National High School Essay Contest Topic

The 2016 submission deadline has passed; essays are no longer being accepted.

Imagine that you are a member of the U.S. Foreign Service recently assigned to one of the following eight bureaus within the Department of State or the U.S. Agency for International Development:

  1. Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (State)
  2. Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (State)
  3. Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs (State)
  4. Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (State)
  5. Bureau of Energy Resources (State)
  6. Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance (USAID)
  7. Bureau for Food Security (USAID)
  8. Bureau for Global Health (USAID)

You have been tasked with seeking peacebuilding solutions to a particular conflict or crisis that threatens U.S. interests abroad. Examples include, but are not limited to: ongoing tensions between Israel and the Palestinian Territories, escalating violence in Iraq, destabilizing forces in Mali and sectarian violence in Myanmar. You are welcome to explore conflicts related to economic crises, resource scarcity, refugee influxes or any other topic that interests you.

In an essay between 1000 and 1250 words, answer the following questions:

  1. How does the conflict or crisis you selected threaten U.S. interests abroad?
  2. What is the official mission of your chosen bureau, in general, and in your chosen conflict, in particular? As a member of the Foreign Service, what is your role in the bureau?
  3. How do you propose your chosen bureau might work in partnership with other organizations to address your chosen conflict? Please describe how your efforts will help build peace in this conflict.
    • Consider the roles of other U.S. government agencies and organizations, such as the U.S. Institute of Peace, as well as non-governmental organizations, foreign governments, international institutions etc.