Third Annual Teen Perspectives Contest

Visual Art

2024 Topic: What Immigration Means to Me

The annual Teen Perspectives Contest from The Immigrant Learning Center highlights the voices of the latest generation of American high school students. Immigration is a topic outside of their control that also very much affects their lives, and we think these students have something to teach us if we give them a chance. Entries due by Tuesday, April 23, 2024 at 6:00 PM.

Award Ceremony

Participants, their families and teachers are invited to an awards ceremony and magazine launch at The Immigrant Learning Center on Friday, May 17 at 9:30 AM.


Cash prizes totaling $2,000 will be awarded to first, second and third place winners as well as honorable mentions in each category.

All entries will be considered for inclusion in The ILC’s 2024 Teen Perspectives on Immigration Magazine and/or featured on The ILC’s website and social media.

Prompts for Inspiration: What Immigration Means to Me

  • The idea that multiculturalism and/or multilingualism is a superpower
  • The intergenerational impact of immigration on families, and/or immigration stories from your family (recent and/or long ago) and what you’ve learned from them
  • Your personal immigration story
  • The positive impact immigration has had on your school experience
  • The importance of cultural heritage: how traditions, language and cultural practices are maintained and adapted by immigrant communities in your city

Evaluation Guidelines

Submissions will be evaluated by a panel of judges on content, presentation, creativity and message. Submissions are not judged on English proficiency.

Winners will be notified the week of May 6, 2024. Questions? Email Ariana Moir at [email protected].


Visual Art

  • Bitho Faustin, artist
  • Ed Rocha, Rola Education
  • Pam Shanley, Arts Collaborative Medford
  • Anna Thai, Anna Thai Embroidery
  • Kevin Thai, Three Circles Studio


  • Mark Puleo, Brazilian Magazine
  • Carmel Salhi, Northeastern University
  • Jodie Zalk, Malden Reads


  • Seth Bender, videographer
  • Anne D’Urso-Rose, Urban Media Arts

Thank you to our sponsor, Xtreme Ninja Martial Arts Center.

Eligibility and Rules

  • All students at Malden High School, Everett High School and Medford High School are encouraged to participate.
  • Previous first place winners are not eligible.
  • There is no entry fee.
  • One entry per student per category is allowed.
  • All entries must be supported by a high school teacher, parent, guardian or other adult. The supporting adult will be the primary point of contact.
  • The submission must be an original piece of work, not be generated, in part or in whole, by AI technology and not violate anyone’s intellectual property rights or copyright laws.
  • Entries must align with The ILC’s core values.


  • Word count: up to 1,000 words
  • File format: must be .docx (preferred) or .pdf
  • Essay must be in English. Contestants will not be penalized for punctuation, grammar and spelling errors.
  • English learners are encouraged to apply.


  • Length: up to five minutes long  (not including credits)
  • File format: must be in .mp4
  • Spoken content must be in English. Contestants will not be penalized for pronunciation or grammar.
  • English learners are encouraged to apply.

Visual Arts

  • Materials and medium: Anything 2D, such as photography, drawing, painting and digital artwork
  • Physical pieces of art submitted to our office are encouraged. Digital artwork and images of physical pieces may be submitted online as .jpg, .png or .pdf.

Enter by Tuesday, April 23, 2024 at 6:00 PM using this form:

2023 First Prize Essay: Breaking Social Divisions and Inspiring Togetherness, by Makeila Scott, 11th grade

“I was 19 when I left Panama,” my Dad says, “I left behind everything in hopes of finding something here, a better life, better opportunities,” he continues in his thick Panamanian accent that never fails to remind me of the rich history and ancestry that courses through my veins. ”I was surprised to see the snow for the first time…It was really cold over here, I almost thought of going back,” he chuckles. As I sit on the couch bombarding my dad with questions that surely he is proud to answer, I stare in awe at the stories he has to share. These stories are not confined to the four walls of my house but are found all around my community as a whole: Malden.

