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[YRP Students' Essays] The Food that Saved Me

I stood in the vivid world where everyone seems to be inundated with curiosity, and the world I thought I never could be mixed with. In the first place I felt like I was standing in the middle of a stadium watched by, not cold eyes, but neither warm. Left and Right I took an extensive view around thinking I was definitely alone with only a few friends. I was timid with strangers until one rice-ball made me a positive and active man.

My story took place in abroad, Republic of South Africa, where many people think Korea and Japan are the same country since the FIFA World Cup, so called "Korea-Japan", took place in 2002. I was admitted by a primary school in fourth grade. Extra English lessons were added in my time table where I was supposed to be learning Afrikaans. I managed to make a few friends in a short period of time who happened to be the guide on the first day.

I was a fifth grade student at that time with the condition of me being only Japanese in the school, and the new heavy day started expecting nothing but the end of the day. On that day my emotions were moody, not like the weather which had the sun that was bright.

"What are you eating?" Suddenly I barely caught this inquiry behind me at lunch time. When I turned my head around one of my friends, named Khosi, was standing in front of me staring at my rice ball with fascination. The rice ball in my hand forced me to stand at a fork in the road.

"This is a rice ball that Japanese eat." With no embarrassment, but with pride, I answered clearly. I was ready to see the chilly reaction of his, but somehow he asked me, "Could I have some?" I did not expect this turned circumstance. I was happy to give him some, so I did. It seemed like he liked it, but I never knew the truth.

The next day I brought the food again. But this time I asked my mother to mix in ume (pickled plum). The bell rang and everybody started to go outside to get their lunch box. I followed them alone but stopped. Everyone who ran outside came back with their ham and egg sandwiches in their hands. I noticed what was going on after a person I had never talked with said, "I heard you got some nice Japanese food, and I just want to trade for my sandwiches. So can I have some?" I hate it when people talk with no reserve, but that day I didn't care about it and gave small bits to each of them. It was like killing two birds with one stone. The classmates get their bits of rice-balls, and I get enough sandwiches, except that they were all ham and egg.

Child Research Net would like to thank the Doshisha International Junior/Senior High School and Shinnosuke Tokuda, student and author, for permitting reproduction of this article on the CRN web site.

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