At 6:00am, I woke up to get ready to go to London for the Frankly Speaking Competition, held at the Bloomberg L.P building, and organised by the Benjamin Franklin House organisation.
For your information, Benjamin Franklin House is the only surviving home of Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the USA.
After a quick breakfast, I left for the train station.
There were five of us: Amy and Chirag - our Post 16 Head Boy and Head Girl, Imogen and Louise - Year 11 pupils, and myself, reporting for the school website.
At around 7:50am, we arrived at London Euston station. We headed to the underground and looked for the Northern Line. There were people walking back and forth, all around us, very fast moving.
When we got out of the underground, it took us sometime to locate which direction to go with. Thanks to Imogen’s Google map, we reached our destination well ahead of planned time.
On going inside the Bloomberg building, we couldn’t believe our eyes! It was massive. The building had a cuboid shaped block with frozen plants inside. There were real white flowers which had bloomed perfectly.
When we looked around we saw lots of security standing around, the building was highly defended yet beautiful at the same time.
Later on, we realised the main focus of the employees inside the building was to provide data for financial markets and investors. The data needs to be accurate, fast and relevant. We were also told that the data needs to be transparent so that there is no risk to everyone who got involved in it.
Back to our day…
After spending a short time at the reception desk, each of was given a nice pass with our photos on them. It was interesting to find out that behind the chairs of the receptionists, was a wall with a line of hidden cameras and we were asked to stand in front of the camera to get our pictures taken.
We were then lead up to the floor above. There were three security staff standing near the escalators and reminded us to scan our passes before going upstairs. The first thing we saw was an enormous aquarium with a large amount of tropical fish right in front of our eyes. They must have had every species in there.
On the way to our meeting place, we passed by a humongous room without any wall! What you could see was just food and drinks on display! It was a world of colours: the colours of the nice lights hanging from the high ceilings, the food, the cereals, the fruits and the flowers! Wow! And people! There were many people walking around.
We were then lead down the stairs to the nice and cosy auditorium.
Whist waiting for the other schools to come, we started wandering around the place. Everything looked new and shiny.
After having some refreshments (with help from the four Bloomberg staff), we were then lead to the main presentation hall and sat down. We were given a swift summary of what was going to happen and where everyone was going. The first names to be called out were Chirag and Amy of Year 12 and 13. Mrs Nguyen and I decided to follow Chirag and Amy for the first heat.
Devonte, the Bloomberg apprentice took us through some offices to another room where the debates for Years 12 and 13 took place. Chirag and Amy were against Prince Henry’s Grammar School in West Yorkshire. The topic was to maintain open borders to EU citizens after Great Britain has left the EU. How interesting!
Both teams came up with many sharp arguments, for and against the topic. Each speaker had a maximum of 7 minutes to deliver their speech and answer questions from their opponents. Sitting at the back facing the two teams, we could see how much the students had researched for their talks. The hard work had paid off after all.
Then came a short break before the second heat. During this time, Ms Nguyen talked to Paul, one of the two judges who also worked in the building. Paul told us he has 29 offices across Europe to supervise and spoke about how he didn’t go to university but still got the job at Bloomberg. How inspiring!
We then met Devante (the Bloomberg apprentice) who took us to Imogen and Louise’s debate on the sixth floor. Devante told us he was working in Bloomberg for a year before he goes to college to learn Economics.
There were a lot of offices behind the shiny glassed walls with staff working on their many screen-computers. Everyone was focused. There were some people walking around and talking to other people over the phones. Everyone worked.
We kept walking towards the room for the Years 10 and 11.
The topic was about the advancement of Artificial Intelligence (A.I). The format of the debate for this year group was exactly the same as the one for the Post 16 students. Our Whitley Academy team was in opposition.
Personally I found it fascinating to see how each team member worked. They took notes and raised questions whilst the speaker delivered the speech. It was challenging to keep track of your speech and make sure they responded to some points of information (POI) from their opponents.
Some points raised by Imogen from Whitley Academy really fascinated me, such as in around 40 years time, Artificial Intelligence will be more intelligent than humans. I need to do some research into this one day.
12:20 pm - Lunch time!
After lunch we all gathered inside the Hall to listen to the results of the first half of the day. Unfortunately our two teams didn't win. We comforted each other with our ever fighting spirit, that it is the taking part that counts.
We will be so ready for the competition next year.
We spent some time going through our two teams' performance, making sure lessons were learned. Finally and reluctantly, we decided to leave the impressive Bloomberg building.
However, we left on an extremely high note knowing that Chirag, Head Boy of Whitley Academy, just received the brilliant news that he was invited to join in the Introductory and Finalist Residential on 9 - 12 April in London. It is hosted by the Sutton Trust US Programme 2017. Wow!
On the underground there was a delay and we ended up missing the train. We had to wait till 7:42pm until we could get back.
After an hour on the train we arrived back in Coventry and I was picked up by my dad. Overall all of us enjoyed the trip and learned lots about public speaking, despite the fact we did not win the competition.