Students Invited to Enter "Doors to Diplomacy" Web Site Contest

By Louise Fenner
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington – The State Department invited students around the world to enter the fifth annual “Doors to Diplomacy” competition, which challenges young people ages 11 through 18 to create Web sites that teach the importance of international affairs and diplomacy.

The competition is sponsored by the U.S. State Department and the Global SchoolNet Foundation.  Each year an American team and a team from another country are selected for the top prize.

“The idea of the contest is to engage and interest the younger generation in international issues,” said Janice Clark, a State Department public affairs specialist and one of the contest judges. “While they may have some understanding of the world, it won’t be the same as when they pick a topic and do the research.”

Each student on the winning teams receives a $2,000 scholarship. In addition, their teacher-coaches receive a $500 cash award for their schools.  Projects must be completed by March 17, 2007, according to a State Department media note announcing the contest.

Winners will be announced in May 2007.  In 2006, more than 300 teams from 46 countries submitted entries.

Clark said the contest is Internet-based because “this generation is very familiar with it and interested in it.  We thought it was the way to go instead of, say, an essay contest like my generation would have done.”

Another bonus, Clark said, is that “once the Web site is done, they have something that anyone anywhere can view and learn from.”

This also applies to the Web sites that do not win the top prize.  They can continue to be active sites with something to offer, Clark told the Washington File October 25. 

In judging the entries, “we look for good research on the topic,” she said.  “They need to have original writing, thorough citation of sources, good information that is useful to visitors.

“It should have good graphic design so the site is usable, but it doesn’t have to be the fanciest or most professional site,” Clark added.  “It can be fancy, but if it doesn’t have depth, it won’t win.”

All international entries must be in English, although many international teams also create Web sites in their native languages.

In the 2006 contest, students from Macedonia and the state of Florida took the top prize, and a team from Ghana received a special prize for overcoming serious challenges to participate. (See related article.)

Runners-up included teams from Cyprus, India, Singapore, Taiwan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and the states of California and Wisconsin. Several teams received honorable mentions.

The Doors to Diplomacy contest is managed and co-sponsored by the Global SchoolNet Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in San Diego that brings teachers and students together worldwide to participate in collaborative online learning projects.

More information about the Doors to Diplomacy International Competition is available on the Global SchoolNet Web site.

For additional contact information, see the full text of the media note on the State Department Web site.