Melbourne couple Mandeep and Manpreet Soin were 'over the moon' when they found out that their daughter Mehak's poem 'Silver Lining' was named winner of a state-wide poetry competition in Victoria. What made them even prouder was that Victoria's Deputy Premier James Merlino actually quoted a verse from their daughter's poem in a special video message.
Mehak Soin is a Year 4 student at Melbourne Girls Grammar. She was among hundreds of school children who took part in the Students Poetry Competition organised by Independent Schools Victoria.
"I'm so proud that a Punjabi Sikh girl has won this competition,' says mother Mandeep. "She has made us so proud."
Father Manpreet adds, "Mehak has always been a very confident child, but this is a huge achievement."
The competition was open to all students of Victoria, regardless of whether they study in a state, private denominational, or independent schools.
It was divided into six categories: Prep -Year 2, Years 3-4, Years 7-8, Years 9-10 and Years 11-12.
Nine-year-old Mehak Soin's poem Silver Lining was named winner in the Years 3-4 category, out of hundreds of entries received.
"My topic was hope. I know that everyone is feeling gloomy due to the coronavirus, because we are living in fear and in lockdown. But there is a lot of hope too. Everyone is together and a vaccine will surely be made soon," she said.
Reciting from her poem, she said: "We are braver than we believe, we are stronger than we seem. Tough times never last, now is the time to stand up or never. Together we will get through. Australia, we are in it altogether."
"I wrote exactly whatever I saw around me," she says.
"My school is currently shut down, so that became a line in my poem. Everyone in Victoria is in lockdown, so that became a line in my poem.
"But I also wanted to say that the universe is united in finding a cure. So we all must be hopeful," she added.
Mother Mandeep says, "This was entirely her own thought process. She didn't seek our help at all. Our only contribution is that we submitted her poem on the ISV website once Mehak had composed it."
The icing on the top came when the Deputy Premier of Victoria and the state's Education Minister James Merlino actually recited a verse from Mehak's poem, lauding the "power of optimism and hope" which is so essential in the current time.
And what does this high-achiever think about her future career path?
'I want to become a lawyer because I want to fight for people's rights. If not a lawyer, then I'll become a journalist," she says confidently.
To hear the interviews with Mehak, Mandeep and Manpreet Soin, click on the audio player above.
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