The crème de la crème of Perse students reach French debating grand final
22 Mar 2019
Hari Prasad and Kilian Meissner (both Lower Sixth) demonstrated their French debating prowess by finishing runners-up in the Upper Sixth national finals in London.
Despite being a year below their opponents, the Perse students had already exhibited their flair for discussing topics in French by winning the East regional finals last month to earn their place in the finals at the French Institute.
Hari and Kilian beat St Paul’s Girls’ School and King’s College School Wimbledon in the opening stages as they debated motions including ‘We must continue to develop nuclear energy’, ‘Cannabis should be legalised’ and ‘The concept of national identity is obsolete’. The Perse pair were praised by the judging panel, which featured the Swiss Ambassador, the Canadian First Consul and the French Cultural Attache, for the quality of their arguments and their spoken French as they came first out of the 10 teams in the preliminary round to qualify for the grand final.
They met King’s Wimbledon once more in the decider and had to debate a surprise motion, ‘Freedom is an illusion’, with just 15 minutes to prepare. Hari and Kilian proposed the motion, but despite a very strong performance in which they approached the topic from philosophical, political and religious standpoints among others, the judges awarded victory to their opponents by a narrow margin.
Hari said: “Going to the French Institute was great fun, although quite intimidating at first. Walking in and seeing all these great French debaters, as well as Ambassadors from around the planet was nerve-racking, no question. Once we got debating, however, the adrenaline kicked in and we discovered a ruthless streak in ourselves, which I don’t think either of us knew existed.
“Reaching the final, only to lose was disappointing, especially as we had defeated the winners in the previous debate, mais c’est la vie! We would like to thank Mr Pillet (Perse Director of Modern Foreign Languages) for being an incredible coach in dedicating numerous evenings to help us out.”
Kilian added: “Hari and I worked well together and really complemented each other’s debating style – strong yet courteous, statistical yet passionate, philosophical and dynamic, and I think that made a great difference for our team. We were glad to have the school’s support, especially Mr Pillet for all his additional work.”