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How Do Urbanized Kids Draw Home?

My daughter was given a school assignment to draw a picture of her home. How would she do this?

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My daughter showed me her homework for school. It was a simple ditto requesting that she draws a picture of her house. Normal.

I’ve had to do these all the time in grade school. The teacher would give us the same exercise and we’d all, almost invariably, make a line drawing of a box with a triangle on top of it. Home. Maybe we’d add a tree (two vertical lines topped with a curvy circle) and a sun (a circle with spoked lines radiating from it). I reminisced.

Then I was shaken with a realization:

How was my daughter going to draw our house?

I grew up in the countryside; the pictures I drew of my house in school looked at least somewhat like it really looked. My daughter is growing up in China. She has spent the bulk of her memorable life in little apartments stuffed within giant high-rises.

What would she draw? A big ugly elongated rectangular prism with an arrow pointing to a random window? A likeness of the door leading to our room? What kind of nonsensical trick exercise was this? Urbanized people don’t live in homes, they live in capsules.

“How are you going to draw our house?” I asked my daughter with genuine curiosity.

“Just draw it,” she said simply.

“What, you mean the inside of it?”

“No, the outside.”

I realized that I had absolutely no idea how my daughter visualized the place that we live.

This is what she drew:

city kid house
Filed under: China, Family, Petra Hendele Adara Shepard

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3656 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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  • Motorcycle Bob March 15, 2015, 2:56 pm

    Awesome. She got it right, home is family. The location/building is not so important.

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  • Grace April 3, 2015, 3:39 am

    Most Chinese children must have drawn the inside.

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