The Marianas Writers Movement sponsored a student essay contest on the topic, “Stories Matter” and received nearly 80 submissions from students in the CNMI. Five randomly selected students will be awarded prizes of $100 each at an upcoming October writers workshop, also sponsored by the Marianas Writers Movement. Student essays on the topic will be featured in the newspapers and also online at


They distract us from reality

By Steven Balakrishna, 12th grade, GCA 

FROM slaying dragons in fantasy realms to gushing over unconditional romance; from same ending cliches to unexpected resolutions; from the edge of the seat suspense to the unforeseen plot twist, action, drama whatever it may be, stories hold a unique power that portals us to alternate universes, with only the use of words. One of the main sources of limitless imaginations, stories create a reservoir of entertainment to escape the mundane reality we live in.

The "rat race" introduced in the book “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki, a well-known businessman who provides personal finance and business education, talks about an endless, self-defeating or pointless pursuit. The phrase alludes to humans as rats, attempting to earn a reward such as cheese with an endless cycle of working. The term is frequently connected with a demanding monotonous lifestyle that allows little opportunity for relaxation or enjoyment. Most humans live in a similar cycle, from finishing high school, attending college, to working 9 to 5, 7 days a week, just to gain a minimum financial support to live a normal life. When looking at the world, we look at it from an unfiltered point of view. Either everyone is insensitive to the beautiful colors of the world or that the world is slowly decaying. Such factors make life dull and tyrannical.

Story illustrates a rather different view than what we see in reality. Therefore, we seek this type of entertainment. Living in an environment not well suited for your comfort, people tend to seek what is unattainable in reality but accessible in stories. In reality, we only live one life, but with books, we have the capability to live millions. We often put ourselves in the shoes of the main character, or even the antagonist, finding attributes that relate with ours, enabling us to engage more with the story as it moves along the plot. Compared to the world we live in, we see colors with our own eyes, and everything seems a bit grayer as the world decays. In books, we read the colors that describe the setting and our limitless imagination leads us to romanticizing, bringing more meaning to life than reality generally takes for granted. So in short, our imagination when we read colors in books surpasses what we can see in reality. Stories also provide experiences that are impossible to come across in real life that makes it so addicting to read. For example, fighting wizards.... Or falling in random holes. All of these cut above the experiences we gain in this earthly world.

Traveling through a desert, known as reality, we long for water in order to quench our thirst, water being stories. We quest for this reservoir of entertainment to fulfill the desperations of living an unattainable life.



They breathe life into the dead

By Joyce Francisco, 12th grade, GCA

WHEN you think of a storybook, do you think of a children's fairytale or a history book? Oxford Dictionary defines a story as "an account of imaginary people and events told for entertainment." This textbook definition tends to perpetuate a perception that stories are mostly fictional, and hold no value other than entertainment. However, stories are not restricted within the confinements of fairytales and creepypasta fiction. They, surprisingly, reside everywhere — in our history books, in museums, in eulogies, and, in a more personal context, in my mother's stories.

As a young girl, I used to wonder what it would have been like if given the satisfaction of having a grandfather. The deprivation of my grandfather's company pained me. How many hours of my monotonous life could I have spent pondering over old pictures with him, babbling about the stories behind them?

Although I never got to meet my grandfather, he lives through my mother's stories. Top of his batch, class president for four years in a row, and an altogether selfless man — he was the poster child of an extraordinary individual. While my peers wanted to become lawyers and doctors in the future, all I wanted to be like was my grandfather. The way my mother's eyes would light up and verbalize vivid stories about him, it seemed incomprehensible that he had passed away more than 20 years ago. He may have passed away, but his words of encouragement will resonate in my heart until the end of time.

Time is life's greatest thief. As morbid as it sounds, one day our bones will grow brittle. One day our skin will sag. One day our eyes will no longer beam with clarity. One day our hearts will retire from its humdrum job. One day we'll be in a coffin lowered down in the grave. Will we all inescapably be forgotten? What remnants will we leave behind?

Subsequently, we all will leave an imprint in our loved ones' hearts. The memories of us eliciting stories from them, reaching the ears of the next generation. Stories are timeless and have the potentiality to live on from generation to generation. With that in mind, may we live life to the fullest; may it be noteworthy bland, or blandly noteworthy. May the stories of us stay alive even if we are not.

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