International Essay Contest
The Institute for Youth in Policy International Essay Writing Contest is an opportunity for students to use their voice and writing ability in order to think critically about the state of politics in their country and declare the change they hope to see, all while competing for cash prizes and opportunities to get their writing published!
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Generation of Changemakers
Create innovative solutions to real-world problems
Tell your story and your perspective
Research issues important to you
Get recognized for your writing
Win prizes for your outstanding work
Get published for your writing
We launched the Institute for Youth in Policy International Essay Contest as a way to engage and empower students to think critically about the issues that matter to them. By providing a platform for students to express their ideas and opinions, we aim to encourage the next generation of leaders to become more informed and civically engaged citizens.
Additionally, the contest may serve as a way to spotlight valuable insights and ideas from young people around the world. By encouraging students to write about the issues that concern them, our competition may help a general audience to better understand the priorities and perspectives of students.
Ultimately, the Institute for Youth in Policy International Essay Contest may be seen as an opportunity for the Institute to invest in the future by supporting and uplifting the voices of young people, and by fostering a sense of civic engagement and social responsibility in the next generation.
Prizes will be awarded to participants for the overall quality of their essays. Prizes for first, second and third place winner are as follows:
Brian is a geopolitical strategist, advisor, and philosopher publishing extensively on Sino-American relations, medium statecraft, and where nascent technologies intersect political theory and public policy. A Hong Kong Rhodes Scholar (2020) and third-year DPhil in Politics at Balliol College, Oxford, they hold an MPhil in Politics at Wolfson College, University of Oxford, and an MA in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, having attended Oxford on a full scholarship on a Kwok Scholarship. Brian has taught modules in politics to undergraduate students at Oxford and Stanford Universities (latter on exchange). Brian has spoken at Carnegie-Tsinghua, Stanford, and Tufts, and briefed leading MNCs on macro risks in Asia.
As a columnist at the Hong Kong Economic Journal and the Editor-at-Large for ThriveGlobal, they have contributed to publications such as TIME, Foreign Policy, Aeon, Financial Times, Diplomat, Fortune, SCMP, Nikkei, Japan Times, the US Asia Law Institute, SupChina, E-IR, Institute of Art and Ideas, USCN Perception Monitor, Neican, The Hindu, having also presented and written on issues of public philosophy for the Journal of Practical Ethics, the American Philosophical Association, and the Royal Institute of Philosophy. Brian's comments have been featured on The Atlantic and POLITICO. They also serve as Strategy Head for Polemix, a Web 3 start-up.
Hung Wei was born and raised in Taiwan, Republic of China. She came to the States in 1979 to study at UCLA, received a Master’s Degree in Teaching English as A Second Language, moved to west San Jose in 1981, and to Cupertino in 1990.
She is the current Mayor of Cupertino, the city home to Apple’s main campus, and located in the heart of Silicon Valley. She served as Trustee and Past Board President with Fremont Union High School District from 2007 to 2018, serving 10,000+ students and their parents from five high schools. While her children were in school in the Cupertino Union School District and the Fremont Union High School District, she volunteered in many school activities and took leadership roles as PTA President, School Site Council member, event chairs, and fundraising chairs.
Hung is a dedicated community volunteer for over thirty years, serving on many local non-profit organization Boards. She was elected to the Cupertino City Council in November 2020. She believes in Servant Leadership and will dedicate her passion, energy, and action-taking abilities in the next decade for public service.
Sophie (she/her) has a genuine curiosity about the world and loves connecting with people. She carries the memories of her travels with her through her daily accessory choice. Sophie loves eclectic and fun fashion, music, jewelry, and hearing people’s stories. She is a photojournalist, and her work with PCGL allows her to merge her passion for exploring the human experience with a focus on women and children with her professional endeavors. Traveling with Hillary Clinton during her primary run for US President as her personal photographer from 2007-2008, Sophie learned the challenges women face in any career.
In 2004, the UN sent Sophie to Haiti to photograph the political insecurity; within days, her love for Haiti was ignited, and she decided to make her home in a seaside fishing village, where she lived until moving to Farmington in 2012 to join the Miss Porter’s faculty. Sophie’s Haiti work has been widely exhibited in Haiti, New York City, and Geneva.
Kamy Akhavan, former CEO of ProCon.org, the nation's leading source of nonpartisan research on controversial issues, now leads the Center for the Political Future at the University of Southern California. Kamy has more than 20 years of experience in bridging divides at national levels. His work has served more than 200 million people, including students at more than 12,000 schools in all 50 states and 100 countries. He has been published and interviewed in textbooks, magazines, television, radio, newspapers, and websites including Reuters, Associated Press, Fox News, ABC, Washington Post, NPR, CNN, and CBS. He holds a BA and MA in History from UCLA.
