University of Vermont

Academic Ceremonies - Convocation

Writing Contest

A Writing Contest for new UVM Students
Responding to “Mountains Beyond Mountains” by Tracy Kidder

book coverGuidelines for Writers

Category 1: Understanding Mountains Beyond Mountains

Category 2: Exploring Issues Raised in Mountains Beyond Mountains

Category 3: Making Connections with Mountains Beyond Mountains

Category 4: Inspired by Mountains Beyond Mountains

How to Submit your Entry

Guidelines for Writers

The title of Mountains Beyond Mountains comes from the Haitian proverb, “Beyond mountains there are mountains.” Take this proverb as a starting point for your own piece of writing, using the guidelines below. Essays are invited in four categories. In each category, you’re free to develop your own approach, although sample prompts appear below to help you get started.
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Category 1: Understanding Mountains Beyond Mountains

Essays in this category take the title proverb and use that as a jumping off place for exploring some particular aspect of the book. For example, essays might explore aspects such as

• how the proverb provides a key to understanding Haiti, as portrayed by Kidder and Farmer
• how the proverb provides a key to understanding Kidder’s portrait of Farmer and his work
• how the proverb provides a key to understanding the current relationship between money and healthcare in the world, as presented by Kidder/Farmer

Essays in this category will be based on a thoughtful reading of Mountains Beyond Mountains, and will almost certainly use evidence from the book throughout.
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Category 2: Exploring Issues Raised in Mountains Beyond Mountains

Essays in this category will use reading Mountains Beyond Mountains as an occasion to explore one of the issues central to Paul Farmer’s story, such as

• current relationships between money and healthcare in some part of the world or in relation to some particular disease
• how people get inspired to act on social or political problems
• how people respond to suffering in the world

Essays in this category might well use some material from Mountains Beyond Mountains, but would likely also incorporate information from other sources and/or personal experiences.
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Category 3: Making Connections with Mountains Beyond Mountains

One way of responding to what we read is by making connections between the book and our lives or our experiences and observations. Essays in this category might, for example,

• explore an experience (or set of experiences) in your own life that illustrate the proverb
• examine how Mountains Beyond Mountains inspires you to take action to make the world a better place
• present another real-life situation that could be entitled “Mountains Beyond Mountains.”
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Category 4: Inspired by Mountains Beyond Mountains

Work in this category will use Mountains Beyond Mountains as the inspiration for work that represents the Haitian proverb “Beyond mountains there are mountains” in another form, such as

• poetry, fiction, or other creative work
• a multimedia representation that could combine visual, graphic, textual or audio elements
• science fiction that imagines a future world in which Farmer’s lessons were heeded (or not?)
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How to Submit Your Entry

Please use the contest gallery on the National Day on Writing website to submit your entry and click on “contribute to this gallery” at the bottom of the page. You will need to create a profile to register for the gallery, and answer a few questions about yourself and your writing before you are able to upload your entry (it is also possible to place your work elsewhere on the web and simply submit the URL to the gallery, and if your work is shorter than 500 words you can paste it into the gallery). If you have questions about the contest, please contact Susanmarie Harrington, Director of Writing in the Disciplines at 802-656-0878, or Sue Dinitz, Director of the Writing Center at 802-656-7963.
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Last modified August 23 2009 07:01 AM

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