If you picked two students, at random, from Malden High School, there would be a 76% percent chance they’d be of different race (Ciurczak); this is not evident through solely a statistic but is evident by simply looking around. The halls of Malden High and Malden in its entirety are painted in an array of backgrounds, languages, and customs that fuel our community and enrich its soil. Through the restaurants that line the square – Babas supermarket, Gongcha, Crying Thaiger – to the programs and organizations that work to uplift the immigrant and bipoc voice: AVOYCE, The Immigrant Learning Center, Chinese Culture Connection. All these businesses work in tandem to deliver a unique gift to Malden that many other communities simply cannot: Unity. At a time where our society is so heavily divided in terms of politics, race, and gender all sense of unity and collaboration is a gift that should be valued (Bremmer). It’s easy to remain complacent with the status-quo but takes active effort to elicit change; Malden is a community that strives to achieve the latter.

When sitting in class and having discussions about important topics whether they are about historical events or debates about current world affairs, it’s important to hear opinions that come from different perspectives instead of confining ourselves to a bubble of like minded individuals where all creativity and challenges of thought are lost (Burbidge). Society will not progress if ideas are not being challenged. The social divisions that are prominent in society will remain as such if we cannot learn to listen rather than attack. Though, this is the beauty of Malden; Immigrants and people of all nationalities are able to converse and work with one another to break those aforementioned social divisions.

Malden is a community that fosters, from a young age, the importance of togetherness. Malden is a community raising a generation of open minded individuals that are not afraid to learn nor afraid to ask questions. Malden is a community fostering future leaders and empowering each person to utilize their voice and utilize their story. Malden encourages this as I sit here writing this essay utilizing my own voice to bring light to the gifts Malden has to offer.

The breaking of these social divisions does not have to be done solely through some big protest or large movement but can be attained through smaller everyday experiences such as learning other languages or trying new foods. In my Trig and Pre-Calc class I sit next to a student who recently moved from China. I had lost my glasses and one day I asked him “how do you say ‘I can’t see’ in mandarin?” simply out of pure curiosity “Wǒ kàn bùjiàn” he answered. “Wǒ kàn bùjiàn” I replied, certainly not as well though. Even so, I was proud to have learned something new, something that I may not have been able to learn if I lived elsewhere. Every class after that we’d exchange common phrases in each other’s languages. I can now successfully say “I am hungry” “I am thirsty” “this is so boring” and a plethora of other phrases in a language entirely different from my own. Aside from learning the language, I learned of Chinese customs and culture. He would tell me about schooling in China and its overall history. I was eager to learn and he seemed eager to share. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to sit next to him and grateful that I was able to learn so much. This is the beauty of my community. A place where all backgrounds mesh and create a symphony of blended cultures that one can’t help but stop and listen to. There are so many ways we can achieve unity and togetherness and Malden makes that goal of utmost possibility.

“I will provide you with everything I can. Things I never had,” my dad says. I am a second generation immigrant, mixed afro-latina. My dad is from Panama and my mother is of European descent. I am grateful to live in a community where I am surrounded with people of all different backgrounds that fuel each part of my identity and allow me to embrace it, not hide. When viewing Malden from a more personal lens and how this community shapes me as an individual, I feel I have become someone who has learned to embrace their culture and use it to contribute to my community in any way I can. I have become a more well rounded individual and gained many valuable skills that are all to thank for the diversity present in my community. I am able to stop and listen, learn and understand, empathize and communicate. I am no longer someone who lives in an echo-chamber only consuming information and media that aligns with my beliefs or my parents beliefs but instead learning from so many different perspectives that in turn has molded me into an individual who values that listening is just as important as speaking.

“I’m happy that I never went back,” my dad says. “There are so many opportunities. I built a life here that I would have never been able to build back in Panama” This is the beauty of my community: Malden.

Works Cited

Bremmer, Ian. “The U.S. Capitol Riot Was Years in the Making. Here’s Why America Is so Divided.” Time, 16 Jan. 2021,

Burbidge, Ian. “Why Diverse Opinions Lead to Better Outcomes.” The RSA, 23 Jan. 2017,

Ciurczak, Peter. “Diversity in Massachusetts Schools.”, 28 Feb. 2020,

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