Read the winning entries in the UNE International Writing Prize

The UNE International Student Writing Prize came about through a self-identified need for international students to work on and maintain their English language skills during the summer holiday period. Many UNE international students have expressed a desire to improve or maintain their written English skills outside of the classroom, but often do not have the means or finances to do so. Therefore, this activity aimed to address several key issues facing international students at UNE. Firstly, it offered an additional activity to keep students busy in the holiday (T3) period. Secondly, it gave students a ‘voice’ to express themselves, raise issues relevant to them (in a choice of writing styles) and give them a chance to contribute to the Nucleus. Finally, it provided students with a chance to win some English tutoring from a qualified ESL teacher. Sithara Ralapanawe, a PhD student at UNE, wrote the winning poem, called ‘The Joy Is’.

Wen Lie won the News Articles/Social Issues category with his entry ‘Culture Policy on Tourist Areas’.


The Joy Is

The joy is… walking barefoot on green grass— feeling fresh dew drops. Joy is… watching the sun go down— so gloriously— then the veil of darkness engulfing you Joy is… just closing your eyes and hearing a call of a Cuckoo. Joy is… seeing the clouds passing by and stars twinkling in the night. Joy is… Jumping into waves rolling to the beach kissing the sandy beach. Joy is… the feeling of warmth of small feet against your skin and you smile— not knowing why. So my friend, Joy is… everywhere. Just stop and feel it It is there… — Sithara Ralapanawe


Extract from ‘Culture Policy on Tourist Areas’, which details the author’s personal experience in the famous area of Fenghuang, in Hunan Province, China.

Photo credit: chensiyuan

Our hotel man, a middle-aged man called Yang, drove us with his rickshaw on the road near the river. The night scene here was so amazing: a small river crossed this village, it flowed quietly and peacefully. Several wooden boats were on the river, boatmen were singing a local song which sounded original. On the two sides of this river, many stilted house were there. Actually, they were not totally on the sides, half of them were in the river on stilts. Yang told us they had lived in this kind of house for hundreds of years. In the past, the poor could not afford an entire house, so they constructed half of the house on the river, using stilts to support it. But now, it became a heritage. Government made policies to protect this architecture. It is beautiful.

I looked at so many stilted houses and hoped I could stay in here my whole life.

Yang smiled and said, “All the tourists said so but we cannot feel like this way, we even cannot get an air conditioner in this house because it is partly made of bamboo which makes conditioners useless. And living beyond the river cause much inconvenience, in summer mosquitoes are really terrible”.

Yang also asked us about modern life in big cities and he seemed to envy us. Yang said local people here live on running family inns and restaurants, although now they got enough money for new houses but they were not allowed to build the houses they wanted. On the other hand, they did not want to demolish the stilted house they were living in. “Maybe you can buy another apartment in big city and live there, just retain someone to look after your inn,” my friend suggested. He shook his head and told us his family lived here since they were born and they know nothing about the outside world, although they had travelled to big cities before, they just found they did not even know how to take a bus. They all have poor education and are only familiar with the life style here…

For village people in Fenghuang, their rich life is complex: on the one hand, they must keep these traditional but not comfortable houses to attract tourists; on the other hand, they want to get better living conditions and get more education. — Wen Lie


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