Hello everyone, I am Sheryl Zha from Year 10. I am so honored to share my experience with you.
I feel lucky enough to win the nation-wide championship in a speech competition, called the National Speech and Debate Association (Junior High Group in China). To be frank, I was first shocked, then inspired by a speech which alarmed me about how people wasted time on social media without any awareness. My teacher, Mr. Trowt, shared the speech with us from a TED talk. That was my inspiration. The further research I did, the more worried I got. When we’re engaged with our phone or something external, the areas of our brain that are involved in daydreaming and thinking about our own feelings, shut off. Those same areas are also responsible for feeling empathy. However, they only activate when we do nothing.
That's something today’s teenagers don’t do. We are constantly on social media, and as a result, we are not activating these brain areas that are important for self-reflection, reflecting on other people, and empathy. If there’s no daydreaming, there’s no empathy, and we are at a heightened risk for being raised as a generation that cares less.
I proposed that people should leave their phones alone once a while during the day, then do “nothing”, but daydreaming. That’s the way to activate empathy. And also make social media more valuable to themselves and others. I urge people to stop striving to be “me-oriented,” instead, strive to be valuable.
Overall it was a truly exciting and memorable experience for me. Honestly, I was sure I lucked out when I first got my ticket to join the national tournament. I knew it was going to be a completely different story to compete with all of the top opponents from every city. I worked harder to do my research, revise my paper. I applied many speech techniques I learned from my classes, from body language and intonation to the way I inhaled and exhaled. Also, I realize how important it is to build a very strong academic foundation. This credit goes to my teachers and my school. I am very grateful that they are always extremely strict to encourage my academic study. Then I have the chance to be brought to a brand new level. For the speech itself, I learned how to express myself confidently and creatively in more than one way. I know it is so vital to engage myself with the issues which have local and global significance.
Hope you enjoy my story.