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2021 Selection Committee
Each issue of the Arak Journal represents the results of efforts by our selection committee to choose essays that allow readers of the journal, particularly those who are students in English 110, to expand their notion of what research in a first-year writing course can be. We want readers to see the possibilities that can result from the creativity, rigor, time, and tenacity required to produce a strong research-based argument. Our hope is to inspire students to take on ambitious, complex, morally urgent writing projects of their own.
Those hopes and desires are no different this year. In choosing this group of 7 award winners, however, we are struck by two other features of student writing: the writers' willingness to take intellectual and social risks, to pursue and articulate sometimes provocative arguments to which they have intense commitment. These writers use their research to enter—or perhaps spark—conversations about important topics that mean a lot to them personally. In doing so, they position themselves as courageous, informed contributors to discussions about subjects that have national and global significance.
Diversity of topic choices has been an important feature of the Arak Journal, and we are pleased to have that be the case again this year. One essay invites us to consider the psychological astuteness and rhetorical sophistication of a presidential speech. Another highlights the submerged connection between food insecurity, climate change, and cultural identity for Canada's First Nations. A third investigates the causes and consequences of cultural discrimination against linguistic minorities in contemporary Vietnam. Four other essays complete the array of intriguing topics, addressing dream life during pandemic; LGBTQ rights and colonial legacies in India; the emerging #MeToo movement in Japan, and the effects of environmental racism on communities of color in the US.
The essays featured in this issue of the Arak were written in the spring and fall of 2020, in many ways an unprecedented year for UD and for the world. In a challenging year of disruption, students still managed to produce high quality work. That means judging was a bit tougher this year. The seven essays were selected from a group of approximately 85 submissions via a series of blind reviews by instructors of English 110. Writers' names were removed from entries to help ensure a fair evaluation process.
Our selection committee of enthusiastic, indefatigable writing instructors went through three rigorous stages of evaluation. Editors worked with the student writers to source check and edit the essays for publication. Two things are different this year, however: we were able to offer 7 awards instead of the usual 6, and we increased the monetary prize from $100 to $250.
None of this would be possible without a generous financial gift from Sydney F. Arak and Ruth Toor in honor of their parents, John and Frieda Arak. A sincere thank you to Mr. Arak, Ms. Toor, and the many others across the University of Delaware's campus who believe that writing is at the heart of learning and discovery.
To learn more about the UD Composition Program, please visit our website, OneHundredTen.org.
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