Inspired by her Japanese father and French mother, Sayre student Hanae Yoshida embraces an international perspective.
That worldview was celebrated when Hanae, a 14-year-old ninth grader, won an essay contest sponsored by The League of Women Voters.
Hanae earned a $250 cash prize for her essay “Election 2016: Do You See What I See?”
“My parents raised me to be an individual with global awareness,” said Hanae, adding that her family often discusses international issues and the world’s reaction to U.S. politics.
In addition, Hanae has visited France and Japan nearly 10 times, further enhancing her global perspective.
Both Hanae and her parents were stunned by the acrimonious tone of the recent Presidential campaign.
“People were fighting against each other in the U.S. of A,” Hanae said.
The harsh political discourse unnerved Hanae.
“All my classes try to teach you to figure out who you are,” she said. “With so many shouting voices in the background it is hard to do that.”
In 1,381 words of her essay, Hanae crafted a story that won unanimously by presenting eye-opening insight into the divides in the U.S electorate.
“Did you see what I saw? I saw neighbors pitted against neighbors, friends rejecting friends, and relatives turning on relatives,” she wrote.
“I saw the media fill all our ears with all of Secretary Clinton’s scandals and all of Mr. Trump’s insults, constantly wearing us down every single minute of every day.
“I was living in a world where I was supposed to see role models and celebration and success, but all I saw was desolation, fighting and pain.”
Appreciating Hanae’s writing talent, English teacher George Bebensee was proud but not surprised that she won.
“Hanae’s essay is a sobering, heartfelt personal narrative by a biracial immigrant student who sees America as divided and angry,” Bebensee said. “While the essay examines the effects of the volatile election environment, it also offers hope in perseverance and steadfastness.
“Hanae writes beautiful essays full of emotion and intellect. She has a remarkable ability to see things in an expansive way and then explain what she sees with specific and detailed examples that move her readers. I am very happy to see her win this award.”
Hanae was delighted to win the contest, but that was not her purpose for entering.
“My goal was to express myself,” Hanae said.
She certainly created a captivating story, worthy of the honor.