The International Independent Schools Public Speaking Competition (IISPSC), hosted by St. Clement’s School, Toronto (Canada) on 25-28 October 2018, was an amazing experience which saw the Saltus team competing against some of the best high school public speakers in the world. The atmosphere at this competition was electrifying and gave us the opportunity to develop new skills, meet new people and forge newfound relationships spanning across borders.
This annual public speaking event is open to independent schools from around the world. The competition has become so popular that there is a waiting list for new schools who want to join. The tournament features a variety of different public speaking categories such as cross-examination debate, after dinner speaking, dramatic interpretation, impromptu speaking, interpretative reading, parliamentary debate, persuasive speaking, radio newscast and extemporaneous speaking and is hosted by a different school each year.
Our trip began on Wednesday the 27th of we left Bermuda and headed to Toronto. When we arrived the host families welcomed us with warm arms, which was a great contrast to Toronto’s chilly climate. The first three days were spent mostly at St.Clement's school, where the majority of the competition was held. On Sunday, all the competitors went to the Chelsea Hotel in downtown Toronto for the final rounds and awards dinner. This was both exciting and nerve wracking as we waited for finalist to be announced.
The Saltus team consisted of Giselle Concepcion, Ywione Darrell and Sam Webel and each person competed in three different categories, receiving some excellent feedback from the different judging panels. Sam Webel, 14 years old, earned a space in the finals for his Radio Newscast category where he used a jazz persona to tell the daily news and thoroughly entertained his audience. Overall the team did very well and strongly represented saltus against 60 other teams from schools throughout North America and across the globe.
We found that the level of competition gave us the opportunity to learn from other competitors who each had different styles, mannerisms and interests. Cross examination debating was of particular interest to us as this is different to the format we use in Bermuda. This experience showed us new perspectives on issues such as human rights and the use of status in modern society. It also gave us the chance to develop our analysis, while also sharing our tips for style and confidence with the opposing team.
We are now very much looking forward to our next opportunities to compete in both the upcoming BJSL National Debate Competition on Saturday, 17 November and the annual Bermuda Spring Public Speaking and Debating Tournament in March 2019. While it isn’t always easy and does take a lot of research and preparation we would highly recommend people give both public speaking and debating a try- we promise that it is well worth it!