Priyanka Shrestha Wins Second Place in Stop the Hate

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Priyanka Shrestha Wins Second Place in Stop the Hate

Photo by Nicole Breger

Photo by Nicole Breger

Photo by Nicole Breger

Photo by Nicole Breger

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Junior Priyanka Shrestha was the first runner-up at this year’s Stop The Hate essay contest, sponsored by the Maltz Museum.

The contest winners were announced at the award ceremony on March 14 at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Shrestha placed second in the contest and won $15,000 for college.

“When they announced my name as second, I didn’t know whether or not to believe it or not,” she said. “Like… is this a dream? But I was very grateful since my family was there, and many teachers were supporting me there too.”

Her English teacher Josh Davis was not able to attend the ceremony, but he was very proud of her accomplishment.

“When I found out she won, I was delighted and impressed,” Davis said.”I wasn’t really surprised though, since she’s such a phenomenal, meticulous writer.”

Shrestha’s essay describes an experience she had in first grade.

“I told this girl in class that at our house, we eat food with our hands,” she said. “She was like, ‘Ew, that’s disgusting.’ It really impacted me and my perspective on my culture.”

That moment stood out to Shrestha as her top choice for the story, since it was so meaningful to her.

Knowing that my words had an impact on someone, and being able to share the moment with my family and teachers made me feel really good.”

Shrestha says the experience made her scared to show her true culture for a while. Years later, she says that was the wrong way to go about it. She realized that rather than trying to hide it, she should try to teach and explain her culture to other people and raise awareness about it.

“It was kind of hard to go back and remember the experience because I remember being so young, and it was one of the first times I had experienced that kind of hatred,” Shrestha said.

She had tried to forget about it, so it was hard to go back.

Despite the struggles, Shrestha states that it made her happy to see how much she has grown from that moment.

“I wrote this especially with the recent political climate of the country in the last two years; I’ve been really saddened by all the polarization,” Shrestha said.

Shrestha has competed in the contest before, but not since 8th grade.

“I hesitated to turn in essays the past two years because I felt like I didn’t have a chance—like I felt that no one really cared about what I had to say anyway,” she said.

Being busy with school and other activities, Shrestha was hesitant to participate in the contest this year. Eventually, though, she finally decided to do it.

“This year, I think I turned it in since everything was just building up. It’s now or never. I need to get my voice heard,” she added.

“Her strong abilities as a writer and her courage to tell her story were critical to her success,” Davis said.

Shrestha encourages everyone to communicate and talk about issues such as discrimination, instead of pushing difficult topics away.

“Knowing that my words had an impact on someone, and being able to share the moment with my family and teachers made me feel really good,” Shrestha said. “It was a celebration within itself.”

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