Southern youths showcase their talents on World Poetry Day
The youths of southern Lebanon got a chance to show their poetry talents in a competition organized by UNIFIL for World Poetry Day.
World Poetry Day was marked this year with a ceremony in the town of Marjayoun to pick winners of the poetry competition.
The competition, under the UNESCO proposed theme "The Traditions of my ancestors (or village)", opened a few weeks ago. Invitations were sent to southern schools asking each to select the three best poetry submissions. A panel of notable Lebanese writers - Mohamed Hazimi, representing the Ministry of Education, and poets Shawki Bzeih and Issam Abdullah - ruled on who are the best three talents.
The competition allows southern students to think about their parents and grandparents but ultimately about themselves, their future and take pride in their identity, said Edward Tawil, from UNIFIL's Civil Affairs Office.
The competition culminated on Friday 23 March in three winners being honoured at the ceremony held in Saint Coeur School in Marjayoun. Among those attending the ceremony were families of the contestants, fellow students as well as Lebanese Armed Forces and UNIFIL officers.
Two students shared the top two slots. Their poems were equally alluring to the judges; Hanan Dakik from Tibnin High school and Mohamad Bzeih from Tyr High School, while Lara Zwayhid from Marjayoun National High School won the third recognition.
"I am very happy to have received this prize, especially since the interest in poetry has been declining for years. And, as always, UNIFIL is the first to offer assistance and take the initiative," Mohamed said in an interview.
Lara was equally happy and proud to have her poetry recognised. She praised UNIFIL's role in organizing this event that has helped her to realise her potential as a poet.
The competition was tough, as Judge Shawki Bzeih explained.
"We received five very appealing poems out of the 40 submitted. But then again the rules forced us to choose the best three among them," he added.
"I don't want to talk just about the poetry contest, but about this incredible role UNIFIL is playing through these kinds of constructive activities," said Mr. Abdullah, another panelist. He added: "We witness peace and tranquillity in the south because these foreigners are working in our favour."
Ministry of Education's representative, Mr. Hazimi, described the activity as an incredible initiative that encourages culture and student potential.
At the event, the Deputy Commander of UNIFIL Sector East, Lieutenant-Colonel Marzouki, expressed UNIFIL's pride in offering southern students a platform to display their talents to their teachers, communities and families.
"It is an opportunity to encourage talent, to encourage the importance of reading, to encourage and celebrate local culture and the pride of belonging to that culture," he added in a speech.
Also at the event, UNIFIL Indonesian soldiers performed a traditional all-male comic dance, while troops from the Chinese medical company performed a traditional all-female dance.