On Thursday, 7 June, the SMGS community gathered for the 20thannual Maria Kisich Public Speaking Competition.

Who is Maria Kisich?

The Maria Kisich trophy was named in honour of the school’s first English teacher, one of the founding teachers of Snowy Mountains Grammar School, and who promoted the importance of public speaking skills and encouraged their development at SMGS.

The 2018 Competition

This year, SMGS welcomedinaugural winner, Emma Arbeau (née Rupcic) (winner 1999, 2000) to present the Maria Kisich Trophy for the best overall speech and Dr Tim Wiles, the most prolific winner of the Maria Kisich Trophy (winner 2005, 2007, 2008), as a guest speaker.

A highlight on the SMGS calendar, the Maria Kisich Public Speaking Competition always treats audience members to an engaging evening of compelling, thought-provoking and comical musings from our speakers, and this year was no different.

And the 2018 Maria Kisich Trophy goes to…

This year, the winner of the Maria Kisich Trophy was Eve Donnelly – her speech was based upon the topic, ‘How are you? Do we (Australians) really genuinely care when we ask that question?’She based the speech upon her experiences on student exchange in Sweden and the difference in how the two cultures approach the question.

An excerpt from Eve’s speech is as follows:

“In Sweden, they live by two words – “Fika” and “Lagom”.

“Fika” is a uniquely Swedish and treasured tradition, where everyday Swedes take time out to sit down over coffee and some baked goods with friends, family or colleagues and just chat. I had more fikas than I can count while in Sweden – at school, home, in the city. With friends, other exchange students, family, cousins and teachers.

It was in this setting where I really got to know the people around me. It was when the question, “How are you?”, was most often asked.

Fika was very different from our recess or morning tea. It was an allowed time throughout the day to have a discussion about how people are going. If it was at school, it was never about schoolwork. At work, it was never about work. It was about the individuals and how they were feeling. Fika was about communicating on a personal level with the people around you and finding out what was going on in each other’s lives. The real communication that took place when I took a fika was what made me, an Australian exchange student, a part of the community and it gave me that sense of belonging I needed.

But how could the Swedes take this time out every day? Isn’t life too busy for something like that?

The other word, “lagom”, doesn’t have a direct translation, but it means “not too much, not too little” – just the right amount.

For example, you’re in a restaurant and the waiter asks you how much salt you want on your chips. So, you say “lagom” and the chips miraculously come out with the PERFECT amount of salt on them.

Lagom also describes the Swedish way of life. It’s about balancing time and making time for the important things in life. Balancing work, school and other commitments with taking time out to check in with yourself and the people you care about.”

2018 Division Winners

Congratulations to all students who participated in this year’s Maria Kisich competition. The division winners were as follows:

Senior – Eve Donnelly – ‘How Are You?’

Intermediate – Willem Baldwinson – ‘Individualism’

Junior – Charlotte Wilson – ‘Obesity’

Upper Primary – Emily Willsmer – ‘Taking Risks’.

Of the 20thannual Maria Kisich competition, Principal Andrew Bell said, “The Maria Kisich Public Speaking Competition is one of the most anticipated dates on our school calendar where students’ ideas and perspectives take centre stage. Judging from the audience turnout and the number of students participating this year, the legacy of this competition and strength of public speaking at SMGS is thriving across all year levels. Thank you to all the parents, friends and family who came out to support our students this year and thank you to Ms Anne Jones for organising yet another fantastic evening of public speaking.”

Also, thank you to Year 12 student, Austin Beck for the wonderful photos!