Here are some examples of the kinds of Interpretative Reading and Persuasive Speaking speeches presented at the World Individuals Debate and Public Speaking Championships. We thank the competitors for permitting us to post their hard work here. You can also see videos of WIDPSC events.
As we have included each examples in full, the page is quite long. Remember to scroll down to see more examples.
A river of blood flows around me,
A mess of flesh and bone surrounds me;
The pitiful moans of soldier brethren,
The dying groans of fellow children;
My eyes have tracked them,
Then my hands have hacked them;
I feel guilt and shame but no one might care,
Life is but an endless nightmare.
Ladies and gentlemen –before Betty Ejang put her dark past into words, when she was a child soldier in Northern Uganda, such was her plight every day.
She was trapped, in a horror that knows no bounds. A horror where the river of blood stems from the dying whimpers of children. A horror we can’t imagine, yet she couldn’t escape from. And she was only 17 years old.
I stand before you as a 17-year-old myself. Yet I am healthy, I live in a harmonious family, and I go to school. I am well-fed, well-educated, and fairly well-off. But in the headwaters of the river of blood, child soldiers live in a world of terror. A world where nine-year-olds wield AK-47s, teenagers are brainwashed and reworked into reckless killing machines, young boys and girls suffer abuse, maltreatment, and even rape at the hands of their commanders.
Around the world, child soldiers are recruited for many reasons. Some are drafted at gunpoint, but shockingly, many sign up voluntarily. In Colombia, where there are more child soldiers than anywhere else, 80% volunteered. They are lured by the promise of food and shelter. But very soon they realize – they have walked unsuspectingly into a trap.
Across the seven continents and the seven seas, 300,000 children in 83 different countries around the world serve as soldiers today. But the trend is still growing – tragically, the river of blood is extending.
From the war-zones of Yemen, to the battlefields of Sierra Leone, child soldiers cry out in pain and despair. From the jungles of the Congo, to the caves of Afghanistan, they weep in memory of lost innocence. Yet we answer them with cold-blooded inaction.
It is we, ladies and gentlemen, hypocrites of the liberal, democratic world, who have allowed their living hell to continue. It is we, who advocate rights on one hand but ignore the oppressed on the other. It is we, who see the river of blood coursing through our world but only gaze in silent wonder from afar.
We might bask in the glory of our bills and declarations. We might console ourselves with empty words while doing nothing. We might proclaim that ‘we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.’ But where are these rights for child soldiers?
They don’t exist. Because we ignore them. We have failed these child soldiers. We have the resources to reinforce our ideals, we have the ability to save children like Betty from this white terror, but we do not. We do not heed the pleading of children. We do not even comply with our own values. We have built bridges across the river of blood and left it untamed in the canyon below.
To this day, the United States of America, champion of democracy, has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. To this day, Afghan warlords exploiting child soldiers can still receive Western support. To this day, the Yemeni armed forces still receive US assistance, even though untrained child soldiers lead its ranks. We talk of children’s rights, but no government on Earth has taken substantial action to help child soldiers. Because of our hypocrisy, the problem has spread like an epidemic. Ladies and gentlemen – you and I – we are accomplices in these atrocities.
‘No shoulder to cry on,
No laughter to share;
Pain at sunrise, tears at sunset,
Dawn or dusk – life is not fair.’
Ladies and gentlemen, the clock is ticking. Think of the torment Betty Ejang’s contemporaries suffer. Each minute we procrastinate, each hour we delay, hundreds of children are killed, thousands more traumatized. Until and unless we take action to save them, rehabilitate them, staunch the source of the river of blood, child soldiers will continue to suffer. And humanity cannot advance when inhumanity pollutes its ranks.
Yet we can’t solve the problem with mere rhetoric. The recruitment of a child soldier is like the bite of a werewolf. Painful, irreversible, its impacts lasting forever. To comprehensively address this problem, I put forward five proposals: international conventions, a child soldiers’ fund, monitoring and intelligence, post-conflict support and, re-education and re-integration.
