It was not the first time that Christopher Dan Cruz had participated in World Bank’s annual International Essay Competition. He had joined the contest in 2006 and made it to the top 100 finalists. This year, he decided to give it another try before he breached the age limit of 25.
The theme was “Youth Unemployment”, an invitation for young people to share their ideas on how they would tackle youth unemployment through youth-led solutions. Some guide questions include: “How does youth unemployment affect you, your country, town or local community?” and “What can you do, working together with your peers, to find a sustainable solution for job seekers through youth entrepreneurship?”
This year’s competition, Chris happily learned, had been expanded to include a video category. Chris is a creative writer for a company that produces live events. He writes, edits, directs and produces videos and audio-visual presentations.
It took him all of three days and practically no financial investment to complete his one minute and 44-second video—one day to write the script, and two days to compose and edit ,with the help of royalty-free music and stock photos from the internet.
In April, he visited the site and was overjoyed to find that out of 2,009 entries (90 percent of which came from developing countries), his entry, entitled “I Am Not Unemployed”, had won second place in the video category. The prize: US$1,000.
Chris describes the style of his video as “kinetic typography” which uses words as visual graphics to explain abstract ideas. Using a special software, his message rejecting the idea of being helpless marches in words onto a backdrop of denim fabric, powerfully projecting an indomitable spirit and a positive mindset.
The idea for the video came to Chris quite naturally, as he felt very strongly about the theme of the competition. He says that since he graduated cum laude from the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communications in 2008, he has been unemployed for only two weeks. That is because he had refused to accept the state of joblessness.
“Unemployment is a state of mind,” he says. “I always go out of my way to do something to make a living.”
When he was 14, he had to drop out of high school for a year due to monetary difficulties. But not one to waste his time, Chris did odd jobs, such as working as a cashier in a barber shop, packing checks, wiping windows and mopping floors.
“Initiative knows no bounds,” he says. “Never be too proud to earn a living. It is better to lose a little dignity in the workplace than lose a lot of dignity doing nothing.”
Chris also began joining competitions at around this age. A self-confessed nerd, he joined a TV quiz show and essay-writing contests, winning the latter on a national level twice. He also wrote a documentary on overpopulation called ”Land of Plenty”, which was cited by the Philippine Quill of the International Association of Business Communicators with an award of merit.
Chris says he was able to study at the state university through a Presidential Scholarship Program and the help of a generous aunt and grandmother. To make ends meet, he took on freelance jobs editing videos for students from other schools. He says he intends to use part of his cash prize to create more videos that send an inspiring and meaningful message.
The World Bank International Essay Competition 2010 is organized by the World Bank in partnership with several outstanding academic and civil society institutions, including Cairo University, Jadavpur University, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Africa Leadership Forum, AIESEC International, European Students' Forum (AEGEE), Junior Achievement Worldwide, and Conciencia Association.