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[YRP Students' Essays] Lunch Time Rice Balls

"Hey, let's go to cafeteria and eat pizza!" Each time my friends called me for lunch, my lunch bag with rice ball in it went down the huge garbage can. At this time, I was still in first grade in America and was thinking my lunch was kind of weird comparing it to the other kids' lunches in school. Whenever I tried to eat my lunch, everyone stared at me, and some even made faces at me and said, "What's that weird black thing that you're eating?" This made me feel even more uncomfortable and ashamed at the lunch time table in the cafeteria. However, I couldn't tell this feeling to my mother. If I did, it would hurt her feelings. Therefore, I started to throw away my rice balls and bought lunch in the cafeteria like the other kids secretly.

About two weeks later, my mother asked me why my money was disappearing so quickly. The real reason was because I had to buy lunch in the cafeteria everyday, but of course I couldn't tell her the truth. However, I couldn't find any way to answer, so I kept quiet for a while, but I just couldn't lie to my mother. At last, I told the truth to her, bursting into tears. The surprising thing was, my mother knew that I was not eating the rice balls that she made for me. It was a big shock for me, and I just kept on apologizing. My mother said that there was no need to apologize; it's a normal thing to feel shame about the difference of culture. However, she also said that it's not a good thing to waste food, and I wouldn't have hurt her feelings by telling her what I felt about my lunch. At this time, I finally noticed that I was hurting her feelings by throwing away the rice balls that she made for me. I felt cruel, and was even more ashamed than the time that everyone stared at me.

From the next day, my lunch bag never went down that huge black garbage can. I ate my rice balls, not feeling uncomfortable or ashamed. I thought that everyone was staring at me because they were just interested in the food that they had never seen before. I noticed that there's no need to feel uncomfortable and be ashamed about differences of culture, and was even proud to have that difference.

From this time, whenever someone teased about my rice ball, I said, "It's delicious, you know. Wanna try one?"

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