Isabella (4 Alfa), Mara (4 Alfa), Smaranda (4 Alfa) and Carola (4 Omega) represented Avenor College at the most important public speaking event for children aged 8 to 11 from Bucharest, the ESU Public Speaking Competition, organised by the English Speaking Union.

Isabella, 1st place winner, describes in the text below how it felt to prepare and be part of this competition:

The announcement 

One Thursday, our English teacher talked to us about the ‘ESU Public Speaking’ competition. Right off the bat, when she started to explain what it was about, I became very interested and curious about it. She explained the rules and where it’s going to be held. I was quite worried when I heard that only three students from our class could move up to the second round, the in-school competition.  

One week later, 6 children from my class came to school with their projects. All of them delivered it beautifully and I was intimidated by two of them, but I still tried my best. After that, all my colleagues got a piece of paper, and got a chance to vote for the three students who, in their opinion, had the best speeches. My heart was racing while my teacher was counting the votes. In the end, I had 7 votes, my classmate Mara got 11 votes and my friend, Smaranda, got 5 votes. Me and Mara embraced each other and started squealing and jumping from the happiness of our qualification in the second round.  

My inspiration 

My inspiration for the topic of my project was the prank Mara pulled last year on April 1st. The prank involved pickles covered in chocolate with sprinkles and a clever lie. From that event onward, I started building my speech based on Mark Twain’s quote: “The 1st of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.”. 

As you know, Mark Twain was a famous writer who created some of the most iconic books of our time: ”Tom Sawyer” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”. Tom Sawyer is known for having a joyful life full of fun adventures, compared to Huckleberry, who had a more sober and tragic story. 

I started by analysing Tom Sawyer’s actions in his lifetime to explain what Mark Twain’s quote meant. I gave examples from my personal life and I used enough evidence to strengthen and support my answers. Every time my schedule would allow me to ask questions, I would enlist the help of my father, but the only thing he did was get a piece of paper, draw a big dot on it and tell me to stare at it until I got the answer I was looking for. Why? Because he didn’t want his work to influence mine. I thank him for this because, in the end, he taught me to work hard for what I wanted to accomplish.  

How it felt 

My participation in this competition made me excited and made me want to continue next year, in fifth grade. After the three students from my class got chosen, one of them being me, we moved to the second round, the in-school competition. 

From that round only 4 could move up to the final round. All the children who won the class competition gathered in the library. We sat down and waited for our name to be called so we could deliver the speeches in front of the judges. The judges were three English teachers and a student who is in 8th grade, a former participant in the ‘ESU Public Speaking’ competition.

To be honest, I was more worried about messing up in front of the judges than worrying about the other speeches. One by one, the students were called to deliver their speeches. As I said above, all the children had amazing and inspiring opinions about Mark Twain’s quote. When everybody finished, the judges invited us outside of the room so they could vote. They told us that the next day we would know who would move up to the final round. 

When I got home, I worried about not getting qualified. I had the same feelings as getting a test back, the curiosity of wanting to know if you did good or bad. 

The next day, Miss Cristina Bumboiu, our English teacher, had told us who passed. I was so relieved when I heard my name. The good news was that all the students from 4 Alfa passed – Mara, Smaranda and me. The whole class got so excited and started congratulating us. 

Together with Carola, from 4 Omega, we were going to represent Avenor College at the inter school competition. 

Starting that day we meet several times with our teachers to practise and improve our speeches. It was a challenge and I decided I won’t let it stop me. We practised and practised until it was perfect.  

The day of the competition

On April 1st, the competition day, I woke up very early, I washed my hair, made a beautiful hairstyle that would keep my hair out of my face, put on my school uniform, my best shoes and got in the car with my mom. We get there a bit early and meet up with the other people, the teachers, and the students. I immediately went to get something to eat because I had nothing for breakfast. I also met my colleagues. We were very emotional and stressed. 

The competition started, we got put into three groups. I was in the 1st one. The format implied to present the speech and to answer several questions addressed by the jury members or by the other competitors. 

Then we waited for the jury’s decision before the award ceremony to start. 

All the participants were called to receive their diplomas. While I heard different names, I was so worried and happy at the same time. Finally,  they got to the top three and I didn’t hear my name when they announced third place. ‘’First or second place I won’t complain! ‘’, that was the thing I told my friends. I heard my name when the first place was announced. My face lit up and a big smile showed up on my face. 

My advice 

For anyone who would like to participate in this competition, this is my suggestion: ‘’It’s just a competition, the world won’t perish if you don’t win. But always try your best even at the smallest things.’’