Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Vilcek Foundation Prizes 2008

Last night I attended the splendid annual award dinner for The Vilcek Foundation. Supporting the work of foreign-born artists and scientists who make significant contributions to society, the Vilcek awards stand in stark relief to the bellicose immigration debate that so inflames certain sectors of society, especially during this campaign season.

The 2008 winners were Inder Verma for biomedical science and composer, Osvaldo Golijov for the arts. Ellis Rubinstein, President and CEO of The New York Academy of Sciences and Ara Guzelimian, Provost and Dean of the Juilliard School presented the awards. Dawn Upshaw, a musician closely associated with Golijov's music, gave moving and personal remarks. In his acceptance speech, Osvaldo observed that as an immigrant to America, he was able to come here to follow his own dreams, but that for so many who come here, it is for the dreams of their family and their children's future.

My sister, in fact, is foreign-born. Kelly was born in Korea and joined our family when she was three years old through a Holt adoption. Currently a transplant nurse with the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor, her work literally saves lives everyday. I am immensely proud of what she does and the vital contribution she makes to her community.

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