Essay Contest Winner

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. 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.

$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.

 

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.  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. 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.

 

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. 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

 

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.

Text from original letter, 1939

As at Wardha, C. P., INDIA,
July 23, 1939

DEAR FRIEND,

Friends have been urging me to write to you for the sake 
of humanity. But I have resisted their request, because of 
the feeling that any letter from me would be an impertinence. 
Something tells me that I must not calculate and that I must 
make my appeal for whatever it may be worth.

It is quite clear that you are today the one person in 
the world who can prevent a war which may reduce humanity to
the savage state. Must you pay that price for an object 
however worthy it may appear to you to be? Will you listen to 
the appeal of one who has deliberately shunned the method of 
war not without considerable success? Any way I anticipate 
your forgiveness, if I have erred in writing to you.

I remain,
Your sincere friend,
M. K. Gandhi

HERR HITLER,
BERLIN,
GERMANY