Words by Sheikh Tariq Abdullah, President of ESU Yemen
This year, the national public speaking competition of Yemen was held in the city of Aden amidst ongoing war conditions with road blocks, diversions, security check points and traffic jams. This made travel and movement time-consuming and dreary. In addition to this there were sudden, lengthy power cuts and constant internet disruptions. Yet the schools and the students remained interested and participated enthusiastically. Competitions were successfully held in a number of schools with 50 representatives. They were judged at the English-Speaking Union Yemen premises by the judges from the College of English, Aden University, during the months of February and March in three heats. On 9 March a winner and two runners-up were selected.
Although overall the national competition was successful, it was not without setbacks. Schools from the three main cities Sanaa, Taiz and Hodaidah could not participate due to the severe war conditions. Though the spirit of the participants was high, the standard was perhaps not. This was primarily due to the lack of trained staff to coach the students in the art of public speaking in addition to the intermittent closure of the schools. Every participant made a personal effort by following up the useful guidelines in the ESU handbook.
In 2007 a Yemeni student delighted the world by winning the ESU Public Speaking Competition. He had a modest background. It totally transformed his life. He was granted a government scholarship to study in England and is now a successful engineer working with a leading foreign oil company in Yemen. Every other Yemeni candidate who has participated in the ESU International Public Speaking Competition in London in the past has also done well in his career. This one week contributed to changing their lives for the better.
The younger generation in Yemen is very keen to learn English but unfortunately the country is unable to give them the opportunity to do so. Sadly, for the last three years Yemen could not participate in the International Public Speaking Competition because of the restrictions by the British Government to grant visas to the Yemenites, even to a student to participate in the public speaking competition.
We are pleased that this year ESU Yemen will manage to obtain a visa for the Yemeni winner of the national competition through a third country. He will be able to participate in London and will be able to benefit from the invaluable experience that the ESU provides to the participants on this superb occasion.
The International Public Speaking Competition 2019 will take place at the Royal Institution, London, on Friday, 17 May from 1pm. If you would like to attend, please book your ticket here. School staff can contact William.firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and can reserve up to 20 free places per school.