Monday, June 07, 2010

The Contest

37 contestants and 70 high school students in the audience...a recipe for disaster, but somehow the speech contest turned out really well.

The kids were surprisingly good.  Almost all of them remembered their speeches (my greatest fear), they had good pronunciation and actually used gestures.  This may not sound like an accomplishment, but try doing all of this in a foreign language and you will have immense respect for them.
The biggest surprise was how good the kids in the audience were. I really expected a lot of chatting and then scolding.  Shockingly, they were generally really respectful, gave big rounds of applause, and more than a few screams for the boys.  When the contestants got off track a bit, you could feel the audience encouraging them.

The contest finished and it was time for the awards and a congratulatory BBQ. I made certificates and  I bought medals from  the US to give the winners. I was so proud of the medals, I showed them off to everyone.

I was getting ready to award the medals and there was one small problem: I lost them.  Yes I am a genius.  Thankfully, I guessed that I left them in the library.  Unfortunately, the library was closed and the keys were no where to be found.  Yes, I was quite pleased with myself.  Thankfully we found another set of keys and someone brought the medals to the awards ceremony.

I was really lucky to get all the help I got.  Colleagues helped with pushing the students, announcing the contest, and cooking and cleaning. My friends, Dan and Seiphemo, helped with judging and cooking. And of course,Sandy, who is probably the most giving woman ever, being willing to take buses and car pool for weeks on end so I could do this.

I think the contest ended up being a really difficult/good experience for the kids.  The winners were proud of course, the kids who got certificates were proud of themselves, the audience got to miss some of their class (I think they were the happiest).

I got a few compliments from the Principal, the VP and colleagues, but the best was by one of the students who is not very confident and decided to quit two days before the contest and then changed her mind.  She said to me today, "Are you going to have this contest again next year?". I said, "I don't know, maybe."  She said, "If you do, I want to join!"  Then, she gave me a high five and was on her way out the door.

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