If you were out and about this week, you might have noticed that traffic has been a bit more congested than usual. You might have also noticed new faces in the city.
This is because Lions Clubs International, a service club organization with members from all over the world, is holding its annual convention, with the purpose of meeting other Lions members, participating in planned activities such as a parade, and electing the coming year’s officers.
The convention draws together thousands of people from all over the world, and this year, some have traveled thousands of miles from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, especially to witness installation of Lions Clubs International’s next president.
Thankfully, the members spend the last week patronizing our restaurants, Asian or not. Thank you, Lions!
This Friday, Wing-Kun Tam will also be making history as he becomes the first Chinese president of Lions Clubs International. The organization has a simple motto: “We serve.”
The work that Lions Clubs International does is extremely important and commendable. It is an organization that draws people of different backgrounds and from all walks of life and unites them with a shared goal — to help meet the needs of communities on a large and global scale. This is no small feat.
Lions Clubs International is best known for its work with blindness — preventing, treating, and curing blindness — but that is not all that it does. It also serves youth through community projects in schools by means of scholarships, recreation, and mentoring. There is a version of the organization for youth, called the Leo Program.
There are 144,000 Leos worldwide in 140 countries.
Lions Clubs International also awards grants to support humanitarian projects around the world. It helps communities that suffer from natural disasters and aids in long-term reconstruction.
A Chinese president of the organization is notable because it reminds us that China is a multifaceted country. The side we are often presented with is the ambitious side, which sometimes seems cold and harsh toward human rights. Lions give Chinese people outside contact to see how a broad international organization does things. It creates a new outlook in people.
It’s also important to showcase the work of the many individuals who defy the stereotype — individuals like Tam. This is important to recognize in a country that has the largest population in the world.
Tam is a man who has been successful in air transportation, his chosen field. However, this wasn’t enough for him. He wanted to contribute back to global communities and in the last 30 years, he has put countless hours of his time and contributed money out of his own pocket to ensure that adults and children can see light. ♦