Senior Wins Essay Competition
Kevin Adler, a senior politics major at Occidental College, is the winner of the inaugural Student Diplomat Essay Competition for his exploration into the nature of human relationships in the post-9/11 world.
The competition was sponsored by NAFSA: Association of International Educators and Abroad View, the global education magazine for students.
“This year’s winning essay is a moving reflection on building cross-cultural bridges by overcoming fear and stereotypes during a study-abroad experience,” read a statement from NAFSA. For his winning entry, Adler received cash and travel vouchers, a trip to Washington, D.C., to meet with congressional members, and he was published in International Educator and Abroad View. The essay can be viewed here.
Starting in September 2005, Adler, of Livermore, Calif., spent a semester in London at University College London. His essay, titled “Conquering Fear, Embracing Differences,” addressed his father’s fears for a son living in an age of terrorism. But Adler also described a transformative encounter with two Muslim women, and he addressed the widespread suspicion toward Arabs and Muslims following the July 7, 2005, terrorist bombing in London.
“Due to this openness, this propensity to meet and learn and understand rather than ignore, I had a much richer experience while abroad,” Adler wrote. “Stereotypes on both sides dissolved: the image of me as a self-interested and rude American, and the attitude that others are aggressive anti-American fanatics.”
At Occidental, Adler is president of the Occidental College Democrats and has helped organize campaign trips to Las Vegas and Alaska. He also is the director of the Charles R. Blyth Fund, a student-led investment group charged with managing $150,000 of the college’s endowment. Additionally, Adler is president and founder of Cancun Can Wait, a campus group dedicated to developing meaningful public service projects for alternative spring, summer and winter breaks. He serves as an elected juror on Honor Board and as a mentor to elementary and middle school students through the Olive Branches campus group.