Interview with Caroline Bae ’24: World Speech Championship Preview

By Anya Weerapana

From a young age, Caroline Bae ’24 knew she loved to speak in front of crowds. Plays and slam-poetry-reading contests in elementary school did not daunt her; rather, it was from these experiences that she developed an interest in public speaking. So, upon coming to Winsor, it is no surprise that she took an interest in Speech & Debate.

Bae, a member of Winsor Speech & Debate since Class V, recently went to the International Independent Schools’ Public Speaking Competition in Deerfield, Massachusetts, along with Emily Zhang ’25 and Raina Sohur ’23. There, she competed in three categories: Interpretative Reading, Persuasive Speaking, and Impromptu Speaking. She placed in the finals in all three categories and won the Persuasive Speaking category. 

Her success led her to be selected for the U.S. team that will be competing in the World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championship (WIDPSC, or Worlds) in Durban, South Africa, in March. The Banner recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Bae to talk about her journey, preparation, and hopes for this trip. 

How has your debate experience shifted to speech over the years? Was this tournament always a goal in your mind, or was it more of an unexpected journey to get here?

I have always loved public speaking. In eighth grade, I went to a Milton Academy tournament and competed in public speaking for the first time in a formal setting. I did relatively well, placing second out of a couple of hundred people, and I realized that I really enjoyed this form of speaking. The Winsor team is primarily focused on debate, though, so when I entered high school, I did mostly debate tournaments. Still, I always had speech at the back of my mind. When I heard about Internationals and Worlds, I was eager to try my best, and I became more involved in the world of speech.

How have you prepared for Worlds, both in terms of research and practice? How have your Winsor teammates and coaches supported you, building up to this event? 

For me, Speech & Debate is something that I look forward to doing every night. It’s been stressful, but over the months of preparation, I’ve fallen into a rhythm of research and writing. Coach Berg and the Winsor team have been such great supports for me in preparation as well, and I find myself using them as a sounding board for my ideas.

What would you say you’re most looking forward to at Worlds?

I’m most looking forward to meeting all the people from different countries. At Internationals, I had the opportunity to talk with students from Canada, Hong Kong, and India. I love meeting and talking to people at tournaments, and it is nice getting to hear different perspectives on various topics and current events.

The Banner wishes Bae and her Winsor teammate Nika Bigelow ’25, who also recently qualified, the best of luck in their preparation for Worlds!