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BIS Hanoi alumni win the New York Times Asia-Pacific Writing Competition

Out of over 1200 entries from over 25 countries, the essays of two BIS Hanoi recent graduates, Valerie Lua and Kieu Quoc Thai, have been shortlisted and published in the final book, which displays all of the winning pieces.

In the academic year of 2019/2020, the New York Times invited tertiary and secondary school students across the Asia-Pacific region to participate in the Asia-Pacific Writing Competition with the theme “Our World: 2050”. Winning entries were selected by their award-winning journalists and published in The New York Times International Edition.

Recently, the results have been announced that out of over 1,200 entries from over 25 countries, 40 entries were shortlisted and published in the final book displaying all of the winning pieces. Among the shortlisted entrants, two are from the British International School Hanoi (BIS Hanoi) recent graduates, Valerie Lua and Kieu Quoc Thai (Class of 2020).

NY Times Winners

 “Being shortlisted from so many entrants is a huge accolade in itself, but being published by arguably one of the world’s leading newspapers, is something many people can only ever dream of”, proudly shared Ms. Kate Wilson, Head of the English Department at BIS Hanoi. 

In this competition, students were asked to submit a 500-word opinion piece responding to the following question: “In an age where unpredictability is the new constant, what can you, the younger generation, do now to shape the future?” Participants must demonstrate competence in the use of English as a written language alongside originality and flair.

Valerie and Quoc Thai wrote insightful and powerful articles sharing their opinions on what the younger generation can do now to shape the future.

For Quoc Thai, he focused on the alarming environmental issues in 2050 when humanity will have reached halfway across the 21st century with a predicted population of eight billion people. His article then emphasised that it is imperative for the youth to make helping the environment a duty, in order to shape a brighter future. Besides a love for writing and Literature, Quoc Thai is passionate about Performing Arts. During his time at BIS Hanoi, he formed a student band with his peers and took on a number of leading roles in BIS Hanoi’s Secondary annual productions. At the Graduation Ceremony in late May this year, he was awarded Best in Performing Arts and Best in Core IB awards, which are a testament for his ability and passion. 

Quoc Thai

Valerie, on the other hand, wrote a very inspiring piece about the current fast-changing world and why young people should have the ambition to do whatever it takes to be heard and to create a movement with the belief that all the small contributions can create big changes for the future. At BIS Hanoi, Valerie excelled not only in academics but also in the school’s activities, which made her leadership skill stand out. During her time at BIS Hanoi, she took over the positions of House Captain, first-ever Head Girl and Higher Education Ambassador for BIS Hanoi, all with great responsibility. She was also among very few students in the history of BIS Hanoi who received the Principal’s Awards, a particular source of pride for their students, twice, for her proactive, hard-work and determination in many aspects of school life.


Reading about how young adults see the world in the next 30 years is truly fascinating. From the 40 selected entries, we could clearly see that the young generation is outspoken and ready to start small and make changes in their daily life.

The New York Times Asia-Pacific Writing Competition was established in 2009 to encourage students to become more informed and globally minded about important issues in the region and around the world.

You can find out more about the competition below: