Een gastbericht van: Menno Schellekens
In the weekend of the 27th of April, the Nederlands Debate Instituut, Cogency, the DSDC Foundation and University College Roosevelt collaborated to organize the first edition of the Roosevelt World Schools Academy. Our goals: giving young, talented debaters an opportunity to improve their debating and reasoning skills, whilst making the pre-pre-selection for the Dutch National Team. Four of the thirteen speakers in our pre-pre-selection will represent the Netherlands at the World Schools Debating Championships 2014 in Thailand.
Some of the students travelled for five hours to the monumental campus of University College Roosevelt in Middelburg for the opening on Friday. The opening included a show debate, in which the coaches, WSDC alumni and students from University College Roosevelt demonstrated what a high-quality WSDC-style debate is like. Participants slept at students’ rooms across Middelburg. The kindness of the hosts, some of whom were not even involved in debating, was overwhelming. Saturday brought with master classes. Master classes were offered both on knowledge (varying from applied ethics to public economics) and skill (varying from case building to persuasive English). Saturday evening the students participated in their first qualification debate in the WSDC format, on giving development aid to dictatorships. On Sunday, there were three more rounds.
All the while, we were looking who we could select for the World Schools Debating Championships 2014. Out of the 48 debaters, in turn selected out of 112 applicants, 13 debaters made it into the pre-pre selections. We congratulate, in no particular order:
Xiaman Wu (Rijnlands Lyceum Oestgeest)
Uche (Rijnlands Lyceum Oestgeest)
Simon Toussaint (Utrechts Stedelijk Gymnasium)
Emma Lucas (Stedelijk Gymnasium Nijmegen)
Allard Nieuwesteeg (Coornhert Gymnasium)
Amy Bakx (Wolfert Lyceum)
Niels Buijssen (Willibrord Gymnasium)
Imane al Morabit (Aloysius College)
Nanne Langhout (Christelijk Gymnasium Utrecht)
Emma van der Horst (Willibrord Gymnasium)
Urmi Pahladsigh (Stedelijk Gymnasium Nijmegen)
Özgü Varan (Utrechts Stedelijk Gymnasium)
Amaya Verschuur (Barlaeus Gymnasium)
These speakers are embarking on a road of intense debating practice. In the upcoming eight weeks, they will train under leadership of the coaching team. After that, we will train with the final seven, out of which four or five will represent the Netherlands in Thailand. During our sessions, we debate and train specific skills, like building arguments, refuting them and presenting with style.
RWSA was an incredible success, exceeding even our expectations. For that, a few thank you’s are in order. Rob Honig did tremendous amounts of work in preparation for the weekend and will keep doing so during the selection. His debating experience, enthusiasm and didactic and organizational skills are of immense value. The second person is Else van Nieuwkerk. Else has dedicated the last couple of years to bringing debating to high school students. The NK Scholieren and Intergym – for which she carried significant responsibility – would not have been such outstanding events without her. With RWSA, her career in planning these educational events ends on a high note. She teamed up with her successor, Evelien van der Molen, who also went above and beyond the call of duty to make this a remarkable weekend. Finally: Thom Wetzer, founding father of the RWSA. For the past year and a half (!), he has worked to make this event happen.
We are grateful in advance for the members of this year’s coaching team, who will spend their Saturdays with the selection. Our coaches are Senna Maatoug, Eva Spoor, Tomas Beerthuis, Jeroen Heun, Rob Honig and myself. They are assisted by Joris Broeders, Roel Becker, Devin van de Berg and Johan Lammers.
I will update the Dutch debating community on our progress via our Facebook page, Twitter, email and this blog, for which we thank the Nederlandse Debatbond.