first trip to Taiwan as a young girl. After reading about her adventures, I really want to go to Taiwan too. But my Dad said, “Who’s going to pay, huh?” As President of the United States, I would create an exchange program for elementary school students. Interested students could travel to China, Japan, Korea, and other Asian countries to learn more about the Asian way of thinking and living. I could also improve my Chinese quickly, and it would be fun to host a Taiwanese girl at my house. Such a program would help Asian-American students to understand their heritage firsthand and American students to appreciate Asian culture.
Several times a year, my family goes to senior citizen homes to sing and play piano and violin for the residents. Afterwards, we greet them one by one and spend time talking to them. Last Christmas I was surprised when the director told me that we were the only people to visit for the entire holiday season. If I were President, I would ask schools to set up programs for children to visit nursing homes regularly. Furthermore, most community activities are designed for one age group only. I would request town leaders to host intergenerational events where the young and old can spend time together.
For example, the youth and the elderly can put on plays, have cooking classes, or plant a vegetable garden together. In this way, both groups could learn from each other and enjoy their time together. I will always remember when my grandma taught me how to sew, knit, and make green onion pancakes. Honoring the elderly is a Chinese value that can improve life in America.
As the first Asian-American president, I would use my Chinese traditions, heritage, and values to bring people together and to make America a better, stronger country.