Competing to promote learning: students’ perspective
On Tuesday, November 28th, 2019, Al Akhawayn School of Humanities and Social Sciences organized its Public Speaking contest. The event lasted 1 hour and 30 minutes, with the presence of Jury members, Dr. Latifa El Mortaji and Dr. Naceur Amakhmakh, as well as AUI students across different public speaking sections. The persuasive speech competition ended with three winners, Houssam Quanbouli, Hamza Sakout, and Houda Douhi who got first, second, and third rank respectively.
This article reports on the competition from the students’ own perspectives, highlighting the importance of the Public Speaking course and how it prepares AUI students for other courses as well as their future career. The following is an account of the participants’ personal views, feelings and perceptions, which they are happy to share.
“I admit, when I set my feet at the university, public speaking was the course I dreaded the most. Not because I have trouble speaking in public, but rather because I find it challenging to engage with strangers. On November 28, 2019, I won first place in the Public Speaking Contest. I had a hard time believing it, considering the fierce opponents I was confronted to, but I did it. Every time I stood up to deliver my speech in class, I was transformed; I brought to life the hidden "Hulk" in me. The angel-looking young man that some may have spotted walking around campus is far from being the one everyone pictures. It is true that I am and have always been different, and I even got penalized for it in my old high school to the point of losing some self-confidence. But here at Al Akhawayn University, my difference has been my superpower. I have been treated based on my true value. Every semester there is a course that I consider as a favorite, and this fall, it was the public speaking class. If we stop at the course title, we miss the fact that it goes beyond what we could possibly imagine. Apart from speaking throughout the sessions, we learn to engage and evolve as students but also as individuals. We work on our self-approval and learn to trust others. We are unconsciously in the process of being formed in case of possible and future events. It doesn't matter if you finally get an A or not, you still leave this class in someone else's shoes; somebody who is confident, creative and powerful. Very grateful to my parents who allowed me to study in this institution, to Dr. Latifa El Mortaji; an extraordinary woman who believed in me and in all the others who had the chance to have her as a fairy godmother, and also grateful for my determination, my difference and my slightly too dreamy side which allow me to progress while being loyal to who I really am. This was a truly beautiful achievement, but it is far from being the last one, that is a promise!”
QUANBOULI Houssam, SBA
“I do care about soft skills, and public speaking is one of them. It is the essence of a true leader, one of the few skills that can penetrate your soul and make your body shiver. Public speaking is an art, it's about the words you say, the body language, and the way you communicate your thoughts. Based on my teacher’s advice and feedback, I sharpened my skills during the semester, and this competition was a big opportunity to test myself. I was ranked second, and I am grateful for that. Through the feedback I received from Dr. Amakhmakh and Dr. El Mortaji, I can now improve myself and grow stronger. To AUI students I say, technical skills are very common, but it is the soft skills that make a difference. So, make a difference!”
SAKOUT Hamza, SSE
“From my personal experience, public speaking is a class that helped me gain the knowledge and skills required to become a confident speaker. I learned how to select the right topic considering my audience and the speaking occasion, how to prepare and organize my thoughts, how to establish credibility and connect with my audience, how to use my voice effectively and gain confidence on stage, and finally how to overcome my fear and deal with it while delivering my speech. Those skills will definitely help me in my current courses and future career. The skills that I learned will boost my confidence to speak up in meetings, to promote my ideas, to present myself as a professional, and to excel in job interviews. The public speaking contest organized by the School of Humanities and Social Sciences was an amazing experience and opportunity to reveal all the skills I have acquired throughout the semester, as well as meet new people, exchange ideas and develop new friendships. Finally, I want to thank my public speaking professor for her huge encouragement, her highly creative and positive learning approaches, and for her great efforts to accompany and support her students throughout their learning journey.”
DOUHI Houda, SHSS
The students’ various personal accounts do reveal and emphasize the importance of soft skills, and the communication and presentation skills they acquired during the semester, and how the Public Speaking course empowers AUI students and gets them ready to complete their curriculum successfully and embark on their future career.
Written by: JAJA Raghda, SHSS Student & Competition Participant (was ranked 4th)