HANFORD — Local student Ean Santos has been recognized for his part in bringing about world peace.
To be fair, Santos’ part is small, but you wouldn’t know that from the power of the symbolism and the forethought his work has shown.
The 14-year-old won second place honors for the District 4-A2 region in Lions Club International’s 31st annual Peace Poster Contest in May.
Santos won first place in Kings County, as well as getting the silver in District 4-A2, which consists of 62 Lions clubs from Fresno, Bakersfield, Tulare, Kings and Kern counties.
The contest had over 600,000 entries from 60 countries.
“I did not expect it. I was really excited,” Santos, who will attend Sierra Pacific High School next year, said.
The theme of this years’ contest was “The Future of Peace” and Santos’ award-winning artwork depicts President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shaking hands in front of the flags of the countries the two world leaders represent.
And the weird part is — he finished and entered the artwork back in October 2017.
“That was around the time when there were threats about going to war and I thought that if those two could shake hands, it would be a step closer to peace between the two nations,” Santos said.
Ean’s father, Fernando Santos, was happy to hear about his son’s award-winning art and remarked on his son’s ability to tap into current events.
“I was shocked. It’s really amazing,” Fernando said. “The timing of everything is what’s really remarkable. The fact that what he drew has actually happened in real life is pretty cool.”
While Fernando was happy to hear about his son’s success, he did originally have questions about the subject matter.
“My first reaction was ‘really? Are you sure that’s what you want to do?’ I questioned him on it. But it’s good to see that he stuck with what he was thinking and actually did it,” Fernando said.
The younger Santos said he has always been interested in America’s relationship with North Korea and it’s a topic he wants to learn more about. So when the project was brought up in his art class at Kings River-Hardwick Elementary School.
Though he has participated in the contest for the last three years, this is the first time he’s won on any level, something he felt might be the case after encouragement from his teacher, Gary Vatcher.
“He inspired me to think I’d go far into the contest. He thought I’d go further than I did previous years,” Santos said.
Santos was awarded with a ribbon and $100 in prize money at his school’s year-end awards ceremony.
The student obviously likes art — and has since a young age, being “naturally drawn” to it — but it’s not his passion going into high school. This fall, he plans to join the golf team and hopes to continue playing the sport through college.