• 1

World Is A Classroom Essay Contest

The World is a Classroom Essay contest was established to provide middle school and high school students the opportunity to share their personal story of how travel has impacted their lives. The World is a Classroom Essay and Scholarship was created in recognition of Ripley Hunter, Founder and Chair of the SYTA Youth Foundation and long standing member of the SYTA Board of Directors for his commitment and dedication to changing young lives through travel.

Students who write an essay describing what they learned and how they were impacted by travel could earn a scholarship of up to $1,500.00 USD! The other top four essay entries will also receive a cash scholarship of $1,000.00 USD! The SYTA Youth Foundation offers scholarships to students who use their creativity to compose an article or speech that illustrates a student travel experience.

If you have any questions, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

2021 Application Closed.  Please check back for upcoming opportunities! 


2020 Winner and Finalists

Congratulations, Micah Hill from Laurel, MS, for being the 2020 World Is a Classroom Essay Contest winner!

MicahHillWinner – Micah Hill
Laurel High School

Read the essay

Watch the video

2nd Place – Ashley Lin
Union High School

3rd Place – Kathleen Rose Duncan
Boston City Singers

4th Place – Nora Ngo Mitchell
Booker High School

5th Place – Colin Martin
Communications High School

The World Is a Classroom Essay Contest Rules:

A $1,500.00 USD scholarship and a commemorative plaque will be awarded to the author of the winning essay. The winner may be asked to share their essay in person or via video at a SYTA Youth Foundation virtual or in person event. Essays in 2nd through 5th place will also receive a $1,000 USD scholarship. The prize winning essays will be featured in the Teach & Travel magazine.  

A panel will judge the entries based on the criteria of legibility, sincerity, creativity, and content.

How to Enter
Any student who is currently enrolled in a secondary public or private academic institution (grades 9-12) may submit an entry through the online form below. Article length should not exceed 525 words. You can not begin an online application, save changes, and return later to complete it. Changes will not be saved to an application. Once submitted, an application cannot be changed. If you need to make changes to your submitted application you will need to notify This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Official Rules
No purchase or payment of any kind is necessary to enter or win this contest. Only one entry is allowed per person.

Multiple entries will not be accepted, and could result in disqualification. Employees of SYTA, SYTA member companies, immediate family members, business partners, contest sponsors and contest judges are not eligible and may not participate in this contest as an entrant. Entries must be received by the deadline. Income and other taxes, if any, are the sole responsibility of the contest winners. This contest is subject to all federal, state, and local laws. Void where restricted or prohibited. All entries become the property of SYF and will not be acknowledged or returned. SYF reserves all publication rights thereof. Acceptance of prize constitutes consent to use winners’ names for editorial or publicity purposes without further compensation, except where restricted or prohibited. The winner may be required to sign an affidavit of eligibility and liability release, which must be returned within 21 days or an alternate winner, may be chosen. SYTA & SYF reserves the right to edit submitted content to align with our editorial standards. 

The 2021 application period will open February 8 - April 30, 2021. The winning essays will be notified the week of June 7, 2021.  

For Questions, please feel free to contact us! 

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Watch videos
from past recipients and read their winning submissions below!

2019 Winner: Andrew Lisa
2018 Winner: Jennifer Xiong
2017 Winner: Adrienne Porter
2016 Winner: Sophia Debruin
2015 Winner: Lauren Chung
2014 Winner: Jackson Sales
2013 Winner: Sibina Mehdi


Join our Newsletter

*Email Address:
First Name:
Last Name:

Updates, articles, news, and more.