Grateful thanks to HSBC as overall sponsors of the International Competition in the UK and Essex ESU branch in the UK for most generously sponsoring the travel and accommodation costs of our winner, Peter Kovacs to enable him to take part.
We should also thank the teachers of all of the contestants who put in so much time to prepare their students, in the case of Peter, Edmund Dudley who also assisted with this report.
The Competition in London
After winning the national final, I had almost a month to prepare for the international final. I rewrote some parts and added some new quotes in order to make my speech more related to the topic.
Young people from all around the world came to participate. 33 different nations sent their winners and runners-up. Although the average age was quite even – I was the second youngest, attending the 10th grade at the time – there were people who had completed two years at university already. When I claimed “people from all over the world” I really meant it: the participants came from Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Thailand, Hong Kong, Madagascar, Fiji, Yemen, Mongolia, etc.
The organisers, led by Katie Brock and Rob Hastie (both of whom work for the ESU), set up superb things for us to do. On the day of the arrival we went to the Houses of Parliament, where we attended a proper session. In the evening we went to the theatre and watched “The Woman in Black”. It was a horror play so the audience had plenty to scream about.
The following day we went to the HSBC headquarters, where we looked around the enormous building and then had lunch there. The same afternoon we formed a government ourselves, and acted out a session, at the end of which we also voted.
On Thursday it was the competition itself, and everybody went to Dartmouth House, headquarters of the ESU. The 60 participants were split into four heats, with two people from each heat getting into the grand final.
The finals took place at the US Embassy just a few streets away from DH. Before the final, the Ambassador greeted the audience and then the final speeches commenced. Ali Hussein from Yemen won first prize for his speech “Planning for a World with Light Water”, the Runner-Up and Audience Choice was Vikram Joshi from Australia for his speech “Baggage” and the Best Non-Native English Speaker was Xing Chen from China for her speech “My Grandpa’s Bookcase”.
All in all this competition was fabulous for bringing together people from all over the world who don’t speak one another’s languages but can still communicate perfectly through English. And even if this competition was not at all about contesting and rivalry, the ESU slogan summed up nicely what it really was about: “Creating global understanding through English”.
Further information can be obtained from www.esu.org