by Vladimir Kolombet, age 16
I am from Russia with love.
Where I come from is a dark place.
What I've seen with my own eyes will never be forgotten.
People change either into good or bad,
but from what I've heard and gone through,
I know I will stay the same.
I am from my country, not the country I am in now.
And if anyone saw that through my eyes,
they would never be the same.
I am from the green crispy hundred dollar bill.
A million-dollar ticket.
I remember the little figurines
behind glass that we had in our living room.
We also had a big rug with lots of cool designs.
It was hanging on the wall in the living room.
And in our yard, we had tomatoes and pickles growing
and me and my brothers would have to
go around the whole yard, taking bugs
off the plants, so they wouldn't eat them.
It was a lot of work.
I remember my brother found fifty rubels
in our front yard where we had flowers growing.
We went to the little store up the street
and bought lots of ice cream.
Everything I remember from Russia
that me and my brothers did was really fun.
Except when we told our mom that we found fifty rubels and spent it.
She really got mad because we didn't have a lot of money.
Then I remember when my uncle gave me a toy.
It was a truck with a trailer on the back.
I played with that toy for a very long time until it broke.
Back then I didn't know lots of kinds of food
except soup and meat.
I didn't know what a burger was or pizza
and most food I eat now I didn't know about back then.
I didn't have lots of toys,
but I do remember we had a thing that you punch
to practice fighting
and a bunch of dumbells.
If I'd had everything there that I have here,
I would have been happier.