Next month, a team of local students will be jetting off to the debating equivalent of football's World Cup.
This year's World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships will be held in Lithuania, with the six members of Hong Kong's team selected at last month's Hong Kong Public Speaking Championships.
Students from all over the city gathered at South Island School to compete in the championships' four sections. These were designed to test the students' grasp of English, and their confidence in using the language in front of the judges and audience.
The six team members chosen, in ranking order, were: Benjamin So (Queen's College), Heather Pickerell (German Swiss International School), Griffith Cheng (La Salle College), Tiffany Chung (South Island School), Geoffrey Liew (Sha Tin College) and Sachin Srivastava (German Swiss International School).
The competition follows the rules of the World Championships, and the first round was persuasive speaking. Competitors had to deliver a speech nine to 13 minutes in length, using only one cue card for reference.
A wide variety of topics were chosen, with Benjamin delivering an impassioned speech on the tragedy of child soldiers. Tiffany tackled another shocking issue, human trafficking, pulling heartstrings with her emotive language and powerful delivery.
In the interpretive reading round, the competitors had to choose a passage of literary merit, and deliver it along with their own introduction. The total time allowed was between seven and 11 minutes.
Among many of the beautiful passages selected, an interesting coincidence occurred when both champion, Benjamin, and runner-up, Heather, chose passages from Charles Dickens. Benjamin's piece was from A Tale of Two Cities and Heather's from A Christmas Carol. Geoffrey chose something much more philosophical, reading the famous "Trial of Hank Rearden" from Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand.
After a quick lunch break, most of the speakers were back on familiar territory in the tough debating round.
Heather was a member of the Hong Kong Debating Team, which competed in the World Championships in Qatar during the Lunar New Year holiday. Griffith had been part of La Salle College's victorious team in both the Sing Tao, and the Lions Club & Yodac, inter-school debating competitions last year. Sachin has previously won the Standard Chartered Public Speaking Competition.
Ben is a student at La Salle College