Thank you to the 1051 teenagers who participated in the sixth week of our 10-week Summer Reading Contest, and congratulations to Ryuga Akaishi, our winner, as well as to our many runners-up and honorable mentions.
Scroll down to take a look at the variety of topics — from migrant detention centers and ancient greek philosophy to a new NASA drone mission and sleep paralysis photography — that caught the eyes of our participants this week. You can find the work of all our winners since 2017 in this column.
And please remember to always check the top of our contest announcement to find the right place to participate, any week from now until Aug. 23.
Ryuga Akaishi from Hong Kong chose an Op-Ed called “Buzz Aldrin Returned From the Moon. Then His Real Adventure Began” and wrote:
For centuries, mankind would look up at the night sky and dream of the unknown. But in 1969, after becoming the first people to set foot on the moon, the unknown became a tangible reality for Buzz Aldrin and his crewmates.
Once returning to Earth, their names became synonymous with the moon landing and were inevitably forced to carry the curiosity of the millions that adored them for the experiences they had aboard the Apollo 11. For Aldrin, it was crushing. He fell into a spiral of alcoholism and marital issues, ultimately leading to depression.
I was particularly fond of this article as it shed light upon the “human” side of this astronaut. In mass media, many celebrities are often glorified to the degree where they seem almost perfect. Through the small keyhole we get to peer into these individuals’ lives, we see images and narratives perfectly curated—a far cry from any sign of mental health issues.
Through this article, however, we are shown that even those with great accolades and fame are susceptible to depression. Moreover, Aldrin’s battle against it entails an important lesson for those in similar situations: to not allow the struggle to define them, but to use it as fuel to grow stronger. To highlight, the fruition of his perseverance came while he was hospitalized for depression and finally grew the courage to tell himself, “You’ve been to the moon. You did it. Now get the hell out of here and live the kind of life you want.”
Neha Bhalla on “‘Trump Is Going to Get Re-elected, Isn’t He?’”
D.S. on “Levain Ups the Cookie Ante”
Ellie on ”When Your Child Believes Meat Is Murder”