Winners of the 2nd Annual Young Writers Competition Celebrated

Ambassador Smith with one of the winners

DOHA: The U.S. Embassy, in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education of Qatar and Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar celebrated the winners of the second annual ‘Young Writers Competition’ on April 20th, 2016 at Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar in Education City.

The Young Writers Competition is part of an ongoing partnership between the U.S. Embassy Qatar, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education of Qatar and Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar. The inaugural competition took place during the 201415 academic year and students from 104 of Qatar’s independent schools participated. This year, over 230 students from 122 independent schools participated.

The United States Ambassador to the State of Qatar Dana Shell Smith congratulated all the students who participated in this year’s competition and commended the efforts of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education for their support of the effort. “I want to congratulate each student, teacher and school who participated in this year’s competition and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education for their support. This program is of the utmost importance to our Embassy – education and cultural diplomacy are foundational pillars of our mission here and around the globe.”  She added that “such an outpouring of student participation is indicative of great teachers, and speaks to Qatar’s commitment to fostering a knowledge-based economy.”

Dean Akel Kahera of Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar stated “Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar is delighted to support the Young Writers Competition for the second year in a row, and to be a vital part of the ongoing partnership between the U.S. Embassy Qatar and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education of Qatar.  Collectively, the accomplishment of the students raises the visibility of the State of Qatar as a hub of creativity, a source of talent, and a leading contributor to the important dialogue about the role of education and human development in the region.”

The aim of the competition is to encourage students to read, write and think critically about important topics in education, culture and society, while practicing and improving their English writing skills. The writing themes for this year’s competition focused on global citizenship and on education.  Students from grades 5, 8, and 10 were asked to write a personal essay, short story or poem on one of these topics and were given writing prompts that included inspirational quotes from Her Highness Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser.

The students with the top five writing pieces from each grade were honored at today’s event and their work will be featured in this year’s Young Writers Journal, which will be published by the U.S. Embassy and distributed to local schools and educational institutions throughout Qatar in May.  The journal will also feature illustrations by visual art students from Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar.

Alongside the competition, the U.S. Embassy partnered with VCUQatar writing specialist, Professor Sadia Mir, throughout the fall and winter to conduct a series of writing capacity building workshops for teachers and students at the independent schools to complement the program.  This included three pre-competition workshops for teachers at the primary, preparatory and secondary levels, and six pre-competition workshops for students at select schools to improve writing and critical thinking capacity.

Feedback from students who’ve participated in the program has been superlative.  One grade 10 student who participated in last year’s program stated that “participating in this competition has inspired me to write more and more, and it has made me realize my writing talents that I didn’t know before.  It was an exciting experience that I’ll never forget. I feel proud of myself.”

For more information about the Young Writers Competition please contact the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy Doha, Qatar at: pasdoha@state.gov.

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