On February 26 2016, 18 students from the Forensics Club at Beijing World Youth Academy (BWYA), including me and along with two teachers, Mr. Reuben Haggar and Ms. April Wang, set off to Nanjing for the Speech and Debate tournament. The Forensics Club is where you can practice and improve your speech, debate, and duet acting skills with a team of different students. This tournament was held by the Nanjing International School (NIS) and was open to every international school in China. Our own strong BWYA team consisted students from 7th grade up to 12th grade.
On the day of the actual tournament, I felt that even the air got tense as we realized that we had to face competitors from at least 10 other schools, without the slightest clue of how strong their abilities were. After the welcoming ceremony in which the school’s orchestra performed Adele’s song “Hello”, and the representative of the school introduced NIS and gave out instructions for the competition, we were separated into rooms which held different areas of the competition. I could see that many of my teammates were nervous, which was one thing that I couldn’t say much in my own defense. But the determination and hope on everyone’s faces made me feel encouraged and strengthened.
All the time when we were not competing, we would go to the rooms where our teammates were waiting for their turn to perform, and encourage them whenever we could with a thumbs-up sign while they were on the stage. I vividly remember the time when I was doing original oratory. I was under a lot of pressure since I was the last one to perform. All the competitors before me performed strongly with unique topics, such as feminism, the pollution in Beijing, and the negative side of celebrity worship. The name of my original oratory piece was “Accept Love”, and in it I talked about how we should accept our parents’ love for us based on my own stories. I could feel everyone’s gazes on me but among all those faces, I could also see the soothing grins coming from BWYA teammates that instantly instilled in me a sense of hope and confidence. If I had been nervous and shy before, those feelings were now gone; if I had any doubts about myself before, they were now wiped away completely from my mind; if I thought I couldn’t do my best in front of all the judges, now I could.
The competition lasted for one whole day. The only thing that kept all of us fighting was the honor of our school, and all the encouragement from our teammates. At last when the competition ended, our BWYA team had won two first places and three second places, which meant we had won 25 percent of all the medals!
Although I didn’t get a prize at the award ceremony, which was what I had hoped for, I learned about friendship, teamwork, and to believe in yourself. My friends gave me confidence and hope all the time, and this is something that I will never forget later on. To be honest, on the days when I was preparing to go to Nanjing, there had always been a knot that was tied and secured tightly in my heart. It would never loose a little bit, no matter how hard I tried. This thought that was swirling in my head: “ You are not that familiar with everybody in this team, so what if they all ignore you?”
But after these three days I simply laughed at myself for thinking those immature and stupid ideas, because we embraced each other as a team. No matter what we do, we will always be in this together, we will encourage one another when we have successes, and we will always talk about our losses and areas where we can improve if we experience failures. After all we’ve been through, I feel that we are a true family. We greatly care about each other and we genuinely hope that everyone has the chance to win a medal.
I could never forget how touching the scenes became as we celebrated the winners from BWYA. We embraced, we laughed, and I could have sworn that some of us even shed some little tears of happiness, hoping that time could stop for us and remain at this special moment forever. The excitement in the air was contagious and beyond any comparison. “BWYA’s students are all incredibly awesome, so Ms. April and I know that they will sparkle at the Nanjing tournament,” as Mr. Haggar had once said. Yes, we did it, we succeeded, and we sparkled.
This was an unique experience in which we all tried our best; in which we all felt the warmth of great friendship; and which we will all remember like it is the shiniest star in the beautiful starry night. We will remember, cherish, and sometime, someday, look back upon this memory and just smile.
Photos: Penelope Zhang