By Junet Bedayn
Last Tuesday, on November 27th, Sciences Polemiques held the “Anglophone Eloquence Contest” to determine who would represent Reims in the upcoming intercampus contest, the Prix Richard Descoings. With a theme like Fairy Tales, one might have expected lighthearted childhood anecdotes, fantastical stories, or maybe even a few “happily ever afters.” In reality (in true Sciences Po fashion), the audience was faced with a forced dictatorship, a disquieting description of loneliness, a monologue on the tragedies of the refugee crisis, a lecture on the paradox of genuinity, and the list goes on.
For those who are unaware (as I was before attending the event), Sciences Polemiques is a student organization that brings together the most articulate and eloquent orators at Sciences Po to write and give speeches on a given topic, under a given theme. The organization holds both anglophone and francophone contests in which the students present their speeches (that they have three days to prepare) and they are then asked questions by the judges on the panel (usually made up of Sciences Po faculty). If you have never made it to a Sciences Polemiques event, make sure you put one on your calendar…
The sheer talent of these students was incredible; Paul Bardon, Lucie Garnier, Zakir Kassam, Miko Lepistö, Christina Piliouni, Mariam Ben Slama, and Ayesha Veera each gave speeches that were not only well written, but that were presented in an engaging and passionate manner. With prompts such as: “Watch and you’ll see. Someday I’ll be part of your world” (The Little Mermaid) and “Second Star to the right and then straight on ‘til morning” (Peter Pan), the speakers were able to extrapolate all they could from the words themselves and from their personal experiences to create mostly dark, but nevertheless thought-provoking fairy tale plots of their own — while none would pass for a children’s story, each speech left the audience laughing, questioning, and even, at one point, applauding a dictator.
After all the speakers had presented, The Vibes came in to serenade the audience with their winter set and Pauline Mornet (President of Sciences Polemiques Reims) presented a Roast in which she (in her words) “took the piss” out of the speakers and the judges. At the end of the night, after the judges had deliberated (the judges being Matthew Baker, Anne-Charlotte Amaury, Rachel Skowronski, Gaetano di Tomasso) it was announced that Mariam Ben Slama received first place with Christina Piliouni in second and Miko Lepistö taking third. This means that Mariam Ben Slama will be headed to Poitiers for the Prix Richard Descoings to represent Reims in the intercampus anglophone competition. It’s thrilling to be sending such a worthy candidate to the contest, and we wish her the best of luck in representing Reims.