From more than 11,000 entries, five pieces were selected as the winners and runners-up of The Queen's Commonwealth Essay Competition 2019. The 2019 winners and runners-up were drawn from across the Commonwealth and wrote inspiring poems, stories and narratives on the topic 'A Connected Commonwealth'.
Catherine’s haunting poem ‘Beached’ follows the heart-breaking experience of three passers-by as they find a whale washed up on a beach. Through vivid, lyrical descriptions, she highlights the importance of working together to resolve the problems of environmental damage. She is a student of the University Transition Program at the University of British Colombia. On being told of her success she said, “It was an emotional rollercoaster, with the cart slowly climbing in disbelief, only to suddenly become pure excitement upon the descent’’.
Nnemdi's story ‘Hello’ is the tale of two young people struggling with issues in their society and who do not feel truly appreciated for whom they are, but who find common ground and become friends, told through direct messages on Twitter. One Final Panel Judge described the piece as ‘a shop window of how youth are speaking to each other today’. On being named Senior Runner-up, she said ‘‘It feels really good to know that my portrayal of issues that I view as important was able to come through to people and hopefully make them feel something.’’
Veronica’s poem ‘Lost’ follows the story of a girl growing up in China as it explores a complicated relationship with the country’s past. She entered the competition as a student of Raffles Girls' School (Secondary). Veronica chose to write on the topic ‘My Cultural Connections’ because she ‘’wished to express my own feelings…and present an issue while developing the art of writing.’’ When informed of her success in the competition, Veronica felt ‘Surprise, elation’.
Elise’s poem ‘A place you feel connected to’ is a vibrant, vivid celebration of her favourite elements of Ghanaian culture; a welcoming tale of food, dancing, clothing and the ties she feels to the country. Dr Diana Owen OBE, Director General of the Royal Over-Seas League and Chair of the Junior Final Panel, said of Elise’s poem, ‘A heartfelt hymn to Ghana, lively, bright, optimistic, playful and confident.’ Upon learning she had won, Elise felt ‘very excited, surprised and very happy!’
Kieran's beautifully vivid narrative describing his move from the United States of America to Sri Lanka wonderfully captures the sights and sounds of his daily life in Colombo. Drawing on his 'diverse cultural connections', Kieran explores the beauty of his Commonwealth heritage. Tragically, Kieran was killed in the suicide bomb that exploded in the Cinnamon Grand hotel, Colombo, on Easter Sunday 2019. He was so proud of this piece - having obtained the top mark in his class - and his mum was very keen that it be submitted posthumously.