Competing against the world

Posted 7 May 2021 12:57pm

Recently, Year 11 students Bella Mun and Lauren Goldie represented Australia in the World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships (WIDPSC). Hosted virtual by Korea, the competition saw students from every continent except Antarctica competing in all of four categories; Debating, Persuasive or After Dinner Speaking, Impromptu Speaking, and Interpretative Reading. I asked Bella some questions to paint a picture of what it is like to compete on an international stage.

We know what the letters stand for, but for you, what is WIDPSC? 

WIDPSC is a chance to not only showcase my abilities on the world stage, but to watch and learn from individuals from every corner of the globe. Whilst COVID has made it very tough, working with people from places like Lithuania and India has been particularly enlightening.

How many years have you been training and competing in this arena (Speakfest/AIDPSC) in order to reach this level?

I first did Speakfest, the junior version of AIDPSC, in Year 7 (2017). Since then ,I have competed every year, switching over to AIDPSC in Year 9. I think that my AIDPSC journey has been a little bit of a rollercoaster in terms of success but I have no doubt progressed in skills and ability as my experience has increased. 

Why? What’s special about Speakfest, AIDSPC and WIDPSC?

It’s hard to describe. It’s easy to say the reason I keep competing is because of the people. My amazing teammates, the people I meet from around Australia, the coaches etc. But to some extent, the actual drive of the competition is incredibly motivating. There’s something about the allure of finals and rankings that pushes me to be the best I can.

WIDSC was virtual this year. Tell us about your experience of the competition – the good, the bad and the ugly.

Well, for one, I was not a fan of working out the time zones. Everything was in UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) and I felt super stressed that I would miss a zoom session because of that. But it all turned out fine. I guess it also wasn’t amazing having to record speeches a month before because if you’re someone as pedantic as me, the recording process takes forever. What I was a fan of was the access to food at all times plus the ability to take power naps in-between sessions. Ultimately it was an amazing experience; listening to and working with people around the world.

What is your response to someone who asks, why debating and public speaking?

The reason I started debating and public speaking is honestly very different to why I still do it. I started debating in Year 6 because it seemed like something ‘cool people’ were doing and something that would help me academically. Whilst both are still very true, particularly the first, there are three main things that keep me in debating and public speaking. Firstly, my team. I absolutely love the girls that I debate with and they make a long Thursday night competing at Radford entertaining and enjoyable. Secondly, the adrenaline and drive that you get from a competition is unparalleled. I’m a fencer so I know how hype it gets in sport competitions, but being surrounded by super intelligent and inspiring people like in debating pushes you to be that much better. Finally, being able to speak empathetically is so, so important in the workforce and just in general so I think it’s definitely a good reason to pick up debating.

Any word for aspiring debaters and public speakers?

Firstly, don’t be afraid to put your hand up. Even if you don’t win everything, each competition that you enter makes your debating or public speaking ability ten times better, trust me. Secondly, trust your team. In debating, individual ability will only get you so far. The best teams are the ones that work like a well-oiled machine and who support each other from the start of prep to 3rd Neg. 

Mr Patrick Marman
Teacher in Charge of Debating and Public Speaking

Photo at top: Bella Mun and Lauren Goldie.