29 March 2013


Not the group that did the speeches I judged but these ones did have to speak regarding their project.
There’s nothing quite like seeing genuine joy on a young person’s face, especially at that moment that they realize they really wanted something and they got it, that all that hard work paid off, and they’re in that high of all highs.  Today, I had the pleasure of being a judge at a local Thai school for a competition about the ASEAN community through group projects, exhibitions, report writing (in the form of a book) and speech.  I was selected to judge speeches for both primary and high school level students in English judging everything from content, use of words, creativity, facts, artistry, confidence, natural speech, etc. 

From the moment that we three judges walked into the room, we were being sized up (ok, me literally as they probably have never seen a Thai female as tall as I), and then the nervousness set in for them along with smiling a lot at us.  Once everyone was settled in, the youngest begins their speech and I have to admit, he did a great job.  It takes so much courage to get up in front of a group of strangers, and delivering a speech that you had to memorize, and then say it like you would naturally talk and in a foreign language.  Every single student did such a great job and did a better job than I would have ever done.  First of all, I can’t memorize an entire page of information about other countries that I have never been too.  Second, I despise public speaking.  Third, I couldn’t do all of that in another language.  I admire all of them.  Their speeches were well researched, informative, creative, and delivered with confidence. 

There was one girl that was doing such a great job on her speech but I think with so much distraction in the back of the room that she lost her concentration and just couldn’t figure out the rest of her speech.  I felt horrible for her!  I know EXACTLY how she felt, I’ve been there!  I tried to encourage her by giving her a reassuring smile and the other judge told her to just pause, breathe, and proceed when she was ready, but she just couldn’t, she was even having trouble breathing in her deer in headlights expression on her face.   It’s really too bad, but then again, I guess we all need that moment when we just freeze while speaking in public.  It’s a moment none of us will ever forget and all learn from. 

I just happened to be there when the winning students were told that they won their speech competition and oh my!  What a moment to share with them!  The primary student, a young gal, squealed with delight sharing her excitement with her friends – she just had the best smile plastered on her face – that moment of truly feeling like she accomplished something wonderful.  The young man that won the high school competition was overjoyed sharing hugs with his teachers, looking so ecstatic and on top of the world.  Both students wai’d (bowed) me and just couldn’t stop smiling.  It was a pretty incredible experience to be a part of that moment with both of the winners who now go on to a larger competition.  I wonder if moments like these will on some level, frame who they become as adults. 

I sat with the young man who is 16 years old from Myanmar to talk with him about his speech, what a great job he did, and asked of his plans for the future.  He plans to go to university to study philosophy and psychology.  I happen to glance at his speech that he was still holding in his hand and this is what was hand-written at the bottom: CRAVE WINNING.  And win he did.  I love that he had a mantra to pump himself up with!

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