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Covering Letter Essay Contest - Pamela + Ajay Raju Foundation afew competition

Congratulations to Erinda Sheno, a student at the The Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush, who is the winner of the Covering Letter essay contest and was awarded a $10,000 scholarship from the Pamela and Ajay Raju Foundation at a ceremony at the Philadelphia Museum of Art last week.

Erindo’s essay, now published in The Philadelphia Citizen, was selected as the top submission from over 400 essays received from high schoolers around the region.
We are happy to announce that the results of our essay writing contest are out. Apart from the three winners, we are also announcing two surprise consolation prizes. All prize winners are being contacted and their cash prizes will be awarded along with certificates in the next one week.

Thank you to all the students who took the time to reflect, write and submit their essays.

On the eve of World War II, Mohandas Gandhi wrote a short letter to Adolf Hitler, urging him not to undertake aggressions that would “reduce humanity to the savage state.

” Gandhi’s note never reached Hitler. A few weeks later, Europe was plunged into a military conflict that soon engulfed the entire world.
It all began when my then flat head was skimmed with the sharp blade of a sharpener. As I was turned around repeatedly, a trickle of consciousness manifested. I started to hear the shavings fall to the table, to see the black inside of the sharpener, to smell the metal of the blade. I could sense everything around me. With that came my conscience. I, as an individual, was born. And when my head was removed from the confines of the black plastic, I was introduced to the world. A world which, I would later come to learn, is both brutal and kind.

$10,000 SCHOLARSHIP AWARD

On the eve of World War II, Mohandas Gandhi wrote a short letter to Adolf Hitler, urging him not to undertake aggressions that would “reduce humanity to the savage state.” Gandhi’s note was intercepted by British authorities and never reached Hitler. A few weeks later, Nazi forces invaded Poland and Europe was plunged into a military conflict that would soon engulf the entire world.

The weeks following my ‘birth’ were happy. The residents of the pouch and I became family. We’d go to school with the child-whose name was Daniel- and do our work. The rest of the time we’d play and chat for hours. I began to love Daniel as well. He took care of me, making sure I was always sharp and ready for anything. He treated me with care and never threw me or broke my tip. I was content. One day, it all changed. I was shown how uncaring people can be and what a lie I was living. It was a school day like any other. We went to school and I did my work. I was lying on the table while Daniel used Penny when suddenly, I was airborne. I flew and smacked into the wall, rolling into the corner. Trying to shake off the dizziness, I realised that Daniel hadn’t even noticed. I lay there waiting for someone to pick me up and return me but no one did. I watched as the day passed and still I lay in the darkness. When the children left, I hoped that Daniel would see that I was missing and would search for me the next day. Alas, that was in vain. The next day dawned and the children filed in. When they started opening their pouches, I watched Daniel, waiting for him to rescue me. Instead, I saw him pull out another pencil with the same care that he used to show me. I saw Bob and Marty chatting with the replacement the same way they used to speak with me. The betrayal of all those I loved cut straight through my heart.

Gandhi’s letter to Hitler is the subject of the artist Jitish Kallat’s 2012 installation Covering Letter, which will be exhibited at the Philadelphia Museum of Art from November 12, 2016 through March 5, 2017.

Through the interplay of darkness and light, Kallat reincarnates this letter, written at an urgent moment in our world’s history, as a film of mist.
The photographic quality of the submissions varied. The best images for a photo essay are those that clearly show the main subject. There are two ways to achieve this. First, by moving closer to the person or object you are photographing, and if necessary changing the level at which you are shooting. If your subject is a small part of the image it will probably have a small impact on your audience. Second, take care to remove distractions from the background - again this can usually be achieved by changing position. It may also be worth spending some time gaining the trust of individuals - nobody wants to see an image of a research subject looking uncomfortable and, well, objectified. Edit your work ruthlessly - every image should deserve to be there in its own right. And although the text is secondary, do ensure that the quality of the writing is suitable for an international journal. There is no need to say too much about each image - less is more, so make every word count.

As the viewers traverse Covering Letter, the experience provokes a reflection on our place at the intersection of good and evil.

PARTICIPANTS ARE INVITED TO SUBMIT AN ORIGINAL ESSAY THAT RESPONDS TO THE FOLLOWING CONTEST PROMPT:

In this era of social media, in which modes and methods of communication are more abundant than ever before, what can Gandhi’s letter tell us about how we interact with those who disagree with us? Is the written word now just a means to lob rhetorical grenades, or is there hope for seeking common ground with our opponents with language that appeals to our shared humanity?

$10,000 SCHOLARSHIP AWARD

The author of the winning essay will receive a $10,000 scholarship toward his or her post-secondary education, and will be published.

An essay contest among young people conducted in a few countries in CEE. The application will be submitted to German Marshall Fund.

The Raju Foundation will also recognize five runner-up finalists to have their essays published.

ELIGIBILITY

The contest is open to high school students in grades nine through twelve attending a public, private, parochial, charter or home school located in Pennsylvania, New Jersey or Delaware; students must be under the age of twenty.

My induction into the world went in an unexpected manner. As the dark interior of the sharpener left my vision, I was met with the view of a colourful room and cluttered room. Building blocks littered the carpeted floor and along with sheets of paper and crayons. Awed by such a foreign sight, I didn’t notice I was moving until I was right in front of a human child’s face. His chubby face was lit up with a brilliant smile as he observed me lying on what I now know was his father’s hand. He clapped his hands with sheer delight and reached for me with his pudgy fingers. He lifted me up and looked up at his father with a pleading expression on his face, “Can I take it to school tomorrow Dad?” And then I was dumped in the dark space where I would make my first friends.

CONTEST REQUIREMENTS

Essays must meet the following contest requirements to qualify for the competition:

  • Contest Opening: November 12, 2016
  • Submission Deadline: January 13, 2017
  • Essays must be between 500 and 1,000 words in length
  • All entries must be original works and any resources must be clearly cited using MLA guidelines
  • Type-written, double spaced, size 12 font

SUBMISSION

Essays may be submitted electronically or by mail.

Thank you for your overwhelming response to our last Essay Writing Contest. Sadly, some of you faced issues in submitting your essays, and so as promised, we are back with our next Essay Writing Contest. Lifesaver Essays believes in encouraging new writers and give a direction to their skills.

All submissions must be accompanied by the following information:

  • Full Name
  • Email Address
  • Phone Number
  • Mailing Address
  • School
  • Grade
  • How did you hear about the Essay Contest?

Submissions by Email:

essaycontest@rajufoundationpa.org

Subject Line: Covering Letter Essay Contest Submission - [Last Name, First Name]

Submissions by Mail:

The Pamela & Ajay Raju Foundation 1500 Market Street, Suite 3500E

Philadelphia, PA 19102

Attn: Essay Submission - Covering Letter

Mailed essays must be postmarked by January 13, 2017

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