Everett Alvarez High School junior Araceli Perez was selected as the winner of the National Steinbeck Center’s “Tell Us Your Story” contest. In her winning story, Perez shared the gritty tale of her family’s migration from Mexico to the United States when she was 10 years old.
Perez’s essay was selected because it was a modern-day Joad family story. It followed the contest’s prompt to “tell a story from your family in which you faced a particularly challenging moment and how you got through it.” Although an English Language Learner writing in her second language, Perez told a powerful personal story in vivid detail that won the judges over.
“Walking through the dessert, it was lonely, it was dry. You could just hear the noise of animals around there. I could see snakes in the hot sand. We spent days and nights in the desert suffering in the nights because it was really cold and the food and water was almost done.”
Perez won an iPad Mini as part of her prize package, which also included a copy of the 75th anniversary re-issue edition of The Grapes of Wrath.
Elizabeth Welden-Smith, curator of education and public programs, said “The Grapes of Wrath 75th Anniversary Essay Contest was a great way for the National Steinbeck Center to engage the nation in a conversation about humanity’s capacity to overcome challenging circumstances.”