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AUS students win first place at EEG’s 20th Inter-College Public Speaking Competition
Students from American University of Sharjah (AUS) won top honors at the recent Emirates Environment Group (EEG)’s 20th Inter-College Public Speaking Competition for their speech on sustainable tourism and its importance in today’s world.
Held under the patronage of the UAE Ministry of Higher Education, the competition drew students from 23 universities from the UAE, Sudan, Jordan, Palestine and Oman. Students worked in groups to give speeches on two subjects: sustainable tourism is responsible tourism, and resource efficiency and climate change—actions required.
“It was great to see the students’ commitment and passion towards environmental issues. The students did not only come from different majors, but were also of diverse age groups, culture, and ideas. Some were first-year students who were eager to be involved and represent AUS with pride. They walked away with great experiences that enriched them academically and personally,” said Dr. Fatin Samara, Associate Professor of Biology, Chemistry and Environmental Sciences at the AUS College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) and a team advisor.
Two AUS teams, each comprising five students, competed in the competition. Team members carried out their own research and prepared their presentations. Participating students belonged to a wide variety of majors including international studies, biology, physics, psychology, mechanical engineering, computer science and engineering, management and accounting. The competition required students to develop their skills in language fluency, persuasive argumentation, creativity, research skills, teamwork and leadership.
On the day of the competition, competing teams were judged on clarity, teamwork, originality, environmental impact/solution, and presentation of research evidence.
“This event was an opportunity for students to engage in a more holistic university experience through extracurricular activity and interaction outside of the classroom. Students valued virtual interactions during the planning and practice phases as much as the competition itself,” said Dr. Jeniece Lusk, Assistant Professor of International Studies at CAS and AUS teams’ advisor.
The competition allowed the students to face their fears and hone their skills. Speaking about her experience, Vini Rupchandani, who is majoring in psychology and physics and a member of the winning team, said: “I learned the value of believing in myself from this competition. In high school, I used to excessively practice and memorize speeches for public speaking competitions. I was scared of taking opportunities that I didn't have a lot of time to prepare for. In university, I understood that we cannot be ‘perfectly prepared’ for anything, and it is important that we the take opportunities that come our way, believe in our experience and skills, and do our best.”
Preparing for the competition, however, also came with its own set of challenges. “Having to prepare for the competition online, we faced many challenges with scheduling and coordination. In the end, however, I learned how to deliberate information within a limited amount of time and extract the issues that need to be urgently addressed. This proved to be a very useful skill,” said Anushna Bagchi, a biology major and a member of the winning team.
Jawwad Imran Sheikh, mechanical engineering student and winning team member, urged students to take part in such competitions.
He said: “I would definitely recommend students, especially shy ones, to take part in such competitions. When we entered the competition, our goal was to learn, educate ourselves and others, expand our circle, and have an overall good time. Yes, we won, but most of us have encountered several obstacles and failures in life. We may fall down several times, but what matters most is that each time we get back up that we become stronger.”
The participating teams from AUS were:
- Anushna Bagchi (Biology)
- Omar Faris (Management)
- Gouthami Pillai (Accounting)
- Vini Rupchandani (Psychology and Physics)
- Jawwad Imran Sheikh (Mechanical Engineering)
- Maitri Lalai (International Studies)
- Husna Irfan (International Studies)
- Muhammad Junaid (Computer Science)
- Mahasen Mudallali (International Studies)
- Mohammad Amaan Siddiqui (International Studies)
AUS is widely recognized for its sustainability initiatives, and is the MENA region's best performing university in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System.