Celebrating 60 Years of Leos: Connected by One Goal
December 5th is the 60th Anniversary of the Leo Club Program. To celebrate 60 years of Leo history, we will feature stories from former Leos around the world on what being a Leo has meant to them. Our fourth feature comes from Lina Barsoum from Heliopolis, Egypt. As a new Leo, she was intimidated by the large number of Leos from all different backgrounds. However, she quickly learned that the shared Leo goals of serving others bonded them together. At the end of her time as a Leo, she had gained the confidence and international network of friends that has continued to follow her today.
When Lina first became a Leo, she felt intimidated by the diverse group of people in her club. “I remember meeting young people from different backgrounds, politics and religions. It was daunting as a new member to engage with everyone, but I was able to overcome my shyness as I realized that we had all come together for the common goal of serving our community.” A few months later, Lina traveled to a Leo workshop in Cairo, where she was asked by one of the organizers to present to the group. “I was petrified. I was not confident in my public speaking abilities, and was afraid to mess up in front of strangers, especially people from all over Europe and Asia. I remember as I tried to refuse, he smiled and said to me, ‘We are all Leos here with the same goals. There is nothing to be nervous about. We will support you no matter what.’ That gave me the confidence to present to the workshop, and I have continued using those skills today in my professional work.”
For the next 5 years, Lina would become a leader, helping to run service projects and traveling to area forums as a representative for her club. She found that the common goal allowed her to connect with people all over the world and created an international network of friends. “I have met so many wonderful Leos from all over. We became the strongest of friends, even visiting each other outside of Leo events. I’ve slept on couches in Vienna, Paris, Budapest, Augsburg, and Amsterdam and had my house called the Egyptian Leo hotel. Even though it’s been 7 years since I’ve been a Leo, whenever I reconnect with any of my Leo friends, it’s like we pick up where we left off.”
Of advice she has to Leos today, she speaks to how that common Leo goal can bond you for life. “Leos can be a life changing opportunity. The Leo friends you make today will last a life time. I’ve found that no matter what stage we are in life, single, married, starting families, we remain united and friends forever!”
For more information on becoming a Leo or to sponsor a Leo Club, visit our website at http://www.lionsclubs.org/EN/how-we-serve/youth/leo-club-program.php.