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A Novel Accomplishment: Sofi and Sophie Win Creative Writing Contest

BISC South Loop is home to two winners of the Global Campus Creative Writing Challenge! Congratulations to Sofi (Year 6) and Sophie (Year 12).

  • British International School of Chicago | Private School Chicago
  • British International School of Chicago | Private School Chicago

Nord Anglia Education’s Global Campus helps more than 34,000 students at NAE schools explore the globe, learn new skills and develop a truly international perspective through outstanding online, in school and worldwide experiences. The Creative Writing Challenge is one of many resources available through Global Campus Online, a digital learning environment where students can create content, work with experts and debate with others. Thousands of students submitted their work for the chance to appear in this year’s Creative Writing Anthology, which features the most outstanding submissions.

Sofi is one of 31 winners in the Primary School category, and Sophie lands among 15 winners in the Upper Secondary School category.

This year’s judges included Rhiannon Lassiter, an award-winning author of science fiction, fantasy and horror, as well as Kevin Crossley-Holland, winner of the coveted Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Award. The judges selected the students’ work for its creative use of language, well planned structure, thoughtful rhythm and pace, and clear expression of the theme “Be Ambitious”.

Check out Sofia and Sophie’s submissions below.

Chicho Fresco

By Sofi Burciaga

This was it: the barbed wire fence was just 100 feet away and his dream of freedom was in the palm of his hands. At that moment, he heard a loud, petrifying, pounding roar followed by screams of military men. My grandfather, Chicho Fresco, did not escape communism from Cuba that day, in the early 1960s.

He was delivered to prison, where he would spend a year of his life. When he arrived, he lifted up his sweaty arm and there was a hole. A hole the size a metallic ammunition used to capture him. He was a millimetre away from death, one of many reasons why he was one of the luckiest men alive.

Chicho Fresco had grown up on the eastern-most point of the island called Guantanamo. It was once an area that fed his family in abundance. Prior to the Fidel Castro regime, the Fresco’s grew fruits, vegetables, raised small livestock and fished in the rivers and sea. All of these things became illegal, punishable by death, and one of the primary tactics of Fidel Castro: to control Cubans through hunger. Knowing that living off of ration cards, no longer being able to openly practice his Catholic faith and that the militia had free reign of his childhood home was enough for my grandfather to try and escape again. The only thing he would miss was the people, especially his family, and once family is gone, who do you have?

My grandfather had the kind of personality that everyone liked, even the prison guards. At that time, you were allowed to have one weekend out of prison after a year. On that very weekend, a prison guard helped my grandfather with the correct route and told him to move at night and to hide during the day until he reached the U.S. naval base called Guantanamo Bay. For the next few days, he, one of his younger brothers and a fellow prisoner spent nights and days traveling 20 miles to be free. As they approached the U.S naval base, the military that protected Cuba started chasing them. The first person to climb over the barbed wire fence was my second uncle, Alfredo or Tio Papi as I refer to him. My grandfather followed and when he landed on the side of freedom with bloody hands, he watched Francisco fall back onto Cuban soil. Chicho Fresco risked his own freedom and life to climb back over the fence to help his friend. He knew they would both be murdered in front of the town as an example to prevent future escapes. With guns blaring, both men climbed together to freedom.

The American red cross flew the three men to Miami, Florida, where they saw beautiful free land. Free from guns, the military and Fidel Castro. Their search for a new beginning was complete.

All three men migrated north to the Chicago area where there was work. My grandfather went on to build a legacy filled with strength, love, and most of all, ambition. While we lost him in a car accident more than 20 years ago, he is always remembered. Mom says she sees him in my smile, my sister’s compassion, my brother’s love, all of which we have because of my grandfather, Chicho Fresco’s, ambition. 

Learning to Surf

By Sophie Davis

They’ve seen slick white-bellied beasts with rows of angled teeth squished into cherry-colored gums; their fins peeking from the water to raise plastic kayaks to the clouds. I was learning to surf that day with my cousin. The limp kelp intertwined to form a slimy gate, guarding the surfers from the ghostly imprints of a shark’s bite.

I remember staying up late watching surfer movies with the volume on a whisper, as I tried to blink away sleep and wipe my eyes with buttery popcorn hands. The surfers spent their summer days in snug, glossy water that reflected the colors of their bathing suits.

With my wet suit on, I was determined to paddle to the break zone and catch my first wave. I gallantly stomped both heels into the pacific water, turning a blind eye to the clawing of the ice under my toes. I balanced the long-board on my head like a weighted crown that swayed me back and forth. As I waded in the water, I could feel the wet suit hugging my skin, desperate for warmth.

When the first wave unfurled, I didn’t paddle enough to overthrow the crest.  My face met the smooth arc, which spun me to the floor, warping and squeezing me; I was pulled along with the board. Salt water pushed its way into my nose and sand nestled in my hair.

With each wave, I learned to push my toes from the sand bed, while the frigid water would prod me towards the shore. With my belly on the board, I mastered how to propel myself, punching my forearms into the water, sending little sprays onto my cheeks. I loved the tone, how each stroke sounded like a thick pebble dropping into a yawning pond. When a wave was nearing, I arched my back and straightened my forearms to prevent it from swallowing me again.

I finally reached where the waves surfaced: an unruffled sliver of water. The air carried the clean scent of sequoias that speckled the far mountains.  I could not leave the water. The gazing sun was near the horizon, outlining the strung cirrus clouds with gold paint.

As I perched on the board with my legs draping off the sides, a slight gust of wind animated my salty ringlets, sending a quiver down my back and pulses through my legs. The calm water curved into a smooth ripple, gaining strength. As soon as I saw the forming wave, I began to paddle, violently pushing the water behind me. When I felt the power of the wave beneath the board, I swiftly hopped up in a single advance, leaving my right foot behind me. I slightly shifted my weight from my cracked heels to nimble toes, caressing the board with gentle movements as I drove left and right. I was finally surfing.                                                                                                         

I felt sheer elation; the swirls of wind tickled my face and carried the rich earthy smells of bark. I felt powerful. The salty sprays tried to grasp my skin for attention while seaweed floated limp in my direction. Eventually, when the wave’s blue lips curled and crashed, I sunk, still energized, into the snug pearly foam that kicked up sand. Although I wasn’t propelled by a tidal wave like the surfers were, I felt phenomenal.

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