Winners of an educational contest for middle and high school students across the Southeastern United States will have the opportunity to travel to Turkey this summer. The contest was organized by the Istanbul Center of Atlanta, Georgia, in cooperation with the UN Alliance of Civilizations and the Georgia Department of Education, and several other NGOs, corporations, and educational institutions across the Southeastern United States.
This year’s Art and Essay Contest for middle and high school students on the theme of “Empathy: Walking In Another’s Shoes,” attracted 2,500 entries from Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee and Florida. The project is a co-curricular contest to stimulate middle and high school students to utilize creative and active responses to intolerance and cultural misunderstanding.
A gala awards ceremony at Atlanta’s Morehouse College on March 25, 2011, recognized award-winning students who were joined by their parents, teachers, education officials, and Turkish sponsors of the contest. A keynote speech was delivered by Ann Cramer, IBM Director of Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs.
Award-winning students, teachers and district superintendents will go as US ambassadors to Turkey in June 2011. Contest winners who undertook the trip to Turkey in previous years have had the opportunity to meet with several top Turkish officials as well as US diplomats in Turkey and enjoyed a unique cross-cultural experience.
In a statement read out at the ceremony, President Jorge Sampaio, High Representative of the UN Alliance of Civilizations, emphasized the importance of empathy in today’s world. He commended the Istanbul Center for organizing the contest as an example of civil society helping the Alliance in its effort to bridge cultures. A text of his message is available here [pdf].
“The Istanbul Center’s Contest illustrates the positive contribution of migrants to their local communities by promoting intercultural educational reflections and experiences by young people,” said Thomas Uthup, Research and Education Manager of the Alliance.