Global Studies and Languages is pleased to announce the winners of the Isabelle de Courtivron Prize for 2017: Mira Partha and Sefa Adzo Yakpo.

Judging this year’s selections were Jane Dunphy, Eric Grunwald, and Mariana San Martín, lecturers in Global Studies and Languages.

The Isabelle de Courtivron Prize is awarded by MIT’s Center for Bilingual/Bicultural Studies. Named to honor French Studies Professor Emerita Isabelle de Courtivron, the prize recognizes “student writing on topics related to immigrant, diaspora, bicultural, bilingual, and/or multi-racial experiences.” The competition is open to all current MIT undergraduates.

Each of the 27 entries for the 2017 de Courtivron Prize was compelling and distinct in its own way.  They explored the theme of culture from many perspectives: generational, gendered, racial, religious, political, historical, artistic, and culinary.  The entries ranged from poems and short stories to spiritual meditations and memoirs.

The two winning entries stood out for their exceptional grace and originality:

Mira Partha has been awarded First-Place Prize for “Of Swarams and Arpeggios”, a meditation where song serves as a metaphor for a hybrid cultural identity in which the whole is clearly greater than the sum of the parts.  By transporting the reader between the musical traditions of Southern India and the “West,” Ms. Partha gracefully traces, reconciles and claims both cultures as a harmonious whole in her binational psyche.

Sefa Adzo Yakpo has been awarded Second-Place Prize for “If the Label Sticks”, a poetic and engaging portrait of her life as “the child of two worlds but the adult of three.”  She reflects on the confusing, but ubiquitous, nature of labels as she learns about identity, difference and intolerance –“belonging and not belonging at the same time” –in Ghana, England, and America.

Thank you to our wonderful students and judges!

The students will receive their awards at the Global Studies and Languages “Awards for Excellence Soirée” on Wednesday, April 26, 2017, from 5-7pm in 68-180.