Celebrating the 10th Edition of the Short Story Awards Ceremony
By Michael Kouklakis, Director – Department of Languages & Cultures. As an educational practitioner interested in utopian praxes, Michael strives to create, develop or encourage the emergence of transformative, meaningful and significant learning experiences in collaborative settings with students and colleagues alike.
On June 6th a little before noon, a group of people started trickling into the Learning Center and gathered on the ground floor at the back of the library where a podium had been installed for what was to be a special event. Organized every year by ESSEC’s Languages & Cultures Department, the 10th edition of the Short Story Awards Ceremony is an occasion to recognize and celebrate the creativity and excellence of our student writers. Their original narratives are published in a book entitled simply, A Collection of Short Stories and distributed at this event. This year, there was a fifty-strong audience in attendance composed of students, teachers and administrative staff. Every shortlisted student writer was called up to receive their own copy of the book along with a large customized poster of the first page of their short story. The event was capped off with the announcement of this year’s three deserving laureates who are as follows:
Jade Steenbrink for her story entitled, Electric Blue (1st place)
Sixtine Desmarchelier for her story entitled, Six of Cups (2nd place)
Oscar Bonnand for his story entitled, The Fat Lady (3rd place)
The collection of stories in this book marks the tenth edition of the short story contest at ESSEC. Looking back, it is quite a remarkable achievement. As a vehicle for unleashing and channelling the creative potential and storytelling abilities of our students, this pedagogical endeavour has carved out a unique space in the educational landscape of business schools. Over the years, our student writers have worked with a rich variety of themes such as profit, time, happiness, identity, exploration, power and serendipity. The resulting narratives showcase the craftsmanship and imagination required in writing effective fiction. To celebrate the captivating – sometimes mesmerizing – power of storytelling and of the written word, this year’s theme was “Magic”.
The Winning Stories
For the jury, Meganne Hover:
Jade Steenbrink’s Electric Blue ‘flawlessly embodies the modern concept of a subjective magic that is part adjective, part superstition, and – perhaps – wholly symbolic; and yet every line reads like an incantation, conjuring a hymn to magic old and new.’
In Sixtine Desmarchelier’s Six of Cups, ‘not only the occult sixth sense, but all the senses are intensely present in this beautifully evocative story centred on the quietly haunting influence of the tarot cards. Mirroring the cards themselves, context and symbols frame and bind the women’s broken conversations, constructing an intricate relationship built through magic and shared spaces.’
And Oscar Bonnand’s The Fat Lady, ‘is a triumphant story written with unerring instinct for the disruptive, wickedly mischievous and pandemonic nature of old magic and the chaos it leaves in its wake. And, of course, a reminder that it’s all over when the fat lady sings.’
The importance of creativity in the job market
To mark this special occasion our guest speaker was none other than Jason Hathaway who was one of the department’s Teacher Managers in charge of English for the Global BBA program and whose idea it was in the first place to have our students write short stories. In a very compelling speech, Jason referred to a World Economic Forum report entitled, The Future of Jobs where chief human resources and strategy officers from leading global organisations contend that ‘the skill of creativity, in particular, will be a necessary asset for anyone working in 2020.’ He went on to quote an IBM study – which constitutes the largest known sample of one-on-one CEO interviews, with over 1,500 corporate heads and public sector leaders across 60 nations – underlining that 60% of CEOs cite creativity as the most important leadership quality.
Longevity and Success
When we embarked on this pedagogical and literary adventure ten years ago, no one imagined how successful it would become let alone that it would last as long as it has.
Congratulations to all those involved in the ESSEC “Grande Ecole” Short Story Contest and to all those who have been paramount in its longevity and success. There are many more tales to be told…