Burlington Teen Wins Prestigious Writing Award | Kids VT | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Burlington Teen Wins Prestigious Writing Award 

Published April 2, 2015 at 1:55 p.m. | Updated April 4, 2022 at 8:00 p.m.

click to enlarge Edil Hassan
  • Edil Hassan
Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Stephen King and Lena Dunham all received Scholastic Arts & Writing awards when they were teens. Now, Edil Hassan can count herself as a member of that gifted group.

In March, the Burlington High School senior was one of sixteen talented young artists and writers from across the country chosen as a Scholastic Arts & Writing Portfolio Gold Medal Winner. The prestigious award, which dates back to 1923, recognizes creative leaders in grades 7 through 12. Hassan's submission consisted of poems, a short story and a memoir, all of which were inspired by her family's Somali roots.

In her artist's statement, Hassan reflects on her writing: "I want to convey through my works a sort of transgenerational trauma that all immigrants and the children of immigrants feel. I want to show longing and heartbreak, melancholy and violence through my writing, but I also want to show hope. Hope for new beginnings, hope for learning to love a place as much as the place you were born in."

In 2006, Edil's Somali parents immigrated to the United States from the United Arab Emirates, where they had moved in the 1980s, before the civil war broke out in Somalia. Hassan was born soon after they arrived in the U.S. She says her parents chose to settle in Burlington because they had friends in Vermont and they'd heard it was a nice place to live, with good schools and little crime. 

In one of her award-winning pieces, "My Mother's Stories in Me," Edil writes about what it's like to grow up in a country so different from the one where her parents and grandparents grew up. "I hear the distance when speaking the language of my parents, in the pauses I have to take as I struggle to find the right words, my American accent slipping out all the while," she writes. "I feel it again when my grandmother tells me stories of Moqdishu, and I know that I will never experience them myself, even more so because the places she speaks of have been bombed and reduced to rubble."

This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.

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About The Author

Alison Novak

Alison Novak

Alison is the former managing editor at Kids VT, Seven Days' parenting publication and writes about education for Seven Days.


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