2016 International Letter-Writing Competition for Young People

The theme selected for 2016 was: "Write a letter to your 45-year-old self."

Nguyen Thi Thu Trang is honoured at the closing ceremony of the 26th Universal Postal Congress in Istanbul, Turkey (Photo: Ugur Cobanoglu).
Nguyen Thi Thu Trang is honoured at the closing ceremony of the 26th Universal Postal Congress in Istanbul, Turkey

Fifteen-year-old Nguyen Thi Thu Trang of Viet Nam took first prize in the UPU's 45th International Letter-Writing Competition for her heart-wrenching letter written in the voice of Alan Kurdi, a young Syrian boy whose lifeless body was found ashore in Bodrum, Turkey. The toddler became an international symbol of the refugee crisis after his image was circulated across media worldwide.

Nguyen accepted her prize during the closing ceremony of the 26th Universal Postal Congress in Istanbul, Turkey, where she read her letter to some 2,000 representatives from 155 countries. She described Kurdi's future in heaven, remarking on the tragedy of a world where not all children have the opportunity to reach their 45th birthday.

"Now, I am in Heaven. What a shimmering, fantastic world it is … We have no nations, no borders, no migration, no religious discrimination, no terrorism and no violence. Everybody is equal. We are all souls living in harmony and serenity," she read, receiving a standing ovation for her touching words.

The international jury also awarded a silver medal to Ivana Iliyan Yaneva, a 15-year-old girl from Bulgaria and the bronze to Daša Bahor, a 14-year-old girl from Slovenia.

Almost 1 million entrants submitted letters to national competitions in 64 UPU member countries in 2016.

The International Letter-Writing Competition gives youth worldwide an opportunity to express their hopes for the world they live in, and the possible solutions they see to the issues and challenges facing the planet.