This year the Department of Liberal Arts launched an annual prize, the Liberal Arts Prize for Diversity and Inclusion, to accompany other initiatives such as the new student-led journal Ukombozi: Stories of Colour and participation in the Decolonising KCL working group.
The prize is awarded to a student who demonstrates a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion initiatives in their academic, artistic, or activist work. based on a vote by .
After being nominated by students, academic and professional services staff in the department voted for the winner, Sum Yi Karen Ng.
Karen was celebrated by her peers for a whole range of activities including her inclusive work as President of the Poetry Society; journalism for Roar News and We Are HKers; and her volunteering work outside of the college.
Karen wrote of her award:
“I am honoured and proud to receive the Liberal Arts Prize for Diversity and Inclusion from my department. I feel thankful for my friends who nominated me, and for the lecturers and staff who selected me. My department has been a blessing to me. I have been able to explore all my academic interests–I'm an English major, but I'm also a Classics, Politics, Philosophy, History, Archival Studies, French and Digital Culture student. The department provided me with the opportunity to learn from a wide range of professors across so many different disciplines.”– Sum Yi Karen Ng (2021 Liberal Arts Prize for Diversity and Inclusion winner)
One student wrote of Karen: “Through these many activities and responsibilities, Karen has not only been able to share her passion for the arts with others, but she has also worked to foster spaces where others can create and connect over their own art, making her an exemplary candidate for this award.”
Runners up for the prize were Hardev Grewal and Jess Smith, whose work within and beyond the Department and College are proudly celebrated by all in Liberal Arts and the Faculty of Arts & Humanities as a whole.
A poem by Karen is included below:
The Light Follows Me Like a River
The end of the river is the neon
cast over her bent back in Yau Ma Tei.
It’s also where I live
& it’s easy to see her in the crowd –
a slow figure finding shelter
for the night again. Every day
I watch her from my sky-rise
as she prays for half-empty water bottles
and cardboard scraps. A shoe box. Packaging.
She leans into the same orange bin
as rain douses cigarettes above her.
The cigarette she blows out
is still upright like the scolded child
who left their mother on the streets
for the world.
And the red Wellcome is the fortune-teller
she can afford with $5
at the end of Temple Street.
Her hands are clasped together
behind her back. I think I heard her whisper
I want to meet mortality
like the apple rolling over
out of pink polyfoam.
Even in the landfill
it will take years to fill the earth.
When the old woman looks up
from her broken slippers
and the black gum on the street
is she looking for God or me?