International Debate Academy Slovenia 2014

doorBionda Merckens

International Debate Academy Slovenia 2014

The 12th International Debate Academy Slovenia will be held in Kranjska Gora and Ljubljana, Slovenia between 22-30 November 2014. The program is aimed at university students, uses the WUDC/BP format, and will be conducted in English. There are over 100 participants from four continents

The board of Wageningen Debating is joining this event and shares this report of her website (wageningendebating.com) with you on SevenTwenty.

Saturday 22 November

Where a travel begins is no questions, when it begins a whole other one. Having announced it now for quite some time, our travels began Friday night somewhere between 11 and 2. Trains never work as you want them to work and so we stayed over at Schiphol airport. With none or barely an hour of sleep we took two short flights to a very foggy Zurich and eventually a bit less foggy Ljubljana. Joined by two Kazachs and two Finnish we are brought to Hotel Spik in Kranskja Gora. We are greeted most welcoming by Za in proti and after all formalities we enjoy a nice quiet lunch after which we try to do all kind of things, all endingu p with falling aspeel. Dinner proves the diversity of nationalities again. One of our roommates, a Chines girl, invites us to have breakfast together the next morning and frineds from Zagreb and Venezuela come say hi. No more time for chitchat, it’s time for action!

Alfred ‘Tuna’ Snider from the World Debate Institute officially opens IDAS 2014 with an inspriring speech on the use and value of debating. What can contribute more than a critical mind? Bojana Skrt, of Za in Proti, does the logistics. In short; in the morning you are assigned to a lecture and an exercise round after which there is a full debatte with feedback. Then lunch and a really short break, two rounds of electives you can choose yourself where to go and another debate and feedback. Dinner and no way you are done after that, for what is debating without some extra fun, so each night has a social. To show what we do of what we should be doing for the coming days a show debate is done with speakers from Malaysia, Venezuela, the USA, Slovenia and Serbia on the motion: THW welcome large numbers of robots in the work force.

So 120 enthusiastic students, over 15 countries represented and the best trainers; let’s get this party started!

Sunday 23 November

Sleep makes everything so much nicer. Up and running around 7 to make sure all the assignments for uni are done in the mean time as well. Fortunately the restaurant has good food and an amazing view, so there is hardly anything to complain. At 8:45 we start with some logistical announcements and the final people are paired up for the 10 practice debates to come in the following days. All participants are divided in three groups in which they follow a one-hour elective by one of the faculty members, after which they are subdivided in 6 groups to practice that what they have just learned in excercise rounds.

The motion for the first practice debate reads: THBT reparations should be payed for slavery.

After feedback and lunch we have barely an hour left to catch up with our personal needs before two rounds of electives start. Today the chosing is from the following:

  • Political Economy: CRISIS OF CAPITALISM – CAPITALISM AS CRISIS (Case against Capitalism)
  • HOW JUDGES LOOK AT DEBATES
  • Empathy – the gateway to analysis
  • LANGUAGE CHOICE IN DEBATE AND ENGLISH SPEAKING STRATEGIES
  • “How to build economic arguments”
  • THE POWER OF DEFINITION
  • Style Mechanics and Persuasion
  • Political Philosophy: IDEOLOGY and MODERN POLITICAL DISCOURSES
  • INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS IN A NUTSHELL
  • What’s wrong with the social contract
  • Listening awareness
  • WAGES, WORK AND WOMEN (feminist political economy 101)
  • “Where do money comes from? (the limits to debts)”
  • “Scrabble” – Motion analysis

The motion for the second practice debate reads: THBT parents should not tell their adopted children that they are adopted.

In such a busy schedule, food is one of the most important elements of the program. So dinner is welcomed with a lot of enthusiasm. And the fun continues during the country exhibition in the ‘vinoteka’. With some help from a Dutch faculty member we spend the night handing out stroopwafels, kruidnoten, taaitaai and especially Jenever. To top it of we are bringing polonaise into the international surroundings we currently find ourselves in. Everyone worked very hard to share their foods, drinks and/or traditions with the other participants. No idea how long that party went on, but it did.

 

Monday 24 November

New insights in debating rose today: the routine in activities puts our focus on the content. The environment of fanatic, but friendly debaters encourages progress.

