HOW THE ESU CHANGED MY LIFE

A sugar-coated experience

By Arthi Deenoo, National ESU-PSC Winner 2006, Mauritius

From the Mahatma Gandhi Institute Secondary School, Moka

“Creating Global understanding through English;” such is the mission of the English Speaking Union (ESU). One of the leading cultural organisations in the world, the ESU has engaged itself in several activities to enforce enjoyment and constructive use of English for all age groups. As is customary of the organization; for more that fifteen years now, the ESU is organising the Public Speaking Competition (PSC) in Mauritius. More than a competition, the annual meeting is an event of prime importance on the agenda of most colleges round the island. Participating and as far as possible winning this prestigious competition is a matter of immense happiness and pride for all. At the same time, the very huge number of participants (more than fifty) is indicative of the level of toughness of the competition. As has so well been said by the American Football coach Vince Lombardi: “Winning is not everything, but wanting to win is,” it is therefore with this motivation that I participated in the PSC organised by the ESU in the year 2006. As in the previous years, the competition was bound to be a tough one, especially with the great number of participants from colleges such as QEC, RCC, RCP and St. Esprit which are not only among the high profile colleges of the island but also, precedent winners of the competition. I was representing the Mahatma Gandhi Institute which in spite of being itself a high rated establishment and having been into the finals for years, had never won the first prize. This very fact only rendered my fear and reluctance more justifiable.

Nevertheless, as goes the quote of Abraham Lincoln: “That some achieve great success is proof to all that others can achieve it as well;” I was convinced and reassured that where is a genuine will, there should always be a way. It is hence with this endeavour that I represented my college throughout the competition. Whilst for the quarter and semi finals, the title of my speech was: “Marriage- A Curse or Boon,” that of the finals was entitled: “Mapping the Global Future- the Pros and Cons.” Once I had wholeheartedly embarked on the so insightful and enjoyable journey to the world of public speaking; with the proper guidance of my college teachers as well as the precious and enriching advice and coaching from the two coaches ESU Mauritius had requested from Dartmouth House, success was inevitable. Participating and winning the ESU-PSC on the national level is a lifelong memory. This experience has not only opened doors for me; both on the personal and professional grounds, but also enabled me to fly abroad to participate in an international event for the very first time in my life. Out there into the land of her Majesty the Queen, I got the chance to visit London, a golden opportunity to enter the Houses of Parliament, watch a live theatre show (Woman in Black), participate in an interactive seminar focused on public speaking and its techniques, and most of all, the possibility of interacting, sharing ideas, knowledge, experience and even my very own culture with participants from over sixty countries around the world. Though I could not make it to be among the eight finalists with my speech entitled: “Sugar coated Dodos” in the UK finals, the very fact of having been part of such a community has been an enlightening experience.

That year, the internationally selected theme of the PSC was “Mapping the Global Future.” If I were to tell a story again around the theme; in a nutshell, it could only be about how ESU not only maps the future of people around the world but also immerses them into a sugar-coated experience for a lifetime!