Ladies and gentlemen, I call for a separate international convention against the use of child soldiers. We can no longer grant amnesty or leeway to governments and groups that exploit child soldiers, in exchange for diplomatic or military support. We must express our intolerance in stringent legislation. We must detail the punishments associated with using child soldiers. We must bring these evil wrong-doers to court and let the tribunals legally punish them for their heinous crimes.
I call for a specific fund dedicated to stopping the use of child soldiers, underpinning all further proposals here. It should be a direct subsidiary of UNICEF, but its importance must be constantly and separately emphasized. The use of this fund would be to increase global awareness about child soldiers; to raise funds to help prevent recruitment; and to provide resources for re-integrating former child soldiers into society. These are, also, the key objectives of my next three proposals.
I call for a new global network of monitoring, reconnaissance and intelligence. Operatives of the network will infiltrate the ranks of the groups that use child soldiers and find out where they intend to recruit next. They will send representatives to alert children in the targeted area of their imminent danger and help evacuate them. Leave nothing to chance – we must take pre-emptive action.
I call for a post-conflict support scheme. In addition to tackling forced recruitment, we also have to address voluntary enlistment. In many countries like Uganda and Rwanda, children would sign themselves up because they have lost their homes and family in internal conflicts. A list of countries, graded according to their level of internal insecurity, must be compiled and regularly updated. Areas where tensions run high must be carefully monitored. Immediately after internal conflict in a particular region, emergency aid centers and shelters should be set up, counselors and aid workers dispatched, in order to provide survivors with food, shelter, and mental support, in particular focusing on children. This prevents them from running off to fight for sustenance.
I call for the establishment of a re-education and subsequent re-integration program. Former child soldiers are often so brainwashed that in a few years, they lose all feeling of guilt and remorse. They wish only to fight, kill, torture. By a form of counter-indoctrination, we may be able to lessen the damage done to these traumatized children and gradually restore them to a peaceful mindset. When they find love, care, and employment in their new life, yes, they may still bear their scars from long ago, but they will feel its pain less and less.
The juxtaposition of these five proposals can and will alleviate this monumental problem. With international conventions, a specific fund for child soldiers, monitoring and intelligence, post-conflict support, and re-education and re-integration, we tackle the problem inside-out. We prevent enlistment, encourage re-integration into society, and provide deterrence to warlords. We each have a vote. We each have a voice. We can no longer delay. Because for Betty Ejang and her friends, there is no time to delay:
‘Caught in a line between death and life,
Suff’ring from pain, agony and strife;
Hope is futile and ambition fantasy,
Oh, hear me, hear me, please, please save me!’
Ladies and gentlemen, the river of blood is bursting its banks. From Bolivia to Burundi, from Chad to Chechnya, children like dream of freedom, a new life, a world without guns. They dream of their long-lost childhood, their broken families, their shattered futures. But as Martin Luther King Junior once said – ‘we refuse to accept the ambiguities of history as the final answer to this tragedy.’ I urge you, I admonish you, I beg all of you, to do what we can, what we may, what we must – so that children will not fight wars, so that children may dream of a future they deserve, so that one day, the river of blood will run dry forever.
Persuasive Speech WIDPSC 2010 – Geoffrey ‘Biffo’ Liew
Ladies and gentleman,
Today my speech is about foreign developmental aid. I am not talking about humanitarian aid, which is the money given by people like you to organizations like the Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders, but rather money given by governments to governments.
In Africa, a new tribe has arisen. They are well-heeled, well-educated, and well-endowed with cash. Across Africa, they are called the Wabenzi. Men of the Mercedes Benz. They are not businessmen, nor are they Kings. They are bureaucrats. Why is it that in the African continent, where poverty and inequality are endemic, it is the people’s governments that are the richest and most profitable?
On average, more than $50 billion dollars are given every year to African nations, and in a grand total, nearly $60 trillion has been given in the past century. Surely, the African countries would have been spurred on by this infusion of much needed capital, recovering from colonization, firmly on the path to industrialization, commercialization and urbanization. Yet Africa has seen a continual slide into poverty, more and more live under a dollar a day, a sustained drop in living standards, strings of civil wars, droughts and famines. Africa has been the economic disaster of the 20th century.
