Congratulations to Redwood High School students Christine Lum, Sarah Blumert, and Alexismarie Stoy for taking first, second and third place respectively in the recent Rotary Club Speech meet!
In honor of their accomplishments, the Talon is publishing their speeches here in full. Congratulations ladies for seasoning your speech with saltiness (Colossians 4:6)!
Christine Lum – First Place
Hello everyone. I am the treasurer of the Interact club at my high school, so “Engage Rotary.Change Lives” has become a huge part of my life over the past four years. As a result of my involvement in Interact, I have become very knowledgeable about the Rotary community and its goals. About three to four years ago, I had never heard about Rotary. That soon changed when I became a member of the Interact club at my school and started to get more involved. At that time, our international project was to raise money to help eradicate polio. This cause was, I felt, particularly noteworthy and honorable because it helped to alleviate the pain felt by people around the world.
But Rotary is not merely working overseas-it is also at work serving those in its own backyard. I realized that Rotary was an international community that was dedicated to serving others, at home or abroad. Rotary’s goals are clearly admirable and inspiring, particularly because those in Rotary choose to act only if their thoughts, speech, and actions can pass the Four-Way test. I share Rotary’s vision and overall goals, because I truly think that they are visionary and important. In particular, the last two questions of the Four-Way test have helped shape my personal service to the community. And they are: “Will it build goodwill and better friendships?” And “Will it be beneficial to all concerned?” As I have mentioned, there are several ways in which I have tried to carry out many of Rotary’s goals.
The first is by becoming the treasurer of Interact this year. I became treasurer because I really wanted to help involve the people at my school and encourage others to do community service. This reason fulfills the question, “Will it build goodwill and better friendships?” because as the treasurer of a service-based club, I can help foster kind and helpful attitudes in club members and build friendships that are rooted in altruism. A specific example of this was when I served at the Children’s Christmas Party-I was able to bring some kids from my school to help serve children in the community, and I was also able to meet kids from other Interact clubs in the area.
In addition to my work in my Interact Club at school, I have the wonderful opportunity to volunteer at Children’s Hospital in Oakland. I am able to volunteer in the Emergency Department of the hospital, and it has been especially rewarding for me because it answers the question, “Will it be beneficial to all concerned?” As a volunteer, I have the opportunity to minister to many sick children and their families. I can positively affect them by getting them warm blankets, fetching them food, or just playing with the kids to brighten up their day.
In some cases, I am able to make a significant difference in a person’s life. For example, one time I transported a patient who was on the brink of death because he had been stabbed and was bleeding out. While I don’t believe that I saved his life, I do believe that I was there to transport him for a reason. For me working at the hospital is an extremely rewarding experience because it is beneficial to all involved-the patients can be properly taken care of, the workers at the hospital can rely on me to do some tasks, and I am able to truly serve others. I am very interested in serving people through medicine, because I believe that healing is one of the best gifts that you can give away. This is why I was drawn into Rotary when I first saw that it was an organization that was dedicated to eradicating Polio, and has made significant progress over the years.
Overall, Rotary’s mission and goals have taught me to truly value service, and how to discern what to do with my life. It saddens me that many of my peers are not involved in community service, because I do believe that service to others not only helps those in need but also teaches one how to be generous and a better person. This is why I am planning to continue in reaching out to others-especially in March, as I am going on a service trip to the Navajo Nation. As I look out into all of your faces, I know that we all have a commonality-we believe in goodwill towards others. I don’t see why the younger generation cannot rise up to meet the older generation on this issue. I want to see younger and older alike come together to help communities across the world because engaging Rotary and changing lives is not for just the old, not for just the young, but for both.
Sarah Blumert – Second Place
Rotary’s humanitarian work and the influence that it has on both individuals and the community is tremendous. It is organizations like these that help shape the society we live in with the passion and dedication it takes to make a difference.
For those with diseases, disabilities, or defects, it is this exact kind of work which can help them not only overcome their problems, but also gain a new lease on life. The efforts which Rotary puts forth such as Shelterbox and their work to end polio set a wonderful example for those trying to positively affect the community and the lives of other people.
One of these such organizations which holds a special place in my heart is Operation Cleft. As several people in my family have been born with the affliction of a cleft lip or palate, it is heartwarming to see a passionate group of people use all of their abilities to help solve such a devastating and widespread issue. Although many are aware of the more well-publicized conditions such as Leukemia and Autism, cleft palates are often overlooked as many people believe that they can be solved with a simple surgery. This is actually far from the truth. Although the previous conditions mentioned are extremely devastating for anybody involved, cleft palates are an incredible emotional and financial burden on those whose children are affected.
