South African Student among Winners of United Nations Essay Contest

By | 24 June 2014

Pretoria, 23 June 2014 — The United Nations Information Centre in Pretoria is pleased to announce that a South African student, Damian Oakes, is among the winners of the multilingual essay contest, “Many Languages, One World,” organized by the United Nations Academic Impact with ELS Language Services Inc.

Having written his prize-winning essay in French, Mr. Oakes is completing his Masters Degree in Translation and Interpretation at the University of Pretoria. He has worked at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation and at the Alliance Francaise in Pretoria where he taught French.

The contest, launched in October 2013, invited university and college students to write an essay on global citizenship, under the title “Many Languages, One World. The essay had to be written in one of the six official UN languages that was not the students’ mother tongue or the language of instruction of their education. The six official languages of the United Nations are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.

4,000 contestants from every region of the world participated in this essay contest with a total of 60 winners announced – ten from each language category. These finalists are from 26 countries and their fields of study include all of the arts and sciences, medicine, pharmacy and dentistry, engineering, law, business, finance and management, agriculture, architecture, communications and linguistics and translation.    At the invitation of the ELS Educational Services Inc., these sixty winners will travel to New York to participate in a five-day Global Youth Forum from 23 to 27 June 2014.

In New York, they will work in ‘’language teams’’ to create action plans based on the principles of the United Nations Academic Impact.  On 27 June, they will present these plans at a special meeting at United Nations Headquarters, marking the start of the 70th anniversary year of the United Nations Charter.

The United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) is a global initiative that aligns institutions of higher education with the United Nations in furthering the realization of the purposes and mandate of the Organization through activities and research in a shared culture of intellectual social responsibility.

Mr. Oakes leaves for New York on Tuesday, 24 June and returns to South Africa on Tuesday, 1 July. The United Nations Centre in Pretoria congratulates Damian Oakes on this well-deserved accolade and wishes him well.
Additional information:


For more information, contact: Sudeshan Reddy, National Information Officer, United Nations Information Centre at or 012 354 8507 or 082 563 5286