Freshman wins 'Summer Scholars' writing prize

11/16/2010 | By: Staff Report  |

Bo Yi, a freshman from Las Vegas, is the winner of the Summer Scholars Media and Writing Contest and will receive a check for $500 from the Friends of the University of Nevada, Reno Libraries.

She will be honored at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 16, in the ballroom of Joe Crowley Student Union prior to the appearance of Warren St. John, the author of “Outcasts United,” the book that Bo and the other incoming freshmen read during the summer and discussed in small groups during orientation in August.

Her winning entry was a personal essay entitled “Perfect Pastures.” The faculty judges were unanimous in their decision, praising the writer for her empathy and her deft use of personal anecdotes to merge her intellectual and emotional responses. She successfully demonstrated how a Nevada undergraduate, in recalling a time when she herself felt like an outsider and bonded with teammates during an athletic game, could personally connect with a true story about a soccer team in Georgia made up of refugees from war-torn countries around the world who over came many obstacles in their new country.

Bo, who came to America when she was three years old, writes in her essay:

“Before finishing the book, I thought back to the number of times someone on the team had to translate for a newcomer and how they would need none later. This could be attributed to Luma’s (the coach of the youth soccer team Fugees) English class for the Fugees, but I’d like to believe there was something deeper at work. Before I entered middle school, an old childhood friend of mine – three years older I believe – was explaining to my mom about middle school and the paperwork involved. I translated since Mom spoke with broken and heavily accented English. She eventually slipped up and asked him directly in our own language, which he would certainly not understand. But, before I could turn to translate, he answered perfectly, as if he heard what she asked. When I asked him later, he told me he didn’t understand the words exactly, but he could feel what she wanted to know. I furrowed my brow. Understanding a person without knowing the words? A strange concept to myself right then, but not anymore.”

Bo, a National Merit Scholar and Honors student, majoring in Biochemistry, is part of the Living Learning Community in Argenta Hall. She likes to write, and has experimented with fiction. This is her first cash prize. She has settled easily into her new life at the University of Nevada, Reno, and when asked what surprised her most about the university, she said, “I thought people would be less sociable. I am surprised at how friendly everyone has been. Here, people really reach out to each other, they want to get to know you.”


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