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Walnut High School | 400 Pierre Rd. Walnut, Calif. 91789

the hoofprint

Walnut High School | 400 Pierre Rd. Walnut, Calif. 91789

the hoofprint

Walnut High School | 400 Pierre Rd. Walnut, Calif. 91789

The art of origami folds a community together

Senior Athena Guan combines community service and arts and crafts with her volunteer project Fold a Wish.
Photo courtesy of Athena Guan
Senior Athena Guan helps an elementary school student create origami.

If you’re looking for senior Athena Guan on a Saturday morning, you can most likely find her at Suzanne Park. 

With the picnic tables as her headquarters, Guan leads about 20 community members — from elementary school students to parents — every week in making origami as part of her project, Fold a Wish. Guan was inspired by the Japanese belief that folding paper cranes can lead to one’s dreams coming true, and each craft has a card attached to it where the recipient can write their goals. In the past, Guan has donated their origami to veteran organizations, local libraries and the senior center.  

“Fold a Wish lets students from across grade levels connect with one another through arts and crafts, but the whole point of it is to reach out to others,” Guan said. “School can be something that helps people bond, but not everyone likes school. Origami is like the glue that pulls [us] together.”

Fold a Wish began as classes under the Chinese American Parents Association’s (CAPA) tutoring program, implemented by Guan as a freshman after she noticed the lack of art classes offered. After her sessions became unexpectedly popular, Guan had the idea to expand her origami into a separate project, with CAPA as its sponsor. 

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“I think not a lot of people expected a freshman to start this. A lot of parents would be like, ‘Why don’t you have someone older than you assist or take over?’ but I [was] afraid that it would turn into something it wasn’t meant to be,” Guan said. “Watching [Fold a Wish] grow, it was mind-blowing.”

Rather than an organization with strict quotas, Guan wants Fold a Wish to be a fun community where everyone can gather to express their creativity. Members are free to create any paper crafts they want, from Christmas trees during the holidays to elaborate landscapes with multiple components. 

“I never thought [Fold a Wish] would be this successful because origami is such a small thing; not everyone likes origami,” Guan said. “But it’s different to put something out there and have no one join [than] not put it out there at all. I wanted to give it a try. We started with 20 [people], then it grew more and more.”

Currently, Fold a Wish members are taking a break from making origami to craft graduation leis, which they are selling to local schools to fundraise for their project and CAPA. However, their mission still remains the same. 

“If you told my middle school self that I would create this group that’s well known among this community, I wouldn’t have believed you. This made [me] realize just how participating in a community can really change you,” Guan said. “I would go to local events and people would tell me stories about [Fold a Wish], and that was always the goal: to reach out and provide some sort of comfort. I was very happy about that.”

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Cathy Li, Print editor-in-chief
Hi everyone, my name is Cathy Li and I’m in the 12th grade, serving as your Print editor-in-chief. Though I blame Pubs for my irrationally strong hatred of Oxford commas and at least 23% of my stress-induced breakouts, I wouldn’t trade journalism for the world. I’m glad to have found an avenue in which my natural nosiness is celebrated.
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