Speech competition gives the young a global voice
en.hangzhou.com.cn   2023-08-21 10:52   Source: China Daily Global

For Methas Ruttanaburee, 17, tackling the subject of artificial intelligence was always going to be a very tall order. Not only was the student of Siam Singapore International School in Thailand going to have to talk about how AI is influencing human society, but he would be doing so in his first public speaking competition.

"My personal focus at school is physics and science," said Methas, who graduated from grade 12 recently. "I had never tried such a speaking competition before, and I was a bit nervous. But people should try to break out from the comfort zone, right?"

The competition he attended in Bangkok on Saturday was the regional final of the "21st Century Cup" International English Speaking Competition, also the fifth China Daily Belt and Road Youth English Speaking Competition, with the theme "AI, a blessing or a curse?"

In earlier rounds, 10 competitors from both Thailand and Myanmar beat hundreds of contestants to reach the final.

Su Yati Eain of Singapore International School and Makhawan Wiriya of Varee Chiangmai School were crowned the champions of Myanmar and Thailand respectively and will represent their countries in the grand final in China in October.

Although Methas was not among the top three place-getters, he said he was very satisfied with the experience.

"Through the competition I was able to speak in public without fear. I also got to know many friends," he said, noting it was his first time to take part in a competition related to China.

"I've heard about China a lot since Thailand and China have been close friends for years, although I've never been abroad. But I know about some Chinese cities through the media, such as Beijing and Shanghai. Moreover, young people in Thailand also love Chinese mala (spicy) food a lot."

Ian Robinson, assistant primary and secondary coordinator at Siam Singapore International School, who was one of the judges, said participants showed great diversity in different languages and backgrounds.

"We should take the event not only as a competition, but also as an opportunity for cooperation, as the core value that the Belt and Road Initiative conveys."

The competition is a testimony of the power of language and communication, he said, and competitors, ready to become global citizens, have put a lot of effort into overcoming cultural barriers and contributing to a better world.

"Today's competition is beyond the competition itself, but is a chance to boost mutual understanding beyond nationality and a process of learning on cooperation. Winning or losing, friendship will be formed and knowledge will be gained."

The China Daily Belt and Road Youth English Speaking Competition, initiated in 2019, aims to build a platform for teenagers worldwide to interact and learn from each other.

Young people from countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative have enjoyed themselves in previous competitions held in Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Chengdu.

The addition of the Thailand and Myanmar regional events presents an opportunity for those under 12 years old. The contests were jointly organized by VDO English, an education subsidiary brand of China Daily Hong Kong, together with its co-host the RVi Group, a social enterprise in Singapore.

Author: By YANG WANLI and LU WANQING in Bangkok  Editor: Ye Lijiao