9 January 2016

UNAI and ELS Launch 2016 Many Languages, One World Essay Contest!

The Emperor Charlemagne once said, “To have another language is to possess a second soul,” demonstrating the long recognized benefits of multilingualism.

In an effort to promote multilingualism among today’s university students United Nations Academic Impact and ELS Educational Services Inc. have partnered together for the third straight year to co-sponsor the Many Languages, One World essay contest.

The contest invites university and college students aged 18 and older to write an essay on the role of multilingualism in advancing global citizenship in one of the six official UN languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian or Spanish.  Students must write the essay in a language that is not their mother tongue or primary language of instruction.  The goal of the contest is to promote peace and cross cultural understanding through the study of languages, and to highlight for students the life enriching benefits of mastering other languages.    

"The contest is an encouragement of the exploration of language, the adventure and the sharing that its understanding can bring," said Cristina Gallach, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information.

A total of 60 winners will be selected, 10 for each of the official UN languages, to attend a week long Global Youth Forum in New York City, culminating in an opportunity to speak in the General Assembly of the United Nations. 

In 2015, more than 3500 people from 130 countries took part in the initial phase of the contest, and 70 students from 42 countries representing 60 universities were selected as winners.

ELS President and CEO Mark Harris noted that while learning other languages opens doors and provides opportunities, it also allows people to unlearn harmful stereotypes and biases because they can communicate with people across cultures and from different backgrounds.    

The deadline for essay submissions is 31 March 2016.  To learn more about contest rules and eligibility go to the official contest website.   To see how last year’s winners enjoyed the Global Youth Forum check out this video