News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

NOCHE

Knight Foundation

Wayside Furniture


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Education


Pepper Pike freshman wins Princeton Prize in Race Relations
Demi Zhang uses art to improve racial harmony
by WKSU's KABIR BHATIA


Reporter
Kabir Bhatia
 
Demi Zhang and her 21-string zither, which she plays in the Cleveland Chinese Music Ensemble. The Orange HS freshman is the winner of the second Cleveland Princeton Prize in Race Relations.
Courtesy of K. Bhatia
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:
The Princeton Prize in Race Relations recognizes high school students who are making efforts to improve racial harmony. WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia reports on a freshman who is using art to do just that.
Pepper Pike freshman wins Princeton Prize in Race Relations

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (4:11)


(Click image for larger view.)

Bedecked in a colorful Asian frock, Demi Zhang was all smiles as she prepped for a zither performance at the Cleveland Asian Festival last week. The Orange High School freshman from Pepper Pike, and first generation Chinese-American, sees it as more than a chance to entertain. She says it’s a way to build bridges between her native and adopted cultures.

“I wanted to find a way to allow people to accept each other’s differences. Because if you argue with somebody politically or morally, then it’s a lot harder to come to understand that person. But something with art and music, that’s more a universal language, is a lot easier to communicate with.”

Princeton Prize comes to Ohio
The Princeton Prize was launched in 2003 in Boston and Washington D.C. Today, it’s awarded by alumni in two dozen U.S. cities, and Zhang is the second annual recipient from the Cleveland chapter, covering seven counties.

Civil Rights attorney Sandhya Gupta organized the Cleveland branch in 2010. She says Demi’s plethora of interests made her stand out among the competition.

Zhang a shoo-in
“The fact that she’s been performing in a professional Chinese ensemble for four years, and she’s only a freshman in high school, was something that struck us. Also the fact that she’s had pieces of art, all based in Chinese tradition, displayed in professional exhibitions… this is sort of a life’s work for her.”

Each regional winner receives $1000 along with an invitation to a race relations symposium at Princeton. Demi swims, takes ballet, ice skates and runs a Chinese culture club in her neighborhood, and she says the symposium has given her even more avenues to investigate.

“There were a lot of other people who also did vastly different projects. I personally like to write. But then I had this phase where I desperately wanted to be a teacher. And also I have a good friend who is a fantastic immigration lawyer. And she has gotten me very interested in that whole aspect. Because in court, there’s the court battle, but there’s also the battle of changing a person’s life in many cases.”

Racial dialogue still needed in Northeast Ohio
Zhang’s calling for social justice is not rooted in personal experience. She can’t recall much discrimination growing up. Neither can Sandhya Gupta, who also grew up in Pepper Pike. But she feels Northeast Ohio can still benefit from understanding between cultures.

“I don’t know that Cleveland is unique in that, but it’s definitely here in various communities. That’s an area... ripe for racial dialogue. I don’t think there’s anywhere in our state, our country, our world that does not need this.”

The Princeton Prize will be presented to Demi Zhang at an event this week in Cleveland, and the deadline for next year’s prize is January 31.

Related Links & Resources
National Princeton Prize website

2011 Cleveland Princeton Prize ceremony

Listener Comments:

I would like to learn to play the Guxin. Can you please recommend a teacher for me in the Cleveland area? Thanks so much! I loved listening to your video on you tube!


Posted by: dana mietus (HB) on January 30, 2014 8:01AM
I work for the City of Beachwood and we are having a Chinese Tea on December 27, 2012. We are looking for someone who could perform a Chinese Tea Ceremony for us. On the internet her name appears that she does perform the ceremony. Demi sounds adorable and I wonder if she would be interested in volunteering to do the tea ceremony and play the zither for 10 or 15 minutes for us.


Posted by: Esther Rutman (City of Beachwood) on October 25, 2012 3:10AM
Dear Demi,
I am proud to be your teacher. It is wonderful to use your talents to create social change. Congratulations!

Kathy Frazier (gifted education - Orange High School)


Posted by: Kathy Frazier (Orange High School) on May 26, 2012 3:05AM
Kabir, thank you for a lovely piece! One correction: the deadline for next year's prize is January 31.


Posted by: Sandhya Gupta (Cleveland Heights, OH) on May 23, 2012 3:05AM
Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook




Stories with Recent Comments

Ohio's Supreme Court narrowly upholds Ashford Thompson's death sentence
"Justices" William O’Neill, Paul Pfeifer and Judith Lanzinger should all be immediately removed from the court. If they could actually believe that this murde...

Ohio's Sen. Brown is pushing for more assistance for homeless vets
That would be a great program to have for the homeless vets. Many of them are still suffering from PTSD even from the Vietnam war.

Lordstown GM plant plans to install 8,500 solar panels
How much will this solar array cost? How is it being funded, and who is really paying for it? How much real useful electricity will it actually produce in MEh p...

Local Ebola concerns cause officials to pay more attention to West Africa
I have a better idea, let's secure our borders and spend those billions of dollars on our own first.

HUD and Cuyahoga Land Bank extend a housing deal for another year
Need to sale lot, and would like to know how to contact someone to see if they may be interested in the property that sat between two lots. If you can give me...

Akron Beacon Journal details abuse claims against televangelist Angley
In the early 90's I went forth for pray. And the man was anointed by the hand of God. Just a fact I will never forget

Lawmaker questions why a million voters didn't get absentee applications
He's a damn lie! I vote n all elections. I missed 1. Haven't gotten my absentee ballot and their making it hard to get one.

Thirsty Dog Brewery warns it might have to leave Akron
Why is it the city's responsibility to find this guy a location? There are a hundred realestate companies that could help him.

Kent State sends home three after contact with second Ebola-stricken nurse
Why weren't all health workers who were around Duncan quaranteened for 21 days and tested for Ebola? That's a no-brainer. Why was Vinson allowed to travel right...

Copyright © 2014 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University