This morning, we woke up early to take a balloon ride across the Valley of Kings and Queens. The blazing flames lifted the balloon up into the air, and we soared in through the sunrise. It was a memorable experience. We lowered to the ground and headed to the tombs we saw from the air.
The Valley of the Kings is known as Biban el-Muluk (meaning doorway or gateway of the kings). All the tombs are hidden from sight by the hills and mountains surrounding them. The total complex contains 62 tombs from nobles and kings. We saw the massive underground tombs of Rameses IV, Rameses IX, and Merneptah. All the tombs were put together so beautifully and intricately. Afterwards, we watched the Alabaster carvers in action in an alabaster factory where we bought an alabaster pyramid.
After a short drive, we reached the Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, which is located beneath the cliffs at Deir el Bahari. The mortuary temple is dedicated to the sun god Amon-Ra and is located next to the mortuary temple of Mentuhotep II. Here we learned how she married her brother, Thutmose II, and then killed him, just to become a pharaoh and rule Egypt. She even dressed like a man for people to accept her as pharaoh!
We came back to our hotel and ate fish fry and chicken curry at a delicious local restaurant called Nile Flowers. Then we took the ferry to the bazaar (marketplace). We bought lot of souvenirs and gifts for my friends. The lights suddenly started flickering and everything suddenly turned black. It was pitch black all around us and we were really scared. We slowly walked out of the bazaar and walked towards the area with power. We took the ferry back to our hotel.
My friends are talking about the 2012 winter
break and what Christmas presents they are looking forward to finding under
their tree. I cannot hold my excitement
as I share that I am looking forward to a dream vacation to Egypt!
The next day as we are driving to school on a cold December morning, we hear about the violent clashes in Egypt on NPR. As days go by, there are more reports of demonstrations and protests. The trip we have been planning for months might be in jeopardy. We watch every report about Egypt on CNN. After numerous calls to the State Department, we are assured that there is no travel advisory to Egypt. They advise us to be careful of where we travel and avoid the areas of protests. With mixed emotions we pack our bags and get ready for our trip.
December 22, 2012
After a long flight from New York connecting through Rome, we arrive in Cairo. Our hotel service takes us quickly through immigration and visa to the van waiting outside. I tried to absorb as much as I can looking out of the window until we reach our hotel. Our van driver assures us that everything is quiet in Cairo now. We go to bed early to get some rest before our Egyptian adventure starts the next day!
Dr. Jane Goodall's name was still fresh in my mind when I first got an email from my editor asking if I would be available for an interview. Just one week before, Dr. Goodall had been the subject of a class conversation.
My classmates and I were to complete an essay discussing the scientific achievements men and women have made in society. Dr. Goodall was one of the scientists we were required to research and discuss.
When I got the message of an opportunity to interview Dr. Goodall, I knew it would be a chance of a lifetime.
The weekend before my interview, my teacher let me borrow a copy of Dr. Goodall's book, Reason for Hope. I hoped to learn more about her life to better prepare myself to speak to her.
The day before the interview, I prepared the camera, microphone, press pad, questions, tape recorder, and laptop. My interview was in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, about three hours from my home near Detroit.
The next morning, I met with Dr. Goodall in her hotel lobby. Accompanied with her scheduler and her toy monkey, Mr. H, she greeted me as other hotel guests and employees looked on, surprised to see such a famous face. After taking a good look at the lobby, Dr. Goodall politely requested that we go up to her hotel room.
During the elevator ride, I asked Dr. Goodall how she felt to be in Michigan. She expressed concern of the farms she saw on her car ride to the hotel, claiming that most of the farms likely used pesticides. It proved her dedication to the environment.
I set up the camera and microphone and ran a quick audio check. Dr. Goodall waited patiently, placing Mr. H on her bed.
Mr. H is treated like royalty around Dr. Goodall. He was a gift from Gary Haun, a blind magician who lost his sight in the U.S. Marines. When Haun thought he was giving Goodall a chimp, she handed him the tail.
Since then, Mr. H has been to 53 countries and has been touched by more than 2.5 million people.
I could tell Goodall was passionate by the way she spoke. Her tranquil yet powerful voice proved that she was speaking from her heart.
At the end of the interview, Dr. Goodall offered some advice.
"You guys who do the news, who talk to people, you have a huge responsibility and a vast influence, so you use it wisely."
Watch the rest of my interview with Dr. Jane Goodall on the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps website.
