U.S. Embassy Launches Black History Month Essay Contest for High School Students

The United States Embassy Public Affairs Section (PAS) has announced a Black History Month essay contest for high school students throughout Zimbabwe. Entries are due by February 14, 2014 and should be e-mailed to harare@educationusa.info or hand delivered to PAS’ Eastgate offices or the nearest EducationUSA Advising Centre (Gweru, Bulawayo or Mutare).

“This is the fourth year we are holding this competition for ‘A’ level students across Zimbabwe.  Previous top winners from Bulawayo, Masvingo, and Mutare submitted essays about their personal inspirations and heroes,” said Jillian Bonnardeaux, Acting Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Harare. “Through this contest we highlight skills such as writing and critical thinking, and engage youth in dialogue as they explore Africans and African-Americans who have made important contributions to society,” she said.

Students can participate by submitting a 250 to 500-word essay in response to the following question: “President Obama stated at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service that Mandela inspired him to activism. To what extent do you agree? Discuss the power of ideas to make change in one’s community or nation. Who or what inspires you?”

Each participating high school can submit up to two student essays. The individual winners of the contest as well as their schools will be recognized with prizes and certificates. Each year five winners are selected.

Two of the winners from previous competitions are now studying in the United States.  Sibusisiwe Mukwakwami, who won the competition in 2012 as a student at St. Augustine’s High School near Mutare, attained a MasterCard Scholarship to study at the University of California – Berkeley.  Julia Jenjezwa, a former student at Gokomere High School in Masvingo, was the top 2011 winner and is currently studying on a full scholarship at Yale University.  “Writing is a skill highly valued by U.S. universities, and previous winners have been excellent writers,” Bonnardeaux said, noting that several winners chose to apply to U.S. universities through one of the four EducationUSA Advising Centers in Zimbabwe.

Each February, the U.S. celebrates Black History Month recognizing the significant people and events in the history of the African Diaspora. February is the birthday month of two Americans who greatly influenced the lives and social conditions of African-Americans: former President Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass.  – ZimPAS © February 4, 2014