I recently had one of the most remarkable experiences in my high school career; I just finished my talent medal interview!!! I totally messed up my interview, but I'll still share some tips and reflections.
So contrary to my expectations of visiting some sort of government building, the interview actually took place at a shared office building in Gangnam. But it was still good because the office building was really close to my home, so I had more time to practice.
In front of the office building. I actually feel so proud that I am standing in this place.
After I There was a woman and man that asked me some questions. We first had some friendly time to say hi.
W: Ah, so you live in Jeju Island? Is it good?
(This is a question that almost every mainland-people ask me. To people that live in the US, Jeju island is kinda like Hawaii)
Me: Yes, It's really beautiful, and we have a lot of tangerines. (Tangerines in Jeju is kinda like a meme in Korea)
M: So you debate a lot? You aren't nervous, are you?
Me: Hahaha.... I'm a little bit nervous. (Of course, this is a lie, I was literally shaking at the moment)
Then, they began asking me more questions about my essay. I don't remember who asked which question, but I remember that the woman was trying to be more friendly, whereas the man was attempting to ask slightly more pressurizing questions. (Actually, I asked other people what their interviews were like, and they said that they all had two judges similar to my experience. I guess that combination of the pressurizing judge and the relieving judge is how they always do it.)
J: What activity did you feel the most sense of achievement? Me: I would say the JFN debate tournament that I hosted. Not only was it a competition which I had to start from scratch, I also had to lead the team in a time when self-quarantine due to COVID had quite recently begun. The students who worked with me had to work alongside with schoolwork, and everyone was so stressed. Even more, we had to finish large workloads in a short time to hold the competition before middle school annual exams begun and there won't be participants; this caused us to have even some conflicts and minor fights.
So, it was very tough in preparation, but the tournament was eventually a massive success. We had 57 participants and 19 judges altogether from 20 schools, and we were the first online debate tournament in Korea. After I announced "see you in 2021" and finished the closing ceremony, I literally had tears in my eyes.
J: How did you start debating?
Me: As I wrote in my essay, my first debate was rather coincidental, where I just happened to debate in a debating club at my elementary school. Although I was an outgoing kid, I liked to think by myself during lunchtime rather than run around. I loved how I could meet friends just like me at the debating club, and hence I participated in my first tournament. I loved the heat of the debating chamber, and how this was just like a sport where we cooperated to develop winning strategies and celebrated together when we won. I think after that experience, I began to fall in love with debate.
J: How did you prepare for debates?
Me: Because I live in Jeju, which doesn't have lots of academies or debating opportunities, I had to use Youtube or the internet to practice debate. I watched debate videos and tried to imitate them, and as a result, I've now seen almost every single debate video that I could find. Just like soccer fans memorize all the player names and have their favourite players, I listened to the videos so much that I can even tell who the debater is by only hearing their speech. But I think this was also why I wanted to provide opportunities of debating to many students living in rural areas; because I know how difficult it is to prepare for debates if you live in the countryside, and even more, you are not familiar to competitive debating.
M: What do you think about Korea's debate culture? (I remember that this one was asked by the man, because he was asking lots of follow-up questions)
Me: (I have no idea what I was saying. Let's just ignore this answer)
M: No, I mean the way in which we debate.
(For this question, I got completely lost, and I just said that I think it's good...)
W: You are really good at English; how did you study English?
Me: In fact, I've never studied abroad. I watched and listened to lots of English animations when I was little, and I went to a hagwon for elementary school because exposure to the language is important when you first learn it. But after then, I had to move to Jeju, and because there were no English academies there, I think I practised English by debating!
W: What was the hardest debate you did?
Me: Hmm... (After long period) Can I tell you the hardest debate I've coached?
W: No, I want to know about the debate that you did.
Me: Hmm...! (I could remember some candidates for this question, but I couldn't choose any of them because there wasn't particularly a "really hard debate." I tried to reply by talking about how I had to stand on a side that really went against my beliefs, but I couldn't really think of a suitable example. Urghh!!! I regret not preparing for this question during the practice interview yesterday.)
J: What is a social issue you are most interested in?
Me: (Actually, it is more of a weird combination between urban decay and environmental problems, but I just went for the latter because I was worried that explaining all of that may take up long time)
M: We have things like eco-friendly design. What do you think about those?
Me: I think it's a very good trend that companies are trying to start. Apple also reduced their....blah blah (I'll skip this part because it's 100% technical and to be honest I don't know what I was talking about)
M: What do you think community service is?
Me: I think it is a continuous process of improving not only the community, but also myself. During the Penguin Village Project, I painted lots of murals and decorated many buildings, but in the process, I also learned so much. If you've ever painted murals in winter or summer, you'll know what I am talking about; it is really difficult to paint for hours under that scorching heat or the cold. But when a grandmother living next to the house that we are painting asked us about
Also, by raising funds and budget, I learned so much on how I could
W: What is one sentence that really describes you?
Me: Interested in everything, but always trying to see it through the end. (and then I gave some explanation about how I try my best in places like JFNODC, etc)
W: Looking at your essay and recognitions, I get the impression that you are really good at a lot of things. Are you also interested in focusing in one area instead?
Me: Well, I agree that focusing in one area is beneficial, but I prefer the positive synergy that multiple disciplines can produce. For instance, in the Precious Plastic that I am launching in the Penguin Village project, I would use my experience and knowledge in the arts to design the products, physics to create the shredder, chemistry to find the optimal temperature increase, and marketing to sell the product.
Much to my surprise, many of the questions weren't about math, which I wrote as one of the main parts of my essay! I am guessing that is because there are already IMO medalists that apply for the medal as well, and my math skills are unnoticeable compared to them. But rather, almost 70 percent of the questions were about debate.
Update) Results are out, and I didn't win the prize :(
But I still have next year, and next year will be different.