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Student Defines: World Speech Day 2017

Guest blog by Michael Bole

In March of 2015, I first learned about World Speech Day from the National Speech and Debate Association and thought that this day was one to celebrate. Having competed in Debate for a few years and even longer now on a national level, I was always one who valued my voice and the voice of others. I am extremely grateful that I have been given the opportunity to share my voice on such a platform. Having a day to celebrate the power of the voice and speech, was something I was ecstatic about.

As a Freshman at my own school (Dreyfoos School of the Arts, FL) there was only so much I could do to hold a World Speech Day celebration. In 2015 I brought together a group of students to shoot and edit a promotional video that played for the school and share on YouTube. Besides a video and T-Shirts there wasn’t much meaning to our celebration. This is when I decided that I wanted to hold a celebration to remember; one that would inspire.

I was looking forward to World Speech Day 2017 all year, talking with my peers and coming up with ideas to give a voice to our celebration. In February 2017 myself, my classmates, and my debate coach, came up with the idea to host an open-invite Speech Showcase during lunch to actually celebrate the power of the voice. After coordinating the performers, location, and some venue decorations, we had more than 20 students show up to our Media Center’s patio and listen to our speakers. Ironically, I was at a loss for words regarding the number of attendees (I was expecting an audience filled with just the performers and myself). Our speech topics ranged from advocacy for environmental protection, empowering women to spread their voice, and fighting against the fear that exists in society to speak out in the first place.

With the help of my debate teammates (and friends of course) Matthew Nadel and Kayla Gallagher, we created the 2017 video, but this time with a different angle. I think in the political climate that exists now, especially in the United States, there seems to be a growing tension on all sides of the spectrum. Instead of working together to make positive change, political entities have turned away from one another. Shaming each other just because their views and political identity are different. The angle we took with our video was “Break the Silence.” The video advocated that instead of turning away from someone just because they may think differently than you, create discussion and dialogue, engage in civil debate, break the silence that exists in the status quo, so that we can truly see a better world.

As I moved through the halls of Dreyfoos that Tuesday, delivering World Speech Day shirts I had designed, I knew that this was an event that should be celebrated across the world, amongst millions and millions of people. For the people, the voices, that are silenced every day, we stood with them on March 15th, and continue to stand with them every single day because no one should ever be silenced.

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