First Bookbridge English Speaking Contest

Students listening to other contestants
Students listening to other contestants while enjoying cokes and cookies

Lifted by the dreams of more than 30 students of 10 January 1979 high school, Bookbridge Learning Center in Siem Reap had crossed all the oceans and borders on Earth to visit the most wonderful places in less than two weeks, from July 5th to July 16th 2013. Read this post by Tam Nguyen, fellow at Siem Reap Learning Center.

During the first round of the Speaking Contest, students took us around the world, from the glorious Paris to the respectable London, from the nostalgic Beijing to the cradle of pop-stars, Seoul, and from New York, the city of freedom, to the exuberant Rio de Janeiro and from the lost continent Australia back to mysterious Cairo, where landed the last wonder of ancient world…
Though brief, and not fully developed, the first round speeches had clearly demonstrated not only the contestants’ enthusiasm for their trips but also their confidence to speak in front of the crowd and most of all they gave us a sneak peek into what would later make us think again about the places we thought we had already known.

Contestant talking about the Statue of Liberty
One contestant talking about her interest in the history and construction of the Statue of Liberty

The second round brought to us the most surprises. With careful researches and vivid illustrations, our contestants had then turned into the excellent tour guides that any traveler would wish to have, inundating us with all the helpful information and knowledge we will ever need for our real trips. Altogether we discovered the breath-taking Hall of Dinosaurs with hundreds of fossils in the American Museum of Natural History and took a long walk through the history and construction of the White House.

Final round candidates
Final round candidates preparing their speeches together during the training session

We paid a visit to Madame Mona Lisa and Monsieur Leonardo de Vinci at Louvre Museum and had a huge dinner with beefsteaks and red wine while gazing down at Paris from the top of Eiffel tower. We hung around Seoul with Mr. PSY and listened to his lengthy biography. We traveled under the ground of Tokyo, the most expensive city in the world, through its extensive sub-way system. We then challenged our feet on the Great Wall, tiptoed through the Forbidden City in Beijing and were finally introduced to a Kung Fu Master in Wudan Mountain…. However, at the end of this round, we had to say goodbye to some of our companions.

Final round candidates
Final round candidates

Seven students who went to the final rounds had one day of training before giving their final speeches. During the training session, we gave students a sample speech and went through some useful skills: taking notes, organizing paragraphs, selecting information to support ideas, along with questioning and expressing one’s own opinions through speaking. We also helped them with their preparations.

And the results were seven original speeches. At this round, candidates were no longer just travel lovers, nor were they just well-trained tour guides whose main focus was on other people or information itself. Playing the role of passionate and well-informed tourists, the contestants told us not only about their destinations but also about their own interests, the reasons behind their choices, and what they wanted to learn from their trips.

May all your dreams come true
May all your dreams come true…

Panha, the contestant who obtained the highest score, concluded his speech: “…While I am there, I want to see as many festivals as possible not only because they are fun to join but also because I have always been interested in Chinese cuisines and cultures and I think that I could learn a lot about these by seeing how people there celebrate their special days.” Through this contest, we aim not only to promote speaking English among students but to encourage them to dream, to share their dreams with their fellows and above all to think more about how to make their dreams come true.
For everything starts with a dream…

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