HoWSC 15 | Maxine Magtoto

The initial months of my living in Bangkok had me desperate to go back to the Philippines. It was a foreign country, I had no idea what was getting myself into, and I was overall uncomfortable with the ever-present need to conform to a place I had no ties to. The same could be said of how I felt the time I entered the World Scholar’s Cup. It was foreign, I was clueless, and I was worried about whether or not I would do well. ​ These worries, however, were horribly misplaced. I’d come to leap bounds over what I’d always been frightened to step into. I was speaking in front of crowds, unleashing the thoughts that had never been able to surface- and I was doing all of this in the safest community I’d been in. Our school hosted the 2017 Bangkok Regionals, and I, a skeptical 8th grader, had no idea what I had just gotten myself into. There were people making bizarre animal noises and fawning over the many llama-adjacent stuffed toys standing up on stage; eagerly singing along as the then Director of Social Stuff ™ rallied them all under a premise so unlike what I thought had brought many of them to the competition to begin with. They were there because they enjoyed it, and soon enough, I’d found myself having just as much, if not even more, fun than I’d ever thought I’d be capable of having. Indeed: my very first WSC opening ceremony will forever be near and dear to my heart.

Three years later, it was time for me to move back to my home country. Now, I was the antithesis of the twelve year old that had since come to become something more. But I was still terrified. I was leaving my team and WSC behind. I knew that I wasn’t going to be a scholar forever; however, I never expected for my end to come this soon.

But it didn’t have to.

For one last time, I convinced my parents to fly me back to Bangkok to compete against the people I had grown up with through this community. I sacrificed vacations, time, and hangouts with friends, but it was so very worth it. It was hilarious to see the confusion on everyone’s face as they announced the words “Brent International School Manila” in the closing.

As for what I’m doing now, I’ve made it my goal to bring WSC to Brent, the school I currently attend. Here I was, as asocial as I had always been, reaching out to school administrators and people I had never talked to to start a debate club and WSC group. Now, I can confidently say that you can expect to see us at Manila regionals next year.

The World Scholar’s Cup has given me so many opportunities to better myself as a person that without it, I’m convinced, I’d probably still be huddled in a corner writing stories that would never see the light of day. It’s brought to me some of the best friends I’ve ever made–and some of the most bizarre–and has given me a sense of self-worth I’d never been able to find in anything else. It has helped me express myself, and helped me feel like I belong.

To everyone who has come and gone, I would like to thank you for your contributions to this community. You give a voice to the scared kids of this world, and for that, I am ever so grateful. I owe my thanks to so many people. Firstly, the teammates I have worked with and lost along the way: Shivam, Gowri, and KP, thank you for putting up with my impulsiveness in the Bowl and overly-enthusiastic approach to every debate…ever. I’m also grateful for the scavenger hunt teams and school delegations I’ve come to grow immensely close to (special shout-out to KIS International School). Lastly, I’d like to thank my first and only WSC coach, Mick Sheridan: if it weren’t for you dragging 7th-grade-me out to watch those debates we’d had at ISB, I probably wouldn’t be here.

Tell us your story - apply now by emailing onepwaa@gmail.com!