Using the Passion and Power of Language

Using the Passion and Power of Language

by Nasci Lobo, Director of Communications and Marketing

High School students Sophie and Cadence recently received the thrilling news about being shortlisted from over 1200 entries from tertiary and secondary school students in Asia Pacific in the New York Times Asia-Pacific Writing Competition 2019, the results of which were released just over one month ago. Themed Our World: 2050, students were asked to submit a 500-word opinion piece responding to the question: In an age where unpredictability is the new constant, what can you, the younger generation, do now to shape the future? Both students were motivated by a strong passion for the power of the written and spoken word in addition to possessing an internal drive for improving the world they will inherit. Their English teacher, Mr. Sullivan, informed them about the competition in December 2019, knowing full well that both young students possess a talent for the use of words.  

The insights and connections they both form with people, ideas and experiences through the use of language - speaking, writing and reading - fuels their passion when they speak and write about shaping their future. Sophie feels that environmental issues and the COVID-19 pandemic should drive her generation to “be too loud to ignore”. Cadence, taking the bull by the horns, thinks it is imperative to drive change rather than react to it. With the guidance of Mr Sullivan, and by reading each other’s submissions, they were able to find their voice on this occasion. The library was a fitting environment in which to speak to them. Surrounded by books in several languages, by other students absorbed in the pages of the books they were reading, and by students speaking a rainbow of languages, our whole school commitment to reading reinforces the passion and power of language in addition to motivating students like Sophie and Cadence to find their voice and set meaningful goals, whether for the world or with the aim of creating their own worlds.

Sophie hadn’t entered a writing competition prior to this one. Driven by her love of using her two native languages, English and Spanish, she began learning Korean and French five years ago, and is well on her way to becoming a polyglot fanned by the flames of cultural experiences having lived in four countries. “I have always liked language, speaking and writing, and using it the way I want to”, she explains. That also explains her goal of studying linguists and speech pathology post-YIS. Her role on the YIS Library Council is another step toward that goal.

Cadence has her sights set on communications or journalism. She is currently studying Spanish, to complement her native languages of English and Chinese. “Writing is a powerful form of expression for me. I learn about other people’s stories, and the way they speak tells me what they are like, tells me about their experiences, and I get to know the world they come from.” She has entered writing competitions previously, writes stories in her free time, and has participated in National Writing Month, a platform that helps people find their voice and achieve creative goals.

Read their insightful opinion pieces in the competition’s digital booklet.