Vanessa Zaehring is the current COO of Represent.Us, the largest US-based anti-corruption group. Under Vanessa's leadership, Represent.Us has become one of the leading nonpartisan organizations in the United States, and has grown their budget to over $10M. Additionally, she is the current Chief of Staff at the Digital Climate Coalition, where she is an environmental advocate at an organization serving to promote digital innovation and sustainability.With an extensive background in politics, social activism, and environmental strategy, she is a passionate changemaker advocating for the implementation of large-scale changes in American politics, from a nonpartisan view. Her work has made her a leading voice in the fight against political corruption, both on the social and environmental front.
Henry Widjaja is a junior at Cupertino High School in California, interested in Political Science and Business/Economics. He is Indochinese and a first-generation American, who is passionate about public speaking, and uses his voice to amplify students. He is involved in a speech-centric nonprofit and works with the local city council to develop policies that address community issues. In his free time, he enjoys swimming, playing the cello, and learning to fly planes.
Lauren Thomas is a high school senior in Arlington, Virginia who is interested in furthering her studies in public policy and government with a potential minor in international relations. She is actively engaged in youth political organizations, Model UN, and is Co-Head/Co-Founder of her school's Victory Garden Club, which aims to combat food insecurity through growing produce.
Ava is a highschool senior passionate about social justice and the environment. They are a writer, editor of two school newspapers, and head of The Association for White Anti-Racist Education at their school. They have worked on political campaigns and are a varsity field hockey player. Ava plans to continue their involvement in these activities in college.
Emmanouil Vourvahakis is a second-year student at the University of Melbourne undertaking a Bachelor of Arts in politics, international studies, and anthropology. He is the Director of Educational Outreach in YIP’s Civic Innovations Department and is involved with several other youth organizations. Emmanouil is passionate about national security and seeks to pursue a career in the Australian Government.
Brandon Tran is a sophomore at USC majoring in Political Science and minoring in Organizational Leadership and Management. He is a first-generation college student and American, and works with YIP to study and reduce political polarization. He is also a member of No Labels' Youth Congress and enjoys playing sports, watching movies, and writing in his free time.
Isabella Romeu is a first-year student at The University of Chicago majoring in English and Creative Writing. She is a Cuban first-generation American with a passion for politics, social justice, and criminal justice, which she hopes to reflect in her professional work. Isabella is involved in several organizations, such as the Justice Education Project (JEP) and Project Patriarchy, where her work has been published in Teen Vogue. In her free time, she enjoys journaling, reading, and thrifting.
Join the team
Communication, Negotiation, Networking, Marketing
Outreach Coordinators will be working to direct the outreach and communication sector of the YIP International Essay Contest.
Individuals would be responsible for reaching out to academic institutions and/or corporate entities while engaging in productive communication with other team members.
It’s expected that Outreach Coordinators will spend around 10 hours a week divided into team brainstorming and working on individual tasks pertinent to networking and communication strategy.
Communication, Networking, Multitasking, Strategic Planning
Logistics Coordinators will be working to streamline the outreach and execution of the YIP International Essay Contest.
Individuals would be responsible for the strategic planning and management of the contest while engaging in productive communication with other team members.
It’s expected that Logistics Coordinators will spend around 5 hours a week divided into team communication and working on individual tasks pertinent to contest logistics.
Countless countries around the world suffer from a plethora of issues – economic hardship, social turmoil, political polarization, pandemic recovery, unreliable leadership, corrupt governance, warfare and conflict, the list goes on. If you were elected the leader of your country, what would you do to address the issues your country faces in order to build a more prosperous society?
Essays will be evaluated according to…
- Insight: Does the essay provide unique or interesting insights, analysis or perspectives on its subject matter?
- Impact: Is the significance or impact of the issue(s) being discussed, idea(s) being brought up, or point-of-views being communicated sufficiently captured in the essay?
- Clarity and organization: Is the essay easy to understand, with a clear and logical flow?
- Style: Is the essay engaging and well-written, with appropriate yet compelling tone, language and syntax for the subject matter?
Who Can Participate?
- Any student, in any country, who is enrolled in an accredited high school or college/university at the time of submitting their essay is eligible to participate in the Institute for Youth in Policy International Essay Contest and compete for the prizes. Students taking academic gap years or semesters are also eligible. No current employees of the Institute for Youth in Policy, however, will be permitted to enter the contest.
- Essays can take the form of anything from an analytical research paper to a personal narrative to allegorical fiction. This means essays can be written in any citation style or with no citations at all if it is not a research-heavy paper.
- Word Limit: 1250 words
- Submission Deadline: June 1st, 2022
- All essays should be submitted as a .docx or a PDF document.
- All essays should include your name as well as a title for your essay. Cover pages are acceptable but not necessary.
- Essays should be written in an easily readable font size (11 or 12 pt.) with a professional font style (Times New Roman, Arial, etc.).
Thank you for your interest in the Institute for Youth in Policy International Essay Contest. We look forward to receiving your submission! A submission portal will open on this page on March 31st, 2023. Until then, please don’t hesitate to contact [email protected] if you have any questions. You can also follow our social media to stay up to date on contest details and to learn more about other Institute for Youth in Policy initiatives!