Forensics and Debate Central

Article by Melissa Dy

Photo by Sienna Hagedorn

Imagine a room full of people, all eyes set on the lone speaker at the podium. He stands tall, and speaks with ease and clarity. Or imagine three students, all in impeccable attire, sitting opposite three other equally well-dressed students. They may seem polite enough, but each team is out for blood.

This is IASAS Debate and Forensics.

From March 4 to 8, ISM will host this event, housing delegates from all around South East Asia. Meanwhile, the ISM representatives have been preparing non-stop. As a speaking event, Debate and Forensics is the perfect event for students who are not athletically-inclined to get involved in and show off their talents.

Along with Debate, there are four other events that make up Forensics. In Original Oratory (OO), speakers deliver a persuasive speech, pre-written by themselves; in Oral Interpretation (OI), speakers read from a piece of literature, using their voice and facial expressions to tell a story. In Impromptu, however, speakers are only given a minute to prepare an engaging 3-5 minute speech. Extemporaneous Speaking is similar, except they are given 30 minutes to prepare a 5-7 minute speech about one of two given current events.

As an international competition, IASAS Debate and Forensics gives students the opportunity to connect with people who share the same passion and skills in public speaking. Through housing and watching other delegates, participants connect with each other, sometimes maintaining friendships that last long after the competition has finished.

After months of practice and hard work, participants can finally flaunt their public speaking skills. Isabela Gatmaytan, two-year IASAS speaker for both OI and OO, cannot wait to display all the hard work she has put into her pieces. She adds, “I’m super excited about watching other students’ pieces. Several pieces last year blew my mind…it’s a really amazing experience.”

Malvika Subramaniam, three-time IASAS OI delegate, is “most excited about the atmosphere that ISM’s going to have for the week! It’s nice knowing that the event you’re part of is at your school and you get the chance to show your friends”. She confesses, however, that “this year is…more nerve-wracking, especially as a Senior, because I really want to place”. As President of the Forensics Club, she is also excited about getting people pumped up for this event, and hopes that it will shine this year.

As for the newbies to Cultural Convention, some experience a blend of excitement and terror. IASAS Impromptu delegate, Akshay Sharathchandra, is excited about speaking in front of the school, and is looking forward to how the other delegates will present their own spin on their topics, because “with Impromptu, you can talk…about anything, and the possibilities are endless”. However, he acknowledges that there is an added challenge to having ISM host this event. “When you go to another country, nobody there is going to judge you (other than the judges, of course),” he explains. “But here you know that the judges will judge you, and other people.”

For any lover of the art of speaking in ISM, IASAS Debate and Forensics is the ultimate event. Don’t miss it!