Zyanya Camargo is 21. As an undergraduate student studying French Language and Modern Literature in Mexico City, she won the Public Speaking Competition on the theme of Women's Rights organized by the Institut français of Latin America in April 2019. In July, she visited Paris to take part in the LabCitoyen programme on the theme "Women's rights: equality and citizenship". The young Mexican will represent her country at the international public speaking competition which will take place in Paris at the Institut de France on 17th March 2020.
What does public speaking mean to you?
I feel that words have an enormous power to make an impact on others. The art of public speaking is thus the perfect way to make a strong point. But I think that precisely because by being eloquent you can convince others to do something or make them change their mind, you have to be extremely careful about the message that you choose to convey. I believe that public speaking skills can above all help us to communicate positive messages which can guide people to reflect on the issues facing us today. I think of public speaking above all as a tool to promote the sharing of ideas in public forums, and also for building self-confidence.
Is French an eloquent language?
In truth, I think all languages can be eloquent! I think that the widespread romantic understanding of the French language leads us to think of it as a language that is already perfect or that has some unique quality. Yes, I think it is very beautiful and powerful, but especially when the people of the Francophone world take ownership of it in their own way. I study French and Francophone literature, so the French language has a very important place in my life. I like to study French from the perspective of the political and cultural challenges challenges it faces in other countries. I believe that, precisely because of these challenges, the French language has the opportunity to constantly renew itself. I like to think of languages, and especially the French language - because I work with it every day - as living, changing entities.
Why did you want to take part in this public speaking contest in Mexico?
I decided to take part in this competition mainly because of the theme, women's rights. I consider myself a feminist and I think it is vital that we speak publicly about all the issues related to women's rights. In Mexico, violence against women has reached unacceptable levels. Between 9 and 10 women are killed every day just because they have a certain type of body - a body that doesn’t belong to a man. Being a woman in Mexico is a matter of life and death, even if the law proudly claims to be impartial. Through the public speaking contest I had the opportunity to express my opinion, my ideas, to make suggestions and to denounce what needs to be denounced.
The international public speaking competition organised at the Institut de France in March 2020 and the public speaking competitions set up around the world by the French diplomatic network are one of the measures of the presidential programme "Ambitions for the French Language and Multilingualism" launched by Emmanuel Macron in March 2018. The organisation of public speaking competitions and training in collaboration with the Eloquentia Association are supported by the Institut français.
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