The World Scholar's Cup is an international tournament for students focusing on debating skills, persuasive writing and general knowledge questions, all of which are centered round a particular theme, this year’s theme being, “The World Within.” The competition was founded by former Stamford and Yale scholar, Daniel Berdichevsky, in 2006 and this year, at the global round in Singapore, 2400 students participated from more than 40 countries.
The World Scholar's Cup has attracted what it calls "a global community of future scholars and leaders", and promotes the premise that it allows participants to discover strengths and skills that they never knew they had. However, despite technically being a competition, the World Scholar's Cup focuses far more on bringing students from different cultures together to discuss issues and ideas relevant to today and the future.
This year, after qualifying in the Swiss regional round, La Côte International School sent three teams to Singapore for the global round. It was a truly memorable experience for the students, who up until April of this school year were unaware of this amazing competition.
Most of the events in Singapore took place in the Star Theatre, a contemporary building seating 5,000 people. Here the opening ceremony took place including a plenary session from the guest speaker, Rahul Sagar, Professor of Political Science at Yale and author of the book, “Secrets and Leaks,” who spoke about the history of espionage. After lunch all the students were mixed into teams of 12 and sent on a scavenger hunt on the island of Sentosa. The day closed with a dinner on the beach.
The students were split between four school venues for the debating day, which also included the collaborative writing and the scholars’ challenge. The students worked from 08.00 until 18:00 and afterwards they were then taken to a local wildlife park for a night safari, where the animals were far more awake than the students.
The following day, back at the Star theatre, the students faced the Scholars’ Bowl section of the competition, a team based general knowledge quiz with some very ambiguous questions. With the academic parts completed the next events were the debate showcase and a multicultural talent show. In the evening came the chance to dress up for the Scholars’ Ball at the famous Zouk nightclub in Singapore.
The final day back at the Star Theatre, saw the closing ceremony comprising of a flag march, an address from another guest speaker, Fiona Kanagasingam, Director of Leadership and Global Citizenship at Yale, and the handing out of awards – medals and cups – to winners from all the different categories of the competition. Each student also took away a rather large, stuffed alpaca, the mascot of the World Scholars Cup, leading to a few raised eyebrows in the departure lounges at Singapore’s Changi Airport.
Thanks to the initiative and generous support from Nord Anglia Education and La Côte’s new school Principal, Ms Wendy Ellis, the students have since returned with several medals and alpacas and one team have qualified for the final round to be held at Yale in November. It’s clear from the enthusiasm of the students that this competition will continue to go from strength to strength, with lasting benefits for all who compete and the promise of improved world politics and peace in the future.
This year three Swiss international schools took part in the World Scholar’s Cup. For any schools interested in learning more about the competition or forming SGIS inter-school debating competitions, please contact the email addresses below.
La Côte International School