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Words of Peace

By Mehar Nijjar, Reporter

The 31st annual Peace Essay Contest ceremony conducted by the Modesto Peace Life Center took place at MJC’s West Campus on Friday, March 2 at 7:00 P.M. Every year, there is a new essay prompt for students ranging from 5th to 11th grade. Divided into four divisions, the essay prompt gets more and more detailed as the grades get higher. This year, the essay prompt focused on immigration and the strife that people endure in order to get a second chance at life. Writers were assigned to write a narrative in the first-person point of view as an immigrant coming to the United States. In the writing of this narrative, the students had to describe the realistic challenges and struggles of coming to a new country as well as the positive aspects of immigrating. Evidence of research about immigration also had to be demonstrated in the essays.

A total of around 530 students participated this year and after a meticulous screening process, approximately 70 students were chosen to be recognized and awarded at the ceremony. Awards for each division included first, second, and third place essays, honorable mention essays, and school finalists. Modesto High School was represented by 5 students – one who got first place in Division II, another who received second place in Division II, one honorable mention in Division I, and one finalist each for Divisions I and II. All recognized participants at the ceremony received a check, which was higher in sum with a higher recognition. Everyone also got a free T-shirt, with this year’s theme/topic illustrated on it.

 

The host of the evening was an English literature teacher at Modesto Junior College, Zaid Shah. As he explained the prompts for each of the Divisions, Shah spoke about the value of immigration and how students were instructed to put themselves in a shifted perspective and go beyond what they know and feel as American citizens. He, along with everyone at the ceremony, was amazed at the participants’ incredible ability to empathize with immigrants and write from chillingly realistic standpoints of people from all different backgrounds. The audience was able to hear the essays of each of the first place winners for each division. All of the essays were extremely impressive and emotional to hear. Writers wrote as refugees from Syria, Lebanon, Vietnam, South America, and other place from around the world. It is evident that the young generation of our time is subconsciously connected on a higher level to like-minded individuals of the same age group around the world. The ability of these young writers to be able to step outside of their own worlds can give everyone a sense of hope and compassion for the future.

 

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Words of Peace