The IASAS Cultural Convention (CulCon) is an annual event which consists of dance, music, drama, debate and forensics. Due to the conditions brought about by the pandemic, this year’s Cultural Convention was done online.
There are five events that comprise IASAS Forensics and Debate: Original Oratory, Oral Interpretation, Extemporaneous Speaking, Impromptu Speaking, and Debate.
Original Oratory (OO) is an original informative or persuasive speech about a topic of the participant’s choosing that is delivered with charisma and sincerity within five to seven minutes. In her OO, grade eleven participant, Anushka spoke about the importance of fashion in expressing personal and social identities. “We often look at clothing as superficial, but it has the power to bring different communities and cultures together and express our thoughts and values in a powerful way.”
Anushka’s favorite part about OO is that she can use her own unique style by adding her voice and opinions into the piece. “From choosing a topic, to writing your speech from scratch and weaving in personal anecdotes, then delivering it with different tones and expressions, OO is a fun way to share topics you care about with others!”
Oral Interpretation (OI) is an interpretive reading event, where the participant works to bring a piece to life using different tones, pacing and facial expressions. Grade twelve participant, Tim read an excerpt from Tess Urize-Holthe’s award winning novel “When The Elephants Dance” in his OI. Tim likes OI because it breathes life into literary works that people often take for granted, saying “I got to further explore my interest in WW2 Asian history and appreciate how it has been adopted into modern literature. Oral interpretation is a great way to internalize texts and figure out what really matters, especially now during uncertain times.”
In Impromptu Speaking (Impromptu), participants are given a word and a phrase and using either one must prepare for a three to five minute speech given one minute of preparation time. Senior, Kody says that he tends to lean on the humorous side during his speeches because he believes that Impromptu is about taking things you are passionate about or have experienced and talking about them in a way that interests others. However, he feels that it is awkward to do this event without an audience. “I really enjoy entertaining people, and without an audience to see reacting, it can feel a little uncomfortable to try to be funnier because I don’t know whether jokes are landing or not.” His favorite part about this event is how it shows anything can be interesting if one speaks about it passionately and eloquently, no matter what.
In IASAS Debate, two teams are given a motion and one team defends while one opposes the motion. David, the head of Debate, says that he loves debate because it offers him a space for intellectual creativity. “Since we don’t know the motions beforehand, we have to draw on previous knowledge and link together content we have learned or read into a coherent argument. It’s really satisfying to feel like you’ve figured out the motion and build plausible arguments.”
Though last year’s Culcon IASAS was also virtual, many participants continue to say that their events are not as enjoyable without an audience to interact with because they tend to draw energy from the audience’s reactions to their speeches. OO Advisor Ms. Thompson says that while it is great that everyone can still enjoy this event online, participating in the convention in person is more enjoyable. “It’s a word-filled-nerd-fest that I love. When it is done online, we can’t watch the various events and support the different teams, and the fun “team room” bonding time we all share as we rehearse, celebrate, cry, yell, and brainstorm is lost. IASAS events bring people from all over the world together to share the skills, leadership, and camaraderie needed for different events, which is a special tradition that gives students and teachers alike memories to hold forever.”
In Oral Interpretation grade 11 participant Eve won gold and Tim was a finalist, while grade 10 participant Roshni was a finalist in Original Oratory. Despite the challenges brought about by the circumstances of the pandemic, the delegates have persevered and we are proud of what they have accomplished. Congratulations to the delegates who participated in IASAS CulCon!