EBS 35 Speech Competition winning speeches provoked thought and received strong applause

Celebrating the 35th anniversary of EBS, a speech competition was initiated, in which EBS High School and University students were invited to participate. The competition aimed to find out what the EBS motto "Community for Growth and Responsibility" means to the young members of our community. Winners from both categories presented their speeches at the festive EBS 35 gala held on 7th December at the Estonia Concert Hall.

The entries were assessed by the jury comprising Mari Kooskora – Associate Professor in Business Ethics and Responsible Entrepreneurship at EBS, Mart Habakuk – Chancellor and Board Member of EBS, Eda Pihu-Lainela – Head of EBS Library, Tiit Aleksejev – Estonian novelist, historian, Chairman of the Estonian Writers’ Union and PhD student at EBS, and Allan Männi – Estonian Language and Literature Teacher at EBS High School.


Marc Linno, a 10th-grade student of the Entrepreneurship and Digital Technology track, won in the High School category. His speech emphasised the significance of acknowledging the impact of our choices and actions on those around us. Growth, he argues, is contingent upon our ability to learn from our mistakes and not repeat them. „We all have responsibilities and choices in this life. Someone who relies on us and counts on us. Someone who is affected by our choices. Whether it is your family, friend, or co-worker, we take responsibility for each of our choices. It is important to acknowledge that our actions have consequences.


Linno also spoke about the importance of community in achieving goals and recalled a well-known saying: „Like the African proverb says: ”If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” It all comes down to the people we share our journey with. The communities we join, which we promise to respect and support.“


Linno was inspired to participate in the speech competition by his future aspirations – who he wants to become and what he aims for. "I knew that in the future I would want, and perhaps even need, to give numerous speeches, and where better to start than at my own school’s speech competition? When making the decision, I didn’t think about winning or losing. I thought that I want and need to give my best," explains Linno, adding that the idea for his speech did not come immediately. "But then I realized that it’s not so much about adhering to the speech criteria, but the message, how the speech resonates with people... I decided to talk about something we all know and connect it with something unknown. Talking about things our parents have told us millions of times and uncovering the deeper meaning in understanding it," Linno tells about his intention with the speech.


Describing what it was like to perform in front of more than 700 people, Linno shares that this experience was certainly a first and completely different from what he had imagined. "Honestly, when I rehearsed my speech, I wasn’t sure if I could do it at the gala... The tension was high until I reached the microphone and realized that I couldn’t see anyone. The light directed at me was so bright that I couldn’t see anyone’s face in the audience. This immediately eased my tension and the fear disappeared." He considers the experience very interesting and valuable, offering much to learn from.


The winner in the University category was Mohammad Hamza Khan, Master Student of Business Innovation in the New Economy. On EBS's 35th anniversary, the speaker said to be proud to be part of a journey that combines the community's growth and the university's history. The first central topic of Khan’s speech was passion. “The kind of passion that transcends individual endeavors and converges into a collective force driving us towards success. It brings to mind the words of Yasuhiko Kimura, the Japanese philosopher, who beautifully expressed, "Passion isn't just a thing you have; it's who you are, like a cosmic destiny," ... In the context of our university, passion is not just a word; it is the force that has shaped our academic endeavors, research pursuits, and collaborative achievements. The dedication and enthusiasm of our faculty, staff, and students are the building blocks of our success story,“ he spoke.


The winner of the University category also reflected on the human desire to make a mark, likened to graffiti's simplistic yet profound message of existence and impact. Finally, his speech called for a united commitment to passion and appreciation, contributing to a thriving community and enriching EBS's 35-year legacy. “As we navigate the seas of community growth and responsibility, let us not forget the importance of appreciation. In the grand symphony of collaboration, it is crucial to recognize and celebrate the efforts of each individual, for it is through appreciation that we foster a culture of motivation and empowerment.“


Commenting on the decision to participate in the speech competition Khan mentioned that he has always sought ways to conquer his fears. “I am also a competitive person and competing with such accomplished colleagues got my adrenaline flowing and I got lucky enough to be selected to speak my mind on the big stage,” he added. Evaluating the experience of talking to the gala audience he said it was amongst the most exhilarating experiences he had ever gone through: “The moment when the panic and the nerves set in just before it is your turn to talk is one of the best and nerve-wracking experiences ever, and I enjoyed every single second of it.




Photos: Rauno Liivand, Silver Gutmann