On March 18, 2016, the residents of Klaipeda awoke from their beds and rushed to check the day’s forecast. The City celebrated in unison as they collectively learned that the impending snowstorm would not affect the 19th National Public Speaking Competition.
Thirty-six of the brightest minds in Lithuania gathered in LCC International University’s Neufeld Auditorium to present their well-rehearsed speeches on the topic: “Integrity Has No Need of Rules.” After the preliminary heat, just nine contestants remained in the proverbial Gladiator’s Ring. These students now competed for nine nominations, with the number one competitor securing the opportunity to compete at the International public speaking competition to be hosted in London in May. After the secondary heat of titillating topics, excellent oral delivery and carefully-crafted sentence structure, Darius Jokubauskas emerged the day’s undisputed winner.
The British Embassy’s Public Diplomacy Officer, Mida Babiliene and the Managing Director of Krantas Travel presented this masterful orator with the prize for first place in addition to an all-expenses paid trip, to the International Public Speaking Competition, for both Darius and his speech coach.
Captain Williams and Staff Sergeant Spiliotis of the Civil Affairs Team had the honor of attending the event as judges, on behalf of the U.S. Embassy. In addition to helping choose the first place winner, the pair helped decide the winner of “The Young Americanist” award. Ramune Marcinkeviciute was chosen for incorporating the best connection to American culture, experience and history because her speech’s theme related to the civil rights movement.
Overall, the experience was a wonderful event that highlighted the nation’s English-speaking ability and close community involvement with the English Speaking Union. Given the chance to attend this event again, Captain Williams says he would make every effort to secure his spot among the panel of judges.