Students from grades 5, 8, and 10 from independent schools in Qatar were asked to write a personal essay, short story or poem on education, culture and society. Writing prompts included inspirational quotes from Her Highness Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation.
The aim of the competition is to encourage students to read, write and think critically about important topics, while practicing and improving their English writing skills. This year over 230 students from 122 independent schools took part, up from 104 in the previous year.
VCUQatar writing specialist Professor Sadia Mir held a series of writing capacity building workshops for teachers and students throughout the fall and winter 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.
The US Ambassador in Qatar Dana Shell Smith was at the ceremony to hand out the awards to the students. “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 said.
The Young Writers Competition is a partnership between the U.S. Embassy, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education of Qatar, and VCUQatar.
VCUQatar’s Dean Akel Kahera said that 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 students with the top five writing pieces from each grade will have their work 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 VCUQatar.