Photo: Kid Reporter Charlie Kadado with Dr. Jane Goodall and Mr. H after their interview in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. (Courtesy Charlie Kadado)
For most teens who live in London, the words “Royal Wedding” mean two days off from school. For the rest of the world, the marriage of His Royal Highness Prince William and Miss Catherine "Kate" Middleton means hours of media coverage and an inside look at the British monarchy.
Since I was spending spring break in London this year, I decided to see what kids there think about all the pomp and ceremony, as well as the two-day holiday!
I met my friend Harlan from summer camp right outside Westminster Abbey where the couple will be wed on Friday, April 29. I spoke to a few people in the neighborhood about preparing for the wedding, which will parade through the streets of London to the Abbey.
“Most of my friends at the Highgate Wood School Arts College are looking forward to the day off school,” said Laura F., 14. “But they’re are also excited to see Kate’s wedding dress.”
The dress and the honeymoon destination are well kept secrets that have royal watchers abuzz with speculation. It is the talk of the school, she told me.
I asked a few kids on the street what it means to marry a prince. Most agreed: you need a good princess gown.
“Kate is well known for being on ‘best-dressed’ lists in magazines or on TV,” said Rosie B. from Cambridge, United Kingdom (UK). “And she’s been followed by fashionistas all over the shopping beats of London. The interesting thing about Kate is that she’s shopping in Harrods and H&M all at the same time!”
Harrods and H&M are well-known department stores in London. Unlike common expectations of royal behavior, Kate, who is not of royal blood, shops off the rack just like you and I! Her status as a commoner-turned-princess is what many of England’s everyday citizens like best about this young woman who could be Queen.
All the teens I spoke with agree that Kate’s wedding gown is sure to be stunning. They also seemed to know all the inside scoop about it—everything that is except what it looks like.
“The royal staff even has a duplicate dress ready in the case of emergency," Laura said. "That’s pretty cool.”
After her wedding, Kate’s simple life of hanging out with friends and working in her family business is likely to get pretty complicated. For one thing, she’ll probably have a new title—Princess Catherine. And people will bow and curtsy when they meet her. She won’t see her husband very much either—at least at first. He serves full time in the Royal Air Force.
As a princess she will need to pick some favorite charities and spend a lot of time helping them with fundraising. Kids in London have some pretty specific ideas about what she should do in that area.
“She’ll be bombarded with charities wanting her endorsement,” says Rose B., 17, of Cambridgeshire. “I hope she picks something important for kids like helping children with autism or cancer. Many of my friends also want her to pick specific charities like preventing animal abuse or helping teenagers with depression.”
PHOTOS: (TOP) A young girl waits to see Britain's Prince William and Kate Middleton arrive at the Darwen Aldridge Community Academy (DACA), in Darwen, northern England April 11, 2011. Prince William and his fiancee were there to officially open the Acadamy. (PHOTO : Phil Noble/Reuters)
(BOTTOM) A woman holds a tea bag with the portrait of Kate Middleton.Britain's Prince William is on the tea bag in the background. (PHOTO: MARCUS BRANDT/AFP/Getty Images/NewsCo)
On a recent trip to Costa Rica to visit family, I experienced the sensation of zipping through a rain forest high up in the trees on a zip line.
To ride a zip line, you have to first get into a harness. You also have to wear a helmet. Next, they put you on a blue truck and drive you up to the top of a mountain. It is a bumpy ride.
After you get to the top, a guide tells you all the instructions you will need to know to ride the zip line safely. That’s where I began to feel sick and regret I even agreed to come here.
"Are you ready?” asked the guide.
"No," I replied.
They hooked me up to the cable and off I went!
Surprisingly, I didn't scream. At least not the first time. The second time was different.
On my second zip through the trees, I started spinning around in circles. My helmet scraped against the wire making a bone-chilling sound. That’s when the screaming started.
When I finally reached the destination tree, I asked the guide how many more zip lines I had to go on. When he replied NINE, I looked at him like he was crazy! Now, I really started to feel sick!
One other scary time was when we came to a tree and it started swaying and creaking. I desperately hung on to my mom for support.
Then, someone spotted two Scarlet Macaws, which are birds that live in Costa Rica. We all stopped and stared, forgetting about the zip line. Soon, the swaying and creaking snapped me back to reality.
When I finally got on the zip line to get to the last tree, I had never been so happy to leave one place in my entire life! After we got to the bottom again we took off our helmets and harnesses and looked at the pictures a photographer took while we were zipping.
Everyone’s pictures looked fine except for mine. Mine looked like I was about to cry. That’s when we all had a good laugh—including me!
PHOTOS: (TOP) Abby takes off! (BOTTOM) Kid Reporter Abby Gerber in between zips! (Photos Courtesy Abby Gerber)
Kid Reporter talks to her grandparents and uncle after earthquake.
