Nasser, Trivedi compete in speech state championship


Swasti Singhai

Rayyan Nasser (12) helps Nirja Trivedi (10) practice for the speech state competition. Both advanced to States, with Nasser competing in Impromtu speech and Trivedi placing 15th in International Extemporaneous speech.

Sophia Fang, Staff Writer


Last weekend, Nirja Trivedi (10) placed 15th overall in the state at the California High School Speech Association State Championship in International Extemporaneous, an impromptu event where participants are given 30 minutes to prepare for a seven-minute speech about a current world event.

While Trivedi sometimes finds it hard to practice her event because she’s the only one from Westview who competes in Extemporaneous, Trivedi said receiving feedback from her family members has helped her improve.

“You can never know enough [information] in this event,” Trivedi said. “There’s always going to be some question about Algeria or something I’ve never heard of before and I’m supposed to analyze solar energy in that country. I’m trying to read all the time and get more and more basic, foundational knowledge of how political, economic, and social systems work in different places so I’m able to answer a broad variety of questions.”

During the second round of championships, Trivedi’s prompt was about cryptocurrency in Nigeria. Even though she didn’t know much about the topic, Trivedi was able to use what she knew about Bitcoin in El Salvador to help her prepare her speech.

“I already knew that Bitcoin had been adopted as legal lender [in El Salvador] and that an app called Chivo was touted as a way for every citizen to access cryptocurrency,” she said. “But because Bitcoin is so volatile and lost half of its value in a span of months, people in El Salvador saw their savings get depleted. I compared this to Nigeria, where cryptocurrency is based on the physical [Nigerian currency] naira rather than the volatile Bitcoin. I argued that cryptocurrency in Nigeria would be more effective because it is not based on Bitcoin.”

Her prior preparation and on-the-spot thinking allowed her to rank first that round, advance to semifinals and eventually place 15th.

“I was surprised that I made it to the semifinals because most of the competitors were juniors and seniors who were nationally ranked,” Trivedi said. “It was especially nice to be able to see other competitors because I was inspired and motivated to reach their caliber of speaking.”

Rayyan Nasser (12) competed at states last weekend in Impromptu, where participants are given two minutes to prepare a speech based on a given prompt and five minutes to present it.

The competition came after months of practice and hard work.

“[Impromptu] may seem like an event you can’t prepare for, but there’s a lot you can do,” Nasser said. “When it comes to actually speaking, you can start off by talking to a wall, then you can get your siblings and parents involved and speak to them. Just practicing speaking will make you more comfortable projecting, moving around the room so that you’re using the space, and filling the entire room with your presence and voice.”

Even though the impromptu nature of their events means that there will always be surprises, Nasser and Trivedi both said that the challenging aspects of their events are also the most rewarding.

“Unlike the times when I [competed in other speech events] where I could practice until I had it perfectly memorized, until I had every inflection down perfectly, I can’t really do that for Impromptu,” Nasser said. “The fact that it’s all spur-of-the-moment forces you to think on your feet, but at the same time there’s this rush of adrenaline when you’re hitting the points and making an impact with your words. There’s an inexplicable feeling of ‘I made it, I really did it.’ It’s scary but fun at the same time, kind of like a rollercoaster. It’s like you’re diving off the deep end but it’s really fun when it all works out.”

Going into the championships, Nasser said he felt a little nervous since this was his first time qualifying for states.

“It was a bit of a nervous experience for me, but I was also excited,” he said. “I planned to go out there and do the best I could.”

Despite his hard work, Nasser didn’t make it to the semifinals, but he’s still glad that he had the chance to finish off his high school speaking career at the states championship.

“Speech is something that I’ve taken with me throughout all of high school, so leaving it behind is going to be unfortunate,” Nasser said. “[Nevertheless,] I’m excited to see what the future will bring me.”