The top three places in the annual Sophomore Project presentation competition were announced on April 15. In the 8-10 minute presentations on April 13-14, the sophomores discussed interesting aspects of their Sophomore Project papers for which they read biographies of non-Americans. Kevin Huang placed first, while Isabelle Leavy and Nicole Wolkov received second and third places. Huang is the first international student to have ever won the presentation competition.

Q: Kevin, what biography did you read and what aspect of that person’s life did you discuss?

A: I decided to read a biography on Nelson Mandela and chose to discuss his prison life.

Q: How did you prepare for your presentation?

A: Most of the sources for the presentation came from the paper, so I didn’t have to do a lot of research for the presentation.

Q: Were you nervous?

A: I was nervous at first because I didn’t prepare a speech for the presentation. I had an idea about what I was going to say, but I didn’t write it down and memorize it. But once I started the presentation, I wasn’t nervous.

Q: What was the hardest part?

A: It was hard to project what I saw to the other students. I had to use pictures and other media to let the audience have a feel of how bad it was for Nelson Mandela to live in prison for 27 years.

Q: How was it using a foreign language during the oral presentation?

A: It was hard because I had to be careful about my grammatical errors.

Q: Did anything go wrong?

A: In the beginning I had a little bit of a tech problem.

Q: During the presentation, you showed us a picture of what Mandela ate while he was in prison. What inspired you to make the prison food?

A: I felt it was hard for people to understand what little amount of food they received every day based only on the menu. I found it interesting to cook it and show it to others.

Q: What movie did you incorporate into your presentation? How did you choose which parts to incorporate?

A: “Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom.” I edited and cut out the parts that described the prison.

Q: Have you ever done anything similar to this?

A: Yes I have. In China, during middle school, we presented every couple of weeks. I have never done a project on a person, but I have done a presentation on how air pollution affects our lives.

Q: Did you expect to win?

A: No, not at all. When I was presenting in front of my class, I was thinking I would do my best because it’s part of my English grade, but I didn’t want to be part of the top 10 because I didn’t want to compete with others. I also didn’t want to present to the high school. Another reason was because I was afraid to present in front of the Board of Trustees.

Q: Why are you afraid to present in front of the Board?

A: I’m nervous. They’re different than students, friends and teachers.

Q: How does this compare to other academic achievements?

A: I’m very proud of myself, and it’s the best achievement I have ever accomplished in school.

Q: Is there anything you’re going to work on to improve your  presentation for the Board?

A: I am going to talk with the three judges and ask for anything I can improve on.

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