In the latest Around Town column, news about a high school essay contest inspired by a World War II-era hero from the Netherlands and U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry's recent visit to Stanford University.
HONORING AN UNSUNG HERO ... A "Civil Courage" essay contest open to Midpeninsula high school students aims to foster connections with Palo Alto's sister city of Enschede, Netherlands.
Organized by Neighbors Abroad and Congregation Kol Emeth, the competition recognizes Pastor Leendert Overduin, a World War II-era Dutch pastor who rescued hundreds of Jewish children during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands using an underground network of safe houses, according to a press release. One of those children was Mirjam De-Groot-Bont, the mother of Uri Elzur, a board member at the congregation. "It astounds me that Pastor Overduin, to whom I owe my very existence, is virtually unknown," Elzur said.
The contest is open to high schoolers who live or attend school in Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, Mountain View, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Atherton, Menlo Park and Redwood City (their counterparts in Palo Alto's sibling city of Bloomington, Indiana can also join).
"The city of Palo Alto is honored to partner with Enschede in this essay contest as a means for current generations to recognize how the courage of an individual can have a lasting impact on countless lives," Palo Alto Mayor Pat Burt said in a statement.
Three winners selected from each of the Palo Alto and Bloomington areas will be awarded with money: $500 for first place, $300 for second place and $100 for third place. Each area's top two winners will have a chance to visit Enschede as ambassadors and meet contest winners from other international cities. Contestants are encouraged to learn about Overduin's background by watching "The Conscience of a City," a documentary that's available on YouTube. Essays will be accepted by email to [email protected] through May 1 at midnight. For more information, visit neighborsabroad.org/overduin-essay-contest.html.
CLIMATE TALKS ... U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry visited Stanford University on March 8 when he talked about climate and sustainability with faculty, leaders and students.
He learned about the university's new school that is dedicated to environmental sciences and set to open this fall. "Secretary Kerry is a leader in our national conversation about climate change, and I'm delighted that he is visiting our campus to share his insights with Stanford students and faculty," university President Marc Tessier-Lavigne said in a Stanford Report article.
The former Democratic presidential candidate toured the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory with Yi Cui, director of the Precourt Institute for Energy, which has worked with SLAC on green energy projects.
After watching presentations about green energy startups founded by the university's alumni, Kerry attended a roughly 45-minute-long fireside chat where he answered climate questions from undergraduate and graduate students. He highlighted national and international work, including the recent UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) meeting where he helped work out a deal with nearly 200 countries that committed to limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
"The future is going to be defined by these next years," he said in the article. "Particularly these next 10 years. You've all heard about net zero 2050. If we don't do enough between 2020 and 2030, we won't get to net zero by 2050."