Congratulations to the winners of the 2023 Isabelle De Courtivron Writing Prize. This award is made annually to recognize high-quality undergraduate writing (creative or expository) on topics related to immigrant, diaspora, bicultural, bilingual, and/or mixed-race experiences. The prize was established to honor Professor Emerita Isabelle de Courtivron on the occasion of her retirement in 2010.
All participants’ unique and strong voices in the 2023 de Courtivron Prize impressed the selection committee. Entries included essays, short stories, chronicles, and poems. Some authors masterfully challenged definitions of home, ancestry, gender, and identity. Others tenderly described language and cultural barriers and differences across generations. Yet others focused on issues like war-torn communities, colonialism, and religion. All entries encapsulate the wonders and challenges of mixed-race, bicultural, bilingual, immigrant, and diasporic experiences. Committee members are extremely grateful to the authors for sharing these personal reflections.
Kenny Logan, First Year, for La Balsa (The Raft). The committee awarded this piece the first prize for the author’s powerful narrative about a family’s decision to leave their native island in search of a different life in the United States. The text was beautifully written and has an unforgettable narrating voice. The deeply honest and hopeful narrative of the immigrant experience will forever stay with the judges.
Alexandra Nwigwe, EECS and Design, Class of 2023, for Before You Cross the Street. This evocative poem shines with the use of simple yet powerful images of the generational and linguistic relationship between mother and daughter. The author ends this beautiful poem by emphasizing that the true language that unites families is love through the memorable image of mother and daughter holding each other steady in a playful and loving situation.
Honorable Mention: Layal Barakat, Mechanical Engineering, Class of 2023, for The Ride Home.
Honorable Mention: Sophie Vulpe, First Year, for Shedding Skin.
Honorable Mention: Cindy Xie, Urban Planning and Biology, Class of 2024, for My Parents Visit Ralphs on Their First Halloween in America.