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Home : News : Local
4/25/2012 9:49:00 AM
Student wins dual awards with her message of courage
Zoe Fanning
Zoe Fanning
Fanning's award-winning poster.
Fanning's award-winning poster.
COURAGE by Zoe Fanning

Living in a safe and secure community, I don’t have a lot of exposure to harmful or scary things that go on around me. I have never been in a life-threatening situation. I am not scared for my life. No one is my enemy, and no one hates me.

I hide from those around me. No one sees inside of me, they only see my race. My dad is an unknown to me. I do my best to help my mom through every day because I know how much of a struggle it is for her. I work my hardest, but nobody cares.

Walking to school is a daily task. Nothing new, nothing old. It’s not a struggle for me. I pack my backpack in the morning, and I’m usually to school on time. Sometimes Carly and I meet us and walk to school together. She’s my best friend. I tell her everything. I get straight A’s and I have a perfect attendance record.

We don’t have a car to get to school. I walk the 5 miles to school, when I can go. I only go about 3 days of the week, because the other 2 days I am helping care for my brother and sister while my mom is at work. My teachers don’t understand why I get such bad grades, but I would never think of telling them. I had one friend last year and he lived about a mile away. I never see him anymore. I don’t know where he is.

I go to the movies or the mall every weekend. I get an allowance of $10 a week, which isn’t that bad. I have a few designer clothes, but not a lot. For my birthday I want a new phone or laptop. I do chores around the house like taking out the trash and keeping my room clean. My life isn’t too difficult.

Every weekend my mom works all day. She gets home late at night, so my siblings and I are usually asleep when she gets back. I work on Fridays from noon to 10 p.m. at the local convenient store. I’m scared to go to work. I don’t want to. I’m only 14, but I need to work to support my family. My birthday is in a few weeks, but is doesn’t matter. All I want is for my mom and siblings to be happy and safe.

I have softball every Monday and Wednesday. I play pitcher, and I worked really hard to get here. Gymnastics is every day. I have meets on the weekends. I’ve been doing gymnastics since I was 2. I’m in drama club, and our production coming up soon.

I have barely any free time, but every once in a while I have a few free hours. I walk across the street to our neighborhood dance studio. My mom can’t pay for classes, so I teach. I love to dance. It’s the only way to express myself these days. I see God when I dance. He’s right next to me. He touches my shoulder. He gives me strength to get through the next few days.

I’ve been bullied a few times, and it’s mostly in school. It bothers me when I drop my books and people just walk by like it’s none of their business.

I get bullied at school, on the street, at work, and even at home. I used to get mad at people for not giving me a second look, but I guess that my complaining won’t change anything.

This weekend I’m going to the soup kitchen for service hours. I’m excited because I’ve never really interacted with those less fortunate than me. This will be an experience that I will enjoy.

My mom told me today that we have to start going to the “free food” restaurants as she calls them. I know she only says that because she doesn’t want to scare my brothers and sisters, but it’s all the same to me. I’m nervous because I think that people will see me as weak or desperate.

Today I was at the soup kitchen.

This morning I walked into the “free food” restaurant.

I saw a boy. He was surrounded by a group of boys that were older than him. They took his sandwich and ripped it apart.  They took his hot chocolate and threw it at him.

I was being pushed around a bit.

It couldn’t go on. Not with the look on that boys face. Not with the pain and helplessness that filled his eyes.

I saw a girl walk toward the boys that were taking my food.

            I took away the trays from them. I told them to stop. I admit it, I was shaking. I didn’t know how they would respond.

            I don’t know if it was the apron she wore or the narrowed eyes, but the boys ran away.

            They ran out the door. They didn’t fight.

No blood or anything.

And it only took one. One word. One action. One idea. One person. To change his world.

And it only took one. One word. One action. One idea. One person. To change my world.



Clarice Keating
Of the Catholic Sentinel

A St. Clare School eighth-grader won both grand prizes in the Sala Kryszek Art & Writing competition.

Zoe Fanning will be honored by the Oregon Holocaust Resource Center during a ceremony and luncheon at 11 a.m., Sunday, May 6, at the Multnomah Athletic Club.
Sala Kryszek was a Holocaust survivor from Poland who immigrated to Oregon after World War II and made her home in Portland until her death in 1986.  Her family, together with the OHRC, created this competition in her memory. The objectives of the competition are to encourage today’s youth to evaluate history, foster an awareness of the Holocaust, broaden their minds in the areas of art, history, civics, sociology, and literature and to connect the Holocaust to events in today’s world.

This year’s contest theme was “Courage to Act.” Students were prompted with the story of Irina Gut Opdyke, a young Polish Catholic nurse who risked her life to rescue 12 Jews from the ghetto who were scheduled for deportation to a death camp.

“Not all ‘rescuers’ were in a position to help in this extraordinary way, but others were able to show their humanity in more ordinary ways,” said the application. “Soldiers turned their backs so young mothers could escape; farmers quietly left extra potatoes or milk on the doorsteps of houses where Jews were hidden; German officials quietly alerted Jewish friends or acquaintances that they would soon be arrested.”  

Students were encouraged to think about how ordinary people overcome their fear of punishment or reprisal and find the courage to risk their own safety to help others.

When Zoe heard about the competitions, she new she wanted to enter for the opportunity to express her feelings about discrimination, violence and bullying.

“I wanted to portray a message of courage. I hoped that people who would see and read the pieces would understand what it was that was wrong in their communities, and that they would try to change it for the better,” Zoe said. “All of these things led me forward, but what inspired me the most was story of the Holocaust. I hoped that through my art and writing pieces, I could capture a little glimpse of what the world would be like when people choose to stand up and be courageous.”

Zoe’s written entry, “Courage,” is a heart-wrenching piece that contrasts the life of a well-cared for little girl with perfect grades, loving parents and an easy life with the life of another child who gets bullied, who eats at the soup kitchen, who misses school to help his single mother care for his siblings.  In the conclusion, the two children’s paths converge.

“And it only took one. One word. One action. One idea. One person. To change his world,” says the girl in Zoe’s narrative, followed by the boy’s response. “And it only took one. One word. One action. One idea. One person. To change my world.”

Zoe’s art entry is a graphic design piece that visually displays the struggle for bystanders between action and silence. It shows a quote from Elie Weisel, “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

Other winners from Catholic schools were: Cav Lefor, St. Clare, first prize, middle school art; Isabel Trily, St. Clare, second prize, middle school art; Lauren Covell, St. Clare, third prize, middle school art; Margot Flynn, St. Ignatius School, honorable mention, middle school art; Christine Trinh, De La Salle North Catholic High, third prize, high school writing; Blaise Johnson-Stevens, St. Clare, first prize, middle school writing; and Miriam Barnes, St. Ignatius, third prize, middle school writing.

Tickets to the luncheon are $15 and can be purchased online at www.ohrconline.org. RSVP by April 27 to 503-245-2733 or [email protected]
To read Zoe Fanning’s award-winning story, log on to www.catholicsentinel.org.

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