Written by: Niyanthri
Edited by: Nichelle
Visual by: Macy
The IASAS Cultural Convention (commonly abbreviated as “CulCon”) is right around the corner! For three days, immediately following the February Break, from the second to the sixth of March, CulCon will be hosted. The convention offers a wide variety of events, including, Forensics and Debate, Drama, Dance Drama Technology, and Music. In regular years, each event would be hosted by different schools: in 2022, TAS (Taipei American School) would have hosted Dance, Drama, and Tech, ISKL (International School Kuala Lumpur) Forensics and Debate, and ISM would have hosted Music. However, as travelling for IASAS will not be possible this year, everything will be hosted online. Despite this, CulCon promises to be just as exciting and eventful as it has been in the past!
Forensics consists of four events in total: extemporaneous speaking, impromptu speaking, original oratory, and oral interpretation. Each deals with speaking skills though they differ in subject content and style. Impromptu focuses on on-the-spot thinking and speaking, while extemporaneous speeches concentrate on global affairs. Original Oratory (OO), on the other hand, gives participants the opportunity to create a speech, informative or persuasive, on any topic of their choosing. Last but not least, oral interpretation delegates pick an excerpt from a book or story and bring it to life through characterisation, mood, voice modulation, and many other methods. Debate is an activity in which teams of three argue either for or against motions, an exercise in critical thinking as well as oratory skills; it will be held as an online live video conference. Each side is assigned to debate on a particular side, while all three speakers formulate different arguments and rebuttals, requiring on the spot thinking and also the ability to think from different perspectives on any topic.
So how are delegates feeling about this year’s Forensics and Debate conference? In response to this, Anushka, a senior who will be participating in Original Oratory, says that, “I’m looking forward to hearing speeches from OO delegates from different schools. OO speeches are often very personal, and some highlight an everyday concept in a new light, so it’s always really fun to see what topic people have chosen to write about and how they present it because you can really see their passion!” She also stated that Forensics has played a large role in her high school experience: “I’m also looking forward to CulCon this year as it’s the last IASAS CulCon I’ll be participating in. It definitely feels a bit nostalgic looking back on earlier CulCons and seeing how exciting and integral of a role Forensics has had throughout my high school experience in shaping my writing and speaking skills, and simply for me to meet other people who have the same passion for speech as me! I’m super grateful to have participated in OO in high school.” Another delegate, participating in Debate, stated that he was looking forward to “getting an opportunity to meet others with similar interests.” Debate is an activity focusing mainly on formulating detailed arguments about controversial occurrences in current events; this focus creates many opportunities for delegates to express themselves and their opinions, providing a forum for individuals to come together and discuss some of the most pressing issues in recent times. It’s clear that Forensics and Debate is not only an opportunity to develop oratory and communication skills, it’s also a great way to meet new people.
Drama, like in the previous two years, will also be hosted online, in the form of a play created by the students themselves. According to Ms. Monsod, the coordinator for IASAS Drama, “This year our IASAS play is called “Valentine’s Eve”. It is a comic piece about high school romance inspired by a famous manga in the form of a graphic novel, titled “Love is War” by Aka Akasaka. Knowing IASAS would be online, we planned for a filmed piece. Eight passionate actors improvised it from late November to mid- December during the hybrid schedule…We then did two trial shoots and then filmed it. It is now in the process of editing by four wonderful film students and a faculty member.” Due to the online format of this year’s IASAS, the Drama piece has been done in collaboration with the film department; in this regard, Ms. Monsod stated that some of the biggest issues in relation with this were “scheduling live sessions… working under a time crunch; and, of course, adjusting to the filming and post-production process,” however, it was evidently also an educational experience; in Ms. Monsod’s words, “fusing two art forms has been very educational and we are indebted to the film department. I now admire filmmakers even more!”
Dance will also be done in a similar format, as a twenty minute long dance video of a selected and choreographed piece. Alexa Theodoropolous, a junior participating in Dance IASAS says that, “ luckily, the Dance and Drama teams are able to participate all together this year. We usually spend the week watching the other school’s performances (which will be done with dance and drama together in the FAT), and then go off into workshops.” As such, Dance is not only an exhibition, it is also an opportunity to learn from peers in other schools as well as from teachers and others in the field. Alexa also said that she is “looking forward to spending more time with my friends in-person, as well as meeting with the students from the other IASAS schools. With CulCon, there’s always a sense of community between the different schools, and an overwhelming sense of family with our respective ISM teams.” Clearly, IASAS is an activity that promotes team spirit and brings participants closer together.
Music consists of four different events: vocals, strings, band, and piano. Eight delegates are chosen to represent ISM in each category with the exception of piano, which will only have three. Like the Drama and Dance events, submissions will also be in the form of videos. While vocals consist of singers, strings delegates play different instruments; the violin, viola, cello, or bass. Band also has members that play different instruments from the flute, the clarinet, and more. Additionally, all music participants will also have the opportunity to perform a solo piece at the convention! Poorna Chakraborthy, a junior who will be participating in Choir, said that, “I’m really looking forward to the day of CulCon as all the ISM delegates are meeting together to join the convention. It’s always great to meet new students from different schools and learn about their experiences with IASAS rehearsals, recordings, etc. Our guest conductor, Ms. Dinah Helgeson, is also just the sweetest, and I’m super excited to gain her insights about our performances!” This is clearly an exciting way to showcase musical expression and creativity, as well as collaborate with people from different IASAS schools and learn from those in the respective musical fields; Choir, for example, will include a large ensemble piece with participants from other schools which will then be edited together. Furthermore, a freshman who will be participating as a member of the IASAS Orchestra group says that they are “looking forward to meeting new people in and outside school. I’m not sure how it was before COVID started, but I definitely think it’d be much better in person.” While socialisation is a core aspect of IASAS – and an in person event would undoubtedly be a much more interactive event in this regard – with a variety of online social events and opportunities available, IASAS Music promises to be an excellent and engaging event nevertheless.
Overall, CulCon is set to be an unforgettable experience for many. A chance to witness varied and unique oratory skills, fiery debate, theatrical spectacles, and incredible dance and musical performances, IASAS is an excellent opportunity for participants to showcase their skills and express creativity in a multitude of ways. Not only this, it is a lively social experience and a way to interact with peers who have similar interests. IASAS CulCon is more than just an event; it is an experience that is not to be missed.