The morning lectures were of the same topics as yesterday, but these were taught to another group. The topics are argumentation, presentation and motion analysis. After an hour the theory is turned into practice. Intensive exercise in small groups made us fill the empty words with experience. After training the basics it is time for the first motion of the day:

“THW eliminate the veto power of the permanent members of the UN security council”.

A challenging motion: it requires both technical knowledge about the United Nations, as well as an insight in international relations. It brought all of us into heated debates.

Peace returns in lunchtime. The left-over questions and thoughts about the debate are shared during lunch, then some personal time remains. This is used for contact with our allies at home, the necessary work for university and a run through the lovely white-topped mountains.

The electives, free choice lectures, were enjoyed a lot. Teun got himself some structure in a 101-notetaking session, Lara was impressed by the explanation of shortcomings that democracy turns out to have. Nany and Teun got “partnership therapy”, that gave them tips and tricks to build their collaboration to a successful debating team. And since all we do here is in service of the debate, try to put that into practice with the typical Wageningen motion:

“THW impose an additional tax on unhealthy food.”

The social activity of tonight was a quiz, testing the debaters’ knowledge of random facts. Our enthusiasm in answering the question by running to the catheter made Nany rush through a set of chairs, scaring the people around. However, all debaters turned out to be quiz fanatics so they did not win.

In a walk through the surroundings of the hotel, our board revised a great day in terms of progress in debating, but joy above all.

Tuesday 24 November

This event is not only about getting better in debating, but also about making friends. Having so many people with which you interact throughout the day, that should not be too difficult. Pretty sure we will have places to sleep all over the world from this moment on.

Today was a little different from earlier days. We started again with lectures, excercise rounds and a debate on the motion: THBT the EU should pay Ukraines gas bill. After which we had lunch. And then the luxury of free time.

Where some of us needed desperately to catch up with school stuff, others went to Italy or Switzerland which is literally just at the end of the road or over the mountain. Teun and Nany decided to explore the surroundings on food with some friends from South Africa and Venezuela. No idea where and how they got separated but let’s say that one had a way longer walk than the other – letting on you to guess who.

Free time here means action some other time. At 17:00h we started again with the electives, at 18:00h another one. And to name another specific element that makes IDAS so incredible, the trainers. First of all the level and skill of their knowledge and teaching is incredible but also their enthusiasm is hard to let go by unnoticed. It won’t be a surprise that when we get back, there is so much to discuss and to give to our members. And then dinner during which we had just enough time to catch up with experiences and adventures. No idea why but this particular evening seemed particularly fit to have our dinner accompanied by wine and beer, not taking into account we actually have to say something intellectual in the debate afterwards. Being tired is no excuse here and so the debate on the motion THW make union membership obligatory for every worker.

New impressions take time to sink in. We’re gonna dream of the UN Security Council, the Middle East and Women’s rights tonight. Oh joyful debate training!

Wednesday 26 November

The good thing about debaters is that even when no social is organised, they feel some obligation to do so anyway. The early birds were in bed around  o’clock, there has been no record made of those who closed the door. What was recorded were the persons who came into breakfast first – as in before 7.30AM, exactly the same as the ones that went to bed late. Debaters are diehards, so no reason to delay and off to the lectures, excercise rounds and the morning debate on the motion: THBT climate change denial should be treated the same as holocaust denial.

During lunch we used the hour of free time to have our weekly board meeting. Even though the year is drawing to an end, there is no reason to think we have nothing up our sleeve. The program for the coming two months has been decided upon and some nice socials and workshops have been planned. Of course the Wageningen Open was a topic of discussion. The lack of a break did make the afternoon rounds of electives and the debate on the motion: THW require population control policies by poor countries as a condition for financial aid. The conversations during dinner get more technical and the feedback of the debates is more critically reviewed, so progress is going on. Curious how that is going to pay of in the tournament.

With only one full day left in Kransjka Gora, the moment of returning to Wageningen is also closing in on us. So while enthusiastic debates take part in a game I do not remember the name of but has something to do with depicting movie scenes with certain attributes (that probably sounds way less fun than it actually was), Wageningen Debating is working on theses and other university related stuff. Which by the way is an excellent way to trigger exhaustion. Sweet dreams.

