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Winner of the 2020 Scholarship

Throughout history, humans have moved from place to place in search of opportunities to create a better life. But whether your story of migration is that of your grandparents sailing from a distant land 60 years ago to the one you call home today or of you moving to a different city for the third time this year, we all have one place that will forever occupy a special position in our heart.

For some, home is the little village they were born in and have never left, while for others, it is the country they said goodbye to when they were 10 years old and haven’t set foot in since.

We at are very interested in the stories of people and the places they come from, so this year, we decided to award a $500 scholarship to a student who can offer us a captivating glimpse of his or her hometown.

The essay prompt

Every applicant of the scholarship was required to write an essay between 500 and 750 words based on the prompt:

At, we love telling people what an amazing city Houston is, with its cosmopolitan population that speaks more than 145 languages and its lively sports, culture, and restaurant scenes. Tell us about your hometown. What makes it unique, and why do you love living there?

It was a joy to discover that there are many students who are immensely proud of their hometowns. In total, we received 255 essays from individuals who call various parts of the world their home.

We encountered great diversity among the essays, from one that finds beauty in the harshness of life in the rural outskirts of Stagecoach, NV, to a colorful depiction of the suburb of Holland, MI, with its distinctly Dutch heritage and annual Tulip Time Festival. We also learned about Palacios’ shrimping industry and Vietnamese restaurants, the Epping community's inside joke about the dump’s business hours, and growing up bicultural and bilingual in the border city of Eagle Pass. Reading the submissions was truly an eye-opening experience.

The breadth of environments and lifestyles portrayed in the essays made selecting the scholarship recipient a great challenge. However, after countless hours of reading and deliberation, we’re thrilled to announce we have found the winner of Scholarship 2020.

And the winner is...

Robert Abel!

In his essay, Robert takes us on a tour of his charming little town, Gorham, in upstate New York. The quiet community to which he belongs is a great departure from the first image most people’s minds will produce when they think of New York. The vivid details in Robert’s story—of the Finger Lakes, the town’s market as a space for local farmers and children alike to gather, and the use of the honor system to sell fresh produce along the road—make us wish we were born in Gorham too.

There are many other students who have given us interesting insight into the cultures and values embraced by their communities, but two that deserve to be mentioned are Lucas Rickenbacker and Destine Manson.

Lucas, from Enterprise, AL, highlights the tenacity and resourcefulness of his community, which has emerged from the great loss caused by a large boll weevil infestation in the cotton fields stronger than before by consequently becoming the top producer of peanuts in the United States.

Destine, on the other hand, casts a spotlight on her beloved city of Atlanta, GA, whose rich black history she is most proud of and has given her confidence in her own abilities and the opportunities available to her as a young, black woman.

Congratulations, Robert, on being the winner of the 2020 Scholarship award. May you make Gorham proud in all that you set your heart and mind to do.


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