Congratulations to the winners of the 2024 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.

First Prize

Fiona Lu, First Year, for “Mother TongueThe committee awarded this piece first prize because not only was it beautifully composed, but it also stood out for its rich reflections on language, culture, family, identity, and belonging. The committee appreciated the artistic alternating between Chinese and English numbers as well as the evocative and poetic phrases such as “I would describe myself as having no native language. A perpetual outsider, a thief of words” and the conclusion “In some versions of the memory, I am speaking a mixture of Chinese and gibberish, and in others, I am completely silent, awed at how my mom makes magic with her hands. I do not think of what language I am speaking or what culture I belong in. All I know is that I am home.”

Above: 1st Prize, Fiona Lu

Second Prizes

Pragnya Govindu, Artificial Intelligence and Decision Making, Class of 2025, for “Brahmamokate / The Oneness of Existence” This polished piece delves into the author’s search for cultural identity, blending an American upbringing with South Indian heritage through Carnatic music. Facing linguistic challenges and finding comfort in devotional songs, this work examines the nuances of tradition, gender, and caste. This journey of learning and reconnection through music offers a compelling look at identity, belonging, and the role of music in linking us to our roots.

Above: 2nd Prize, Pragnya Govindu

Janina Ojeiduma, First Year, for “Walking, Lately.” This thought-provoking and moving work was selected for its poignant reflections on home and race and its beautiful and powerful poetry. “Walking, lately, I’ve felt this winter pain inside my legs, This rustling in the pines above my head. My feet long for the season of rain, The roaring beach in Tarkwa Bay. No tree can bloom in the snow with its roots in the sand. Over oceans.”

Above, 2nd Prize, Janina Ojeiduma

Honorable Mentions

Ari Peró, Course 11-6, Class of 2025, for “guer ain fron
Vivian Hir, Course 6-7, Class of 2025, for “Taipei Memories

From left to right: Leanna Rezvani with de Courtivron writing prize winners Vivian Hir, Pragnya Govindu, and Janina Ojeiduma