Congratulations to the 2021 Holt Adoptee Scholarship winners — Annie Bone, Abby Conant and Kira Ewoldt!
In 2021, each applicant submitted a creative work framed around the prompt, “What’s in a name? Revealing the stories behind our adoptive names, birth names and nicknames.” Annie, Abby and Kira each received a $500 scholarships funded by donors to put toward the cost of higher education. See their winning submissions below!
Abby will be studying visual arts at Boston University this fall.
“Abigail Teng Conant”: a sandwich of cultures and the verbal representation of my identity. My first name, Abigail, is an extremely popular name amongst white people and is derived from Hebrew to mean “father’s joy”; I bet you can assume who got the privilege of naming me between my two parents. My last name, Conant, comes from Celtic and English origins and holds the meanings of “high” and “mighty.” My middle name is where it gets interesting. Teng (pronounced similarly to “tongue”) is a part of me that I got to hang on to before I was adopted; supposedly meaning “to soar”, Teng is one of two characters that make up my Chinese birth name.
I wanted to show how my struggle with my name and identity can often contradict itself. I used a complementary color scheme to show how my mix of Chinese and American culture often feels stark compared to one another. Composition-wise, it appears that my hands (along with my name) are silencing my own voice, yet my glowing eyes speak loudly. I wanted this piece to really play with the balance and the contrast of what I feel my identity is constantly experiencing. Despite its proven difficulty, I venture on to welcome its challenges because I know they will help me develop into the incredible person I will become.
My name is Annie. I submitted a zine showcasing my different names and how they represent me. I was overjoyed when I heard I had been awarded this scholarship. I plan to pursue a civil engineering degree at Texas A&M University. This money will go towards my many textbooks and tuition. I am excited to start my college career and can’t wait to see where the future will lead me!
This name is what my parents gave me. This is the name I am most familiar with and where most of me reside. Thus, “beneath the magnifying glass” I drew many different things that represented me or what I associated with this name.
This name was given to me by my high school Chinese language teacher. I loved learning Mandarin Chinese. For me, it was a way to connect with my Chinese roots. Through this name, I was able to learn more about the place I was born and its culture.
This was my name at the orphanage. After I learned Chinese, I was able to understand this name and fully accept it. This opened a floodgate. I became curious about who gave birth to me, if I had family back in China, and who I was. This name truly opened my eyes to my own mysterious past. This name has instilled hope in me that I can one day go back to China and find my birth family roots.
My name is Kira Ewoldt, and I am double majoring in English and secondary education while minoring in Chinese at the University of Nevada, Reno. This scholarship opportunity has not only alleviated my financial burdens as an undergraduate, but also allowed me to share my name — and my story — to those who can relate and to those who want to learn more. I will use this scholarship to continue funding my studies, so I can one day be an English teacher who supports international and multilingual language learners.
Know My Name
by Kira Yuan Hui Ewoldt
My name is Yuan Hui.
While I go by “Kira Ewoldt,”
My name means I don’t belong here.
Never will I tell myself I can be a part of two worlds.
Because I’m a Chinese born American,
Why am I asked, “Can you speak English?”
If this is my home
I have to choose one.
Because I am torn between two cultures
I cannot say that
I love my name.
(Now read from bottom to top)
The following is a brief narration on how this poem came to be, and more of a reason as to why I am utterly appreciative that my poem was selected this year:
“Does she speak English?”
Some of my family members were asked this at a restaurant this past summer when I didn’t answer someone’s question right away. And unfortunately, the conversation continued, as if nothing “wrong” had happened. Not to point out where I was at, who I was with, nor when it exactly happened, but this question will play in the back of my head for who knows how long. It burdened my heart that a) the person who asked my family probably won’t remember me or this moment and b) if I physically looked like the rest of my family, this wouldn’t have happened in the first place.
Now at the time, I was in the middle of writing my poem for Holt’s Adoptee Scholarship Contest, suffering from writer’s block. Thankfully, I gathered my emotions from this situation and poured the complexities I face as an intercountry adoptee into my poem.
I say this in the most loving, yet urgent way: a bystander is just as much at fault as the offender is. So aside from submitting my poem and winning this scholarship, the difficult yet loving conversations that were held about prejudice as well as the catalytic dangers of bystanding with my family were the main vessels of finding my solace from this situation. I thank my family for letting me have uncomfortable conversations with them and for being so willing to grow from the mistakes that have been made in order to stand up for what’s right next time. I also thank Holt for providing a space for me to authentically convey the innermost feelings that I have and continue to experience.
Did you know Holt provides support to all adoptees?
Every adoptee has a unique and complex life experience. Holt strives to support all adoptees, regardless of their placing agency, by providing help with birth search, citizenship and more.