My journey with the Commonwealth began at 14 years old when I entered The Commonwealth Essay Competition, renamed The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition in 2015 in honour of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s role as both Head of the Commonwealth and Patron of The Royal Commonwealth Society. The competition has been run by The Royal Commonwealth Society since 1883, and continues to reflect the bright ideas of a wide range of young people, offering incredible insights into issues that impact their daily lives.
This Competition is a global platform that encourages youth from across the Commonwealth to share their experiences and impressions of the past while putting forth their aspirations for a better, more sustainable future. Participating in such a prestigious writing competition gave me a sense of acknowledgment and unparalleled inspiration; it was an assertion that every child’s ideas were important and that our voices truly mattered to the wider world out there.
Last year my affiliation with the Commonwealth was rekindled when I was offered a Commonwealth Shared Scholarship to support my undertaking of a Masters program in the UK and I enrolled into in the Risk Masters program (formerly: Risk and Environmental Hazards) under the Department of Geography at Durham University. The Scholarship Commission curates an engaged network of Commonwealth scholars, involving us in various events, discussions and other activities around in the country, and we had an excellent year attending some great meetings and events at the Commonwealth Secretariat and various UK universities.
With all the activities happening, it was only when I was selected to judge The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition that everything came full circle. Young authors from across the Commonwealth sent in brilliant pieces on a variety of topics, ranging from human rights and democracy to environment and development, which were an absolute treasure to read. The process gave me ’dejavu’ of my school days, when I was crafting ideas on paper with big dreams of peace and solidarity. I had a budding environmentalist growing inside me as I was writing my essay, dedicated to a greener world. Little did I know that in a few years time, I would be studying Environmental Science as my core discipline and choosing a career to protect the world’s environmental health. Progressing from applicant to judge felt like a homecoming to the RCS and a reiteration of the values, history and language shared by Commonwealth citizens.
The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition plants the seeds of multi-faceted curiosity into the minds of young people at an early age. We live in a time of creativity and innovation when one’s skillset transcends basic academic boundaries. Bridging the gap between various disciplines is where the future is headed and young people must be given the resources and space to explore these ideas. To this end, we must encourage young people to write, to bring out scholarly ambassadors through this prestigious competition and inspire more young minds to add their experiences and values to our shared and united Commonwealth.
The 2018 Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition is open for submissions on the theme ’Towards a Common Future’.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Royal Commonwealth Society.