Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Belated post: the Global School in GA

My whole trip to GA was amazing so it's hard to say that anything was my favorite, but part of my trip there included a school visit to the Global Village School, an all girls school for recently arrived refugee teens (from 11-18).  Almost all the students had read Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and a handful of them were chosen to introduce me by reading aloud their impressions of the book.

It was one of the most moving things I've ever heard. I was so touched, I asked if I could get a copy of their speech. One girl said:

I like when Minli runs away from her house and tries to find the Old Man of the Moon and make her village turn into Fruitful Mountain. She is brave like I was when I had to run away from my country because it was not very good there, like Fruitless Mountain.
Another girl said:
 The part that is special to me is when Minli's village is changed...I want my village to change like that too because my village where I used to live when I was a kid was so poor.
And this one made me teary:
 I like the part when Minli came back to her family and her Ma and Ba welcome her with happiness. This part is special to me because I don't want to separate with my family anymore.

Seeing the story through their eyes was so humbling and touching. There are times I get caught up in petty things, worrying about booksales and publicity and this is such a heartening reminder of why I try to make the books I do. Who cares if I can't write a big blockbuster book? These girls and the people who connect to my books are the readers that I'm honored and grateful to reach.

At the end of the presentation, they gave me this:

Each girl made a shrinky-dink  piece with their name and the words they would chose for their secrets of happiness (some of the words are in another language) and pieced it together to make  a jacket like the one Minli received from the Village of Moon Rain. It's tied together with a red thread. It's so, so exquisite.

It has a permanent place of honor on my window in my studio, to remind me how thankful I should be.

It's a beautiful gift, not only as an object, but as a reminder of the other non-tangible gifts they gave me. Thank you, Global Village School!