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Nagy and Ngo are the winners

At our tolerance-themed Speakers’ Night there were classical oratory and unusual approaches.

Richard Ngo. Credit: Andrei Pungovschi

Clear rules and a full house: optimum conditions were in place on Saturday for Speakers’ Night. The ten speakers didn’t disappoint.

Austrian president Alexander Van der Bellen was sitting in the audience, but this wasn’t even the biggest surprise of the evening.

The scholarship holders chose various approaches to the theme of “Conflict and Tolerance”. Several argued that tolerance was an outmoded concept. According to Richard Ngo from New Zealand, “tolerance makes us passive.” The Oxford student’s forceful speech calling for more engagement in everyday life, for example by volunteering in our local communities, won him the Jury Prize.

Surprising speech

Alexander Van der Bellen (right) and Simon Nagy. Credit: Andrei Pungovschi

The Austrian Simon Nagy won the Audience Prize. But the speech he delivered was different from the one he had submitted in advance. The stunned jury heard an absurd story about a prison break-out undertaken with the aid of exploding ants, to peals of laughter from the audience.

The fact that the 22-year-old orator studies Comparative Literature in Vienna leads one to suspect that the prison anecdote may not have been entirely factual. Van der Bellen congratulated Nagy’s contribution with a fist bump.