What has been the persistently preferred solution of the status quo? Why, more foreign aid of course! Poor people can’t help themselves, they’re stuck in a vicious ‘cycle of poverty’.
Today I’d like to prove, that this ‘cycle of poverty’ is actually foreign aid. I’d like to prove that when billions of dollars are poured into a government, there is no incentive to remove disastrous economic policies of retarding growth with high taxes, indebtedness, excessive regulation, inflation, price controls, and even the very much Soviet styled land collectivization.
We have not seen any moves towards better economic policy or governance. Instead we’ve been quite successful in lining the pockets of businessmen and bureaucrats. What else would you expect when you send billions to a country half a world away to dictators and despots?
Politicians have tried to attach strings. You must build a dam, you must build a hospital, you must use this money for good! Hasn’t worked. Countries do not have an incentive to build long lasting facilities that serves the needs of the public, but rather spend the least money possible creating makeshift evidence to coax money out of the hands of ‘anti-poverty’ politicians. Sometimes they build really expensive projectors. The money often never leaves the country of origin, instead it is paid out to domestic contractors. ‘Double-deck suspension bridge for non-existent railroads, giant oil refineries in countries that neither produce nor refine oil, giant crop-storage depots . . . that are not accessible to farmers, and numerous other white elephants’ The customers of these facilities built by foreign aid, aren’t the poor, they’re the do-gooder governments half a world away who have no idea what is going on on the ground. These governments have carte blanche.
The former dictator of Zaire Mobuto Sese Seko, modern day Democratic Republic of Congo, was at the time of his death found to have a personal fortune from foreign aid accumulated in a Swiss bank account. An amount that would have been able to pay off the entire foreign debt of Zaire.
Even without the inevitable corruption of local governments, foreign aid is intrinsically destructive. Pumping millions of free money into the economy doesn’t create more wealth, just simply inflation. No new wealth has been created, just that people suddenly have more to spend on this already very small pool of goods and services. If you give food and clothes, then local industries will be destroyed. Local farmers can’t compete with free American food aid. Who would bother buying something from you if they could get it for free? A perfect example of this is the scattered island nation of Micronesia. After becoming trust territory to America after World War II. They were given free food, clothes, and other supplies. This simply resulted in the bankruptcy of local stores and industry. A Micronesian politician said, “We have no technicians, no plumbers, no electricians. We have no economic base to be self sufficient because the U.S. government just handed us everything . . .”
No industry can compete with free aid. Little wonder that Africa, a traditionally agricultural economy, with the world’s most fertile lands and soil, is no longer able to feed itself. Free things aren’t good for an economy.
Government has become the most profitable enterprise in the economy. While the livelihoods and economic opportunities are destroyed, and basic sustenance becomes difficult, people become violent and radical. Africa has experienced a string of civil wars, poverty is one factor, but another factor is the fact that governments hold the most power and a disproportionate amount of wealth. How is there not an incentive to kill others for your own ethnic group’s benefit?
Foreign aid isn’t the only problem Africa and other underdeveloped nations have to worry about. Agricultural subsidies in many developed nations prevent the developing of an agricultural base. Many governments are still unstable, with dictators and dysfunctional democracies. Removing foreign aid is a major step, but the first of many.
The solution is quite simple, remove foreign aid, completely, and unequivocally. The real solution is to get people to realize that we are drowning these nations with foreign aid. The only reason foreign aid still exists is because perpetuate this myth by mistaking the poison for the medicine, and when the patient is in his death throes we feed him more poison believing it will cure him. The greatest and most insidious evil is not the most obvious and terrifying one, but rather the one which is thought to be good by all.
Without the billions of dollars from developed nations, the Wabenzi will no longer be able to leech off the people. Continuing foreign aid is only subsidizing the existence of corrupt and dysfunctional governments. It also allows them to continue disastrous economic policies. They must learn to reduce taxes, to stop borrowing money, to stop inflating their currencies, to cut down on restrictive and excessive regulation. Respect the property rights of the people.