Thursday 27 November

Another regular day here at the hotel. Sadly it is our last full day here. But there is no time to cry about this with our tight schedule.  The two practice debates of today were:

THW create a state supported citizen militias to police crime in area with high levels of organized crime.

THBT Vladimir Poetin is a serious treat to global security.

Our last night has to be celebrated properly. Being Thanksgiving and having the anual Kitsch party, everybody was busy making plans over dinner.  Nathania even got to celebrate Thanksgiving with the American students at a local restaurant right before the Kitsch party. We have already seen man dressed as women, coulourfull hairdo’s and some cow dresses. The night might get crazier but since its our last night; Lets have some fun!

Friday 28 November

Having had breakfastearly, we start working on school stuff till the bus leaves at 10 to visit the touristic site of Bled. Finally the fog and clouds have disappeared a bit and we can actually have almost the incredible view on the mountains the hotel is supposed to have. Time also for new board pictures of which soon you will see the result. Bled takes about 35 minutes to reach, the weather is quite nice and we are in good company. The lake itself is beautiful and the walk to the castle on top is quite nice.

Upon arrival at the University in Ljubljana there was no time to rest, we just dropped our bags had a quick diner and proceeded to the first two debates of the tournament:

THW, in countries that severely limit civilian access to firearms, arm police with only non-lethal weapons.

THW abolish patents on life-saving medicines

After these two rounds, dinner was served and afterwards part of our team went for a nice walk into the city center were we got some information on  historic buildings and monuments. The night finished with a drink at a local bar.

Saturday 29 November

At breakfast it is clear how much we have been spoiled the last few days. Only one kind of eggs, no sausages, no juice and especially only one kind of cake to choose from. But that will not prevent us from kicking some ass. Four more rounds left to prove what you’re worth and what you’ve learned in the past week on topics and techniques.

The motions we debated are:
THBT the NATO should be abolished.
THBT democracies should place strict limits on financial campaign contributions
THBT space exploration is a waste of tax payers money.
THW revoke the citizenship of those who travel abroad to join IS.

The tension was high after dinner, we were all waiting to know who broke (to the quarter finals). We are extremely happy since we already knew that our very own Lara broke to the semi-finals as 3rd best team! It is now time for the break night party!

Sunday 30 November

The problem of break nights is that the ones that actually break have either very little fun or they have so much fun there is no use in breaking at all in the end. Not judging any of these, the day starts early again. In good company of a Christmas tree the ones that have to debate and those supporting their teammates have breakfast and at 9.00h all break teams are present for the draw. Since it is a break to quarters, four rooms draw their positions. The Wageningen Debating-US Air Force Academy team draws CG (closing government ) for the motion

THBT feminists in the developing world should campaign for social and economic rights, not gender rights.

Half way through prep time the phrasing of the motion changes social rights into political rights. Although no great debate, CG wins convincingly and OG can share in their joy. The second debate is a different version of the Palestine debate, phrased:

THW welcome a Kurdish State. WD&USAFA draw again CG.

It is most certainly not the best debate of this tournament and the judges need quite some time to decide. Fun fact is that Lara from Wageningen in this round is 1) the only girl but more importantly 2) the only ESL speaker. The issues of the debates are soon forgotten when lunch comes around the corner, literally. There are 7 boxes of about 1 meter in length brought in with pizza, and good pizza. It is amazing how people made sure hardly any of it was wasted. Then the final teams are announced. As partly expected the case on Government side was not strong enough to deal with the comments of opposition and it is an opp sweep. So we take another slice of pizza and sit back and relax. The teams in the finals are USAFA in OG, a Slovenian WSDC team in OO, Malaysia in CG and Vermont in CO. The motion reads:

THW treat soldiers no longer as heroes.

To explain how difficult the debate was, the judges took almost literally as long to decide on it as the debate took in the first place. OG takes the second, although that is not really relevant for in this phase of the competition it is only the one that counts. That honour goes to the guys of OO. Best speakers of the competition are announced and then half rushes out to catch their plane.
Returning with three over-enthusiastic debaters who improved themselves beyond imagination and are more than inspired to transfer that knowledge to all who want. If this trip is a promise of what Wageningen Debating is capable of delivering, then we sure have a lot to achieve in the debating scenery. And if it is not? We have become better, more thoughtful people that are able to share their opinion with the world and as Tuna said: to make a better world with head and heart.

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