American Foreign Service Association Teams Up with Semester at Sea and National Student Leadership Conference for Annual High School Essay Contest & Top Prizes

Tom Switzer, AFSA Director of Communications

February 5, 2012

WASHINGTON—February 5, 2013—The American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), in partnership with the Semester at Sea (SAS) program and the National Student Leadership Conference, is hoping to challenge and inspire the next generation of diplomats through its’ 15th annual essay contest. Launched nationwide on November 30, 2012, the contest invites high schoolers to compete for a first-place series of prizes including a trip to Washington, D.C. to meet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, $2,500 award, and full scholarship for a Semester at Sea voyage. Second prize is full scholarship for tuition to the National Student Leadership Conference summer program in Washington, D.C., and New York City.

In a year that has drawn considerable attention to U.S. Diplomacy and the Foreign Service, the 2013 essay topic asks students to describe what they would do to improve relations between the United States and a nation of their choosing (Burma, Greece, Haiti, India, Kenya, or Libya). Full essay topic and contest rules can be found on the AFSA website: The application deadline is April 15, 2013.

In 2012, students across the nation submitted a record-breaking 500 essays from 22 states. Winner Natasha Madorsky of Cleveland Heights, Ohio called the opportunity to meet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “a dream come true.” AFSA Executive Director Ian Houston said, “AFSA is very excited about this unique contest which is such a valuable opportunity for students and parents to learn about the key global role of U.S. diplomacy.”

Semester at Sea President Les McCabe described the contest as a “remarkable global perspective builder” that will benefit a student’s awareness of international issues for the entirety of their education. “We are proud to sponsor this critically important work in international education and global understanding.”

Semester at Sea is the only study abroad program of its kind in the world. Using a ship as its traveling campus, participants travel to 8-15 destinations each fall and spring semester and explore a world region each summer. The University of Virginia (U.Va.) is the program’s academic sponsor. More than 60,000 individuals representing 1,500 institutions have traveled to more than 60 countries since 1963. Semester at Sea is administered by the nonprofit Institute for Shipboard Education in Charlottesville, Va. Learn more at

For application details about the content, please contact coordinator Perri Green at 202-719-9700.

AFSA, is the professional association and labor union of the U.S. Foreign Service. Founded in 1924.
AFSA represents 28,000 active and retired Foreign Service employees of the Departments of State, Commerce, Agriculture, the USAID, and the International Broadcasting Bureau.