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International Public Speaking Competition 2008

A brief report of the
International Public Speaking Competition
May 6 – 9  2008
Dartmouth House, 37 Charles Street, London W1J 5ED
“New Horizons, New Frontiers”

Our national champion Lin Meiyi and runner up Faustina Niap, together with me the chaperon, left Kuala Lumpur International Airport on 6th May 2008 at 10.05 a.m. Faustina was a bit air sick but was alright when we arrived at Heathrow Airport, London.We took the Underground to the President Hotel, getting off at Russell Square. It was a short walk to the hotel.

The briefing for all students and accompanying adults at the Imperial Hotel (next door) had already started. After we had checked in, I suggested that we go to join them. One of the girls wanted to go to her room to freshen up before attending the briefing. I told her there was no time to do so as it was sensible to go straight away to join the other participants. Those who attended the meeting soon came out and gave us the feedback.

This was the 27th Annual International Public Speaking Competition 2008 Final. Though it was the 27th Annual, ESU International Competition, it was only the 6th Annual Public Speaking Competition for Malaysia. The theme chosen for this year “New Horizons, New Frontiers” was very interesting. It gave the participants more than enough mileage to interpret it. They discussed this highly topical subject and its implications for different areas of the world. Each speaker addressed a topic of their own choice which is related to the theme, in any way they chose. There were fifty eight speakers from thirty four countries.

I saw a glittering array of talent at the Mock Parliamentary Debate. It appeared that the more vocal speakers were mainly from Europe. Perhaps it was partly due to our Education System and/or culture that those from the far east were quieter in comparison.

On the final day there were four concurrent preliminary heats. Friends and relatives of the participants seemed to enjoy this session more than the speakers themselves. The judges selected two speakers from each heat for the final.

It was a grueling two and half hours of competition. I felt sorry for one speaker from the far east who lost her trend of thought in her memorized speech. There was an awkward silence. This is why I always advise our participants not to memorize but to familiarize their speeches. When it was over eight speakers emerged as the finalists.

Unfortunately Malaysia did not make it to the finals this year. Nevertheless we are proud of Meiyi and Faustina. They tried their best and had lots of determination. They were extremely enthusiastic and had given their best effort.

After a sandwich lunch we walked to the American Embassy where the Grand Final
was held. It was only a ten minute walk from Dartmouth House.

The eight finalists were from Romania, Thailand, Poland, Bulgaria, Argentina, Lebanon, China, and Philippines. I enjoyed their speeches of such diverse style and interpretation of the theme. Time flies (tempus fugit) and soon it was over. The 1st prize went to Philippines “Fish Mucus and Foot Fungus”. The 2nd prize went to Thailand “Talking to Prevent Teenage Sex”. The prize for the non-native speaker was for Bulgaria. Argentina won the audience’s choice.

In the closing remarks and presentation of certificates by the Deputy Chairman, ESU, Mr. Edward Gould, he said the judges were impressed by the high standard of public speaking. He advised that over prepared theatrical-like speeches did not impress the judges. All the participants received a copy of the Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners.

After the final we walked back to Dartmouth House. I was shocked and disappointed when informed that our girls were denied the home-stay programme. The reason given was that they must remain in the U.K. until Sunday evening. Since all the home-stays were outside London, it was not feasible to arrange a home-stay for a shorter period of time. Our girls’ departure for home was Sunday May 11 at 12.00 p.m. This home-stay rule is stated in the ESU Handbook. It would appear that this rule had been overlooked.

Katie Brock arranged for our girls to stay the next night May 10 in a motel in the Heathrow area. It was quite far away from the airport. Faustina went to stay with her aunt in London. I accompanied Meiyi to the airport via the Heathrow Underground. We had to change train and platform at Acton Place. Then at the airport we walked quite a distance to another building as directed to catch a bus to the motel. It was about 25 minutes ride away. The motel was in a quiet and lonely place. After checking her in I took Meiyi back to Heathrow Airport because she wanted to spend her time there until late evening.  

Though the competition was a four day programme in London, it was a productive, thought-provoking and an educational trip for our two Malaysian contestants. They visited the House of Commons and the Theatre to see The Woman in Black. The trip also included an HSBC Tour with lunch included.

May I suggest that our future contestants be given a short, simple lesson of basic western dining etiquette for breakfast, lunch, teas and dinner. This will project a
better image and enhance an additional value for ESU Malaysia.

I would like to thank the ESU Malaysia, The Star Publications and HSBC Bank Malaysia Berhad for inviting me to accompany our participants to London.

Amy Lai Tan



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