Thank you all for your courage to create and for sharing your stories with us.
With more than 8,000 travel stories to review, we were thoroughly overwhelmed by your witty, gut-wrenching, heart-warming and just plain incredible stories. From those of you who captured a single interaction to others who took us for a wild adventure, you left few corners of the world unexplored.
However, our job is to not only find the best stories, but also to find the most passionate and aspiring travel writers, who will use this scholarship opportunity to build their skills and kick-start their travel writing careers.
Here are your 2017 Travel Writing Scholarship winners...Missed out on this scholarship?
Congratulations to our 3 winners
Alexander McCoy, Helen Glenny and Kaushal Oza, we're kick-starting your travel writing career with a mentorship from professional travel writer Tim Neville. You'll then be off on a real-life assignment, exploring the Balkans and writing about your adventures along the way!
Many of the contestants can string together excellent sentences but what’s more important is picking a topic of significance. This story is superb in that way. The essay is told with honesty through a strong protagonist you sympathize with. The language feels like it’s grappling in spots but that can be fixed. We have a clear sense of place, action and dialog. Most compelling of all, the writer uses a situation that’s foreign to most and expands it into something bigger that any traveler can identify with.
Mentor, Tim Neville's Comments
This is a solid piece of writing with the right mix of setting, characters, and action. There are a few clunky sentences in here that any editor could fix, but overall this is a moody, revealing and ultimately very rewarding read. The skill that shines through here is how the writer takes a common item, a book, and uses it as a lens to gaze upon two very different worlds. That’s far harder to do than it sounds and in this case the writer nails it.
Mentor, Tim Neville's Comments
Gorgeous piece of writing. Eloquent. Exotic and measured in its telling with bursts of color and commentary, much like a cricket match. The writer does a fine job with the imagery and use of symbolism. This is a serious, deeply divisive subject — also one of significance — and the writer floats us right across it with a boat. This is high quality work.
Mentor, Tim Neville's Comments
Congratulations to the following members of our shortlist. Each of you will receive a certificate from World Nomads and personal feedback from mentor, Tim Neville.
Amanda Vandenberg from the USA - A Funeral for a Fish (Spain)
Blaine Pennington from the USA - A People Displaced (Jordan)
Cheri Grissom from the USA - My Black-Eyed Barricade (Colombia)
Danielle Tate-Stratton from Canada - The Horse Thief (Iceland)
Fabio Grandi from the UK - Partying with Pachamama (Bolivia)
Johanna Sorrell from the USA - Walking Alone. (Canada)
Katie Wirsing from the USA - First Date (Cambodia)
Leah Tioxon from the USA - No Turning Back (India)
Matt Hayes from New Zealand - An Encounter in Langtang Valley (Nepal)
Michael Kelly from Nepal - An Affinity inside Infinity (Nepal)
Michaela Barnett from the USA - Savoring a Guinea Pig Gift (Ecuador)
Nick Sustana from Spain - Catalan Skyscrapers in Barcelona (Spain)
Rebecca Wilson from the UK - Between The Wars. (Brazil)
Rhiannon Arnold from Australia - The Bali Dawn (Indonesia)
Sarah Puckett from the USA - Journeys in Life and Death (the USA)
Sarah Dittmore from the UK - Finding Pain (India)
Zoe Power from Australia - The Chase Is On (Guatemala)
Missed out on this scholarship?
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First of all, a huge thanks to all of you who took the time to send us your stories. They made me laugh and cry and think. They made me want to hand out my wallet to strangers on a bus, to play with the children of the favelas and hug my father. Most of all they reminded me that the best travel experiences emerge not in the moment but after they’ve been given some time to stew. To everyone, a big bravo.
World Nomads received a record number of entries this year — thousands and thousands — and the team read every single one of them. They then forwarded me a larger shortlist. I spent countless hours reading them again and again with everything removed but your title and story. For each piece, I took diligent notes on what I thought worked and didn’t. I then reread the story again to see if my own thoughts held true. The quality of the essays I received would make me fear for my job if I didn’t believe I could help make you better, too.
In the end, I picked a handful of the best of the best. After interviews, more deliberating, some sleepless nights and insightful feedback from my own mentors, three winners emerged. Alexander, Helen and Kaushal are not only very promising writers, they’re also hungry to embark on this funny, rewarding career. We feel they’ll benefit the most from what this contest is all about.
Many new writers think writing is all about wowing the reader with heady sentences or using a voice that sounds engaging but just doesn't match the material. Too often the words get in the way of the writing. Good storytelling is about delivering a complex, nuanced message in an economical yet elegant form that can be funny or sad or brutally honest. Most of all it has to feel authentic. The best writers do this by crafting scenes and characters and setting everything into motion in such a way that the words themselves fade away and all that’s left is an invisible hand guiding your imagination. As Ernest Hemingway once said, raisin bread is all right but plain bread is better.
It's a lesson that can take a lifetime to learn so don't be discouraged. Keep traveling. Keep writing and always take good notes. The best stories are still out there.
Travel Writing Scholarship Mentor & Contributor for the New York Times
Please note: Due to the sheer amount of applications we receive for our scholarships, we do not provide individual feedback. If you would like to improve your travel writing skills in time for your next trip, please be sure to sign up to our exclusive tips in the sign up box above.
IMPORTANT SCHOLARSHIP WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT UPDATE
Thank you for your passionate engagement and debate regarding our scholarship winners.
Each year, our winners are chosen based on their storytelling skills, stand out creativity and personal dedication to the craft. However, these artistic considerations are not the only ones. No matter how good the writing is, it cannot supersede cultural awareness and racial sensitivity to a global audience.
We would like to make it extremely clear that we do not condone the use of offensive language, including a term referring to Native Americans in “Two is not always company”. After speaking extensively with the author about her intent, we have learned that it did not come from a hateful or racist place, but from a place of pure ignorance. An ignorance that we shared. We realize that this is not an excuse for us to overlook its use.
For this reason, we have decided it is not appropriate to award the scholarship to the author of “Two Is Not Always Company”, and the application has been withdrawn. We will continue to talk to the author about ways in which through the power of travel we can break down prejudice and bigotry, promote inclusion and build understanding.
The scholarship spot created by this decision will be filled by the first runner-up as determined by the mentor Tim Neville, which is Kaushal Oza’s "Cricket in the Valley”.
Thanks for your understanding.
The World Nomads team