Panthers of ISKL #208: The IASAS Debate & Forensics Delegates

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POISKL - IASAS Debate Forensics

From March 6 – 10, 2024, 18 HS students headed to the International School Bangkok (ISB) for Season 2 of IASAS Culcon Debate & Forensics events! We discover as a team for each of the five events: Debate, Extemporaneous, Forensics, Oral Interpretation, and Original Oratory. We hear about their best moments, what they are most proud of, and advice to future delegates!

A special congratulatory note to Rika S. (‘24) for winning Gold in Original Oratory, April H. (‘25) for winning Silver in Impromptu, Daphne H. (‘) for winning Silver in Oral Interpretation, and Anwita D. (‘25) and Tillie VDB (‘26) for being finalists in Oral Interpretation and Original Oratory, respectively.

Here is their story:

IASAS Debate & Forensics Team 2024


(Words by Jordan K. (‘26) )

Describe your most memorable moments as a team during the IASAS tournament.

This was undoubtedly the most chaotic of all the IASAS Cultural Conventions I’ve attended. But that didn’t erase the fact that memories were built, friendships were formed, and connections that would last a long time were woven. While beating Taipei American School (TAS) was among the many highlights of this trip, I found the last-minute preparations, celebrating other students’ achievements, and meeting new people at a Mexican restaurant most memorable.

Going into this year’s IASAS debate, we knew we had to up our preparation as there were two prepared motions in the preliminary rounds. Despite being informed of this format change, we still panicked and shouted in our team rooms during the final 30-minute lead-up to our debate rounds as we constantly came up with new substantives, researched new case studies, and formulated better arguments. While this was chaotic and incredibly stressful, it was certainly memorable as it highlighted the competitive and hectic nature of debating.

On the other hand, on the final day, during the award ceremony, all the ISKL students came together in the theater to celebrate other students’ achievements. Whenever an ISKL student won, whenever they went on stage, whenever their name was called out, every single person from ISKL stood up to applaud. Not one teacher or student remained in their seats. We all got up to celebrate, and this was a memorable moment that would last forever. The team spirit we showed was truly unmatched that day.

Finally, on the second day of the trip, my host brought us to a nearby Mexican restaurant they had recommended. Little did we know that the entire restaurant would be packed with IASAS students from all six schools. All of the tables were merged to form long tables that stretched across the whole restaurant, and students from different schools conversed with each other. Knowing that debate is very competitive and, often, not the easiest to make friends with. This occasion allowed all of us to forget about our competitors, embrace the IASAS spirit, and laugh with students we’ve never met before, students we would be competing against the next day, and reconnect with students we’ve met.

As a team, what were you most proud of?

Our team at the IASAS debate this year differed greatly from last year’s. I was the only returning delegate from last year’s team, meaning the other six delegates, including our researcher, were all new. However, despite this experience gap compared to other IASAS schools, the growth we demonstrated as a team was immense.

We had a new coach this year, Ms Lin, and she put together a team with ambition and motivation. She motivated and pushed us to our limits but never forgot to praise us whenever we did something worth praising. Our achievements and our records could not have been possible without her guidance.

Furthermore, I was very proud of a Grade 9 student on our team; even without prior debating experience, she served a significant role as the debate researcher. Not only that, she often exceeded a researcher’s expectations and provided feedback to every delegate after our debates.

If I were to speak about my team of 3, I would be incredibly proud of our achievements at this year’s SEA Debate and Forensics Tournament. We placed 3rd for the second time in a row, and although we had greater ambitions, being able to finish a tournament with a medal was indeed a moment filled with great pride. On the other hand, our team will have to go again next year without Pulkit as he is graduating. Throughout this season, he was an integral part of this year’s debate team, and we will strive to keep his legacy alive as we eye bigger goals next year.

What advice would you give to other students who wish to participate in the IASAS Culcon Debate next academic year?

Many people disregard debate as something enjoyable, and while it is true that it can be incredibly stressful at times, you can learn a lot from this experience. Being able to speak confidently and convince other people are important skills to develop in the future.

Don’t fear debate, and learn to embrace the beauty of communication. You have nothing to lose from this opportunity; you can only benefit from it. So muster up the courage and get out of your comfort zone. Don’t regret it in the future; take this opportunity when it is presented to you – it may never come again.

Extemporaneous Speaking

(Words by Janusz B. (‘25))

Describe your most memorable moments as a team during the IASAS tournament.

