Schoolchildren’s short story contest, The Future in our Hands
Schoolchildren’s short story contest, The Future in our Hands, rewards dreams
Author: Inma Ramos | Photos: Latinstock
Thinking about the future, and the opportunities that education offers in order to transform our environment, is the goal of the short story contest The Future In Our Hands. This is a pioneering initiative promoted by Fundación MAPFRE, in collaboration with the OEI (Organization of Ibero-American States), in 18 Latin American countries. The participants have to express how they would like to contribute to improving the world and how they see themselves within a few years, in the form of a short story written in Spanish or Portuguese.
In this latest edition – the third so far – 2,061 short stories were presented. The participants were divided into two categories, according to the grade they are currently studying: those pupils aged 6 to 11, all studying elementary education, had to write a text of no more than 800 words; as for the high-school participants aged 12 to 18, they had to present stories with a limit of 1,200 words.
Promoted by Fundación MAPFRE, it drew the participation of 2,061 pupils from 915 elementary and high schools in Latin America
Dreams, the winners
Fundación MAPFRE made all the materials necessary for participation available online, both those of an informative nature and even the templates which the children could use to write their stories.
El Sueño del Presidente [The President’s Dream] written by Víctor, a Peruvian pupil at the Centro I.E.P. Claret in Lima who took the overall first prize in the Elementary Education category. His tale relates the story of the President of the Republic of Peru, called Víctor Chalo. He has a tremendously packed schedule, a really busy man. One evening he is free and he sets about recalling what he dreamed of when he was a child… and that dream was to become the leader of his country and help its citizens.
In the High School category, the overall first prize went to Noriel Lopez, a student at Instituto David in the Panamanian province of Chiriqui, who used the pen name Tintero de Plata for his tale Un sueño cumplido [A Dream Fulfilled]. The protagonist of this story is Carlos, a young man who works alongside his brothers to bring money into their home. Despite working, Carlos’ dream is being able to study and graduate, something he achieves after being discovered by a talent scout, who makes him an irresistible offer to play football in Germany. Being able to study is one of the clauses in the contract he signs.
Víctor and Tintero de Plata, whose prizes were a laptop and a bicycle for each of them, were representing two of the 915 public, private and subsidized schools from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela which took part in this contest. Coordinating the huge number of people and initiatives involved would have been impossible without the hard work of the individuals who form part of Fundación MAPFRE’s Volunteers Program in each country.
The winners of each category in the 18 participating countries also received a bicycle for their stories. Moreover, the third edition of this contest wished to acknowledge the support and backing received from publicizing this event – followed by more than 49,000 people on social networks – awarding each tutor or teacher a laptop and diverse educational material for each center.
The Internet was the channel for those pupils interested in participating to submit their story. With the help of a tutor or teacher, they presented them on the website set up for this purpose. Following an initial online vote, the 20 stories which obtained the highest score in each country were selected to go on to a second phase. In this case, a jury of between four and eight judges awarded a score of 1 to 10 to each story, thus selecting a winner for each category, in each country.
In a third phase, the winning stories from each country were once again assessed by a jury made up of members of the organization, who chose the winners in each category.
Resources to improve living conditions
The Future In Our Hands is part of the Formando Comunidad program, which promotes cooperation in 23 countries with a view to improving the education, nutrition, health and job opportunities for children and young people suffering poverty and social exclusion. Fundación MAPFRE’s Social Action Area provides resources to directly or indirectly improve the living conditions of the most underprivileged individuals and groups, as well as the integral education of children and young people.
In the upcoming fourth edition, the participants will find it really hard to match the works of Víctor and Noriel, but that is precisely the idea: eagerness to excel in order to achieve goals.
You can access our website to read the complete stories and see the full list of winners.
“In the Republic of Peru, the president Víctor Chalco was striving to fulfill his packed schedule of activities. Endless meetings with his ministers and agreements to be signed left him completely exhausted at the end of the day. One evening, he decided to take a break. He entered his office, reclined in his chair and started thinking about everything he had dreamed of when he was a child, the work he wanted to do and his overriding goal of changing things and helping people. He closed his eyes and started to remember.”
These are the opening words of El Sueño del Presidente [The President’s Dream], the short story presented by the Peruvian pupil Víctor, the overall winner of the Elementary Education category in this third edition of the contest The Future In Our Hands, a pioneering initiative promoted by Fundación MAPFRE, in collaboration with the OEI (Organization of Ibero-American States), in 18 countries. This short story contest is part of the Formando Comunidad program, which promotes cooperation in 23 countries with a view to improving the education, nutrition, health and job opportunities for children and young people suffering poverty and social exclusion.