Free trade, development and globalization are brutal. However one cannot expect jumps the economic ladder and be subsidized into prosperity. The sweatshops and factories are awful, but compared to plowing fallow fields, living in the streets, fighting pointless and bloody civil wars, it is a world of difference. Escaping from the cycle of poverty is no easy task.
You may not believe what I have to say today. You might think me heartless or naïve. But then we are aiming for the same goal, we care about the poor. There’s is not much I can tell you to do today other than to lend me an ear. If you truly care about the poor then go on donating to Red Cross, or Doctors Without Borders. They really do help. Unlike governments, private agencies cannot squander the money on unproductive projects or embezzle the money as donors don’t tend to stick around in that sort of situation. Government, on the other hand, has no donors. But, do not for one second use the government to force everybody in society to pay for your cause.
The longer we treat the poor as those without ability, resources, or skills, the longer they will remain poor. The longer we throw money at the poor, the more we teach them to be beggars. And when we finally see that the poor aren’t crippled, then they will stand for themselves.
In 2008, our televisions, newspapers and conversations were overwhelmed by the Beijing Olympics. Yet while the spotlights in the Bird’s Nest stadium swirled around Liu Xiang and Yao Ming, they failed to highlight the millions who were once their training partners, the millions who gave up all in pursuit of the unattainable, the millions who devoted their lives and lost everyone. Once again, the world ignored the graveyard of aspiring children, the bubble where all contact with the world is lost, the school that will expel you when you are no longer profitable. Let me tell you the stories of a few young people, described by a New York Times reporter, as being “another cog in China’s sports machine”
It’s a machine that begins with the selection of thousands of children by officials most of whom have never participated in the sports themselves. Some are as young as 4 or 5, all of them are younger than you or me, one of them was Xu Jiamin. She was selected for her long legs, short torso and large hands without being given a choice whether to enter or not. Being tall doesn’t mean you are good at volleyball, being flexible doesn’t signal brilliance at gymnastics and being short doesn’t mean you’re good at table tennis and bad at running. I for one fare terribly at table-tennis but excel at running. The selection process ignores many other potential athletes and disregards our freedom of choice.
And yet, the selected throng of 400,000 are dumped into 3,000 sport schools to train seven hours a day. They practice in rooms lit by one low-voltage bulb and sleep in dormitories that reek of urine and sweat. Imagine that you were instructed to be a gymnast at just six. Multiple times each day, you are required to stretch your legs over 2 blocks in the splits. While your legs begin to tremor, your coach walks over, smiles and hands you a timer set at 30 seconds before setting his 70 kg frame on each of your outstretched limbs in turn. The additional weight is just too much to bear and as the seconds tick, the agony wells up inside each of us, tears begin to flow. It’s an inhumane training method, but that’s not all.
For others, it’s not the pain, it’s the approach, it’s the fact that as individuals, we are all different. World number 34 Peng Shuai has thought of leaving the Chinese tennis team not because they’re incompetent but because they force her to play a quick-footed agile game when she excels at powerful baselines. Peng, like many other, has been unable to reach international standards because she never has the chance to train and compete day-in-day-out with the world’s best. European coaches note “She could be a top 10 player, easy.” The one-size-fits all approach just doesn’t cut, nor does the hurt-till-you-scream approach.
Because funding is distributed according only to competition results, coaches are willing to use all method possible in order to win competitions, even if it means doping. 10% of the 2004 olympic team was pruned because of a simple test for endurance booster erythropoietin. Zou Chunlan was instructed by her coach to take “nutrition boosters” that turned out to be steroids. Zou now suffers from the side effects, a beard that must be shaved every couple of days, a prominent Adam’s apple, a deep voice and infertility.
Yet for many, the story only gets worse. Training seven hours a day in a school officials describe as “mostly for academics with sports training just as a spare-time activity”, athletes have little time for education. National new agency Xinhua reports that more than half of all professional athletes face a lack of education which often leads to joblessness in later life.
