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In “Where Are You From?”, a Marguerita Elementary Student Faces Tough Questions On His First Day of School

  • Jiantao Yu is the 2nd Place Winner in the 6th-8th grade category of the Alhambra Source Storytelling Competition. He is a 7th grader at Marguerita Elementary. Photo by Helen Arase.

  • Yu prepared for tough questions on his first day at a new school. Photo by Qiuhao Xu.

  • Jiantao Yu looks the Alhambra Source Anthology which was one of the prizes for winning entries in the storytelling competition. Other prizes were an Amazon gift card, a Fosselman's banana split voucher and publication of the winning entries on Alhambra Source.

  • The Alhambra Source is a collection of top stories, photography and art that have been published and submitted to the website.

  • Una Ibranan is the 1st Place Winner in the K-2nd grade category of the Alhambra Source Storytelling Competition. She is a 2nd grader at Park Elementary. All photos by Helen Arase.

  • Alisa Sabajon is the 2nd Place Winner in the K-2nd grade category of the Alhambra Source Storytelling Competition. She is a 2nd grader at Marguerita Elementary School. All photos by Helen Arase.

  • Emily Obregon is the 1st Place Winner in the 3rd-5th grade category of the Alhambra Source Storytelling Competition. She is a 5th grader at Park Elementary School. All photos by Helen Arase.

  • Cassidy Chew is the 2nd Place Winner in the 3rd-5th grade category of the Alhambra Source Storytelling Competition. She is a 3rd grader at Monterey Highlands Elementary. Photos by Helen Arase.

  • Allison Gonzalez is the 1st Place Winner in the 6th-8th grade category of the Alhambra Source Storytelling Competition. She is a 8th grader at Garfield Elementary. Photos by Helen Arase.

  • The winners of the Alhambra Source Storytelling Competition. (L-R) Top row: Emily Obregon, Una Ibranan, and Cassidy Chew. (L-R) Botton row: Jiantao Yu and Allison Gonzalez. Alisa Sambajon was unable to attend.


Alhambra , CA United States

The Alhambra Source Storytelling Competition was born from the idea that seeing the world from the eyes of young people can be an enlightening experience for all. We offered a competition for AUSD Elementary School students in three categories, K-2nd Grade, 3rd-5th Grade and 6th-8th Grade. We have been publishing the winning entries from our Storytelling Competition  each Thursday for the past five weeks. This week we publish our final winning story written by 7th grader Jiantao Yu. His story is “Where Are You From?” Jiantao, who attends Marguerita Elementary School, is the 2nd Place Winner in the 6th-8th Grade level. Jiantao’s story completes our list of winners.

The names of the winners and links to their stories may be found at the bottom of Jiantao’s story.

Interested in participating in future writing competitions? Sign up for updates and be the first to know!

“Where Are You From?”

By Jiantao Yu

I ran back and forth checking if my backpack had all the supplies I needed in it, it had just been a day after we moved to Alhambra and I already had to go to school. I was really nervous. Was I going to make friends? Are the people mean? I had so many questions. I eventually got ready and got into the car. It felt like the rise on a rollercoaster before it falls really fast. We finally arrived at Marguerita Elementary after what seemed like ages. I walked the excruciatingly long distance from the school door to the 5th grade line for my class, and got ready for all the questions like  “Oh my god can you speak English?” or “Where are you from?” Everyone crowded around me like I was an attraction at an amusement park. It was then that I embarrassed myself by saying “apparatus”, which is what they called it in my old school and not “playground.” I went to play tag on the playground with a few kids that invited me, which I would go on the learn that they were troublemakers. I played for a while before the bell rang, and the teacher, Mrs. Lam, led us into the classroom.

The classroom was clean and tidy, and I sat at a table of four. Mrs. Lam made an announcement that since I am new, everyone had to be nice to me and it was really embarrassing to be put in the spotlight like that. Mrs. Lam told me about the classroom, the library they had and the class point reward system. The class went on and I was trying hard to remember all the classmate’s names. After a few periods, it was recess, and I decided to go meet some people. I first went to the playground and the girl who greeted me in the morning came to talk to me. I found out her name was Julia and she helped me find out what was going on. I went and met some of her friends, and they were very nice. We played on the slides, which I couldn’t do in my old school, and I lost track of time until the bell eventually rang. I quickly ran to my line, and nearly lined up in the wrong one before Julia told me. I quickly and awkwardly walked to the right line and turned red as a strawberry.

The group went back to the classroom and more time passed. The lunch bell rang after what seemed like forever and I finally got to go to lunch. I then learned that you have to wait for a really long time to be released by the noon duties there. I waited and waited, until they finally let us go play. I ran to the swings as fast as possible, as they were taken before. Julia joined me when I was swinging and we chatted more. We stopped swinging after a while and went to play tag instead. I played with her friends and she was it, it was a lot of fun, until we had to line up again. I rushed to the line, but didn’t go in the wrong one this time.

We arrived at the classroom one final time for the day, and had our last period. It ended very soon and it was time to go home. It took a while to find my mom outside the gates and she had trouble finding me too. We found each other and I couldn’t wait to tell her all about the school. But I waited until later.

Did you miss the other Storytelling Competition stories? Read them here:

K-2nd Grade:

1) Una Ibranan, Park Elementary

2) Alisa Sambajon, Marguerita Elementary

3rd-5th Grade:

1) Emily Obregon, Park Elementary

2) Cassidy Chew, Monterey Highlands Elementary

6th-8th Grade:

1) Allison Gonzalez, Garfield Elementary

The Alhambra Source encourages comment on our stories. However, we do not vet comments for accuracy or endorse links to posts in the comment section. The thoughts and opinions expressed belong solely to the author of the comment.

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