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2011 Taekwondo Essay & Art contest Awardees Recognized by Ambassador Han

The 2011 Taekwondo Essay & Art Contest drew to a close on Dec. 21, with an awards ceremony at the Korean embassy, where 11 of the 24 recipients gathered from across the United States to receive their awards from Ambassador Han Duk-soo.


The contest, hosted by the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, is an annual event that solicits essays and—starting in 2011—artwork from Taekwondo practitioners and aficionados living in the United States. This year, more than 200 persons submitted essays, and more that 40 submitted artwork.


Each recipient had a chance to speak about the significance of their award at the ceremony.


“Through this essay I realized the importance of community in Taekwondo,” said Emily Ciavolino, 17, of Maryland, who placed third among middle and high school students. “In Taekwondo, the people around you always ask you to be more, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.”


“My essay was mainly a reflection of my life,” said Hung Cao, 40, of Virginia, who placed third among college students and adults. “And I [teach my children Taekwondo because] want to instill in them a sense of respect.”


“Success is not from never failing, it is from rising up after every fall,” added Cao, who currently serves as a U.S. Naval officer.


The contest spans all age groups. The youngest award recipient in 2011 is Shay Finn, 8, of Michigan, who received a participation award for her essay among elementary school students; the most senior, is Wan Young Lee, 65, of Maryland, who placed third for his artwork among college students and adults.


“Writing is important because the concepts of Taekwondo crystallize in your mind,” said Doug Cook, 58, of New York, who placed first for his essay among college stud3ents and adults. “And when you go to Korea, the homeland of Taekwondo, your eyes open.”


“I relate the stages of taekwondo to the stages of life,” said Ifunanya Nwogbaga, 15, of Delaware, who received a participation award for his essay among middle and high school students. “Earning your black belt is like becoming an adult and living without guidance. It’s not the end, but a beginning.”


As words of wisdom, said Nwogbaga, whose family, originally from Nigeria, attended the ceremony in support, “Never view yourself as the best, but do the best you can.”