China Cup Forensics 2019: Maintaining the Debate Winning Streak
On January 12, 2018, Hong Kong International School hosted the annual China Cup Forensics competition, showcasing student’s public speaking talents from across China and Hong Kong, and instilling a passion for speech and acting in competitors that are new to this event.
This year, HKIS performed exceptionally across all six speaking events with Mehek Jain (11) placing first in Extemporaneous Speaking (Extemp) and placing first in Debate with her partner, Alex Du (11). Ben Ting (9) tied second in Solo Acting (SA) and Oral Interpretation (OI), an event involving telling a story solely through voice. Ellington Chen (9) placed second in a three-way tie in Original Oratory (OO) with Hiroko Kawase (9) — who also placed third for impromptu speaking — and Minjae Kil (9). As a team, the Shanghai American School Puxi (SASPX) ultimately claimed first place, followed by HKIS, International School of Beijing (ISB), and Canadian International School (CDNIS). The HKIS team saw a diverse selection of students, many of whom were freshmen new to the club or those new to some of the events that they were competing in.
“Overall, pretty scary and nerve-wracking,” Ellington said, describing his first taste of the competitive world of Forensics. “It feels great, though, because we spent two or three months prepping, especially in the last week which was really tiring. But to have it pay off, it feels amazing."
The final debate round between the HKIS A-Team (Mehek and Alex) against the SASPX (Puxi) A-Team filled the auditorium with excitement and anticipation. While Alex and Mehek’s displayed a strong team dynamic during qualifying rounds, it was evident that they were anxious before finals as they would be going head-to-head with one of the most world-renowned high school debaters in the world. On the opposition (SASPX) was Matt Song (12), a member of the Chinese National Debate Team and top speaker, champion, or finalist in numerous international debate competitions, who tied with Mehek for best speaker during APAC last year. As both sides passionately debated and attempted to poke holes through their opposition’s arguments, it became progressively less clear who would win the debate and whether or not Mehek and Alex could defend HKIS’ gold medal from the last time they debated against SASPX. In the end, the HKIS A-Team were ultimately able to win the debate to the enthusiastic and thunderous cheers of the HKIS team, a satisfying conclusion to an intense day of competing, and weeks worth of preparation.
While the common misconception is that Forensics is based solely around the debate, it extends further than just rhetoric. It allows other students to not only express their ideas and interpretations, but also their abilities in drama and critical thinking. Hanson Yuan (10), a finalist in SA and an avid actor, explains that he chose acting as his primary event because he “find[s] a lot of resonance with acting and [he] know there’s always a lot of room for improvement.” In contrast, Danny Han (10), an extemp speaker, said he chose extemp as his main event as he finds that extemp “empowers [him] with a voice to comment on important global affairs,” as he is already involved and up-to-date on global affairs.
Kaylin Chong (12), having participated in last year’s China Cup in Shanghai, said one of the biggest learning experiences as a coach and leader was being able to see first-hand how much work went on behind the scenes, especially with all the hard work that the teachers involved with the club (Mr. Oliver and Mrs. Brayko) put into making China Cup such a success. In addition, she says that she grew to know the impromptu speaking kids especially since “[they] spent every morning, every lunch together practicing,” especially in the days leading up to the competition. “Watching all three of them succeed and make finals showed that the hard work really paid off, and I’m so so so proud of them,” she added.
When asked about their best pieces of advice for other members of the club and people who are interested in joining, Mehek and Alex heavily emphasized the importance of practice and stepping out of your comfort zone to try new things. As seasoned debaters, they both described their beginnings in the club and how they allowed themselves to be unafraid of the new experience.
“Anyone can speak; there's nothing stopping anyone from being the next best debater or extemper. Just like with any other activity, don't be afraid to put yourself out there,” Mehek said.
“Public speaking has a learning curve so the only way to get past the embarrassment, in the beginning, is to step out of your comfort zone and take advantage of the opportunity,” Alex further added. The club continues to celebrate its mass success during this year’s China Cup and looks forward to APAC at the end of the month.
Videos of China Cup Forensics can be found on the “HKIS Forensics” YouTube channel.