Where We’re From: A Group Poem by AAPS Students

Published by Zhu Li on

With contributions by:

Caitlin Dick-Ruíz

Zia Walker

Isaac Semrau

Cameron Russell

Dusk Boyle

Julian Kessenich

Huxley Gill

Clarissa Iorenz

Hayden Matthews-Naumann

Isabella Jacob

Marcel Saintin

and Anonymous

In honor of Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, the Asian Pacific Islander South Asian American (APISA/A) Parent Group of Ann Arbor Public Schools organized several district wide events throughout the month of May. The first of these events was a virtual poetry workshop with local award-winning poet and AAPS alumna Carlina Duan. After the workshop Carlina invited AAPS students to submit poetry on the themes of home, community, and identity. From the submissions, Carlina crafted a collaborative, crowd-sourced poem entitled, Where We’re From. This video features several AAPS students and Carlina reading the poem. 

As we sit down, new ideas flow through our heads.

We grab our pens and the click, click, click 

guides our thoughts 

We get our notebooks 

and take out the elastic 

thwang – 

it flies back 

opening up to a new blank page 

lines waiting to be written on 

the swift smooth pen stroke gliding across the paper— 

This is where we’re from:

shuffling papers, scribbling pencils.

Grooves worn down, over years of study. 

Oxidized metal, and ersatz wood. 

Paint rolling down a canvas,

mixing colors on the palette.

The scent of summer: new grass, sunscreen.

Tomatoes: sweet, salty.

The feeling of mud as we fall on our knees.

This is where we’re from:

Up north, to the waves,

Avocados on bread, balconies,

Yellow flowers, water splashing on the rocks,

A soft blue and green tablecloth.

Birds chirping. A lullaby plays.

This is who we are:

Loyal bookworms, members of the AADL royal court.

Caretakers and friends to each other,

Animal Lovers:

our dogs with protruding teeth, hazel eyes,

tiny kittens running, 

and their deep hopeful eyes filled with wonder 

Music lovers and composers,

Authors, poets, artists, actresses, athletes,

Friends, cousins, students, teachers


This is who we are.

We look up at the gentle faces

They surround us

How much we do for one another


What’s the definition, really

A shack; a three-story mansion—

We don’t need either

The world will tell you one thing

But we will tell you this:

We are who we are, 

and we don’t need repair

We’re ready for the days ahead.