The final of the international Eloquentia contest, supported by Fondation de France, was held on the stage of the Bataclan concert venue in Paris on December 17. Four finalists battled for the title of the “Best French-speaking orator in 2021.”
Stéphane de Freitas, the man behind Eloquentia, has been training young people from inner city areas on public speaking for about ten years. The aim is to help them express their ideas, enter into dialog, fight prejudice and facilitate their professional journey. Speech, rap, slam, poetry and standup... everything goes with Eloquentia!
This year, finalists of the international contest organized by Eloquentia covered topics that are at the root of our society’s challenges. There were two imposed themes: “Are we what we defend?” and “Does upsetting norms mean upsetting equilibrium?” Four talented finalists, Guillaume Kraemer (Eloquentia Grenoble), Aurélie Swiri (Eloquentia Bruxelles), Hadidiatou Gouressy (Eloquentia Saint-Denis) and Léo Bahurlet (Eloquentia Bayonne) battled in front of a jury at the Bataclan, with an audience of more than a thousand. Hadidiatou Gouressy was the one to win the final.
Spotting gems on the ground
Public speaking was in the limelight on that wonderful evening, but Eloquentia is also a pedagogical project with a proven track record. The first contest in 2021, followed by the training workshops on oratory skills, enabled many students from Seine-Saint-Denis (north of Paris) to express themselves in public, gain confidence and debate societal issues. In 2014, the program mushroomed in the region’s middle and high schools. Students were able to develop their listening and thinking skills via educational public speaking. Since Eloquentia was created, 11 contests have seen the light of day in France and now also abroad. With support from Fondation de France Education Program since 2014, Eloquentia wants to help students, whatever their background, to be comfortable in any public speaking situation, with training on personal skills and by developing empathy and social dialog.
“Eloquentia is an emblematic symbol of Fondation de France’s ‘flair.’ Our society teems with ideas and the desire to take action. We know how to detect these ideas and desires, by spotting the most innovative projects on the ground, and those most effective at meeting priority needs. That’s what happened with Eloquentia: the project had true potential. We’ve been supporting it for ten years. This is a project with tangible results, which we believe in and we are proud to contribute to,” highlights Martin Spitz, in charge of interdisciplinary projects at Fondation de France.
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