Zou Chunlan survived the rigorous training and then retired in 1993 as a 4 time national weightlifting champion. That was the end of the honeymoon. deprived of any education, she, like many other athletes failed to find a job. Her injuries, constant fatigue and medical demands piled one on top of another. Although assured upon entry that her future was in safe hands, Zou Chunlan was booted out of the sport school’s kitchen where she had been doing menial jobs. In her own words “I gave my youth to sport but in return, I was thrown out like garbage with no knowledge, no skill and a barren womb”. Yet she’s not alone, Beijing marathon champion Ai Dongmei has to sell her medals to feed her family, weightlifting champion Cai Li died, unable to pay his medical bills and world champion Liu Fei struggles on the 20 dollars earned from tutoring gymnastics.
So what can be done about the problems of the Chinese sports system? The problems of early entry, arbitrary selection methods, terrible practice conditions, inhumane training methods, lack of education and joblessness?
We should introduce different sports to the population by building facilities, organizing teams and providing classes. Introducing mandatory physical education classes in schools can also be an option that not only benefits the sport system but also improves the health of the Chinese population. People can make their own choices when exposed to different sports, we no longer need to force them into choices as we now have individuals whom are truly motivated to achieve their best and to excel in their discipline. Not only does this produce committed athletes, slimming the ranks also allows the government to better focus resources where necessary.
A ban on recruitment of professional athletes until they graduate from middle-school ensures that youngsters are protected from the strain of full-time training until their bodies have developed. This ban also ensures that all students have a middle-level education and the basic skills necessary to find a job. Partnerships between sport schools and local universities allowing athletes to attend university classes enhances training by letting them learn sport theories, training methods and injury prevention. This knowledge could be vital for them to understand how best to train, to help prevent injuries that plague so many others. and how to be coaches in the future so as to foster the next generation of athletes. If they don’t become professionals, they will at least have a university degree on which to build upon.
As described by a deputy director of sports, retired athletes are, “the legacy of China’s economic development”. They gave 65% of their prize money to the sports bureau, their youth to training and their life to raising standards. The sports ministry has the moral obligation to provide assistance after their retirement. There are coaching spots, support staff and administration positions that these former athletes can fill. In addition to securing their future, we also introduce experienced people with inside knowledge to lead and run the sport system, ultimately raising the standards and improving the system.
The old-fashioned training methods also need to be changed. Training should be a process that gradually improves the athlete’s skill, not a time to inflict pain. This achieves long-term success without the long-term damage to their bodies. Coaches also need to recognize that we are all different, that the same methods of training don’t always work. Everyone learns in a different way and the training methods need to reflect this. Coaches should have programs that cater to different people with different strengths and weaknesses instead of giving up on those who don’t fit the traditional mold.
To prevent doping, funding should be allocated based upon population, needs and results. Chinese officials need to crack down on drug use. When pressured to have a drug free olympic, Chinese officials once banned a world-champion for life because of one doping incident. To protect athletes, doping should be rooted out, even if it means losing some athletes because clean silver is always better than tainted gold.
Commercializing part of the sport system has been widely touted and is already in the works. As seen in the examples of the Chinese Basketball League, Chinese Football Association and China Baseball League, partly commercializing sports introduces a competitive flair and monetary incentive that motivates athletes to strive for the best. It also allows better compatibility with international standards as athletes can train and exchange with the best in the world. The ability to spend more time on world tours allows athletes to hone their skills and raise their profile. These all serve to improve the standard within China.
But none of these changes will occur overnight. However, we can make a difference. By talking to different people, noting the problems on our blogs and raising awareness in our community, we show China that we care about these problems. This public awareness campaign, complements ongoing IOC age restrictions and the demand for reform from inside China. This combination of internal, internet and international pressure will awakens Chinese officials to the problems and solutions. We have seen in the past that the government does respond to international pressure. The demands for Hong Kong journalist Ching Cheong’s release were heard, the demands for a clean olympic caused even world champions to be banned for life because of doping, and the demands for free press during the olympics meant greater internet access across the board.
Ladies and Gentlemen, by raising awareness, demanding changes, introducing sports to all, limiting the age of recruitment, introducing partnerships with university, aiding athletes after retirement, changing the training methods and commercializing sports, we can usher in a sustainable sport system that nurtures future stars, secures their future and caters to all styles.