Monday, 9 February 2015

Soroptimists 2015 Regional Finals

I'm writing this on Monday and ... yeah, I'm just going to schedule it for today. It won't kill me to miss a day. So, I spent yesterday in Athlone in the Shelbourne Hotel at the Regional Finals of the Soroptimists Public Speaking Competition.

Last November, I won my local heats along with one other girl (Emer Shine) and advanced to the Regional Finals (though they should really be called Semifinals, I think) in Athlone. You can read the post where I mention the local heats here.

I got a lift off Adrienne (sp?) from the local Soroptimists club. We met at 10.45 at a local shopping centre, and the teacher going with me sat in the back with Adrienne and her husband, a doctor, in front. The drive took forever, and I spent it writing my speech out onto index cards, which I’d been too lazy to do the night before. 

Then I contemplated starting my English essay but got distracted reading the 
textbook, so I only had time to write one of my Fiverr pieces before we got there.
The hotel was nice, though it did have that old Irish hotel air where it’s all dark and polished wood and carpets. Not a fan of the smoky atmosphere (not literal smoke, but it resembled a bar in places, most of all the actual bar). We were over an hour early, so we went and I got a BLT and hot chocolate in the bar, paid for by my school (I owe them so much).

Being me, I did of course lose my index cards. We went on a merry goose chase looking for them, but the doctor found them eventually exactly where I thought I left it (the speaking room – yes, I had looked there, but I hadn’t seen them).

Then we had an introduction and then the speeches started. I was third to go up, and there was one other girl doing my topic (D, in the Democracy section; about gender quotas in business and politics). The most popular topic was A, based on a quote from Nelson Mandela about freedom.

We all had to speak for between four and six minutes. My prepared speech went fine, no hiccups, and I think I got some laughter at points. I was kinda awed by the fifth girl – her speech and charisma just seemed amazing. She was from the girl next to me’s school. The girl next to me, oh god can I remember her name, was nice. Girl on the other side was loud. Girl from my local round, Emer, was pretty cool, with very energetic hair.

The sixth girl, though, Schmebecca Schmoss, really annoyed me (and not just because she was doing my topic and taking the opposite side). She went on with this prattle about “my friend Jen (short for gender quotas)” and it was persuasive but just so puerile and stupid I genuinely wanted to puke as the speech went on. She has another friend, named “Fem” (short for feminism) and just ugh. Are we in Junior Infants here?

Everyone had already got through their local rounds and this was the final for quarter of the country, so we were all good, I think. Some people didn’t really have many points, but a lot of them came out from behind the podium and engaged the audience a lot. I hadn’t known we were supposed to do that so kay.

Then it was time for the impromptu round, which I’d been dreading. We were brought into one of the hotel rooms and girls were led out individually and given the topic. It was quite a nice one, I must admit: “Operation Transformation”.

Long story short, I was at least able to talk for the requisite two minutes (after two minutes of preparation) and didn’t dry up. My conclusion was awful (non-existent – well, it was there, but I was so flustered I forgot to say it) and I just repeated the last line, but at least I passed the two minutes.

I had a feeling Schmoss would win just on sheer power of irritation, but I didn’t know who else would. I thought maybe the fifth girl. We had lunch and then came back for speeches, then the prizes were announced. Schmoss won (ugh) but so did Ciara Rigney, which we didn’t predict. The content of her speech was pretty disjointed but she spoke well and had good charisma. She now has the National Finals of this Competition on March 7th and the Finals of another public speaking competition the day after, which is interesting.

I meant to add the other girls on Facebook but I can’t really be bothered now. I got a hot chocolate before we left then. I was sad I missed a whole day at Dad’s. We then drove back (I had charged my laptop halfway in the hotel) for two hours. I had a splitting headache and wouldn’t take the tablet so I tried to do my History/English essays but didn’t succeed. Eventually I just fell asleep.

Pretty meh day. Ciarán was nice afterwards though, and I went to bed really early because of the headache.

We got €15 iTunes vouchers, and since I don’t use iTunes I just gave mine to Kate during French today on a whim. 

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