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year's essay contest.
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 for youth,
to see their 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)
As an American-born Chinese, I grew up with the ancient famous Chinese story of "Mulan," which is about a brave girl who disguised herself as a man so that she could take her old, ill father's place in the army to defend the country. Not only have I been impressed with her courage and determination, but also her devotion to the family and the country.
To me, the real spirit of Mulan is not that she dares to reject the womanhood in a tradition-bound society to prove herself in battle, but that she simply attempts to honor her family the best way she can. After fighting bravely for more than ten years, Mulan was promoted to General. however, she refused to enjoy the royal salary for the rest of her life, but instead returned to take care of her old parents.
In Chinese culture, there is always one very basic but important virture that we learn, which is the filial respect for our parents. This teaches us not only how to relate vertically to our parents, but also love others with broad and selfless love. It is believed that with this firm foundation and root of love for the family, people will also function well in society.
However, in Western culture, people tend to emphasize more on independence rather than family structure, and under peer pressure, we see that children who don't have a good relationship with their parents also infulence others to reject his/her parents as well. This is very sad, because 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.
Bravery is to do something for the sake of others, doing something daring. Mulan was very brave because she disguised as a man to be in the army because girls were not allowed in the army at that time. She helped her father because he would die if he went.
I think boys and girls have strength and bravery. And this movie shows that.
Yoann Cifuentes, age 7 (Moreno Valley, CA)More essays