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February 13, 2018 > Self-expression and independent thinking

Self-expression and independent thinking

By Zoya Hajee

Community service, development of personal friendships, and the growth of leadership skills are among the core values of Lions Clubs International (LCI). The volunteers, or ?Lions,? of California?s Lions association are part of Multiple District Four (MD-4). They strive to incorporate these values into projects such as services to the blind and visually impaired, supporting youth substance abuse prevention, foreign exchange, literacy development, and a student speakers contest that provides $103,500 in scholarships to high schoolers.

Lions Clubs International was founded in Chicago, Illinois, in 1917 when Melvin Jones decided to invest the talent of his business team into the betterment of their community. Since then, LCI gained 1.38 million members in diverse geographical areas and is the world?s largest service club organization. In California, 20 years after its establishment, District Four of the association split into five sub-districts. District Governor Fred Smith sought a way to unify the clubs and Frank Colston, a Deputy District Governor, suggested a student speaker contest.

On February 21st, a Student Speaker Contest held in Union City Council Chambers marks the event?s 81st year with the topic: ?Integrity and Civility Play What Role in Today?s Society?? High school students under the age of 21 who reside in MD-4, including foreign exchange students, are encouraged to participate.

?[The Lions Club Student Speaker Contest] definitely meant more to me than winning a scholarship,? said Kevin George, last year?s contest finalist. ?The knowledge of public articulation, the importance of forming a personal and logical opinion on a relevant issue, the acquaintances, and the friendships are all aspects of this experience that I consider as a ?prize.?? Ultimately, the competition provides high schoolers with a stimulating experience that encourages self-expression and independent thinking.

The contest on February 21 will include four to five students. The next level of competition will be held Saturday, March 17 at 3 p.m. at the St. Gregorias Church in San Lorenzo. Each of the fifteen district winners will receive a $4,500 scholarship. The four area winners will each receive an additional $6,500 and the final contest winner receives another $10,000.

Judged for originality, delivery, and persuasive effect, participants must prepare thoughtful speeches that accurately capture the theme of this year?s contest. Indigo Funk, last year?s contest winner, said, ?All the research I did... taught me that any topic, no matter how complicated, is not too complicated to have an answer.?

Student Speakers Contest
Wednesday, Feb 21
7 p.m.
City Hall
Council Chambers
34009 Alvarado-Niles Rd, Union City
(510) 471-7786

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