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Yujin Son

Year-Prize: The 10th Eco-generation Environmental Essay Competition     Item: Connecting People to Nature by rediscovering the value of nature

Comments 16 Comments    recommendations 0 recommendations

The Undiscovered Medicine

Yujin Son (United States of America)

UN environment First Prize

 I jolted awake that morning to my grandmother's unexpected announcement. "Today is a great day to go up a mountain to a Buddhist temple!" she declared. I was sure I heard wrong because the weather was hot enough to fry an English breakfast. As a staunch Buddhist, she enjoys hiking every Saturday to heal and pray for good fortune. I'm not a Buddhist and nor a fan of hiking, but compared to the 10 years I've been in the States instead of being next to her, hiking in the 90 degree weather was the least I could do.
 That day in particular, the pavement of the sidewalk felt like molten lava. My whole body was covered in sweat and the air was thick with moisture. At that point I didn't understand what kind of healing my grandmother received from this unbearable environment. When I looked to my right, my brother's hair was plastered on to his scalp while my parents were leaning against each other. Looking forward, my grandmother was already ten steps ahead of us, only looking back to tell us to hurry up. I stuck my earbuds and blasted Rihanna into my ears the rest of the way to keep gnats from entering them.
 After what felt like an eternity, my last step revealed the most beautiful view I've ever seen. Pausing Justin Bieber, I observed the rich red, blue, and green colors of the temple. We dragged our feet through the main gate while my grandmother marched to the nearest shrine, immediately starting her prayers. Not wanting to sit in a crowded room with strangers, I separated from my group. Walking around, a sharp scent of pine caught my attention and led me to a secluded part of the temple, where I saw couple of people carefully removing pine needles from a big jar. Laid out in front of them were cups of fresh fermented pine needle tea for the monks and guests to drink. When the drink first touched my tongue, it was bitter like I expected. But when I gulped it down, it left a refreshing taste and I soon found myself not panting anymore.
"Where can buy this tea?" I asked, reaching for my wallet. But before I could check, a monk stopped me, "These are not for sale, but you can make it yourself." Handing me a basket, he pointed in the direction of luscious pine trees and taught me how to pluck the needles safely. The unique scent of pine needles lingered in the air and I quickly got to work, determined to get a full basket. I then abruptly stopped, sensing an unfamiliar serenity around me. In the city, I was under command of rules of conduct in school and on the street, constantly pressured under others' judgements and expectations. But at that moment, I was just another organism, except in fancy clothes and an iPhone in my pocket. The trees didn't order me to act a certain way. The wind around me didn't judge me. The soil didn't shy away. There was something liberating in that. With a full basket, a refreshing state of mind, and fingers coated with the scent of pine needles, I rejoined my family who were curious about my adventure and harvest.
 The sun began to set when we headed back down the mountain. Looking around, I noticed the trees reaching forever to the sky and locking arms with others, creating a peaceful trail for us to walk on. When I arrived back at the parking lot, while having the polluted air wrap around me like a second skin, my mind picked up the judgements and expectations. Compared to the pure scent of nature, the air of the city felt acidic to my lungs.  As I passed by people with their eyes locked on their screens, I sighed in disappointment.
 At home, I researched the benefits of the fermented pine needles, determined to know the science behind the healing. Surprisingly, phytonicides, which are plants and bacteria, of Korean pine trees were famous for their beneficial health effects: detoxifying and anti-aging effects, antiseptic properties, and high levels of vitamins A, B, and C. It is good medication for throat and lung illnesses as well. Sealing the jar and placing it next to my suitcase, I couldn't wait till I tasted the tea again.
 Back in the States, I'm up for another sleepless night, prepping for my finals. Taking a break, I poured hot water in my cup for my fermented pine needle tea. Soon, the calming scent of pine filled the room and the tangy taste brought me back to the moment in the woods. Indeed, my grandma was right: connecting to nature healed my mind and soul.That was the power of Mother Nature.



  • Yves SHEMA says :
    Posted 18-06-2018 20:59

  • Ameer Kajee says :
    Congrats :)

    Posted 31-05-2018 02:55

  • says :
    Posted 29-05-2018 21:39

  • says :
    Nice. Very good essay.
    Posted 28-05-2018 04:27

Victor eke mba

  • Victor eke mba says :
    Wow I just see this now, It is good
    Posted 28-08-2017 20:02

Aaditya Singh

  • Aaditya Singh says :
    Great piece of writing Yujin, straight from the heart and something that touched my heart too as it would for anyone who reads your essay. You truly deserve the win!
    Posted 21-07-2017 05:45

  • says :

    Posted 17-07-2017 12:12

  • says :

    Posted 17-07-2017 05:19

  • says :
    Woow congratss! You deserve it bro
    Posted 06-07-2017 20:52

Viraaj Kulshreshtha

  • Viraaj Kulshreshtha says :
    Yujin Son Congratulations and thanks for expanding our knowledge to a whole new world
    Posted 06-07-2017 19:01

  • says :
    Congratulations! :)
    Posted 06-07-2017 15:42

  • says :
    Congrats :)
    Posted 05-07-2017 10:56

  • says :
    awesome piece. congratulations!
    Posted 04-07-2017 15:45

Arushi Madan

  • Arushi Madan says :
    Lovely. Congrats, well deserved.
    Posted 30-06-2017 04:57

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