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Competing for the encounter.

The OAS Quincentennial Office reached out to secondary school students from throughout the Americas with an Inter-American Essay Contest which culminated in June 1992 with an awards presentation. Twelve Latin American and Caribbean high school students earned honors for their original essays, short stories and dramatic scripts on the theme, "Encounter and Exchange." Ambassador Christopher Thomas, OAS Assistant Secretary General, delivered the keynote speech to the students, their teachers and the ambassadors from their respective countries at the ceremony. Thomas referred to the Quincentennial commemoration as "a celebration of the peoples of the Americas, rich in their cultural and ethnic identities but all uniquely American."

The OAS received hundreds of submissions relating to the profound and irrevocable changes catalyzed by the encounter of the New and Old Worlds. The winners' approaches to the theme were as diverse as the countries they hailed from: Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Jamaica, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay. The first prize in the dramatic script category was awarded to a work entitled "Fiesta Amerinda" by Juan Carlos Ordonezz Calderon of Colombia. Ordonez Calderon entered the contest by chance after his father discovered a discarded contest brochure in the waste-basket of the town's mayoral office where he is a custodian. Jeovan Assis da Silva of Brazil received first place for his essay examining the effects of sugarcane's introduction into the Brazilian socio-economic structure. Jermaine O. Rankine of Jamaica and Alisha Wade of Barbados tied for first place for their short stories. The OAS sponsored the winners' and teachers' travel arrangements to Washington D.C.

The student finalists of the U.S. National History Day Program - which this year was planned in conjunction with quincentennial activities at the Smithsonian Institution - were also present at the awards ceremony. Secondary students representing each state were invited in order to stimulate a cultural exhange between students from around the Americas.

The results of yet another competition, initiated by Venezuela, were on view in the OAS exhibition hall from July 1 through July 10. Numerous countries throughout the Americas and Europe have commissioned official quincentennial stamps, but for the Venezuelans, 1992 marked the first nationwide search for creative design in philately. From ships to saints, renaissance-like portraits to indigenous motifs, over sixty art pieces formed part of this original exhibition, which was supported by the Venezuelan Postal and Telegraphic Institute (IPOSTAL), Association of Graphic Artists (TAGA), and the Caracas Museum of Contemporary Art.

In addition, examples of quincentennial stamps from Aruba, Austria, the Bahamas, Canada, Finland, France, the Holy See, Mexico, Paraguay, Switzerland, and the United States are on display in the Main Building of the OAS for the next several months. Some of the stamps are from a special program of the Postal Union of the Americas and Spain entitled the "Americas Series." One of the main attractions is an 1892 original from the United States marking the 400th anniversary of Columbus' voyage. The stamps will eventually enter the permanent collection of the OAS Columbus Memorial Library.
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Title Annotation:The Organization of American States Quincentennial Office's inter-American essay contest
Publication:Americas (English Edition)
Date:Jul 1, 1992
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