By Christine Tran
At the end of summer, sophomores David Deng and Jason Liu, two native Mandarin speakers, had no intentions of continuing Speech and Debate. Yet, in the past month, they have gone on to win two consecutive speech tournaments.
On Nov. 4, the pair took first place in Varsity Duo Interpretation at the Cal Rio Invitational, and on Nov. 12, Deng and Liu won JV Duo Interpretation at Fall Novice.
This is the first time that two English language learners have won a varsity speech tournament for Gabrielino High School, let alone two tournaments in a row. The pair placed over native English speakers and competitors who have been in Speech for years.
“I’m not surprised,” stated senior Bianca Moy, event leader of Duo Interpretation at Gabrielino. “They’re so confident and hilarious […] They always put themselves out there.”
Originally, neither Deng nor Liu had planned on joining Beginning Speech as freshmen. Both had wanted to sign up for geometry over the summer but did not meet the requirements for the class. Instead of looking to take geometry elsewhere, Deng suggested to Liu that they both take the speech class.
“We’re pretty bad at English and we just wanted to improve,” Deng said. “We saw a class called Speech and we thought that it was a plain normal English class. And when we joined it, we thought, we’ve come to the right place.”
Joining speech is a decision the pair say they will never regret, but the class does not come easy. The partners commit to daily in-class practices and weekly after school practices to perfect their speeches. To top it off, they have to do all of this in a language they have yet to finish learning.
“Most people would think that English language learners would not do well in speech, but look at them!” stated senior Alexandra Singleton. “[People shouldn’t] make assumptions because they’re fantastic regardless.”
Despite the hard work that speech requires, Liu and Deng have a large support system. With the aid of their fellow team members, the two continue practicing diligently even at times when they want to give up.
“It’s pretty hard,” stated Liu, “but we never worry because our friends and lots of people in speech always help us.”