IASAS is a great experience not only for the competition but also a great opportunity to deepen your relations with fellow delegates as you all fight for that medal. This sense of unity has provided us with the most memorable moments at IASAS. It’s no secret that being out there behind the podium is a stressful experience; however, when you stand behind that podium and see the countless faces of your friends, most of that stress seems to go away. This show of support from your friends is the most priceless part of the whole trip. When you also get out there to support your teammates, you can feel like a part of something greater than your individual speech.

While it might sound generic and overused, when it comes to CulCon, the true price and most memorable moments are the friendships made and developed over the short week.

As a team, what were you most proud of?

While there were no medals this year, our team still has much to be proud of. This year, our primary issue was the lack of experience since most of the team was new this year. However, I feel profound about how we managed to overcome that skill gap and still perform to our fullest while at the same time catching up and learning how to get better over the past few months.

Another commendable part of our IASAS experience was how the whole group supported each other no matter how our teammates performed. That sense of support proved helpful when dealing with the emotions that come with public speaking.


(Words by Heinn S. (‘25))

Describe your most memorable moments as a team during the IASAS tournament.

The most memorable moment as a team was during our many practice rounds before our actual IASAS rounds. During these “mocks,” we had a great time laughing, sharing stories, and bonding.

It was also great when one of our team members made the finals, but that moment paled compared to the many times we spent together practicing.

As a team, what were you most proud of?

We were most proud of April H. (’25) for making the finals in IASAS Impromptu this year. While we were ecstatic when April got silver in the finals, the most memorable and proudest moment for our team was when April achieved her goal of getting into the finals this year.

What advice would you give to other students who wish to participate in the IASAS Culcon Impromptu next academic year?

Come into this part of Culcon with an open mind and try to have fun. I’ve learned that if you aren’t having fun, the audience isn’t having fun, and it just turns into a boring 5-minute speech that feels forced. So just be yourself. Nothing else matters if you can come away with a better and more confident version of yourself after Impromptu.

Oral Interpretation (OI)

(Words by Daphne H. (‘24))

As a team, what were you most proud of?

I was most proud of 2 of us having made the finals, as there were about 18 Oral Interpretation (OI) participants, with only six able to make the finals. So it is very impressive to have more than 1 participant from one school make it, and I am proud of my teammate and myself for doing so.

And then I won a silver medal! I was very proud and grateful for this achievement. Last year, only one person in the team made the finals and won bronze, so this is a huge step up for our whole team.

What advice would you give to other students who wish to participate in the IASAS Culcon Oral Interpretation next academic year?

I advise students to make sure they pick a good piece – as their delivery matters a lot, but if they don’t have a good foundation (the piece), how are you supposed to form a stable building?

At IASAS, we witnessed very good public speakers who didn’t have pieces that allowed them to meet all of the criteria, so they didn’t make the finals (and some with really good pieces but average delivery made finals). That’s also important – read the judging criteria carefully to know what you need and follow the rules.

For advice on what type of piece to choose, I prefer funny pieces because they fit in with who I am more. However, I noticed that this year’s judges liked the emotional and dramatic pieces a lot (the student who won gold did an emotional piece). It’s honestly up to you. Try to be unique, though, and make sure to have a variety of voices (through dialogue) and emotions.

Original Oratory (OO)

(Words by Rika S. (‘24))

Describe your most memorable moments as a team during the IASAS tournament.

The most memorable moments would be when the whole team was in the team room, prepping, discussing, or hanging out. Original Oratory (and forensics in general) is a pretty individual event, and you don’t get to spend much time with your teammates during the tournament itself. So when we finally got to catch up in the team room, talk about the other speakers we heard, and give each other some feedback during practice, it was really fun!

As a team, what were you most proud of?

How supportive we were of each other! While we are a “team” in OO, we go against each other, and technically, we are each others’ competition – but we never saw it like that. Whenever one of us was nervous, scared, or worried, we gave reassuring hugs, motivational speeches, and cracked jokes to ease the tension. We were always happy for everyone on the team, even if they did better than us, and we scoffed at a few comments made by judges that didn’t make sense. Though we couldn’t collaborate quite like debate or team sports, there was never a lack of support or connection between us.

What advice would you give to other students who wish to participate in the IASAS Culcon Original Oratory next academic year?

My main piece of advice is to write a speech that is personal and important to you. Judges can tell when speakers choose topics that are too generic or impersonal. Find something in your life that you’re passionate about, and tell people why that is. OO gives you seven uninterrupted minutes to convey a message to the audience – use it to share something meaningful and significant.


Do you know of any student, teacher, parent, or staff who always have an anecdote to tell, love to share some insights into their passions and interest, or simply is a Panther through and through? Nominate them to be featured in our Panthers of ISKL stories by sending in your submissions here.

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