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 https://marianaswritersmovement.org

They are ubiquitous and versatile

By Rabeya Akter, 12th grade, KHS

WHETHER one is looking to find themselves or to get away, stories can help do both. Stories are like window panes that give us a peek into both the real and imaginary world. And, if the light hits the perfect spot, the window pane becomes a mirror letting us see a reflection of ourselves.

Stories are ubiquitous. No matter which way you turn your head, you are bound to see a story. Whether it be about the casual daily life activities to significant highlights of your life, there's always a story to share. From those we know from cultural storytelling traditions to those that author’s pen down, there’s always a story to hear. It’s just a matter of seconds before you realize that choosing to be reading this essay is a story itself.

Whether the fictional world of Harry Potter or the real one of Anne Frank, stories are expert in stirring up a whirlpool of emotions. While a story like “A Thousand Splendid Suns” makes me angry, stories like those of Geronimo Stilton’s always bring a smile to my face. All We Have Left was saddening while The Mother Daughter Book Club was heartwarming. Sometimes stories make me squeal with excitement, and at other times, they make me sigh with disappointment. That’s the beauty of stories — they let you immerse yourself into them.

It’s not all the time that stories will let you delve into them. Sometimes, they want to find a home for themselves. When I resonate with a character, they find a home in my heart. When I draw inspiration from a character’s strength, it makes them even stronger. More often, stories voice my thoughts and feelings and lends me a shoulder to lean on.

Ultimately, what I’m trying to convey is that stories matter. Stories matter because they add color to our lives through their ubiquity and versatility. Stories matter because they perpetuate culture and pass along learning. Stories matter because they provide inspiration and motivation. They matter because they honor the past, present, and future. Stories matter because they teach us empathy; they teach us to walk in another person’s shoes. Stories matter because they entertain us, inform us, and persuade us. Stories matter because they add meaning to our lives.

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They teach us to feel empathy, to walk in another’s shoes

By Kamille Christabelle Razon, 11th grade, SSHS

MAY 1, 2021. That was the official day the Taliban successfully recaptured Afghanistan, taking back control of the government. When this news hits, it doesn’t exactly impact you, not unless you’re Arabic or have relatives that live there. We’re shielded here, protected. Bubbled away from the rest of the world. We didn’t experience the worst of Covid-19 the way thousands, maybe millions of people did when it struck their countries, their families. We didn’t experience the backlash the Asians around the world received, being put to blame for the Covid-19 virus that just so happened to have begun in their country. We never experienced the loss of 9/11, nor the discrimination the Muslim-Americans did for a crime that wasn’t theirs. It’s easy to ignore these events — they don’t involve us. They don’t affect us. But that doesn’t mean we can’t pretend it never existed, because to all those other people, it did. And it’s very real to them.

Let me ask you a question. Who helped us during Typhoon Yutu? Outside relief. Service members from The Task Force brought in supplies and helped us rebuild the island, as well as relocating those who couldn’t. Several disaster aid companies sent as many relief boxes and goods as possible, hoping to help us recover quickly. If these helpers hadn't flown in to give us aid, we wouldn’t be where we are today, nor have recovered this quickly before Covid hit. They showed us empathy, kindness, even if they didn’t know us. They weren’t here to feel the devastation that Typhoon Yutu caused us, but aided us anyway. That is empathy.

We are an island that values community. The bond between family and friends, coworkers and relatives, and locals and immigrants are impassioned, and we treat everyone as if they were a close loved one. Stories matter because we must show compassion for those beyond our small circle. There are people out there, several oceans away from ours, that experience things that no human being should ever have to go through. We have to acknowledge such things occur and understand them, that way we can learn how to reach out to help in the best way possible. “To walk in another’s shoes” means to empathize with others, not to pity them, but to understand what they are going through, validate their emotions, and figure out how to help them. We have been shown empathy time and time again from others outside of our island bubble — and in the near future, there will come a time where we will do the same.

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They give you an outlet for creativity and vulnerability

By Hannah Tenorio, 10th grade, GCA

I WAS never interested in writing creatively. I would only write when it was an assignment for school and when I did, I was not the biggest fan of it. I just viewed it as a task I had to get done. Writing seemed like such a tedious, boring, and insignificant chore. It was in my literature class, though, that I took in my freshman year, that started making me have a change in thoughts.

One day, my teacher gave us a writing assignment. Initially, I was already dreading the thought of having to write another essay. We were given a few different topic choices, so there were a lot of different directions our essays could have gone. Although, one topic stood out from the rest: write something that relates to you personally. Prior to this assignment, I have never written anything on a personal level. The essays I would typically write were formal, informative or explanatory, so this was unknown territory. Excitedly, I decided to write about a topic that I thought was very important for everyone of all ages to remember: that you never know what a person is going through until you look beneath the surface.

This resonated with me personally because I too needed that reminder and I also felt like people may not have looked beneath the surface of me. My topic choice was very vulnerable and personal and I was not completely comfortable with talking about it directly. So, I wrote my entire story using a metaphor with flowers. In my story, the flowers would flourish and thrive so vibrantly covering the frail, fragile, and hurt roots underneath. The dying internal roots were only exposed when the blossoms weren't able to cover up the pain. This metaphor uses flowers and roots to represent how people can put up a front that seems so happy and perfect, but underneath they could be quietly suffering inside.

This specific story made me change my mind about writing. Instead of viewing writing as a chore, I now viewed it as a place to let my thoughts flow unrelentingly and give me a time to talk about a topic so sensitive for me. I learned how to be creative and non-constricting with my ideas and within my creativity, I was able to express sensitive and personal topics. Stories matter and they can provide an outlet for vulnerability and creativity.

 

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