Written by Margi Shah (2017; India/CA)
In anticipation of my year abroad with KL-YES, World Link, AFS – India, I made a promise to myself to try new things, to not let this opportunity go unexplored. Upon arrival, on my first few days of my school, I got around to look different activities and clubs available to American high school students. One activity that caught my eye was Mock trial.
Mock trial is set up like a fake trial, in which two teams fight a fake case but in front of the real judge and in the real court.
My journey with mock trial started as I auditioned for it on September 6, 2016. The results astounded me! I got a position in which other students had been trying for four years to get! I was selected as the pre-trial defense attorney for the Dinuba Mock trial team. Nothing can express how much happy was I at that moment.
But as said, every new opportunity comes with lots of responsibility. Our practice started the very next day and continued for 4 months, followed by at least seven or eight scrimmages, some in other schools and cities. Sometimes I would win and sometimes I would lose, but the scrimmages were enough for me to learn the whole mock trial process; how it works, how it is scored and how a team is said to be winner. Finally, came the weeks, the 2 weeks of competition, for which I have been awaiting for.
On the day of my first competition, from the time I woke up, the only thing I could think of was how would the court house look like in U.S., how would the judge be; “Would he/she be able to understand my accent?”. “Would the scoring attorneys be able to understand my accent, my case from my point of view?” “Would I be able to rebuttal well and what not?” It was a mixture of lots of emotions.
We reached the court house at 4pm. For the first time in my entire life, I saw a courthouse. It was pretty much as I had imagined from outside but from inside it was totally different. After going through the whole security process, we were allowed to enter in and then were led to our respective courtroom. I was really exciting but scary too. I stepped into the courtroom with butterflies in my bones, with a nervous feeling so beautiful, I knew I was going to try something completely new, something so different, something worthy of being a part of my life’s book.
After a passage of few minutes, our judge for that day and the members of scoring penalty entered, making me even more nervous and more scared. Since I was the pre-trial defense attorney, I had to go first. My legs were shaking, my hands were trembling, I felt completely blank for a moment but the only thing I knew was ‘I can’t let down the trust everybody has shown in me’. However, with butterflies all over in my body, I stood up and made opening argument, followed by the rebuttal with the attorney of opposite team. Everything – my accent, my point of view, and everything else I was worried about, turned out to be pretty good. And the best part, I won the pre-trial motion. During those two weeks, I gained more and more confidence as each new section of the competition began. Even though we didn’t qualify for state finals, I achieved a great success on personal level.
Mock trial has built in me the ability to work meticulously, challenged me to think more analytically, use more formal language and articulate responses within seconds. This has modeled me into a better public speaker and debater and allowed me to leave no stone upturned in my search for knowledge. Even though, I won’t be able to participate in mock trial next year, I know I will be able to transfer the abilities I have acquired through mock trial.
At the end, what I have to say is, “Stepping out of your comfort zone and trying new things is the best way to grow.”