Mariam Parray, a sophomore from Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Arkansas, is the 2021 National High School Essay Contest winner. In her essay, “Diplomats and Peacebuilders in Tunisia: Paving the Path to Democracy,” Ms. Parray focuses on how the Foreign Service partnered with other U.S. government agencies and NGOs to effect a peaceful democratic transition in Tunisia. She emphasizes the importance of multifaceted approaches as well as the importance of bringing marginalized groups into the fold. Mariam will travel to Washington to meet with a member of the Department of State’s leadership and will also gain a full tuition to an educational voyage with Semester at Sea.
Harrison McCarty was this year’s runner-up. Coincidentally, he is also a sophomore from Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Arkansas. Harrison will be attending the international diplomacy program of the National Student Leadership Conference this summer.
The 2021 honorable mentions were: Louisa Eaton (Wellesley, MA); Samuel Goldston (Brooklyn, NY); Lucy King (Bainbridge Island, WA); Haan Jun Lee (Jakarta, Indonesia); Khaled Maalouf (Beirut, Lebanon); Madeleine Shaw (Bloomington, IN); Allison Srp (Austin, MN); and Daniel Zhang (Cortland, NY).
USIP congratulates all the winners of the 2021 National High School Essay Contest.
Diplomats and Peacebuilders: Powerful Partners
What characteristics lead to a successful effort by diplomats and peacebuilders to mediate or prevent violent conflict? The United States Foreign Service—often referred to as America’s first line of defense—works to prevent conflict from breaking out abroad and threats from coming to our shores. Peacebuilders work on the ground to create the conditions for peace and resolve conflicts where they are most needed.
Successful essays will identify, in no more than 1,250 words, a situation where diplomats worked on a peacebuilding initiative with partners from the country/region in question, nongovernmental organizations, and other parts of the U.S. government, and then go on to analyze what characteristics and approaches made the enterprise a success.
Contest deadline: April 5, 2021
Download the study guide for the 2021 National High School Essay Contest. This study guide provides students with a basic introduction to the topic and some additional context that can assist them in answering the question. It includes key terms in conflict management and peacebuilding and examples of peacebuilding initiatives, with reflection questions for independent learners to dig more deeply or for teachers to encourage class reflection and discussion. We hope this study guide will be a useful resource for educators and students participating in this contest, and for educators who want their students to learn more about this year’s contest topic.
Learn more about the contest rules and how to submit your essay on the American Foreign Service Association’s contest webpage.