Franklin Middle School Student is Tops in National Poetry Contest

A student’s experience growing up in a refugee camp placed her in the top of a national poetry contest. Thirteen year-old Kang Boa Vang, a 7th grader at Franklin Middle School documented her experiences from the Wat Tham Krabok refugee camp in Thailand in a 30 line poem. Vang ended up one of nine winners in the What Kids Can Do “Where I’m From” Writing Contest, competing against 1,200 other middle and high school students from around the country, including Vang’s classmates. In addition to the national recognition, Vang receives a $100 gift certificate from

The project was part of Connie Rueckert’s English as a Second Language (ESL) Language Arts class at Franklin Middle School. Vang arrived from Thailand five years ago, and was part of the New Comer program at Howe Elementary School to accommodate the influx of Hmong refugees from the camp in 2005. Vang’s winning poem is below.

Hmong Memories

I am from a bath from rain,
From the dirt, and carts driving to go get water.
I am from the cart that takes people places.
From the smell of poop everywhere.

I am from the taste of a piece of watermelon
That I always carried with me
To go play with my friends,
From a place where there are monks’ statues,
Where people go to find bamboo to sell.
I am from the ghost stories from my grandma.

I am from the fruit I always ate, called frog fruit.
It smells so sweet that whenever you smell it you just want to eat it.
As bumpy as a frog’s back, and looks dark green.
I am from the papaya salad that smells bad
But tastes really good.
 When you try some you won’t stop eating it,
Or you will want more, except it’s a little spicy.
I am from the boiling pumpkin in the pot
On the stove and still needs to be eaten
By me and my family.

I am from the games I play.
Hopscotch, hit the can, the fried chicken game.
It goes, “Whose mom is rich to buy fried chicken
To whom to eat, that person has a lot of gas.”
We play Grandma and Grandpa (playing house).
I am from a game for girls drawing on dirt.
I love this game,
It’s something like a race.

I am from all of these good memories.
It makes me want to go back.

    • Jolene Griggs
    • January 3rd, 2011

    Can we add the “What Kids Can Do” International Photo Contest winner from Aldo Leopold School, as well?

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