This summer, we will feature the words from enthusiastic winners of our What About Peace? contest and we’ll share their thoughts behind the incredible art they presented and what this big win means to them. These anecdotes not only showcases their art pieces but also encourages fellow students to come up with great entries for the upcoming school year. The following is the fourth installment of our What About Peace? winner story series.

Photo courtesy: Casey and Jerred Photography

Photo courtesy: Casey and Jerred Photography

We all have seen movies and heard songs that juxtapose two similar yet very different events to point out ironies in the world, but to read something like this can definitely make you very inquisitive about the author’s thought process. And that is something I felt while reading the essay by our Second Place winning entry by Scott Ward for the written category titled ‘What About Peace?’.

In the first part of the essay, he portrays a boy going to school while the second part describes a soldier who is heading to patrol. The characters are different but are placed in similar situations leaving it up to the reader to establish connection and impose a meaning.

When asked what made him write an essay that captures similar yet different situations, Scott says: “I’ve always liked to think about differences in the world–how weird everything is.  I thought an essay built around similar juxtapositions would be a good way to pose the question, “What is Peace”?

When I was younger, one of my favorite songs was “Funny the Way it Is” by Dave Matthews Band.  The song does a fantastic job of juxtaposing two very similar yet very different events to point out ironies in the world. For example, the song says one person is dropping out of school and at the same time another kid is walking 10 miles to school. I definitely drew inspiration from this song.”

When you say ‘He is awoken by a loud voice’. Who does ‘He’ represent in your story?
I didn’t really want the “he” to be a specific person.  I wanted “he” to be vague so the readers could fill in the blank of “he” using their life experiences or imagination.

When did you first start writing and what do you really like about writing?
You have no idea how ironic that question is. One of the first memories I have of writing is descriptive writing in fourth grade. The class was given a prompt to write about their pets. I proceeded to write four words- I have a dog- and turned in the paper. I thought it was a silly assignment. As the years went on, I’ve had the good fortune of being taught by many great English teachers who have taken my writing from “I have a dog,” to something that has been called a Peace Anthem. Since that fourth grade assignment, I have found ways to make writing fun, and because of that, my writing seems to be amusing to others as well. If you are bored by your writing, no one else is going to be entertained either.

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Photo courtesy: Casey and Jerred Photography

Who are your favorite authors?
I have never found one author to stick to, but I have enjoyed a lot of books over the years.  Some of my favorite books were Monster by Walter Dean Myers and The Giver by Lois Lowry.  I liked The Great Gatsby, Canticle for Leibowitz and some essays (like Fat of the Land) from Rick Reilly.  Honestly, a lot of what I read is from about the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

What do you have to say about ‘What About Peace’ contest by Global Exchange. Do you think the contest comes as a valuable opportunity for you to showcase your writing talent to larger audience?
I enjoyed writing for this contest because the prompt was so open.  It is a nice change of pace to have my work judged by a non-teacher audience. It was one of the few opportunities I have had to truly format a story or essay in a way that I wanted to. The hardest part of writing this piece was cutting it down from 1000 words to 500 words.

What will be your message/suggestion to students who aspire to be a great writer?
I would just say: Have fun with what you write and everything else will follow.

Scott’s essay opens your eyes to think of different ways in which ‘Peace’ can be described. Your writing may not only be narrative or descriptive but to put two contrasting viewpoints or descriptions and then to put them close to each other can be fun and inspiring at the same time.

Indeed, a terrific way to add depth to your writing. Thanks for sharing your story with us, Scott!


What About Peace? is a Global Exchange international arts contest for youth ages 14–20 to express ideas and thoughts about peace by responding to the question, “What About Peace?” through artistic expression.

This post was written by social media intern Sakshi Pathania.