TWO Clarendon High School pupils have been selected to represent South Africa at the World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championship (WIDPSC) in April next year in Sydney, Australia.
Heather Sandison, 15, and Caitlin Laing, 16, placed fourth and sixth respectively in the national competition in Durban recently, allowing them to qualify for the prestigious international competition.
Caitlin said it was an honour to be selected for an international competition.
“Looking at South Africa on a world spectrum, we don’t look great. We hope to bring South Africa a good name at the championship,” Laing said.
Heather said: “It felt unreal to hear that I had been chosen. We both cried when it was announced.
“I feel like I have a place now. It improves my self-confidence going into the competition.”
The five-day event targeting tomorrow’s leaders from around the world, requires high school pupils to interact and collaborate with like-minded peers from diverse schools, countries and cultural backgrounds.
They will each participate in four events including: debating, impromptu speaking, persuasive or after- dinner speaking and interpretive reading.
Both pupils attributed much of their success to their school, which encourages them to be articulate and outspoken, and to voice controversial views, if they can be backed up with solid arguments.
Teacher Helen Smit said the school was very proud of the girls.
“It is often predominantly independent schools that enter and very few government schools.
“For any of the girls in the school who think they would also do well in public speaking, we encourage them to give it a try. It is really a great way to meet other like-minded people,” Smit said.
Sandison believed it was her persuasive speaking on the topic of menstruation at the national competition that scored her enough points to make the world championship.
“I worked hard on that speech that addressed the lack of access to sanitary products for girls living in rural areas and the negative perception of menstruation in society.
“I showed how this is harmful and affects access to education for girls living in rural areas across the world,” Sandison said.
Laing believed it was her interpretive reading and persuasive speaking that made her stand out.
“When you feel so strongly about something, it is not taxing to explain your views and share them with others,” Laing said.
“Finding common ground with people from diverse countries and backgrounds will be challenging, but it will also be exciting to learn about one another and see new perspectives on problems. This opportunity will allow us to broaden our horizons and learn from one another.
“Regardless of how we perform, we will gain a phenomenal amount from participating.” – additional reporting Qhamani Lingani