My name is Kiloyapa II. I was sent from planet Eedic to study the inhabitants of planet Earth.
So began 11-year-old Pacifican Angela Yang's written examination of the immigrant roots of the United States. Her short story won 1st place in annual American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Northern California Chapter contest.
When she set out to write an entry for the contest for fifth graders with a prompt of "why I am glad America is a nation of immigrants", Angela wanted to focus on the everyday lives of American immigrants, said her mother, Jennifer Yang.
But after she began, Angela, who attends St. Gabriel School in San Francisco, wanted to spice it up, so she made the story from the perspective of an extraterrestrial being.
"She's very passionate about writing," Jennifer said. "She wrote a book herself last year, and we got it self-published. She just loves doing it, we didn’t really expect we were going to win."
According to a spokeswoman for AILA, Katy Chase, the contest drew nearly 680 individual entries from 42 schools in the region, up from about 400 entries the previous year. The contest, which takes place nationally each year, is sponsored by AILA and the American Immigration Council (AIC), a nonprofit organization whose mission includes educating citizens about the enduring contributions of America's immigrants.
Angela and ten other top award winners were recognized at an event last night in San Francisco at Chinese American Citizens Alliance Lodge on Stockton Street. She, along with the 2nd and 3rd place winners, recited their entries.
Regional and state officials served as judges in the contest, such as Bay Area school district supervisors and politicians Nancy Pelosi and Jackie Speier.
“We’re very moved by our students’ writing abilities and their creativity,” said Brenda Boudreaux, director of the contest. “These young people demonstrate a depth of understanding about the complex issues of immigration that is very impressive.”
And, as Angela's alien flew away in its spacecraft, it truly was optimistic about immigrants' roots and future in the United States.
Looking out the window, I saw a beautiful quilt with countless colors sprinkled on top. That was America--a country full of opportunities and equality; a place that has its own, unique culture because it opens its doors to others.
Read Angela's story, saved as a PDF, in the gallery to the right (it's the first one).