The results of the first edition of the World Tales Short Story Competition are here!

In 2020, UNESCO together with the Idries Shah Foundation launched the "World Tales" Competition and invited teenagers from all over the world to share their unique perspectives on global challenges from climate change to racism and all forms of discrimination. With the aim to foster creative thinking in favor of tolerance, intercultural dialogue, solidarity, compassion and peace, the theme of the Competition was “Once upon a time in my future”.

An outstanding number of over 2,250 eligible complete entries were received to answer our call and share hope for tomorrow and around 60 stories for all regions were shortlisted for members of the international Jury. It was decided after considerate deliberation that a selection of laureates by age group would be ideal.

The stories were carefully evaluated by an international Jury made up of:

  • Abi Elphinstone, bestselling and multi-award shortlisted author;
  • Anna James, arts journalist and bestselling author;
  • Jon J. Muth, artist and writer in children’s literature and graphic novels;
  • Fouzia Belhami, Associated Programme Specialist, Unit for the ASPNet Associated Schools Network, Education Sector of UNESCO;
  • Maria Kypriotou, Assistant Programme Specialist, Youth Section, Social and Human Sciences of UNESCO;
  • Yvette Kaboza, Programme Specialist, Inclusion, Rights and Dialogue Section & Sport Section, Social and Human Sciences of UNESCO.

More on the international Jury here.

We are pleased to present to you the list of laureates in disorder:

12/13 YEARS OLD CATEGORY (Born between 1 January 2007 and 31 December 2008):

  • Once upon a time in my future by Nina Kotze (South Africa)
  • We the Children Won! by Khitam al-Hissi (Palestine)
  • Heat by Benjamin Se (Australia)

14/15 YEARS OLD CATEGORY (Born between 1 January 2005 and 31 December 2006):

  • Letter to the future by Adonna Woldeyes (Ethiopia)
  • Dear Young Me by Tannistha Nandi (India)
  • 76 Years at Sea by Lara Colvile (Netherlands)
  • No fear for the future by Martha Davey (United Kingdom)
  • L'échange by Amalia Elisa Vallejo Tobar (Ecuador)
  • After the tragedy by Gabriela Flores Guzmán (Ecuador)

16/17 YEARS OLD CATEGORY (Born between 1 January 2003 and 31 December 2004):

  • Virtual Reality by Minseo Kim (Australia)
  • Dream Me A World by Yarden Harel (Israel)
  • Is it scary?' by Zoe García Narbaitz (Argentina)

18 YEARS OLD CATEGORY (Born between 1 January and 31 December 2002):

  • Human Not Strangers by Alexander E. Shu (Bahrain)
  • Colours of Misfortune by Zarya Usman (United Arab Emirates)
  • If You Were Here by Paola Méndez Sordia (Mexico)

Although not laureates, UNESCO and the Idries Shah Foundation would also like to warmly congratulate the exceptional quality of the submitted entries and to reward honorable mentions to:

  • Full Circle by Kuseh Esther Ayarati (Ghana)
  • Fire and Oranges by Marvellous Adelaja (Nigeria)
  • Blackfidence by Nawal Sheikh (Kenya)
  • Lily by Vanshika Chauhan (India)
  • A Garden like Babylon by Kevin Leandro Hernandez Cerqueira (El Salvador)
  • Awaiting an awakening by Chloe Olufunmilayo Ejisun (Nigeria)
  • Survivors by Inyeneobong Vivian Priso (Nigeria)
  • Once upon a time in my future by Tanaka Chapfunga (Zimbabwe)
  • The Doomsday Clock by Mariel Julienne (United Arab Emirates)
  • A Traveller’s Journey by Bao Tran Huy Duc (Viet Nam)
  • Sophia and the bears by Anastasia Sukhoverkhova (Ukraine)
  • A Necessary Impossible by Chloe Uzoukwu (Switzerland)
  • Just another Refugee by Khadija Qazi (United Kingdom)
  • The Answer by Geraldine Scarlett Rodríguez Coronado (Ecuador)
  • Once upon a world through my eyes by Mishkat Zaheer (United Arab Emirates)
  • Evaporated by Oshadha Perera (New Zealand)
  • The road to restoration by Shrabasti Chakraborty (India)
  • A transition into the past by Zoe To (Canada)
  • The Pizza Craving by Ayushi Mittal (India)
  • The Price of Change by Katia Clement (Australia)
  • Joy by Maya Elle Russell (South Africa)

In addition, UNESCO and the Idries Shah Foundation are pleased to grant a special commendation to Women of Ireland by Alice O’Mahony (Ireland) which, despite being a poem instead of a short story, moved the Jury unanimously by its beautiful prose.

An online award ceremony, during which the rankings of the laureates (Gold, Silver, Bronze) will be revealed, will be held on 8 July 2021. The tremendous effort and high quality of the entries of the honorable mentions will also be highlighted. Laureates will be invited to read their short stories live and share a few words on their writing and editing choices. 

Please join the Award Ceremony here:

Finally, UNESCO and the Idries Shah Foundation will be back in the Fall of 2021 to offer a new series of Master Classes on the Power of Stories. Stay tuned!

Contact information: