By Sarah Wang
Though our country doesn’t agree on much, it’s safe to say that these past couple years have been a whirlwind of political furor on hot topic issues. One issue in particular resonated deeply with a local high school student: immigration.
Nancy Xu, a senior at Arcadia High school, is an immigrant herself. “I [emigrated] from China in the fifth grade and felt so grateful to have found a welcoming community,” she reminisced, “but I know I was one of the lucky few.” As news broke about the border wall and migrant children being caged in detainment centers, Nancy decided to channel her feelings of frustration and powerlessness into something that combined her artistic skills and her own backstory: a children’s book.
That children’s book came in the form of “Hana & Arnie,” a tale of how a girl and an armadillo taught their village to embrace diversity. The tale is a stunning parallel to America’s current immigration dilemma. Arnie the baby armadillo is snatched from his family, the mayor blames the dying crops on his kind, and the village builds a wall to keep the “monsters” out. The only difference is that by the end of the story Arnie is rescued from his cage by Hana and together they show their village that the pest-eating armadillos had long been bringing prosperity and wealth to the land. As of today, Nancy says, America has not reached that happy ending quite yet.
To Nancy, this project sits close to home not only because of her immigrant experience but because the characters represent Nancy herself. “I see Arnie as the little girl I was when I first moved here, feeling lost, scared, and like an outsider,” she shared, “and now I hope to be the Hana to all the Arnies of the world and lend a compassionate hand.” Because Nancy describes herself as “more on the quiet and shy side,” “Hana & Arnie” truly served its purpose as a platform to share her strong beliefs and moral ideologies in a beautiful way.
For now, Nancy is focusing on her Kickstarter campaign, which launched early last week. Because Kickstarter projects are an all-or-nothing campaign, the funds will only be collected if the project is 100 percent funded. By its policy, 100 percent of the funds collected will go toward production of the book. Like many other projects, “Hana & Arnie” offers various reward levels, including a hand-painted “Hana & Arnie” bookmark, hand-drawn pencil portraits, first copies of the book, and name inclusion on the “Hana & Arnie” Family Page acknowledgements. The campaign also includes a 1:1 library donation option in which supporters can choose to donate a copy of “Hana & Arnie” to their local library.
As for the future, Nancy plans on taking “Hana & Arnie” to other commercial platforms but one thing will remain the same: all profits will go toward charities for immigrant families and DACA children. Plus, supporters of “Hana & Arnie” should “keep an eye out for future colorful books with similar social justice sentiments,” Nancy teases.
SUPPORT THE CHILDREN’S BOOK DIVERSITY CAMPAIGN:
Donate to “Hana & Arnie” on Kickstarter.