Online Writing Competitions
Engaging with online writing competitions and communities are great ways to sharpen your skills, earn some prize money, and network with other writers. During quarantine, this was something I really got into; I engaged with styles of writing completely unfamiliar to me, just to fill the time. One of the things I did was remodel an old speech I’d made, realising it was even more relevant during the current climate of the pandemic. To my surprise, my transcript was awarded a prize by Sarah Hurwitz, speechwriter for Michelle and Barack Obama. Hearing her commentary on my speech was pretty cool, and the competition also allowed me to grow closer to an online community of young writers. I’d really encourage anyone else who enjoys writing, even a little bit, to engage with opportunities like these to learn more about the craft and engage with like-minded people (and to earn extra money to spend on things you don’t need). We’ll all have plenty of time to kill these school holidays, so we may as well spend it trying new things or engaging with what we love — I’d say that’s a great way to relax.
Year 10 Reflection
At Year 10 level, students often become disillusioned with the subject of English. The repetitive cycle of reading a novel, analyzing it to death and then passing off an essay about the novel’s agenda. This generic, vague, and monotonous routine often entraps students into thinking that English is a one-dimensional subject with, almost robotic in its course. At Nossal, we seem to have figured out a solution for this problem, revolutionizing the concept of English studies for us by offering 6 completely different yet insightful electives throughout the year. I was lucky enough to get a taste of 3 English electives this year and was astounded to see the immense diversity in issues and their relevance to our current world.
‘Monstrosity and Madness’ was an elective which dealt with texts from the Gothic horror and science fiction genres such as the short stories ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’, ‘Metamorphosis’, the novella ‘Jekyll and Hyde’, and the film ‘District 9’. These texts depicted the fear of the unknown prevalent in humans, and how this reflects in our modern society through issues like racial alienation and the suppression of hidden desires.
‘World Stories’ was an interesting course, in which we looked at the narratives of multicultural characters and their experiences regarding assimilation, miscommunication and discrimination through the novella ‘The Longest Memory’ and the anthology ‘The Interpreter of Maladies.’ By exploring the vastly different challenges that these characters faced, students were implored to consider the role of culture and various other factors on individuals’ lives.
In ‘Persuasion and Deception’ we looked at the, ‘book of the 20th century’, in the political dystopia of ‘1984’ and the film, ‘Pleasantville’. As a class we explored how the grim agenda of ‘1984’ through its portrayals of oversurveillance, power and dehumanization were reflected in the much lighter but similarly pessimistic ‘Pleasantville’. As students, we were directed to see how through the use of multiple techniques, authors can make political commentary and explore the workings of our society itself.
Overall, Year 10 English was an enriching experience, as it opened our cohort’s eyes to multiple perspectives around the world and the power that texts wield, to commentate, scrutinize and illustrate our very world itself.
From star-crossed lovers to betrayal and excessive societal control, this year, Year 10 English offered it all! Students with interests in various genres were able to select English electives that sparked their interest based on the texts studied in the class.
At the beginning of the year, we were all given the opportunity to create digital posters for NAIDOC week and explore the importance of understanding Indigenous voices. This was extremely enjoyable, as it allowed us to collaborate with others and understand more about Indigenous culture through amazing poetry and short stories.
This year, my English electives were a fusion of different themes and ideas. In Semester 1, World Stories helped me focus on the importance of being connected with my nationality and finding a balance between my Australian and Bengali identity. Through the representation of multicultural voices in the texts, I was intrigued to discover more about the lives of the characters. It was also compelling to see the connections between "1984", our chosen novel in Persuasion and Deception, and compare it with forms of totalitarian control we see in our world today, as well as real-life examples. Lastly, 'Just the Classics' allowed me to engage with classical literature, where I was introduced to gothic fiction and the values of society in the Victorian era.
To finish off our year, we were able to put our acting on display, and create videos on a variety of topics for The Nossal Transfer! This was my favourite part of Year 10 English, as it was amazing to end the year with a creative task that allowed us to think outside the box. Overall, Year 10 English allowed me to familiarize myself with a variety of texts and enjoy the challenges and discussions that came with it.
ABC Takeover Melbourne Competition Winner
Takeover Melbourne is a program of writing workshops, created by the ABC, which provides a platform for students to produce personal narratives.
Earlier this year, a group of Year 10 students took part in this program. They met each lunchtime for eight weeks to develop their stories, before the lockdown began. They also participated in an online workshop run by the ABC during the lockdown period, which helped them put the finishing touches on their submissions.
We are delighted that one of our students, Jane Duong, was announced as the winner for her region of Melbourne, Kingston Council. The ABC staff worked with her to edit and record her story, and it has now been published on the ABC website and on radio.
Here is the link to Jane’s story: https://www.abc.net.au/radio/melbourne/programs/takeover-melbourne/takeover-melbourne-winner-jane-waterways/12760542
Ms Sue Lee-Ack
My Experiences as a Winner of Takeover Melbourne
Getting the call from the ABC representative that I had won Takeover Melbourne for the City of Kingston was so exhilarating. I was suddenly presented with so many amazing opportunities. I worked with Swathi, an editor from the ABC, to edit my story. Despite cutting down 200 words, the same message and substance was surprisingly still there. Once this was finalised, I was able to record my story for radio in the comfort of my home due to COVID-19. I was also able to participate in workshops with the other winners. During these fortnightly sessions, we heard each other’s stories, built leadership skills, and learnt to network. We even had the chance to test our new networking skills with inspiring individuals from around Australia, including ABC and city council representatives along with other influential individuals. My story has been played on ABC radio and published onto the ABC Takeover Melbourne website. I am grateful for this opportunity.