Princeton University recognizes the Guatemalan Marimba

Adam Petno , 17-year- old student and founder of Smart program New Canaan which serves Latino and African American children and marimbist of the INTAKE Ensemble, was awarded the prestigious “Princeton Prize in Race Relations " from Princeton University, for the cultural exchange held in Antigua Guatemala, with Marimba Unión Musical.

The Princeton Prize in Race Relations, Connecticut chapter, was awarded to Adam Petno, a student at Greens Farms Academy in Westport, musician in the Norwalk Youth Symphony Orchestra and member of the INTAKE Ensemble; organization who endorsed his application, after meeting and being exposed to the Guatemalan marimba and their culture. Having spent a week in Pastores Sacatepequez, with Marimba Union Musical in Antigua Guatemala and Gaudia Cantorum Concert ensemble.

"There is perhaps no greater challenge facing our country than seeing an increased understanding and cooperation among people of different racial backgrounds," said Paul Myerson, Princeton University’s Class of 1975, who was the emcee at the awards ceremony which recognized three young students from Connecticut who have worked within their schools and within their communities to challenging and improve racial harmony.

Listen to Adam's Marimba Performance or "America the Beautiful", in Guatemala

The Princeton Prize in Race Relations was founded in 2003, and since 2008 it hosts an annual symposium at Princeton University where the winners from across the country share their experiences in interracial relations; its purpose is to promote harmony, understanding and respect among people from different ethnic groups through high school age students who have made significant and positive efforts to improve race relations in their schools or communities.

The three young winners from Connecticut were: Adam Petno, from New Canaan, for using music as a bridge to cross racial boundaries and social and cultural differences, being deeply involved with the INTAKE organization. Ryan Shepard, from Wallingford, a member of the "Black Poetry Club”, and Colette Kroop, from Hamden’s One World Progressive Lutheran Post Adoption program, for promoting adoption and forming inter- racial families.

Petno, who plays saxophone and percussion in the Norwalk Youth Symphony and marimba in the INTAKE Ensemble, based in Stamford, was recognized by Princeton for his direct approach to culture and Guatemalan traditions.

In his speech, Adam acknowledged the deep influence of Latin American culture in his life. Listening to the sounds of diversity has had a real social impact for him. "Knowing that 25 percent of Stamford 's population was born in another country, that 60 percent of children attending public schools are mainly immigrants from Guatemala, Peru, Dominican Republic , Ecuador and Colombia ; are relevant figures that reflect the ethnic groups in our community, " he said.

In a message to further promoting diversity and harmony, Cheryl Greenberg, Class 1980 and History Professor of Trinity College, referred to the race issue by simply stating that there is only one race and that is the human race.

Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, also joined the Princeton Prize Committee in commending Adam’s work, by sending a handwritten congratulatory letter and encouraging him to continue promoting racial harmony within the immigrant community in Stamford, CT.

To learn more about this prize, visit: http://www.princeton.edu/pprize

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