“I haven’t slept well since Friday, but I am grateful that everyone in my family is fine and I have a roof over my head,” my 74-year-old grandmother told me by phone this week. She lives in Yokohama, Japan. “I can’t bear to watch the television; devastation in northeastern Japan is unimaginable. So many people just washed away by the tsunami. My heart bleeds for them and their families.”
Yokohama and the nation’s capital of Tokyo are in the Kantou area, which now has scheduled blackouts to conserve energy. In the Yokohama area where my family lives, their scheduled blackout means four to five hours without electricity each day.
Subways and trains in Tokyo and Yokohama are affected by the blackout. Many lines have been suspended. As a result, my uncle now spends two to three hours each way to get to and from work. My aunt spends two hours walking to work every day.
“It is nothing, compared to what is going on at the Fukushima nuclear plant and the disaster area,” my uncle Masa told me. “I am very afraid of what is going to happen next.”
Uncle Massa has prepared “go bags” for his family, complete with energy bars, water, and passports.
There is a lot of confusion and uncertainty for residents in Kantou area. Gas stations have long lines at the pumps. Foods and daily products in supermarkets are scarce. The fear of radiation is spreading very fast after a leak was detected in Tokyo, 150 miles (240 kilometers) to the south from the Fukushima power plant. The discovery triggered a food, water, and gasoline buying panic.
“I try very hard to keep my children to feel safe and stay positive,” Uncle Massa said. “I am aware of the danger of the power plant, but at this point, but there is nothing I can do to change it. I try to bring them back to normal.”
My two cousins, who are ages 10 and 5, have been back in school since Monday, March 14. My grandfather Shujiro told me that as he felt an aftershock, “Everything will be okay, there are people working very hard. They are a godsend.”
PHOTO: Instant noodles have disappeared from supermarkets in Japan. (Photo by
Masa Ikeda, Yokohama, Japan)
Language class in Ann Arbor sending messages of hope to kids in Japan.
I’ve been taking Japanese as my language class for a year now at Emerson School in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and I really enjoy it! My Japanese teacher Kayo Nakamura has given me such a wonderful opportunity this year to learn and appreciate all-things-Japanese.
Ann Arbor has a large Japanese community. I recently attended a Japanese cultural celebration at the University of Michigan so I could learn about the Japanese culture along with the language. The last celebration I attended was Oshogastu, which celebrates the Japanese New Year. I had the chance to pound sticky rice (mochi) with a wooden mallet (kine) in a bowl (usu).
When the earthquake hit, my teacher told us how bad the earthquake and tsunami had affected Japan. Her family lives in the southern part of the country. The earthquake hit in the northeastern part.
Radiation has been leaking from nuclear reactors at one of the main power plants. Kayo told her mother not to go outside in the rain because it might contain radiation. Many people from the Tokyo area were told to evacuate.
I saw the YouTube videos of the tsunami sweeping across the country leaving a trail of destruction. Cars and houses were tossed around like miniature toys. Many people in Japan are bracing for earthquake after-shocks, some of which have registered over 6.0 magnitude. The original earthquake was a 9.0.
Emerson school just announced two ways that students can pitch in to help the victims of the earthquake and tsunami. First, we can bring in our own money to donate to the American Red Cross. Second, we are writing letters of support to schoolchildren in the Sendai area.
Ms. Nakamura showed us how to write HOPE in Japanese: 希望.
Now, my class is writing cards filled with hope to send to the kids in Sendai, one of the areas hardest hit by the earthquake. A Deputy Consul General to the Japanese Government will hand deliver our letters, notes, and cards upon her return to Japan.
I’m hoping that these letters will lift spirits by showing the Japanese people that schoolchildren from across the globe are thinking of them.
PHOTO: Kid Reporter Molly Pribble with her Japanese teacher Kayo Nakamura in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo Courtesy Molly Pribbble)
Soccer begins with some friendly matches and interviews!
My dad and I drove four a half hours to the game in East Rutherford, New Jersey, home of the New Meadowlands Stadium. After watching the exciting game that ended in a 1-1 tie, I walked to the "mixed zone," an area for the press, and excitedly waited for U.S. players to walk through for interviews.
The first player, goalkeeper Tim Howard, informed me of his personal goals for the coming year.
“I want to just try to continue to play consistently and definitely without question win the Gold Cup,” he said. “That’s a huge thing for us.”
The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Gold Cup is an international tournament in the summer that features countries in the CONCACAF region (USA, Mexico, Honduras, etc.).
