Many of us probably believe that public speaking competitions are only made for students graduating in literature, law, political science, journalism, or perhaps philosophy. Well, we should reconsider our thoughts and Daniel Jreije, 2nd year student in Computer Engineering at UA-Zahleh campus, will help us do so.
It was just another day of the week and Daniel was attending his English class when his teacher, Ms. Sandra Chibany, introduced her class to a speech competition event. She encouraged her students to participate and offered a training to those in need, in order to get their language and verbal skills ready. With a simple yet valuable encouragement from his teacher, Daniel Jreije was determined to give it a try, along with another Zahleh campus colleague, Ms. Tia Lteif, from the Faculty of Business.
On Saturday January 14 2017, Daniel, along with 16 other contestants from 10 Lebanese Universities, took part in the 10th edition of the National Public Speaking Competition held at the Lebanese American University in Beirut. Each university was represented by two students from different majors and each contestant had a different perspective and prospect on the specified topic this year: Peace is not the absence of war.
The jury got to listen and familiarize itself with the youth’s perception of peace and war and how they endure the brutal and non-humane acts that they either hear about or encounter in their daily lives. Five high-profile personalities shaped the jury team: the Director of the British council Ms. Donna McGowen, the ophthalmologist Dr. Pierre Mardelli, the proficient freelance filmmaker Mr. Anas Ghaibe, the theatrical director and actress Mrs. Nidal Ashkar and the prominent TV host Mr. Zaven Kouyoumdjian.
Daniel named his speech “A star in the war”, based on his passion for George Lucas's epic creation. From the virtual universe of “Anakin Skywalker” to our planet Earth, Daniel had the ability to capture his audience from the first minute, due to interactions and spontaneous reactions. He related the films’ sci-fi world to ours and talked about the importance of reaching inner peace. The jury took into consideration each participant’s text structure, choice of subject, body language, timing and crowd interaction. After a tough jury decision, Daniel nailed the second spot. He came a fraction of a point close to winning 1st place but he was truly happy to have lived such an experience where he received quite a great feedback and thanks to which he overcame his crowd timidity.
Today, Daniel is eager to re-experience the adrenaline rush on stage with, why not, another public speaking competition. After all, a dose of dedication, persistence and a little bit of risk can get you very close to the stars!
By Rayane Nasreddine