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The 4th Grade Project: Life Through the Eyes of 15 Children from Around the World

The 4th Grade Project by Judy GellesIt is both a blessing and a curse that children are brutally honest. They dream without boundaries. They are sensitive and perceptive and, if we aren’t careful, they will absorb the worries of those around them. It is these traits in children that are captured perfectly by a photo series created by Judy Gelles called “The Fourth Grade Project.”

Gelles is an artist that has spent time volunteering at schools around the globe. As part of her project she asked fourth grade students three questions: With whom do you live? What do you wish for? What do you worry about? Gelles created word portraits from the answers of children from a private Quaker school in the U.S., a primarily Hispanic public school in the U.S., an English speaking school in India, an inner-city school in the U.S., and a school for the children of migrant workers in China.

“In fourth grade,” Gelles says, “they are not afraid to tell you the way it is.”

Their responses will both warm your heart and punch you in the gut. Check them out after the jump:

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  • Medical treatment 1 of 15
    Medical treatment
    I live with my mother and father. My older sister lives with my aunt in my hometown. I miss her. I wish my whole family could be together. I worry about doing something wrong and upsetting my parents. I worry about hurting someone and my parents will have to pay for medical treatment.
    From a school for children of migrant workers in China.
  • Hunger and global warming 2 of 15
    Hunger and global warming
    My mom was born in Uruguay. Her parents moved to the United States to make more money. I am an only child, but soon we will be adopting a baby girl from China. I am excited to meet her. I wish the whole world would be one large empire so there would be no more war. I worry about world hunger and global warming. My life is good. I feel lucky.
    From a private Quaker school in the U.S.
  • On time 3 of 15
    On time
    I live with my mom, dad, sister, brother, and two poodles. My grandparents pick us up from school every day. I love history. I think it's important for people to know about the past. I wish for a fully functional robot. It would do my homework, make my bed, serve me breakfast, and tell me the football scores. My favorite team is the New York Giants. I worry about being on time.
    From a Jewish day school in the U.S..
  • All alone 4 of 15
    All alone
    My whole family was born in Mexico. I came to the United States when I was three. I live with my mom, my dad, my three brothers, my god-sister, and my niece. I worry that my parents might get deported to Mexico. Then I would be all alone.
    From an inner-city school in the U.S.
  • Get shot 5 of 15
    Get shot
    I worry about people in my family getting shot. My cousin got shot and died. I don't think anybody should carry a gun… even the cops. Then nobody would get shot.
    From an inner-city school in the U.S.
  • I don’t worry 6 of 15
    I don't worry
    I live with my mom and dad and four brothers. My dad is a pediatrician. My mom used to be a lawyer. Now she is a housewife. At 4:30 we do our homework. At 5:30 the children eat dinner. My mom and dad eat dinner after we are in bed. My favorite subject is writing. I have a very creative mind. I write random stories about me. I use my iPod Touch for research. I wish for more money. I would give some to charity, and I would buy myself an iPad. I don't worry.
    From a Jewish day school in the U.S..
  • Fourth grade teacher 7 of 15
    Fourth grade teacher
    I live with my mother and father. My older sister lives with my grandparents in my hometown. My parents work in a supermarket. I like my teachers. We all follow the rules at school. I would never break the rules. I want to grow up fast so I can be a fourth grade teacher.
    From a school for children of migrant workers in China.
  • I want to be a doctor 8 of 15
    I want to be a doctor
    I live in a joint family with my mother, father, brother, auntie and cousin. My uncle works far away and is only home on holidays. My mother and auntie cook the meals. My father is a librarian at the college. On Saturdays, I visit my father's library. My favorite book is Dinga. I love to read. When I grow up I want to be a doctor. I am friends with everyone at school.
    From an English speaking school in India
  • The rent 9 of 15
    The rent
    I live with my mom and dad and two sisters. My mom speaks only Spanish. I have to older sisters who live in Mexico. I miss them a lot. We don't visit because it costs too much money. I am a good student but I talk too much. I love to talk. I want to be a doctor. I want to help children. My wish is for bad people to stop killing good people. I worry about my family, that they could get robbed by the bad people and lose all of their money and then we wouldn't be able to buy food and pay the rent.
    From a primarily Hispanic public school in the U.S.
  • Have it crash 10 of 15
    Have it crash
    My dad is a bounty hunter. He has a gun but I don't know where he keeps it. I love to play video games. My favorite is call of duty. It's a war game. It has intense violence and strong language. I have a paintball gun. I have to wait until I am ten to use it. I want to be a car designer. My favorite car is a Bulgati. I wish I had a dog I want a German Shepherd to protect me. I am afraid of heights. My worst fear is to be on an airplane and have it crash.
    From a Jewish day school in the U.S..
  • A chef and an artist 11 of 15
    A chef and an artist
    I was born in Israel. I live with my mom and dad and sister. My sister has autism. I help teach her so she can become smarter. My dad drives a taxi. My mom is a pre-school teacher. At home we speak Hebrew and English. I want to be a chief and an artist. I worry about the future. I worry about not having enough money to buy a house. I worry that my parents will forget about me when I am older. I love my parents.
    From a Jewish day school in the U.S..
  • Do well 12 of 15
    Do well
    I am a Brahman Hindu. My mother and father are lecturers at the college. When I come home from school, I wash, have a snack, go to music class, play football with my brother, and do my homework. We say our evening prayers together as a family. Then we eat dinner and I read after dinner. My wish is to be a famous scientist and invent something for all the people. I worry about my studies. My parents want me to do well.
    From an English speaking school in India
  • Vietnam 13 of 15
    Vietnam
    I have three enemies at school. One beats me up on the way home. The other two pick on me in school. I have been beaten up three times on the way home from school. Two years ago I went to Vietnam to visit my cousins. I liked Vietnam better. I wish we could live in Vietnam.
    From an inner-city school in the U.S.
  • Wait to go 14 of 15
    Wait to go
    I live with my mom, my two sisters, and my mom's friend. My dad is in jail in Mississippi. Me and my mom and my two sisters and my uncle and grandma are all driving to Mississippi next month in a big van to visit my dad. I can't wait to go.
    From an inner-city school in the U.S.
  • Dentist 15 of 15
    Dentist
    I was born in Guanzhou, China. My parents adopted me when I was a baby. I wish I knew who my birth mother was. I want to learn Chinese. I don't worry about anything because I know my mom will protect me. When I grow up I want to be a dentist. My dentist is very nice. Everybody likes him.
    From a private Quaker school in the U.S.

All photographs are copyright of Judy Gelles and are shared with her permission. Check out more of The Fourth Grade Project on Gelles’ site.

Read more from Amber on The Daily Doty and Babble’s Strollerderby.

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More from Amber:
12 Tips and Ideas for Your Child’s First Day of School Photo
7 Tips for Selecting an Ergonomic Backpack for Your Grade-schooler
On Depression, Motherhood, and Seeking Treatment

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