Then I spotted Juan Agudelo! A security guard pointed at me and told Agudelo, “One more question with him and then we have to go.” Even so, Juan patiently answered three of my questions.
I first asked how he balances his career with his education.
“Every time I’m in the hotel, my mom always tries to get me to do my online work,” he says. “Education’s very important, you know?”
Agudelo had some great advice for kids who dream of playing pro soccer someday.
“Work hard,” he said. “If you really want it, you can tell that you want it. Everyday you’re going to play and dribble with a ball, no matter what.”
Lastly, the teen striker commented on how the U.S. veterans have helped him develop as a player.
“I just try to copy and learn off of them,” he said. “It’s amazing how professional they are.”
As soon as I finished speaking with Agudelo, the team representative helping me get my interviews, offered to bring Landon Donovan over to me. Of course I accepted! Donavan is a legend. My first reaction was, “Wow! I’m a 14-year-old kid, and Landon Donovan is walking over to speak with ME?!” I then pulled it together, to ask my questions.
Landon first discussed his decision to become a professional soccer player.
“I always said it as a kid, but there was no meaning behind it because there was no professional league here,” he said. “As I got older, probably 15 or 16, right when Major League Soccer started, I started growing into my body, playing well at that, and thinking that maybe this is possible.”
The U.S. soccer icon also expressed his feelings toward being a role model to American youths.
“It’s something I’ve learned to take very seriously, because when you’re young, you don’t think about these things,” he said. “The reality is that a lot of people are looking up to you. I try to make sure that I conduct myself the right way and that I’m someone people want to emulate. That’s in the back of my conscience all the time.”
Landon also had some superb advice for those wanting to play professional soccer.
“Have fun,” he said. “Anything that you enjoy to that extent, you’re going to be good at, right? If you want to be successful and you enjoy it, play as much as you can. There’s time for tactics and fitness and weight lifting, but all that can come later. Have fun, use the ball as a tool as much as you can, and enjoy it.”
PHOTO: Soccer forward Juan Agudelo,18, is a rising star on the U.S National Men's Team. He stopped to talk to Scholastic News Kid Reporter Kevin Agostinelli after the international friendly between the U.S. and Argentina on March 26 in New Jersey. (Photo Courtesy Kevin Agostinelli)
Kids from both cultures get together to set the stage for Presidential visit.
The Blair House is the official guesthouse for the White House, which is just across the street. It is actually four connected houses with 120 rooms and 35 bathrooms—much bigger than the White House!
“Only prime ministers, presidents, kings, and queens stay here,” explained Capricia Marshall, U.S. Chief of Protocol. Marshall hosted A Taste of China, an event at Blair House, that brought kids from the Chinese Embassy and a local D.C. school together to mingle, cook, and learn from each other.
In 1979, after full diplomatic relations between U.S. and China were established, then-Vice-Premier Deng Xiaoping stayed at Blair House. Hearing this anecdote, I was wondering if he could have imagined that 32 years later, kids from both cultures would talk so freely with one another in this house.
Currently, Chinese President Hu Jintao is staying at Blair House. Before he arrived, however, I got to participate in A Taste of China.
At first, I was still a little nervous, especially as I worked on pronouncing my questions correctly in Chinese. I had a bad case of butterfly stomach!
Upon arrival, however, the friendly atmosphere in the room stilled the fluttering butterfly wings. American and Chinese kids mingled eagerly and even had to be shushed by Ms. Marshall so she could give her official welcome.
She introduced Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg and his two special guests—his two daughters—as well as the Ambassador of China to the U.S. Yesui Zhang. She also singled me out as a Scholastic Kid Reporter and mentioned my trip to Shanghai Expo last year! Wow, my butterflies were gone!
We all learned a lot at the event. We cooked Chinese food in the Blair House kitchen, learned calligraphy, and saw a show. The first act was a demonstration of kung fu show. Two young boys wearing their kung fu outfits and red belts bowed as the music started.
The music was kind of spooky and low with lots of drums. Not the kind of drumming you hear from rock bands, but more like that from an orchestra. After putting on their display, they taught some of their moves to members of the audience.
The next act was a young girl who played an ancient Chinese musical instrument called Gu Zheng. The instrument is eggplant shaped but much bigger than the vegetable! It is a string instrument that you pluck with your fingertips. The girl's fingers were wrapped in a special tape so they wouldn’t get hurt.
The last act was a chorus by all the Chinese kids They sang “Jasmine Flower,” a famous Chinese folk song.
During the entire event, kids from both cultures mingled well with one another and really seemed to enjoy learning about the different cultures.
When asked about the most memorable moment in his whole trip to the U.S., a Chinese boy said, “I liked it when we got to perform in front of everyone. That made me feel like all our hard work paid off.”
