Kaplan My Turn Essay Contest

The 27th Annual Kaplun Essay Contest:
2017 - 2018

Write an essay on:

Of All the Good Deeds You Hope to Perform in the Future, Which One Will You Be Most Proud Of, Why, and How Will It Inspire You?
Level 1 - Grades 7, 8 and 9

Remembering the Holocaust: What Can You Do So We Never Forget and What Steps Can We Take So It Never Happens Again?
Level 2 - Grades 10, 11 and 12


Level 1
$1,800.00 = for 1st prize
$750.00 = to each of the 5 finalists

Level 2
$1,800.00 = for 1st prize
$750.00 = to each of the 5 finalists

Entrance prizes of $18.00 will be awarded to the first 50 essays received in each level.

How to enter

1. Essays must be typed, double-spaced and a minimum of 250 words. Level 1 essays may not exceed 1,000 words. Level 2 essays may not exceed 1,500 words.

2. The contestant's name, address with city, state and zip code, telephone number, email address, school name, grade, and date of birth must appear in the top right-hand corner of the first page. The contestant's name must appear on all subsequent pages.

3. To receive a list of the contest finalists, please enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope along with your essay or check the Announcement tab at the end of May.

4. Entries must be postmarked by March 2, 2018 and mailed to:

The Morris J. and Betty Kaplun Foundation, Inc.
c/o Seligson, Rothman & Rothman
29 West 30th Street, 10th Floor
New York, New York 10001

5. International entries (non-US, non-Canadian entries only) must be received by March 2, 2018 and may be emailed to: essays@kaplunfoundation.org

6. Finalists will be notified by May 25, 2018.

7. Prizes will be awarded by June 30, 2018.

8. All entries will become the property of the Foundation and may be reproduced by the Foundation.

Questions? Contact info@kaplunfoundation.org

Ms. Gokturk


It’s My Turn!

Your task is to write a piece to submit to Newsweek. This personal feature is an essay (expository or persuasive). This should be a personal piece that addresses a topic that is important to you. It can also be viewed as a personal experience or accomplishment piece. You must be honest in your piece and do the best you can to get this published.

  • Review your question log and find a question that you an answer through your own experiences.
  • Or, consider what bothers you about the world and how you would like to change it.
  • Tell us your story of triumph or difficulty.
  • You may use “I”
  • Use vivid language: show don’t tell

“My Turn” submissions should be sent to:
My Turn Editor, Newsweek

e-mail: myturn@newsweek.com
fax: 212-445-4120 (attn: My Turn Editor)

The essay should be: a) An original piece, b) 850-900 words, c) Personal in tone, and d) About any topic, but not framed as a response to a Newsweek story or another My Turn essay.

Submissions must not have been published elsewhere. Please allow two months for your submission to be considered; if your story is time sensitive, it may not be appropriate. Please include your full name, phone number and address with your entry. The competition is very stiff—we receive over 600 entries per month—and we can only print one a week. We are fully aware of the time and effort involved in preparing an essay, and each manuscript is given careful consideration.

For an automated message with further details about My Turn, please call: 212-445-4547.


"My Chinese Family of Four"
By Isabelle Kao

At my house, where toilet seats are always down and women do the barbecuing, ESPN is just a channel between Headline News and the Food Network.

Consisting of Grandma, Mom, younger sister Victoria, and me, my purely female family lacks a paternal influence. I haven't seen my father in years; he doesn't know that I could die for chocolate milkshakes, that my mouth hangs open while I sleep, or that I wear flip-flops year round.

Although not divorced, my parents have led separate lives on opposite sides of the world for as long as I can remember. In my family, Grandma is the traditional "Mom" while Mom is the traditional "Dad." Mom works late into the night to sustain us while Grandma cooks and cleans.

Grandma keeps the rice cooker on "stay warm" and starts stir-frying in the wok around when Mom gets home. Grandma fills dinner conversations with remarks in Chinese: "Why won't you eat the eggs? Do you know that when your mother was growing up in Communist China, we were rationed eggs only once a year and saved them as birthday treats? And eat the shiitake mushrooms! They lower cholesterol!"

Grandma offers the wisdom and support of a strong sovereign. With the power and age to lecture and scold, she is Queen; if I seek permission to do something, the matter ultimately ends in Her Majesty's hands.

Mom's "yes" may very well be Grandma's "no," and the Queen's resounding "no" always prevails. Grandma's wisdom is that of a sage; aside from the cultural clashes, she has always pointed me in the right direction and given me the right answer. I've learned that I don't need to lose my sense of values and morals to succumb to peer pressure.

I don't need to eat dinner "on the go," watch Monday Night Football, or attend the prom just because everyone else does. By listening to my problems and conveying a Chinese proverb with each solution, Grandma also helps me see the truth in the various Confucius sayings displayed prominently throughout the house.

Mom has taught me to be strong and independent. Never complaining of her stress level or fatigue, she only strives to work harder. We devour The New York Times each morning to "be aware of global issues and to be free from ignorance." She is not at all embarrassed to take me as her "date" to company functions. Despite the numerous times Victoria and I tell Mom that Buicks are generally driven by ol' folks, she stubbornly refuses to drive any other car.

Mom and Grandma, whom I instinctively call my parents, raise my sister and me in the strict, old-fashioned, Chinese manner. Unable to date, wear clothes of our choosing, or bring home grades lower than A's, growing up as Chinese-Americans can be a challenge.

Grandma derides the innocent Disney Channel whenever watches it because it features the "unacceptable behavior" of girls who wear makeup, have boyfriends, and listen to rap music. Mom chastises me whenever I write with red pen (because red ink symbolizes impoliteness), and when I wear white hair ties (because they symbolize a mother's death). Although frustrated at times, my sister and I generally end up in hysterics when we joke about the things that set apart our parents from other American parents.

We laugh at how our friends are forced to take off their shoes and wear slippers when entering our house while trying to comprehend Grandma's broken English.

American journalist Jane Howard once said, "Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one."

Throughout the years, friends have called my family the network of "the four chicas," the tribe of "the three generations," and the clan of "Grandma's children."

I don't need a high testosterone presence in my house to make me a better person, and I wouldn't trade my unconventional family for any other in the world. After seventeen years, I have come to realize that today's households aren't powered by the traditional mother and father, sister Jane, brother John, and dog Spot; rather, they are powered by love.

I have come to realize that the typical American family I once wished to have is unnecessary in guiding the family's prized vehicle down the road of life. All I need is our Buick, driven by Mom's will, steered by Grandma's protection and support, and fueled by all our love.

KAO, a student at () High School, was the grand-prize winner in the 2004 Kaplan/Newsweek "My Turn" Essay Competition. She receives a scholarship of $5,000.

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