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Hungarian Exchange Student Wins Local Rotary Speech Contest

Contestants in the Rotary District 5170 club-level Youth Speech Contest were awarded Certificates of Oratory Excellence. From left, Szofia Darab, first place; Giulia Pinna, second place; Zachary Silva, third place; and Yiheng Song, fourth place. (Photo by Jim Brice, PNR)

Four high school-age contestants explored the theme of “Imagine Rotary” on March 3 in speeches they wrote and presented at the Rotary District 5170 club-level Richard D. King Annual Youth Speech Contest in Pleasanton.

Szofia Darab, a junior at Foothill High School in Pleasanton, won the top award of $200 and qualified for the second of four rounds leading to the finals at the Rotary District 5170 Annual Conference in April.

As a native of Hungary, she reflected upon the confidence gained from her first experience outside her native land with help from new American friends and fellow exchange students.

Contestant Giulia Pinna, a Rotary Youth Exchange student from the Italian island of Sardinia, referred to her exchange experience as a dream come true. “Will my experience lead to goodwill and friendship?” she asked. “The answer is yes because it will open my mind and give me a better understanding of the world.”

Amador High School Senior Zachary Silva applied the contest’s “Imagine Rotary” theme to Mata Amritanandamayi, a 69-year-old East Indian spiritual leader who overcame poverty to establish Embracing the World. Her global network of charities provides essential services to millions in many nations.

Contestant Yiheng Song found inspiration in the metaphor of a dead cat at the side of a road. He imagined how its fate could have been different with the help of a simple act of kindness.

The 62 clubs and more than 4000 members of Rotary District 5170 support its annual speech contest to raise awareness about of the importance of effective public speaking as a communication skill and mechanism for leadership development.

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