Thankful Thursday – Jar of Awesome

I want to start a jar of awesome, where you write down something great that happens to you on a little scrap of paper and then store it into a jar. Then at year’s end, you read all those scraps of paper and remember how awesome your year has been. I am in love with this concept and a little worried about it. My problem is I have a terrible memory, and I often don’t remember details by day’s end. Even if I write them down when I think about it, somehow those little scraps of paper will get lost before they ever reach the jar. And I might misplace the jar somehow, or maybe it will break, or if I move again, it might get lost to adventure in the land of lost things. Because if I were a jar of awesome, I would rather go off and have glorious adventures than sit dully on the shelf.

But I think it’s worth it, to document those little joys, those small moments that make you deeply happy. Like when you read something that changes the way you think about the world. Or watch a show that makes you laugh and cry and laugh and cry. Or hear a phrase, a song, a sound bite so stunning, so beautiful, so thrilling that makes you stop and drop everything you are doing and just be.

Sometimes I focus too much on the big picture when the reality is, life is the sum of small moments. I’m hoping my jar of awesome will help me remember to embrace life with gratitude.

About My Current Blog Series

Crossing Cultural Borders, a weekly blog series exploring multicultural children's literature from the United StatesWelcome to the blog of Emily Jiang.  This post will always remain on top, so to read my latest posts, scroll down.  My main weekly blog series, in collaboration with Renee Ting, is Crossing Cultural Borders, which focuses on looking at trends and issues in multicultural children’s literature published in the United States.  The books selected for this series are traditionally published, narrative-driven, and realistic in setting.  On Monday (aka Multicultural Monday) I will post a new article devoted to Crossing Cultural Borders and update this page below to link directly to the posting. All other days are for other thoughts, i.e., Thankful Thursdays.

Thank you for your interest and Happy Reading!

Writing Crossing Cultural Borders – An Introduction

1)  Stranger in a Strange Land: Americans Traveling to Other Cultures
1a) American Girls Educated Abroad
1b) American Boys Abroad


1c) American Teens Touring Europe


Crossing Cultural Borders – American Boys Abroad

Crossing Cultural Borders, a weekly blog series exploring multicultural children's literature from the United StatesAll the boarding school narratives discussed here on Crossing Cultural Borders feature girl protagonists.  While boys also attend international boarding schools in real life, apparently they do not in fiction.   But yes, American boys travel in books, too, though their experiences abroad prove to be more externally conflict-driven than the boarding school adventures of American girls.  Here are a few travel narratives featuring young male protagonists.

In Danger Zone by David Klass, Jimmy Doyle loves basketball.  When he joins the “Teen Dream Team” that will be representing the United States in an international basketball tournament in Rome, he is one of the few white players on a predominantly black team.  As he travels with his teammates to Italy, Jimmy learns about prejudice, racism, and politics.

In Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers, seventeen-year-old Richie Perry, a high school graduate from Harlem, enlists in the Army in the summer of 1967 and must fight the war in Vietnam, where he experiences first-hand the terrors of battle and the American racism towards the Vietnamese soldiers and American black soldiers.

Another conflict-driven narrative is featured in The Flame Tree by Richard Lewis.  American missionary boy Isaac lives in Indonesia in 2001.  After the attacks of September 11, 2001, his family decides to send him back to the United States.  But before he can leave Indonesia, Isaac is kidnapped by fundamentalist Muslims, who try to indoctrinate him.  Warning: some graphic violent descriptions near the end.

Finally, a book that is over 100 years old, Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  Half-American, half-British Cedric must travel to Britain, where he learns how to be a lord from his paternal grandfather.


All these young men leave home with a clear job to perform while abroad: basketball player, soldier, missionary, lord-in-training.  So while they are not receiving formal education at a boarding school, their experiences abroad are still educational, though typically of a more violent nature.  It’s especially notable that the boys’ informal educations occur when they must deal with conflicts between their American culture and the culture in which they currently are visiting, whether it be the overt conflict of war or a more metaphorical but still competitive context of sports.

Special thanks to Claudia Pearson for helping with the list!

Next post:  American Teens Touring Europe