PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The prestigious World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championship, now in its 28th year, brings together talented students from 11 countries. Places like Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.

This year, Pittsburgh’s Shady Side Academy had the honor of hosting.

“Our competitors flew in on Tuesday, they leave tomorrow,” said Mary Krauland. “We have shown them the city of Pittsburgh in all of its glory.”

About 100 students, accompanied by judges and coaches, got to experience Pittsburgh first hand, many saying how impressed they are with our city.

They’ve eaten in the Strip District, gone on a dinner dance on the Gateway Clipper, and toured Heinz Field.

“I’m thinking we have 150 ambassadors that are going out to tell the world what a wonderful place Pittsburgh is,” Krauland said.

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All that sightseeing was wedged in between a ward of words.

Each student competes in four events: impromptu speaking, interpretive reading, after-dinner speaking, and parliamentary debating. Competitors say is a lot different from what we’ve been seeing from the presidential candidates.

“Its so much more civil and head-based rather than aggressive instinct,” said senior Abbie Minard.

Minard is one of two Shady Side Academy students competing in this international event and one of just 15 U.S. competitors. She says talking with students from around the world has been exhilarating.

“Its been a long time since I’ve been able to have a three-hour conservation with kids my age,” she said. “Never ran out of things to talk about.”

Many students have had to win tournaments on a local, regional, and national level in their countries before being chosen to compete in this event.

This is only the third time in 28 years that the prestigious competition has been held in the United States.

UPDATE 9:30 p.m. —

After the final event was over, the after-dinner speaking round, Abbie was named the second place finisher in the competition.

“I had so much fun competing in this. I can’t believe I got second in the world in this event, the first time ever competing in it. I mean, second in the world, that’s crazy. It will be a while before I get over that,” she said.

Kristine Sorensen