“Speech is power; speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel.”Ralph Waldo Emerson
Templanza, a themed public speaking competition was organized by the Gavel Club of University of Colombo in collaboration with the Leo Club of University of Colombo, Faculty of Science with the motive of encouraging young voices of the nation to persuade, convert and compel.
It was held under two separate categories: Inter-University and Inter-School. The theme for the university category was “Overcoming social stigma aimed at Sri Lankan youth” and the theme for the school category was “Education, your mightiest weapon.”
More than 100 school students and university undergraduates from across the nation took part in the preliminary round via video submissions, where 10 semifinalists from each category were chosen under the guidance of our chief judge, DTM Sarma Mahalingam. The Semi-final round was held at the university premises on the 21st of January from 09:00am onwards.
The school category was held at the 5th Floor, Information Learning Centre, University of Colombo under the guidance of the chief judge of the school category, TM Praveen Nanayakkara. The university category was held in parallel at the 5th Floor, New Statistics Building under the guidance of the chief judge of the university category, TM Darren Pullenayegam. The audience witnessed amazing performances by all the contestants. Proud faces of the family and friends of the contestants made the whole experience a wholesome one. With 5 finalists emerging as finalists in each category, the Semi-final round concluded successfully.
The Grand Finale of Templanza 2023 was held on 28th of January at the New Arts Theatre from 09:00am onwards. 5 finalists from each category were prepared to battle on stage for the title of ‘The Best Speaker of Templanza’. With the presence of our Chief Guest, Vice Chancellor of University of Colombo, Senior Professor H.D.Karunaratne and the Senior Treasurer, Dr. Iroja Caldera and many other distinguished toastmasters the event was indeed colourful. With TM Methsara Benaragama, the chief judge and the esteemed panel of judges, the contest was ready to begin. The event began with the lighting of the oil lamp and then moved onto the Welcome address by the President of Gavel UOC, Naethree Premnath. Next, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Colombo, Senior Professor H. D. Karunaratne who graced the ceremony as the Chief Guest addressed the gathering with his inspiring words that came out of knowledge and experience. Thereafter, Senior Treasurer, Dr. Iroja Caldera delivered a thoughtful message about stepping out of your comfort zone which left the audience motivated.
Then, the controls were passed onto the Contest Chair Theshani Weligamage and Contest Masters Sivamayuori Premnath and Dewmini Vithanage to lead the contest. Rules of the contest were read out and the finalists were ready! Five finalists from the school category delivered their speeches covering the importance of education and how it has the power to make a change in the nation. The audience were impressed by the young talent and it was a reminder to all of us that when provided a platform, young talent can be discovered and given due recognition.
After the conclusion of the school category, the five finalists from the university category performed which left the audience speechless. The speeches revolved around social stigmas aimed at Srilankan youth and the finalists voiced out about crucial topics such as body shaming, anxiety and many more. The speeches reminded the audience that the youth of the nation have the knowledge and wisdom to build a future and they are often unfairly criticized as a ‘wrong generation’. The performances left the audience emotional and encouraged.
With the conclusion of the contest, while the chief judge and tally counters finalized the ballots, one of our talented university undergraduates Rovindu Wanasinghe came onto the stage to entertain the listeners with his harmonious melodies. Next the controls were passed onto our keynote speaker TM Niranjan De Silva whose energy was indescribable. His keynote “The Next Page” highlighted the importance of passion and vision to move forward in your life. After the inspiring words, the co-chairs of Templanza 2023, Vinuk Thismalpola and Dehemi Weerasinghe shared their experience of leading such a wholesome project.
With emotions running high and an auditorium filled with silence of suspense, the contest chair strode onto the stage to announce the winners. With the excitement from the audience, the winners were announced as follows:
- Champion: Sethik Amarasekara (Ananda College)
- 1st runner-up: Chithuli De Silva (Musaeus College)
- 2nd runner up: Maryam Sherrifu (Ilma International Girls’ School)
- Most Popular Speaker: Chithuli De Silva (Musaeus College)
- Champion: Shehan Paul (University of Moratuwa)
- 1st runner-up: Mineli De Croos (University of Sri Jayewardenepura)
- 2nd runner up: Shehara De Silva (University of Colombo)
- Most Popular Speaker: Zahra Zuhri (University of Colombo)
With the awarding of trophies, the other finalists were handed over certificates for their excellent performances. Then, the President of the Leo Club of University of Colombo, Faculty of Science, Abilash Sundaresan delivered the Vote of Thanks which reflected the gratitude we were all feeling towards the special guests, judges, executive committee, participants, the organizing committee, and the well-wishers. With that the hosts Dhanushka Sisil and Januki Jayakody gave their final remarks and the curtains were closed.
With appreciation and photographs everywhere, it was truly a surreal moment to witness. Amongst all the difficulties, TEMPLANZA 2023 was an uphill battle to success with tons of memories on the way. It was a reminder to us that the young nation has strong opinions and wise thoughts and often needs the push to speak out about them. Powerfully stated by the Champion of the university category of Templanza “We are anything but the wrong generation” indeed!