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The legend of Mulan has been passed down from generation to generation and dynasty to dynasty in Asia. From her tomb near Loyang in China, her story has spread for over a thousand years through oral tradition, poems and books. What is the spirit of Mulan that has allowed this young ladyís memory to survive for so long in China? And what special characteristics has capture the imagination of a world wide moving-going audience?
Victory Press sponsored a nation-wide essay contest during Chinese
New Year of 1999, to see youths views on this historical heroine.
Grand Prize Winner
Age 13 -15 age category
Age 10 - 12 age category
Age 7 - 9 age category
The Spirit of Mu Lan
The spirit of a person is what makes one special and unique. It is when oneís spirit burns brightly and cannot be put out by the darkness of life, that the true spirit of a person stands out. Mulanís spirit represents that flame.
Humility, ingenuity, perseverance and honesty are some of the many abilities that describe the spirit of Mulan and the way she lived her life. Deep down, Mulan also had courage, a courage found inside oneís self. When faced with a tough decision, Mulan took the side she felt was right; the side that involved more risks and that was foreign to her simple lifestyle as a young Chinese woman. She sacrificed her life and security, and took her fatherís place in the Chinese army.
Several situations came up soon after Mulan made her decision. These situations could either be looked at in a positive or negative way. Mulan, possessing a flaming spirit, had a positive attitude towards the circumstances. She had to preserve to maintain the honor of her family. Obstacles came hard and fast upon Mulan. She could have given up many times, but she cleared the hurdles gracefully because of her positive mindset. By combining her courage with ingenuity, the Chinese achieved victory. Mulan, true to her nature, showed humility rather than boasting.
Mulanís story does not end here. The same flaming spirit is ablaze in many people today. It is seen in those willing to live each day as if it was their last. They live not for themselves, but for others.
My grandma was one of these people. She, too, was Chinese. Her mother died when she was three. Soon after, her father sent her and her siblings from her home in South Africa to China to learn the Chinese culture. While they were there, the Japanese took over China, bombing as they came. In all the chaos of war, a young child, about sixteen months old, was left along and crying. As Mulan would have done, my grandma risked her life and stayed with him until his mother came.
Later, my grandma married a Chinese American and moved to America with him. Obstacles came up in America. Grandma faced all the challenges life threw at her and with her positive spirit, turned them into gems. Although Grandma was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer later in life, she remained strong in heart, mind and soul, even as her suffering increased. Her cheerfulness and joy were contagious.
Throughout her life, Grandma had faced many hardships, obstacles and
pain. Like Mulan, Grandma had a positive, humble and persevering
spirit. She used her courage and ingenuity to help others. Both
changed negatives into beautiful jewels. Their spiritsí flames did
not grow dim. They lit otherís flames during their lifetimes and now
others are glowing brightly and more radiantly than before. Mulanís
spirit, the flame, still burns brightly as it is being passed on
when one spirit lights another.
Marcia McGuire, age 13 (Chino, CA)
The spirit of Mulan that lies dormant in all of us can only be inhibited by our own pre-conceived and false ideas of what a woman can and cannot do, or what a woman should and should not do. We need to overcome these false barriers and open our minds and hearts and allow the spirit of Mulan that lies in all of us, to express itself with all its might.
The example Mulan teaches us that one can do anything that one sets their mind to do. All it requires is to believe in oneself.
Nicky Eisa, age 13 (San Antonio, TX)
I believe that the love that Mulan gives to her parents is stemming from the love that all parents give their children. I also believe that if the concept of filial piety, which is the true spirit that Mulan demonstrates, can be widely accepted and promoted today, it will cause more peace and harmony in society.
Austin Chu, age 10 (Saratoga, CA)
If I were to play with a girl, I would like to play with someone like Mulan, not like Sleeping Beauty. Most people think that being strong is having muscles, but it isnít only that. Strength is also using your mind and having will. Muscles and weapons donít help if you donít use your mind. Strength is a combination of will, mind and muscles.
Yoann Cifuentes, age 7 (Moreno Valley, CA)My Mom and Dad always say that I should stand up for what is right, even if I am standing alone. Mulan knew that she was younger and stronger than her father, so she should be the one fighting, not her father. Even though everyone said that girls shouldnít be training and fighting, Mulan did what she felt was right.
Jessica Egre, age 7 (Williston Palle, NY)
Mulan's spirit drove her to try and save her fatherís life. He was vary weak and she knew he couldnít fight the Huns. So she decided to take her fatherís sword and clothes and tried to pass herself of as a man. She believed doing so she would make a difference for her family and China.
While Mulan was trying to be a soldier, she was beaten. But through everything, she learned to be true to her heart and how to be a good soldier and to keep trying. No matter what.
When I was in karate, I had to spar with other kids. I got socked in the stomache. I hurt really bad and I even cried. But I tryed my best and I went back and fought again. I never gave up either. Mulan went on to fight the Huns and won. Even though there were lots of things in her way, she kept trying. She taught everyone what pride, love and spirit is all about.
Derrick Morris, 8 (Salinas, CA)