Our 8-year-old daughter's elementary school has an annual contest in which the students write an essay about diversity, which roughly coincides with the timing of the Martin Luther King Day holiday in the U.S. The U.S. is quite a heterogeneous "melting pot" of people, and is comprised of immigrants and descendants of immigrants from many races and ethnicities, cultures, and religions. That is something that has always fascinated my wife and me, and of which we are proud.
Our daughter's entry is as follows (her top-down viewpoint drawing of the halo-halo dessert is shown first), and uses an analogy comparing diversity to a traditional Filipino shaved or crushed ice-based dessert called "halo-halo". I would explain halo-halo a little further for those who have never experienced it, but I don't want to detract from her essay. So here it is... the actual photos of her handwritten essay are first (her name and the name of her school have been blocked out for privacy), and then the transcribed text is below it:
I am an American girl and I am part Caucasian and part Asian. My mother is Asian, she is from the Philippines, and my dad is Caucasian. I am here to tell you about my favorite dessert in the Philippines. Philippines is a very warm and humid country because it’s close to the equator. Whenever I go there, it is so hot and humid. Sweat from my body sticks to my clothing. Just then, I feel that it is nice to cool down with a nice cold snack, “halo-halo” (pronounced “hollow-hollow”). Halo-Halo is a famous treat from the Philippines. It’s like ice cream but has many different ingredients mixed together. Each ingredient is different. Well, some of the ingredients I wanted to talk to you about are the different kinds of beans. Each bean is different in its own way, size, shape, and color just like everyone. That’s why it is important. Each ingredient is also different; coconut gel, coconut string, sweet “ube” (which is a purple sweet yam), banana foster, ice cream, sweet beans, flan, jackfruit, sweet corn, milk, and crushed ice. Each of these has different colors, size, shapes, texture, and even taste. And that’s what makes us and halo-halo similar, not even one little person or ingredient are the same and all combine together to make a wonderful mixture or “treat.” If you get all the ingredients of halo-halo and mixed them together it would make a cold creamy treat. Just as if we all got mixed together, we could all get along well, much like all of the different ingredients of halo-halo blend together to form one great taste.
Students here in ________ School come from many different families to make a wonderful school. If we all work hard together, the world would be a better place, and we could have peace and good-natured people. We could be one big well blended community, working no matter how different we are from each other. It’s the thought and the heart that counts. Just like the dessert halo-halo, ________ School is like one big melting pot because many students from different places come here, and we all get mixed together to make one awesome treat!
Prior to submitting this contest, our daughter showed her essay to one of her teachers, who thought that our daughter had a good chance at winning. In the end, our daughter didn't win the contest, (we had of course told her that she might not win), but yet she handled it gracefully and did not get disappointed. The teacher who liked our daughter's essay so much was a bit sad to hear our daughter had not won, but she was impressed about our daughter's positive attitude and that she remained a good sport about the contest even though she didn't win. All in all, it was a nice writing composition exercise for her, and she now has the satisfaction that although she didn't win, she put a lot of effort into this and made us all proud by doing her best.