Trent student Elisha Rubacha is somewhere in Spain today, likely getting lost, she figures, but living her dream.
Ms. Rubacha, who will graduate with a degree in English Literature this year, was Trent University’s first winner of the Barbara Rooke Travel Prize.
The Barbara Rooke Prize is named after former Trent professor Barbara Rooke, who taught in the English Literature Department from1967 to 1979. The Prize was created to send a graduating English Literature student to visit a space made significant to them through a novel, play or poem. This year's winner, Ms. Rubacha, chose Spain, based on her understanding and affection for Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises.
In the essay she submitted to be eligible for the award, Ms. Rubacha said she did not want to go to Spain to replicate Hemingway’s experience, but to make her own connections.
“In Pamplona, I would not go sight-seeing. I would sit outside cafés, drinking wine and eating Spanish food. I would go on long walks and get terribly lost – because I always get terribly lost – and somewhere along the way I would meet someone, or see something, or get involved in some kind of adventure, or hear a wonderful laugh.
“I would bring back stories not of literary tours, but of small kindnesses and beautiful alleyways, late nights and the people that go by as I drink my morning coffee. I would not bring back Hemingway’s Pamplona, but my Pamplona.”
The Rooke Fund has been used in a variety of ways over the years: to host visiting fellows (Stuart MacLean was the first), to fund public lectures, public readings and various events.
This year, a decision was made to create a travel prize to be awarded annually to a graduating English major with an average of 80 per cent or higher, for travel to a significant literary heritage site or region. The Rook Prize funds the student’s travel to a site of their choice and includes a cash award of $2,000.
Applicants had to make a statement about how they would use the prize, which was evaluated alongside transcripts and two letters of support from faculty members.
Dr. Stephen Brown, professor of English at Trent had this to say about Ms. Rubacha:
“I have taught at the university level for almost thirty-five years now at five universities on two continents and I can say without exaggeration that Elisha is one of only a handful of students in my experience for whom the nature of literary language is a compelling daily concern. She lives her life in words.”
In September, Ms. Rubacha will be invited to deliver a brief presentation about the trip to current Trent students and the community as part of the Department’s welcome-back celebrations.
Posted on Friday, May 31, 2013.