Braving the Stage to Promote Friendship and Understanding through English

This week the British Corner, Vake Park, hosted the annual English Speaking Union’s Public Speaking Competition which saw eight young Georgian English-speakers braving the stage before an audience of experts and fellow students.

The aim of the English Speaking Union (ESU) is to promote friendship and understanding through the English language. The Public Speaking Competition is one of its most successful projects, with 64 countries taking part in the Final in London- up from just three when the project was started in 1981.

Georgia has participated for 19 years and has so far sent 34 youngsters aged between 16 and 20 to speak there.

This year’s topic was “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any” with the eight speakers each having five minutes to give their take on the topic and be asked on-the-spot questions by the panel of five judges: Deputy Director of the Bank of Georgia, Archil Gachechiladze, Deputy Minister of Defense, Ana Dolidze, Head of BP Georgia, Chris Schlueter and UK Ambassador to Georgia, Alexandra Hall Hall.

“Cicero said the aim of Public Speaking is to teach, delight and move,” said Marina Tsitsishvili, President of ESU Georgia and Director of the British Corner. “According to many studies, most people’s number one fear is public speaking. Death is number two,” she said. “Which is why I am especially proud of the brave and confident young speakers we will hear today.”

The winner was 20-year-old Guga Sukhiashvili from the Tbilisi State University who spoke on the subject of “True Idols.”

“It was a tough choice, with all the participants performing well in at least one or other of the selection criteria, but ultimately we chose Guga Sukhiashvili, who displayed the best performance across all the selection criteria – how well he presented and delivered his speech, the depth of reasoning and argument, and the organization and structure of his presentation,” Ambassador Hall Hall told GEORGIA TODAY. “His speech was engaging, witty, and nicely structured, starting with a personal anecdote about how he found confidence in himself, and then expanding on his own experience to draw larger lessons about how others could learn to develop their confidence and realise their inner potential, and then how this could be used to the wider benefit of society.”

“One of the nicest aspects of this year’s event – apart from the fact that we had excellent candidates, and a very engaged jury including both international and Georgian members – was that the theme itself was very motivating and inspiring,” the Ambassador said. “Many of the participants spoke about the need for people to overcome their fears and hang-ups, and have confidence to realise their potential, overcoming adversity and setbacks along the way. Some of the participants were living examples of putting this into practice – for example, our overall winner, Guga, had himself competed last year and learned from the experience in order to do better this year. The runner up, Irakli Korkaia, similarly, did well last year, and better this year.”

Second place winner Irakli Korkia chose the title: “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall” and the third prize was awarded to Eter Chumburidze who spoke on the “The Seed of Power.”

The winner will go to London to take part at the ESU International Public Speaking Competition on the 13th of May. The theme at the Finals will be: “Integrity has no need of rules.”

“As ever, witnessing these talented young people display their skills gave me great optimism for Georgia’s future,” Ambassador Hall Hall told us. “It takes courage to stand up in front of strangers and give a speech in a foreign language. Their skills will serve them, and their country, well, and I wish them all the best.”

The ESU was set up in London in 1918 as an independent, non-political, non-governmental, educational charity. The Patron of the ESU is Queen Elizabeth II, the President - HRH The Princess Anne. One of the ESU’s first chairmen was Sir Winston Churchill. Georgia joined the ESU in 1998 and is supported by the British Embassy.

The sponsors of the Public Speaking Competition-2016 were the Bank of Georgia, British Petroleum and the English Speaking Union.

Katie Ruth Davies

07 April 2016 20:14