From Winsor to Worlds

by Caroline Bae '24
Even from a young age, I looked forward to speaking in front of an audience. I always viewed the nerves in my stomach as feelings of excitement, and I relished the opportunity to present my thoughts, experiences, and opinions to a crowd.

So, when I had the chance to participate in my first public speaking tournament in eighth grade, I was excited beyond measure. I practiced my declamation piece on middle-school girls’ self-esteem for weeks before the tournament and even picked out my outfit long before the event. Even though I always had an interest in public speaking, this first competition truly solidified my love for speech. I had the best time meeting students from various schools throughout New England, and I eagerly counted down the minutes until my next round and the next opportunity to present my speech.

Fast forward a couple of years, and I still have that eagerness and excited nervousness for public speaking. Through the Speech and Debate Club in Upper School, I discovered my interest in British Parliamentary debate and categories such as Interpretive Reading and Persuasive Speaking.

Approaching the World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championship (Worlds) in Durban, South Africa, I was most excited to meet the other speakers. I had prepared my persuasive speech on period poverty and my interpretive reading on the plight of female and child migrants for months, and I could not wait to share my pieces and listen to others’ speeches as well. I had the incredible opportunity to meet speakers from Lithuania, Morocco, Eswatini, Australia, Thailand, and numerous other countries. 

While the majority of the time in Durban was spent in the classrooms at the Clifton School, we had many opportunities to visit different parts of South Africa during the evenings. We enjoyed dinner on the beach and a trip to a local food market after a long day full of preliminary speech rounds. We even had an excursion day with the chance to enjoy a safari at the Tala Game Reserve, explore downtown Durban, or visit the Gateway Theatre of Shopping, one of the largest malls in Africa!

Looking back, I am beyond grateful to have had this experience. I came away from this tournament with a newfound appreciation for the power of speech and the role that communication plays in instilling a sense of community. I have immense gratitude for my team adviser Ms. Berg for all of her support and coaching throughout my speech journey thus far, as well as the entire Winsor Speech and Debate team!

Caroline competed in four categories at Worlds: Persuasive Speaking, Interpretive Reading, Impromptu Speaking, and Debate. She earned a spot as a Finalist in Persuasive Speaking for the piece on period poverty and went on to qualify as a Grand Finalist in Interpretive Reading. Only the top three speakers are named as Grand Finalists and they compete in a final round in front of all of the speakers, coaches, and judges to determine the medal positions. The Grand Finals were recorded and livestreamed. Caroline earned a silver medal in the Grand Finals, finished as the 18th overall speaker, and tied for the second-place US speaker at the tournament.