Just in my own family, my second cousin had to undergo nearly ten surgeries just to get his cleft lip in suitable repair. The amount of sadness and frustration which my family underwent was enough to last a lifetime, let alone the financial burden which presented itself when the surgeries were complete. To further this pain, that same cousin’s first child also received the cleft lip gene, which only caused more strain on my family.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently estimated that each year, more than 2,500 babies in the United States are born with a cleft palate and almost 4,500 are born with a cleft lip, with or without a cleft palate. However, the repair of these physical defects can result in more than just a cosmetic improvement. They can enhance a child’s breathing ability, hearing, speech, and even language skills.
Unfortunately, many families, especially in foreign countries, cannot afford or get access to any kind of medical care for their children with these conditions. That is where Operation Cleft comes in. This amazing Rotary organization gives countless children repair from cleft lip and cleft palate, all from the donations of its supporters. Although one may assume that it is much too expensive to fund an entire surgery on their own, only $250 can give a child reconstructive surgery to help them live a healthier, easier life.
This organization began in 2005 when the Rotary Club of Box Hill Central agreed to fund a pilot program of 60 cleft repair operations at the LAMB project in Dinajpur, Bangladesh. This impressed and inspired the club as the operations were so relatively simple and the results were so successful.
Operation Cleft improves the lives of children all over the world, and passes Rotary’s signature FourWay Test with flying colors, specifically in the areas of building goodwill and better friendships, and benefiting all who are concerned in these issues. Surely, the effect of these surgeries will have more than simply physical gain for those involved, and will not only benefit their recipients, but their families, friends, and all others whom this condition affects as well.
The effect that Rotary has had on communities, both locally and internationally, cannot be replaced, as the necessity for these acts of goodwill will most likely never be altered. However, it is up to those who recognize this necessity to step up and take action, as it is their responsibility to help the underprivileged become less so. Truly, this is the object of Rotary: to engage in these acts of necessity for the benefit of those around them, so that they can effectively change lives for the better.
Alexismarie Stoy – Third Place
Picture a world of hate, intolerance, and poverty, this is a world is not that far
away it is simply our world without leaders that fight for the common good. The younger generations need to be taught how to fulfill these roles and Rotary has a lot of programs to do just that.
I attended R.Y.L.A. this past summer and it was an experience that greatly impacted my life. This program put on by Rotary teaches self-confidence, educates about global problems, and gives us the tools to be the kind of leaders the world needs. It was a week spent with people who had the same goal of making the world a better place. This gathering of philanthropic youth who also uniquely held leadership positions that give a platform to make a difference not only in the world but within the group of people they lead. We were taught to think of things that not only served our purposes and goals but to expand our thinking to work for the benefit of all. Through different workshops we learned how we lead and how to work with others that have different styles of leadership.
The students were encouraged to push the boundaries of their comfort zone within a loving environment. I witnessed tremendous changes in the people I lived for with a week, the girls I proudly call my sisters. It was not changing the person they were but instead molting their old skin, that was filled with fear and hesitation, to become a person that stood unashamed of their beliefs and not afraid to stand up for what they knew to be right.
Rotary’s many youth programs built to develop leadership and a sense of civic responsibility, are changing lives everyday. Through both Interact and Roteract, high school and college students are making an impact by working with Rotary to serve their community and the world. These programs instill within the youth the idea that no matter your age or circumstance you can make a change, when you work together. Empowering the younger generations with this knowledge is so key because it gives them the key to a different life. A life filled with selflessness, becomes one that can contribute to the world.
Interact is something I have been involved in for all four years of high school. Through Interact I have been involved in programs such as “life, love, and literacy which built libraries and involved local tutoring “, “shelter box” which provides disaster aid , and campus beautification projects. I’ve also attended events such FLC. The annual fall leadership conference that involves 2700 youth shows how there is power in numbers. Much like RYLA, FLC consists of seminars and projects. Throughout the day the students are taught leadership skills, how to become effective communicators and what INteract will be focusing on over the next year. I was part of the service workshop at RYLA and one of the projects we presented at the end of the week was WAPIs. WAPIs were also a part of FLC this year. WAPI stands for Water Pasteurization Indicator. These mechanisms are small glass tubes with wax inside that indicate when water is at a safe temperature to drink. These devices are reusable and so one can give a family safe drinking water on a more permanent basis. WAPIs are easy to put together and as a camp we were able to assemble a large amount in a short amount of time.
When we as high schoolers come together we can accomplish amazing things.The programs Rotary provides for the community help develop the type of compassionate leadership that this world needs. By engaging Rotary the lives of these students have been changed and they can now go forward changing the lives of others.