Students whose parents are not in the Foreign Service are eligible to participate if they are in grades nine through twelve in any of the fifty states, the District of Columbia, the . territories, or if they are . citizens attending high school overseas. Students may be attending a public, private, or parochial school. Entries from home-schooled students are also accepted. Previous first-place winners and immediate relatives of directors or staff of the AFSA and Semester at Sea are not eligible to participate. Previous honorable mention recipients are eligible to enter. $2,500 to the writer of the winning essay, in addition to an all-expense paid trip to the nation’s capital from anywhere in the . for the winner and his or her parents, and an all-expense paid educational voyage courtesy of Semester at Sea.
Nikita Lalwani’s first novel GIFTED was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2007, shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year. It has been translated into 16 languages. In June 2008 Nikita Lalwani won the Desmond Elliot Prize for New Fiction, which she donated to human rights organisation Liberty . Lalwani was born in Rajasthan and raised in Cardiff. In In 2013 she was a judge for the book section of the Orwell Prize , Britain’s most prestigious prize for political writing. Lalwani appeared on the ITV panel show THE AGENDA with deputy prime minister Nick Clegg in 2014 and was previously interviewed on the BBC current affairs programme HARDtalk. She is a trustee of Liberty . and teaches creative writing at Royal Holloway University.