It certainly did—in more ways than one! The event ended when we got to eat all the good food we worked so hard on earlier.
On Wednesday, January 19, President and Mrs. Obama will host the President of China at the first state dinner for China in 13 years. I was proud to be part of the young people who helped set the stage for this important official state visit.
PHOTOS: (TOP) Kid Reporter Alexandra Zhang learns calligraphy to write Chinese characters at a state visit event in Washington, D.C., on January 12, 2011. (Bottom) A young girl from China plays the Gu Zheng at A Taste of China state visit event for kids at the Blair House in Washington, D.C. (Photos Courtesy Alexandra Zhang)
2010 World Expo delights and teaches
I recently visited Shanghai, home of the 2010 World Expo. Spectators come from all over the world to see the Expo and I was one of them! I was bursting with excitement!
The 220,000 people who were there with me that day created an overflow crowd at entrances and hallways. It was so loud I thought we would break the sound barrier! Since I live in a town with fewer than 40,000 residents, it was quite an experience for me.
The park where the World Expo was held has two sides connected by a short ferry ride across the Pu River: the Pu-dong side (east of Pu River), and the Pu-xi side (west of Pu River). Since we stayed in a hotel on the Pu-xi side, we visited there first.
Our first stop in the jam-packed area was the General Motors pavilion. Lucky for us, we didn’t have to wait in line for three hours like almost everyone else! My friend’s dad works there, so we got a VIP pass.
While in the pavilion, we sat in rocking chairs to watch a sci-fi movie about how smart cars and smart roads could end traffice jams and smog in a mega-big city like Shanghai by the year 2030. The chairs rocked to simulate the ride in a high-speed car.
Our next stop was Abilia, a place for kids—finally! Kids were sorted into different jobs by their age group. As I was in the oldest age group (being most responsible and all), I was stationed in the hospital.
We learned about doctor’s routines and how the machines worked. After we had gone over the rules, we each chose a station. There were three stations: The computer station, where someone types in information; the body fat machine, where someone calculates the fat of another person; and lastly, the height and weight station.
I was in the height and weight station where I ran a health check on my mom! My mom was glad she has a nearly athletic body!
After my session was over, I nagged my mom to let me do the Abilia one more time. This time, I was a money-counting banker. Sitting in an office and dealing with money and cards seemed so much less interesting than taking someone’s pulse!
Right beside the Ablilia was a puppet show, where we watched a popular Chinese folk tale called The Monkey King. It’s about a monkey, a pig, a strong man, and a monk who were going someplace to seek the true words of Budda. All the bad guys wanted to eat the monk’s meat because it would give them eternal life, so it was very brave of the monkey, the pig, and the strong man to protect him.
The ferry carried us to the other side of the park to see the pavilions from all the different countries. I especially loved the China Pavilion. There we saw displays of beautiful artifacts and mini pavilions and performances.
Teacup dancing in the Sichuan pavilion was thoroughly entertaining! The teacup spout was extremely long, and hot water was in the tea pourer. The brilliant and talented teacup dancers did all kinds of tricks, like turning it around and doing backbends, but the hot water never came out except for when they were trying to pour it in the teacup.
A lot of pavilions later, the lights came on. It was a gorgeous scene, with pavilions and pathways outlined in neon lights. But we didn’t forget about the rest of the pavilions.
We toured the USA Pavilion, and I tried to use my Scholastic Kid Reporter credential to get me through the lines. It didn’t work! We waited in line like everyone else.
In the pavilion, an economics student from Stanford University greeted visitors with perfect Chinese. We watched a few videos, which I thought were funny, touching, and inspiring. We first watched a brief video of Americans trying to say “hello and welcome to the United States of America pavilion” in Chinese. It was really amusing, because they kept on failing—it seemed so simple!
The next video, called “The Urban Garden,” told the story of a young girl who started a garden that brought the whole community together. President Obama and Secretary Clinton concluded the presentation, welcoming all to join with America to build a better world with hard work, teamwork and inspiration.
Finally, feeling tired after 10 hours walking in the Expo, we headed back to the ferry. I was surprised to find out that my day wasn’t over yet. My parents had planned a river cruise that lasted about another hour and a half along the Pu River! Under the night sky, the city’s skyline was lit with picturesque scenes along the two banks that kept unfolding like a painting before me. As we toured the river, I couldn’t help how much fun this day turned out to be.
PHOTO: Kid Reporter Alexandra Zhang outside the USA pavilion at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, fall 2010. (Photo Courtesy Alexandra Zhang)