English Speaking Union Finals: Sanjana Chooneea wins 2017 Public Speaking Competition

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English Speaking Union Finals: Sanjana Chooneea wins 2017 Public Speaking Competition

The Grand Finals of this year’s Public Speaking Competition for Upper Forms students, organized by the English Speaking Union, was held on Monday April 3rd at the Mauritius Gymkhana Club. The winner, Sanjana Chooneea, student from the Swami Sivananda State Secondary School, will represent Mauritius in the Grand Finals taking place on May 12th at the Royal Institute of Great Britain. 

Sponsored by HSBC Mauritius, in collaboration with the British Council, the British High Commission and the Embassy of the United States, the Public Speaking Competition gathered nine finalists at the Gymkhana Club, in Vacoas, on Monday April 3rd to speak on the theme ‘Peace is not an absence of war’.  

An annual educational programme organised by the English Speaking Union (ESU), the Public Speaking Competition acts as a platform for students to engage in an exchange of ideas and opinions, on a national and international scale. The nine Finalists namely Ryan L’Eveille from College du Saint Esprit, Disha Naik from Dr Maurice Cure State College, Rashmee Matabudul from Droopnath Ramphul State College, Mitradeva Sydamah from the Mahatma Gandhi Institute Secondary School, Liam Beechouk from Northfields International High School, Marie Jeaneen Momus from Rodrigues College, Himnish Hunma from Royal College Curepipe, Brian Affouan from Royal College Port Louis and Sanjana Chooneea from the Swami Sivananda State Secondary School, delivered their speeches on the selected national theme to a high caliber audience.

The audience comprised of Barlen Vyapoory, Vice-President of Mauritius, Sir Victor Glover and Marie-France Roussety, respectively Patron & President of ESU-Mauritius and Dr Praveen Ramdaursingh, President of Rotary Club Vacoas, amongst others. Jonathan Drew, British High Commissioner, Chris Murray, Chief Executive Officer of HSBC Mauritius and Tedde Thompson, Public Affairs Officer of the US Embassy, were on the adjudicating panel to select a Winner and a Runner-Up. The jury panel looked out for key skills in the competitors namely audibility, presence on the platform, spontaneity, rapport with the audience, a coherently presented argument and demonstration of the ability to think critically. 

‘Instead of tug o'war, let's play hug o'war’ was the title of the speech by runner-up Himnish Harshil Hunma. Sanjana Chooneea bagged the title with her speech ‘Humanity's eternal and unfulfilled dream’. The National winner will have the opportunity to showcase her public speaking skills in an international competitive arena from 8th to 12th May 2017. The culmination of this worldwide event is the Grand Finals which will be held on Friday 12th May 2017 at the Royal Institute of Great Britain and will filmed and live streamed all over the world.

The Patron and President of ESU-Mauritius, Marie-France Roussety, seized the occasion to thank all participants. “Rectors and Teachers present today know that there are a number of students who take part in their in-house competition before they select their best speakers to represent their respective schools. To come on stage requires courage, hard work, commitment and a lot of practice, and I am sure that all participants will gain from this experience,” she said. 

The International Public Speaking Competition (IPSC), now in its 37th year, is the largest public speaking tournament in the world. This competition draws around 600,000 participants from the 55 countries which have an ESU.

As part of the five-day programme in London, the winner, Sanjana Chooneea, including other participants coming from all over the world will receive training in public speaking and debating skills from world class ESU mentors. Training in expression, delivery, listening and response skills are designed to improve the participants’ delivery of their prepared speeches and their ability to listen and respond to questions. 

Training in organization and prioritization of arguments, reasoning and analysis, as well as critical thinking skills are designed to improve the participants’ ability to write and deliver an impromptu speech. The aim is to enhance the participants’ expressive and persuasive abilities as well as their improvisation skills and confidence generally.  In addition, the programme includes visits to the Houses of Parliament, BBC TV studios, Hampton Court Palace, a trip to the theatre and more.

“This experience would definitely change the life of our National Winner and give her a new perspective for the future. I am certain that she will come back, thrilled with happy memories and long-lasting friendships,” highlighted Marie-France Roussety.

The English Speaking Union encourages students, sponsors, teachers and colleagues to watch the Grand Finals event live.  The live stream will show all of the final speeches and, after an intermission, the announcement of the winner and runner-up. This can be viewed on Friday 12th May 2017 on https://livestream.com/L4L/ESU2017.