Global Dialogues youth writing contest winner Stephanie Balmir of Haiti

The Grand Prize winner of the 2014 Global Dialogues story-creating contest is Stéphanie Balmir of Haiti. Presently working on her second novel, this morning she generously took time to be interviewed by Daniel Enger, Executive Director of Global Dialogues.

“Tell us, please: who is Stéphanie Balmir?”

Stéphanie: “I’m a 23-year-old Haitian. I was born in Haiti and still live there. I just finished my studies in social communication, and I love reading and writing.”

“You’re an author. Why? What’s your motivation?”

Stéphanie: “Writing has been a passion of mine since I was 11. At first, it was just for fun. I wrote stories for my friends who like to read, as well as fairy tales and love stories. But over time it’s become more serious. Now, I write to say what I think, to express my frustrations, my desires and my will. … There are certain hardships that many people have to endure, but they don’t dare speak out about them. I do just that – for them and for me. Through my writing, I manage to say things that I wouldn’t necessarily say out loud. This helps me to feel useful.”

“Turning now to Global Dialogues, please. How did you hear about the contest?”

Stéphanie: “There’s a francophone music show that I would listen to on the radio. The presenter talked about the contest, and the next day I checked out the website. And my Global Dialogues adventure began!”

“You’ve taken part in the Global Dialogues contest twice now. Why?”

Stéphanie: “On the one hand, it’s a way for me to make myself known. And on the other, the issues that Global Dialogues addresses affect us all. I decided to take part to make my own contribution to this new world we want to build.”

“Your Grand Prize-winning story deals with a very sensitive topic. Why did you choose it? What message did you want to convey?”

Stéphanie: “All the contest topics are sensitive ones; it’s important that they be addressed. However, I feel that alongside the HIV epidemic, drug abuse is the most subtle, most dangerous scourge that we must fight. So, I chose that topic to promote an ideal world, one without drugs.”

“Without giving away your secrets, tell us, please: how did you create your award-winning story?”

Stéphanie: “Ahh, well, for this year’s contest I spent a lot of time doing research on the Internet, reading articles about how to write a short story, how to create a good denouement (conclusion) for a story; I also read human rights conventions. Lots of research!”

“What advice would you give to young authors who want to write good short stories?”

Stéphanie: “You must have the desire to succeed and the willingness to work very hard. Don’t get complacent and say your text is perfect. Rather, be willing to revise it, rewrite it, correct it ten times if need be. Have other people read it. And voilà, that’s my big secret for success.”

“In your opinion, why should anybody take the time to participate in the Global Dialogues contest? What’s the point of all that effort?”

Stéphanie: “There are lots of reasons. In addition to the chance to win prizes, it’s a way to express oneself, to speak out to others and communicate one’s desires and wishes. The most important reason to participate is that everybody has things they want to say, and as young people – our world’s rising generation – it’s up to us to construct our new world. We must make our voices heard by others and convey our points of view on sensitive issues that concern us all.”

“What does it mean to you to be the 2014 Global Dialogues Grand Prize winner?”

Stéphanie: “It means a lot to me. It’s the first time I’ve won such a prize – something I’d always dreamed of. It’s a source of motivation for me to work a lot harder, a source of confidence that I can indeed go farther and farther.”

“Thanks, Stéphanie, for having so kindly taken time for this interview. Is there anything else you would like to say?”

Stéphanie: “It’s been a pleasure for me not only to take part and to win, but also to have made my voice heard. My last word to all young people who, like me, want to have their voice and their perspectives heard: Global Dialogues offers us this opportunity; we must seize it.”

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