Monthly Archives: June 2024

What are awards for?

Companies, organisations, and educational institutions give awards to associations and individuals in various fields, e.g. arts and entertainment, business, sports and hobbies, science and technology, and community service. On 27 April 2024, I received an award from my undergrad alma mater. I’m always for the underdog and sceptical of who gets noticed and who doesn’t; thus, I had to soul search throughout the ceremony. I looked for things which probably weren’t there, such as subjectivity and bias; were deserving candidates overlooked and less deserving ones chosen? The criteria and decision-making process read that evening didn’t avert my thoughts from the observation that most recipients were doctoral degree holders.

I regretted not nominating our dance troupe teacher for the Arts and Culture Award, which didn’t have financial value but would have given her the recognition she merits. I still remember her words over four decades ago – “back straight, hands in a lateral position, smile, and move gracefully”. She inspired me to choreograph and dance at the Queensland University’s International House functions years later.

Returning home to France from the Visayas State University, there was an email from an acquaintance whom I had helped many times with his work and personal projects. I immediately thought, “Oh no, not him again; he didn’t even buy one of my books, either as a token of his appreciation for my help or to improve his English”. Then, I remembered the award, which is meant not only to inspire others to strive for excellence but to remind us that success should be based on service to others without expecting something in return. Yes, we – humans, are vulnerable to quid pro quo (something in return for what we have done, i.e. a favour for a favour) that should not be! This award is an additional guide to my behaviour.   

Awards provide commendation and encouragement for individuals and groups. It’s primordial for the selection process to be transparent, fair, and devoid of self-nomination. Though the latter indicates self-determination and high self-esteem, it can taint credibility and promote self-gratification.

We shouldn’t wait for award ceremonies to give recognition to colleagues, employees, students, volunteers, etc. For instance, saying thank you for a job well done is a form of recognition that encourages motivation and efficiency.

“One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” – John F. Kennedy (35th president of the United States).