Bridging Continents and Building Community: Student Awarded First Prize for Speech

With poise and determination, McKenzie Caborn stood at the podium, put aside her nervousness and gazed confidently at the audience of Rotary Club members. Taking a deep breath, she began reading: “On October 17, 2010, a small group of Rotarians participated in the Istanbul marathon and raised $8,000 towards Rotary International’s fight to eradicate polio.

The symbolism is irresistible, since during the race runners crossed the Bosporus Bridge, which connects Europe and Asia, making the Istanbul marathon the only marathon in the world where participants run from one continent to another. This small group of Rotarians built community and bridged continents both literally and symbolically.”

For her speech-writing and presentation efforts, Caborn, a 16 year-old junior at Mount Madonna School, was awarded first prize and $100 for her essay on the topic of “Bridging Continents and Building Community.” The competition was sponsored by Santa Cruz’s Sunrise Rotary Club; it is an annual contest open to all Santa Cruz County high school students.

Caborn says the topic, is one she can really relate to, and will get the chance to work on personally when her “Values in World Thought” social studies class visits South Africa next summer.

“A community is an environment where people come together, talk to each other, share ideas and create a support system,” Caborn says. ‘’It’s a place where people can make connections, help each other, and work together towards a brighter future. Community is built through support. Through respect. Through awareness. Through collaboration. And most importantly, through trust. Communities start on a local level – amongst groups of families, friends and workmates. And as these local communities thrive they can then broaden and expand.

I believe that if we learn to connect with people from other groups and cultures in the same way as we connect with those from our own, we can build these bridges,” she says. “ We just need to take all of the skills that we have learned from building a local community, and then apply them on a larger scale.”


Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, Media & Public Relations,

Nestled among the redwoods on 355 mountaintop acres, Mount Madonna is a safe and nurturing college-preparatory school that supports students in becoming caring, self-aware and articulate critical thinkers, who are prepared to meet challenges with perseverance, creativity and integrity. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville.