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15th Annual Creative Writing Contest

The American Immigration Council is proud to sponsor the 15th annual“Celebrate America” Creative Writing Contest. The contest inspires educators tobring U.S. Immigration history and lessons into their classrooms and gives fifth graders the opportunity to explore America as a nation of immigrants.

Past winners have documented the experience of immigrants who have left their homelands in search of a more promising future in America, spoken of their immigration experiences or reflected on their ancestors or parents.

Fifth grade students enter their work in local contests which are sponsored by chapters of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Each chapter forwards the local winning entry to the National Competition where entries are reviewed by a distinguished panel including U.S. Senators, award winning authors and noted journalists. Winning entries will then be printed in the Congressional Record.

The grand prize winner (and two guests) will receive an all expenses-paid trip to the Council’s Annual Benefit Dinner where the winner will be recognized and will recite the winning piece. Local and national judges are looking for student writing that is original, thoughtful and speaks to the Council’s mission to educate the public about the benefits of immigration in our society. If you are interested in participating, please contact your local contest coordinator.

The Creative Writing Contest kicks off in the fall or early winter (depending on the local contest rules) as volunteer attorneys from local AILA chapters visit teachers and classrooms. The attorneys give classroom presentations
on immigration to inform students and teachers about the important role immigration plays in our society. The attorneys also explain contest details and get students excited about participating. In the winter and early spring, teachers submit student entries to local AILA chapters who then select and honor a winner(s) on the local level. In April, local AILA chapters send winning entries to the Council, which we forward to our panel of national celebrity judges. The top national winner is announced in early May.

Past National Judges Include:
Dave Eggers, Award Winning Author
Gish Jen, Author
Firoozah Dumas, Author
Warren St. John, Author/Journalist
Daniel Inouye, Senator (D-HI)
Charles E. Schumer, Senator (D-MA)
Mary Williams, Founder of the Lost Boys Foundation
Junot Diaz, Pulitzer Prize Winning Author

The National Grand Prize
The winner and two guests receive an all expenses paid trip to The Council’s
Annual Benefit Dinner where he/she is honored and reads his/her winning
entry aloud. This year’s Annual Benefit will take place June 15, 2012 in
Nashville, Tennessee. The winner also receives a travel stipend, engraved
plaque, his/her winning entry printed in the Congressional Record and a flag
flown over the Capitol in his/her honor.

Find your local contest here!