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Essay Competition for Georgetown Undergraduates!

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the birth of dissident, playwright, and former Czech President Václav Havel. In honor of this occasion, the Embassy of the Czech Republic, in collaboration with Georgetown University, announces a special essay competition on the theme "The Salvation of This Human World." The submission deadline is September 2016.

Georgetown University undergraduate students are invited to submit a 500–1000 word essay, concisely written, that would reflect on the theme, inspired by the above quoted words of the landmark speech which President Václav Havel gave before a Joint Session of the US Congress in 1990. President Havel’s statement about human meekness and human responsibility resonates to this day. With these words in mind, Georgetown students are asked to reflect on the current migration crisis in Europe and how it should be resolved and handled.

The winner will be announced at a special ceremony on September 27, 2016. The student selected as the winner of the competition will receive a round-trip air ticket to the Czech Republic, provided by Czech Tourism and the Embassy of the Czech Republic, and accommodations for five nights in Prague (provided by Hotel Fusion).

The award winner will be required to write a 500-word journal entry on the subject My Impression of the Czech Republic and submit photographs, for possible publication on the Czech Embassy’s website / social media (pending review).  The student may create a unique title for the journal entry. The entry will be due one month after the completion of the trip.                 

Historical Background

Václav Havel (1936-2011), playwright, essayist, poet, dissident, and politician, was one of the writers of Charter 77, a document that criticized the communist government for failing to implement human rights provisions. After the Velvet Revolution of 1989, Havel became the tenth and last President of Czechoslovakia and the first President of the Czech Republic. Shortly after being elected, he gave the historic speech in Congress. Havel has received numerous state decorations, honorary doctorates, and international awards, including the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom. After leaving office, he continued to work in human rights, creating the Forum 2000 Foundation. Havel passed away on December 18, 2011.     

One of the first places that Havel visited when coming to the United States as a freely elected president was Georgetown University because he greatly valued the role that students played in his country’s transformation to a democracy. Havel saw students as the future leaders that will shape our tomorrow. In 2013, a special living memorial called Václav Havel’s Place was dedicated in the Alumni Square at Georgetown to continue on this thread of reflection, exploration and debate.         

A bust of Václav Havel, dedicated in 2014, stands in the U.S. Capitol’s Freedom Foyer.

DOWNLOADABLE FILES: Please be sure to download Essay Contest Rules (PDF or DOC format) and Competition Registration form. 

Essay Contest Rules and Background Information (PDF, 154 KB)     
Essay Competition Rules and Background Information (DOC, 2 MB)
Competition Registration Form (DOCX, 2 MB)