An essay by Hilson Reidpath, a PhD candidate studying Japanese literature in the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures (EALL), won first place in the inaugural Okinawa Essay Contest in February.
The contest, sponsored by the Okinawa Prefectural Government and the George Washington University Okinawa Collection, was established to facilitate discussions on Okinawa’s future and to support new efforts to address different challenges.
Reidpath’s paper, titled “Passively Passing: Exploringly Okinawan Identity in the Work of Yamanokuchi Baku,” draws connections between Hawaiʻi residents and Okinawan poet Yamanokuchi Baku, and their struggles with cultural identity in a new land.
The contest also serves as a way to help bridge the gap between Japanese and American cultures among college students.
“To even have a contest that focuses on Okinawa is something new and exciting,” Reidpath said of his win. “I’m honored to be the first winner and grateful to EALL and the Okinawa Special Collection in Hamilton Library for outstanding support and resources.”
Reidpath was flown to Washington, D.C., to accept his cash prize of $500 on March 19 and will travel this summer to Okinawa, where he once lived for three years, to gain inspiration for further research.