The Walkerville Weekly Reader

National Desk: Hard-hitting journalism from your completely un-biased (pinky swear!) reporters in Walkerville, VA.

Walkerville, VA
Monday, June 10, 2024
Carolyn Purcell, Editor

Patriotic essay wins teen free trip to Bangladesh

New York teenager’s award-winning patriotic essay wins her free trip in Home Security Administration’s “Why I love America” essay contest.

“They thought I was anti-American because I didn’t want to compromise, but in my high-school ethics class we were told, ‘You speak up, you give your opinion, and you defend it.’”

That was the opening paragraph in a New York teen’s winning essay on “What it means to be American”. Sponsored by the Department of Home Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement division, the patriotic essay contest drew contestants from all throughout Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx.

First prize for Tashnuba Hayder was a free trip to the land of her birth, Bangladesh. Sixteen-year-old Tashnuba hasn’t seen Bangladesh since she was five, and was very emotional about the trip. “I feel like I’m on another planet,” said the teen.

ICE officials say she’ll be able to pick up the language in no time.

The teen told the Reader that her entire high school ethics class entered the contest. “We had Communists, Democrats, Republicans, and Gothics.”

According to DHS, the essays were judged by FBI agents trained in understanding the nuances of children’s writing. Bureau officials declined to comment, but insiders pointed to the teen’s astute observation that “I feel like Muslims are being targeted, they’re being outcasted more” as the clincher. “This is the kind of insightful comment that the FBI looks for when choosing who to send abroad,” said DHS head Michael Chertoff.

In her essay, titled The Snow Globe of Liberty, the teen touched on suicide, and how “all religions have a negative view of suicide”.

“I don’t know what the judges felt about that line,” said Chertoff, “but her ability to find a common ground in the melting pot of U.S. religious thought really touched me.”

The teen’s tutor was surprised at her win. “Her essay seemed very innocuous,” he told the Reader. “It did defend the right of religious adherents to oppose religious persecution, but there’s nothing special in that. It’s what the U.S. is known for.” INS officials refused to comment on the judging process.

The teen will remain in Bangladesh indefinitely. “The ICE appears to have mistakenly given her a one-way ticket,” said Chertoff. “But I’m sure they’ll work it out.”

“Outreach programs like this are what give us our identity,” said ICE head John Clark. “We’re very proud of our part in sending Ms. Hayder overseas.”

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