Alright, so it's kind of late for me to be blogging sorry, but here I am finally writing it!
I found out about this contest on a rainy Sunday afternoon, while I was trying to fill the last few moments of the weekend, I decided to check my email. I had an a newsletter from Inside Schools which I started to read.
"Does diversity matter?" It asked, it's bold font gave it a little feel of importance like a new dress. It was one of those headlines that immediately grasps your attention and makes you think. Hmm what could this be about? What does it mean to me? I read on, "Kids between 12-17 can submit 500-word essays." Just knowing that a big campaign, would care about the thoughts of a 12 year old gave me that warm little feel of importance. I decided this was one opportunity that I couldn't miss.
I took out my notebook and flipped to a blank page, I titled the page "Diversity." I began to write my thoughts, questions, and after I finished, it became apparent that the things that helped me realize why diversity is important, were my own individual experiences. I decided to base my essay on descriptions of those bittersweet memories that lived in the back of my mind. I wrote about why they were examples of diversity in my life, how they have affected me and my thoughts on it as I look back and tell my story. I wanted the reader not just to read about why I thought it was important, but to feel and experience diversity through my eyes so they would know about other thoughts on diversity.
When I got the call that I was invited to a dinner and press briefing for the essay contest I was filled with joy. I remember planning for it and thinking of it until the last minute. I took the train there, and as I look back I can still remember the different people I saw on the train, musicians holding their instruments, commuters rushing to meet the next train, business men holding their heavy briefcases. Had I become more aware of diversity during this whole experience?
We ate at Arties, which really captured the vibe of a New York deli. Their French Fries were crispy and warm. I was able to meet the other contestants they were all friendly and welcoming. I was able to learn about their opinions on diversity.
The next morning I got up early, before recalling that I had the press briefing that day! I took out my notebook and wrote some more about diversity and how I felt. I was so excited that I would be able to see the other contestants again and that I would be able to read my essay in front of an audience.
I took the train to the office of the New York Lawyers for Public Interest office. I saw a new girl that day who was busy the night before, her name was Sabrina, I was glad to be able to learn more about her thoughts on diversity. We had breakfast in the office, I drank a lot of orange juice because I heard that the potassium would calm me down, it was like an snake of ice slithering through my throat. I wrote down how I felt during the media training to help me write this blog now! We practiced mock interviews and read our essays out loud, the media training helped to ease my nerves for the real press briefing.
We took the train to Fordham Law School, I took some videos with my camera asking the other contestants how they felt during the train ride. The school was beautiful, we went upstairs to a room with a sign that said Kids SpeakOut.
Inside of the room, there was a podium and a table for all the contestants to sit. The campaign staff made amazing speeches, which I learned a lot from. I listened to the other finalists read their essays, seeing them do really well made me less anxious.
Afterwards, we went to Central Park. That place meant a lot to me because in my old school we had a field day there annually. I was delighted that I would have even more memories there. We got ice cream which was creamy and cold like snowflakes melting on my tongue. The weather was really nice that day. We walked to the zoo, my favorite part was in the jungle setting because it was a perfect example of a diverse community with so many exotic animals, each different, but peacefully living together.
As I look back, I realized that this experience was similar to the ones described in my essay because they helped show me what diversity was and how important it was. While writing this I still wonder how my thoughts on diversity will be when I am older, and have even more memories.
Thanks for reading!