From toxic masculinity to speaking up

Aakarsh Jhingan and Reiven Zamora, have made the final cut in the nationwide competition.

Two Year 12 students have been selected as Top 10 finalists in the Storytellers NZ High School Public Speaking Contest.

Aakarsh Jhingan, from Pakuranga College and Reiven Zamora, from Howick College, have made the final cut in the nationwide competition, which is open to Year 9 to 13 students.

The grand final will take place at Vodafone Events Centre on Friday July 19.

Aakarsh is hoping to impress the judges with his speech entitled ‘A Man’s Mind’, which addresses the issue of  toxic masculinity.

He says, “I’m from a culture where men are traditionally expected to be very macho and not show emotion. I wanted to challenge this attitude and convey how damaging it is, both socially and emotionally.”

Reiven, who says she was bullied at primary school, believes that public speaking has boosted her confidence immensely. “I’m not so shy anymore,” she says. “I’m much happier to speak up and be heard”.

The teens, both of whom want to study medicine when they leave school, are excited about speaking at such a large venue.

The finalists will have the opportunity to work with a mentor provided by Storytellers NZ, to help them fine-tune their skills for the big day.