Jean Mahn, a senior at Division Avenue High School, is the winner of the Best Essay Award (high school division) for the 11th annual Japan Center Essay Competition, sponsored by Canon USA and organized by the Japan Center at Stony Brook University. As a first-place winner, Mahn won a $3,000 scholarship and a Canon camera. She also received a special award from the consulate general of Japan and has been invited to the residence of the Japanese ambassador in Manhattan on May 21.
Mahn’s essay described her experience creating a sculpture, titled “Wave of Peace,” entered into the 2015 Long Island’s Best Young Artist Competition sponsored by the Heckscher Museum of Art. The free-standing sculpture holds paper cranes and honors the life and death of Sadako Sasaki, a Japanese girl who contracted leukemia after the bombing of Hiroshima. Japanese legend states that if one folds a thousand paper cranes a wish will be granted, but Sadako died after folding 644 cranes. In honor of her wish, Mahn created “Wave of Peace” to represent the selflessness in Sadako’s soul.
“The idea that the simple act of folding a paper crane could connect two people from a different time, culture and generation is beautiful and gives me hope that Sadako’s ‘Wave of Peace’ can transcend borders, belief systems and cultures,” said Mahn in her essay.