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The Schools’ Public Speaking and Vincentian compassion

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Fri, Nov 4. 2011

Editor: The recent Secondary Schools’ Public Speaking Competition lived up to its billing as one of the most widely anticipated and viewed national shows. It also unearthed a plethora of untapped hidden talent bursting at the seams. However, it was quite evident that half of these participants are not natural public speakers.{{more}} This was manifested in their enunciations, disconnection from speech essence and general unease. Their inability to connect with the audience for the most part and the killing of punch lines suggest that they were “shouting at print”. Nevertheless, their teachers must be commended for making believers out of them.

Similarly, the effort put into researching the main topic must be commended. Indeed, justice was done to the theme of “The death of compassion in SVG”. Participants pulled out all the stops in ensuring that their work was stacked with data relevance, references and locals’ experiential examples. Indeed, it is heartening to note that the majority of speakers concurred that compassion is very much in good health in St Vincent and the Grenadines as was so vividly demonstrated in the aftermath of Hurricane Tomas and the Georgetown flash flood/freak storms.

I echo the speakers’ sentiments that Vincentians are a compassionate and generous people who are always duty-bound to assist their fellowmen. Their hospitable nature is manifested in the numerous cases of selfless acts and sacrifices which are often portrayed in generous donations to a worthy cause, providing food, clothing and shelter for the destitute and volunteering in search and rescue operations. These actions of humanity underscore the compassionate nature of Vincentians. Isn’t it a measure of our goodwill and big-hearted nature that 36 per cent of the region’s First Caribbean Bank’s Unsung Hero/Heroine winners were Vincentian?

Yes, Vincentian recipients placed in the top two positions an astonishing five out of eight competitions – a staggering 63 per cent success rate!!! Congrats to Miss Cleopatra Jackson, the latest national recipient of such a prestigious award. Like Jestina Charles, Veoland Cupid and the others who have paved the path, Miss Jackson’s selfless contribution to national development and the enhancing of the common good cannot be over-emphasized. It is on this premise that she was singled out for the award befitting her nobility and dedication to humanity.

It would be remiss of me not to congratulate Utamo Rose and the St Vincent Grammar School for copping the Senator Arthur Connell Secondary Schools’ Public Speaking Trophy, thereby completing the hat-trick. Mr Frank Jones and his dedicated Grammar School Staff have developed a winning culture that is nigh unbeatable. The section where Utamo eulogised the death of compassion was sheer genius in writing! With his Jones-branded speech, young Rose was in another zone. Indeed, this romanticism of the English Language propelled young Rose to unattainable heights. Quite frankly, the others were reduced to storytelling, amusing their audience with sincerity, wit and substance.

The standard of the students prepared speech was appreciably lower than that of the main speech, but my area of concern was the embarrassingly poor presentations displayed in the impromptu segment. Indeed, the injustice done to topics like “Breast Cancer”, “I have a Dream”, “Lying” and “Heat” validates my position that modern scholars are “more intellect but less intelligence”. Simply put, today’s scholars are more socially illiterate than their predecessors! Ministry officials, parents and teachers who witnessed the 2011 Primary Schools Public Speaking impromptu segment can attest that to compare both competitions is to compare chalk to cheese.

In parting, it is imperative to note that the generosity of many Vincentians extends to the point that they make their unfortunate recipients feel inferior and guilty. Gossiping about good deeds done to an unfortunate fellowman is an indictment to the Vincentian spirit. Remember, compassion must be a free will and not for personal aggrandizement. Let us be an example to the future generation by living vehicles of goodwill and generosity. Fellow Vincentians, let us listen to the cry of the six public speakers!

Collin CA$H Haywood

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