In a high school of more than 3,000 students, where 95% qualify for free or reduced price lunch, Amir Adem has come face-to-face with the growing national problem of income inequality—and decided to do something about it. His aspirations received a boost when he won a scholarship from NSHSS to attend a summer leadership program through our university partner the University of Melbourne in Australia. The Trinity College Youth Leadership Institute at the university offered Amir the opportunity to live and study with other young people from all over the globe. He learned that peace and, ultimately, social justice must be built on knowing and embracing both our similarities and differences—what he calls “the cognitive dynamics of one another.” Recently selected as an NSHSS Ambassador State Director for Georgia, he is a scholar, school leader, and community volunteer who is building a portfolio of skills and experiences which he plans to apply towards rectifying our country’s growing economic divide.
Check out Amir’s winning video application and read his experience in his own words:
Excerpts from Amir’s Short Times and Inseparable Bonds: What I Learned in Australia
My past summer experiences have never really amounted to anything more than a few reading assignments and the traditional family trip to the beach. This year I expected the same, monotonous schedule. In May however, this all changed. After applying for the scholarship to study abroad at Trinity College in Melbourne, I didn't have the slightest inclination that I would have a chance at receiving it. Day after day passed and I kept asking myself one small but very nerve-racking question: “Will I receive the scholarship?” This question constantly reverberating throughout my mind that I had no control over. Then, 2 weeks later, I received an email that changed everything. I know this sounds dramatic, and I know this sounds as if receiving this scholarship was forever life changing, but it was.
The classes were amazing in themselves, but the majority of the experience came from the people I met and became friends with. We went to the same classes together, same monuments together, and played cards for hours on end—together. What resonated togetherness seems like such a simple thing, but that’s what builds peace, peace only being achieved by knowing the cognitive dynamics of one another. I learned so much about these people and their identities, subconsciously reshaping my own. They were from all over the world, yet we shared so many similarities. I constantly began thinking about how these students, from such different places, so many backgrounds, all fundamentally turned out the same as I did. We all lived up to this point without knowing one another but share so many qualities. I began to think beyond myself and shifted my once predominantly domestic view to one of internationality. So in just a few days, my ignorance had vanished and the reality of life had been born.
And then, it dawned on me: bonds are like webs. Bonds are like the webs we don't see but feel, that will test the strength of time. Like webs, we don't intentionally walk into bonds and are almost impossible to fully get rid of, and these webs can’t break with a bus ride or some flights. They can’t separate by not seeing one another. These webs’ strength was created from the fabric of personalities spun together with the share of experiences. Though this was only in a week’s time, I feel as if this bond we all created, this thousand-mile web, is inexorable, unbreakable, and will forever stand.