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HKU Life Story Prize 2023

ai poster

Write and Tell us Your AI Story

AI is opening every door of human inquiry with a touch of mystery. Yet the mysterious future which AI offers can threaten the human hand that set it in motion. We read of jobs threatened by the development of AI and see movies of AI robots turning against the human species. Yet, let us at the same time slow down to focus for a moment in wonder. Let us also consider the gifts AI may also have to offer the world, rather than the dangers it might also bring. 

Thus, the spirit of this Life Story is move without assumptions: to think inclusively and in collaboration, between our human gifts and those of AI

Now it's your turn! Write and Tell us Your AI Story

How would you like to interact with AI in your own life & future, to help recreate the world?


Category A:  Secondary 1-3/ Grade 7-9

Category B: Secondary 4-6/ Grade 10-12 

The Selection Committee will be chaired by Dr Page Richards, Chair of Creating Writing & Theatre, HKU Department of English.


1. Essay Awards:

 Winning pieces will be published in 遊誌JOURNEYING at the HKU Guild!

2. Coaching on Creative writing - Winners will have the privilege to attend a Creative Writing Lab, guided by the Director and/or graduates of the HKU Creative Writing programme or the HKU Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. 

Writing guidelines for submitting your personal stories

1. Length

Your personal story may be any length, short or long. Each student can submit one personal story that will up to 1000 words.  We encourage various formats, including, memoir, poems, or documentary.

2. Font

Please be sure to submit your personal story in 12-font, whether Times New Roman, Cambria, Arial or any other non-cursive and clear font.

3. Line Spacing

Please be sure to submit your written work with either 1.5 line spacing, or double spacing. Also make sure that your pages are numbered at the top or bottom.

4. Multi-Media Options

You may also choose to submit a personal story that is multi-media: for instance, your written work along with a companion video/documentary not longer than 3 minutes.

5. Title for your Personal Story

Be sure to discover a title for your personal story, before sending to us. Your personal story has a “name” just as you do! 

6. Submission Deadline

All entries must be submitted by October 31, 2023 and results announcement will be made in December 2023.

Submit your application:



Jointly organised by the HKU Academy for the Talented and the HKU Guild, the competition attracted close to 70 impressive entries in 2020. The young writers were asked to submit stories on the theme of fear and hope. The best will be published in SLYCE, a prestigious international journal of creative writing overseen by HKU, which has been around for 20-plus years and was previously known as Yuan Yang.

At the outset, Dr Richards gave an online masterclass for those intending to take part in the competition. The aim was to offer insights and comments designed to inspire the young writers to challenge themselves and expand their reach in terms of both discovery and surprise in telling their stories.

Eight secondary school students share their personal stories to win the HKU Life Story Prize at the University of Hong Kong (HKU). At a time when much of the world was in lockdown, they shared their hopes, fears and experiences in heartfelt personal tales reflecting both courage and some justifiable concerns. Congratulations to the eight awardees and they are acknowledged in the SCMP Young Post. Below are their winning stories. 



"Know how it feels like when you’re finally reaching the final level of a video game, but you accidentally hit the wrong button and have to start all over again?"

Lockdown Diaries", Oscar Au, St. Paul's Co-educational College



"Although vestiges of winter were present in this spring,

It carried the promise of summery days.

brrring, brrring

“Do you have enough masks? I could give you a box if you don't.”

Hope disguised herself as a phone call.

Streams of sunlight filled the room 

with a sugary golden hue."

"Irises Will Bloom", Andrea Chan, St. Paul's Convent School (Secondary Section)



"In this time of Coronavirus, I need my phone more than any other time in my life. Without it, I couldn’t chat with my friends through WhatsApp. I’d lose all their contact numbers since I didn’t back them up. I would be disconnected from the virtual world of social media. Am I relying too much on technology to keep the bond with my friends?"

“A Night Without My Phone”, Cheung Si Ya Elinor, St. Paul's Convent School



"My heart pounded as I boarded a public bus without a mask. My face burnt red and I lost my train of thought as I tried to come up with a solution. I had ideas trapped in my head with no feasible way to bring them to life. Strangely, in a time when people are weary of their stocks of surgical masks, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, a kind hearted man pulled out a mask from his reserves and gave it to me without a word, resuming his bus activity of playing Candy Crush."

A Small Inch Of Hope”, Gabrielle Gadi, ELCHK Lutheran Academy



"Reality feels like a strange dilemma in these times, caught between being more hectic than ever and radio silence. The places I’m so familiar with that were once brimming with color and action are now vacant and lonely. The streets may feel empty, but the city is still filled with life nonetheless. Even when motion in life seems still, life is still in motion. A black and white motion picture, maybe, but my flowers are blooming nicely, and I think this movie will turn out the way it always was going to end."

Still Motion is Still Motion”, Lois Lam, St. Mary's Canossian College



"Today I headed back to school to pick up textbooks for home learning—it was only then did I realise that this danger was very real. If there’s anything good about this pandemic that had robbed me of my spirits and school life, it is that I will get to see my sister again."

Apprehension”, Elizabeth Li, Marymount Secondary School



"I won’t permit you to hurt my family anymore. I refuse to let you hurt us, and no longer will you hold power over us. Whatever it takes, I will hold us together, and as this pandemic enters its dying throes, we will stand strong, united."

“To my parent’s captors”, Agatha Tsang, St. Paul's Convent School (Secondary Section)



"Every minute, every second I am reminded of the pain, the anguish, the suffering. I’m not invincible, I can’t endure it forever. But soon enough, rays of a bright future will shine through the thick clouds of today. Under the gloomy clouds, wait for young strays of light. Even the emotionless cloud will weep one day. Endurance. Tolerance. For now, we have no other choice, do we?"

“Above the Summit of Solitude”, Yau Yeuk Laam Ariel, The Hong Kong Chinese Christian Churches Union Logos Academy