01 Jul, 2022
10 : 00
In November the YCYW Organisation announced a Speech Competition to help inspire students develop their skills in spoken English and build their confidence in expressing themselves. Students from Years 1-13 practised their speeches with classmates, teachers, and, ultimately, a panel of judges.
We are very grateful to all students who have participated and prepared for months of evaluations, the teachers for their help and mentorship, and for the difficult task of our judges including Dr Michelle Zoss, Associate Professor of English Education at Georgia State University, who joined us virtually from the USA.
Workshops with author, writer, and speaker Matt Dickinson, from the UK, were scheduled for all the contest winners among the YCYW schools. Matt is a climber and explorer who has carried out expeditions to Everest and worked extensively with National Geographic TV, Discovery Channel, and the BBC.
Students could write speeches based on two themes: “Original Stories” and “Retelling and Responding”. Only eight winners were selected out of all YCYW students from Beijing to Hong Kong. YCIS Shanghai Pudong student Skylah-Rose in Year 11, Ana in Year 7, and Melody in Year 5 were among those eight winners and we could not be more proud of their efforts! Skylah-Rose shared a speech detailing her anxiety experiences in the “Original Stories” category. In the 2nd category, “Retelling Stories”, Melody and Ana shared their speeches titled “The Power of S!” and “My Everyday Hero-My Great Grandfather”, respectively.
The award recipients from YCIS Pudong answered some of our questions so that we could better understand their creative writing journey and process:
What inspires you to write?
Writing, making music, and acting are all outlets for self-expression. I have difficulty expressing my thoughts and feelings verbally, so being able to take advantage of my ability to write is something I am incredibly grateful for.
What inspires me the most are the things around me and what I have experienced. I like to look at the little things in great detail.
Books. When looking for a new biography to read, I choose ones about people I’m interested in and inspired by. If I’m not fascinated by the person, the information doesn’t seem to stick in my head! When I am intrigued by someone in history or the news, I am curious to find more information and every detail about that person.
Why did you choose this specific topic to write about?
Mental health has been something I have been struggling with since 2019, and in 2020 I was formally diagnosed with anxiety. Since then, I have come to embrace anxiety and learned how to grow from it. I am an advocate for mental health and wanted to take steps to break its stigma by choosing it as my topic for the organisation-wide speech contest in hopes of spreading awareness. I also got a lot of support from my teachers and parents to share my story.
I wanted to choose a topic related to my family. I started to ask my relatives if they knew any interesting stories about our family. In the end, my father recommended my great grandfather, Luis, because he did incredible things that impacted many people. I feel very lucky to have had the advice and support from both my parents and teachers throughout the brainstorming process until the presentation.
Because I know that it’s hard for a lot of people to face the pandemic, and I hoped people could try, despite the challenges they must embrace, to be optimistic, not give up, and stay strong. So that’s when I thought of Sonya Sotomayor. She had diabetes since she was 7, was female, and was Puerto Rican. Almost everyone doubted her, but she was courageous and never gave up on her goals. My teacher, Mr Kitts, gave me a lot of advice about this topic during several recesses. My mom also encouraged me and gave comments from an audience perspective.
With the benefit of hindsight, what advice would you give yourself if you were starting at YCIS all over again?
“Embrace your differences. It will be difficult at first, but the things that make you different also make you strong.”
The advice I would have given myself in Primary would be: “Don't be afraid to ask questions or participate. There will always be teachers to support and guide you.”
I would tell myself to have the courage not to be afraid of starting over. Usually, I don’t like to delete or erase things that I’ve already started, but I think if you start on something and it doesn’t sound that right it is okay to stop and reflect on the message you want to convey. I like comparing the writing process to a maze and how if you’re nearing a dead end, you shouldn’t keep going, thinking, “Oh well, I already got this far.” You should turn back and choose another path.
We look forward to the works of our young writers and storytellers in the new school year. Congratulations to all finalists and participants!