By NICHOLAS KRISTOF
My latest column, my annual gift-giving guide, also announces my next win-a-trip contest, an annual event in which I take a university student with me on a reporting trip to the developing world. The aim is to generate interest in global poverty both with the contest and with the blogging and videos that the winner will contribute to the New York Times website. I started the contest in 2006 and we’ve had some great trips over the years. For some of the winners, it has been life-changing, and HBO did a documentary called “Reporter” based on my 2007 trip; it’s on Amazon if you want to see what you’re getting yourself in for.
The full rules are here, but short version is that it is open to students enrolled in an American college or university, either as an undergraduate or graduate. You can submit an essay or video or both, essentially explaining why I should pick you. Please don’t gush about my reporting — just explain what you bring to the table. It might be that you’re a great writer or photographer, or it might be that you grew up poor and know something about poverty, or grew up rich and don’t know a thing about it. I’m not looking for expertise but for great communication skills so that your blogs and videos will make other students interested in these issues and generate some conversations. If you blog or have other writing or video experience, mention it and send links.
To enter, use this form at the Center for Global Development website. The center will help me winnow down the applicants to a much smaller pool of finalists, and then with the help of my assistant, Natalie Kitroeff, I’ll choose the winner. Probably the aim will be to travel for about 10 days early next summer, so if you know for sure you won’t be able to take the time off, then please don’t apply. Your expenses will be covered, but there’s no cash award. I’m not sure just where we’ll travel, but the two Congos, South Sudan, Central African Republic and India/Nepal are among the many possibilities. If you speak French, mention that but it’s certainly not a requirement.
In past years, I’ve sometimes taken along a teacher or older person, but I’m afraid this year it’s just a university student.
One other suggestion. Only one person can come with me on this trip, but you can always try to make your own trip. Africa is more expensive, but traveling around Nicaragua or India/Bangladesh, or Vietnam/Cambodia is more affordable. You may also be able to get a job or volunteer position teaching English. And for that matter, there are opportunities to travel outside your comfort zone without leaving our country — tutor in a prison, or in an inner city school. Over the years, I’ve heard from a number of win-a-trip applicants who, disgusted by my poor judgment in failing to pick them, went off on their own journeys and had life-shaping experiences. So if you don’t win my trip, win your own!
I welcome your thoughts on the contest, or on the gift guide column.
Original link: http://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/