Debate Team Competes in Hong Kong, Oxford

More than 80 debate teams from around the world traveled to the Hong Kong University of Science and Technoloy for the fourth Hong Kong Debate Open from ...

Nov 16, 2013

Courtesy of Hong Kong Debate Open 2013 Courtesy of Hong Kong Debate Open 2013

More than 80 debate teams from around the world traveled to the Hong Kong University of Science and Technoloy for the fourth Hong Kong Debate Open from Nov. 1 to Nov. 3.

The Hong Kong Debate Open is the first international, university-level debate tournament in Hong Kong and debuted in 2010. The tournament was designed to transform the Hong Kong debating circuit and turn the city’s university students from debate consumers into organizers and pioneers.

The HKDO was the first time that the Debate Society at NYU Abu Dhabi participated in the Asian debate circuit.

“HKDO is perhaps the gem of the Asian debate circuit,” said Joshua Shirley, a senior and the president of the Debate Society at NYUAD. “The atmosphere in general was collegial, more loosely organized than I was expecting. However, the competition was no less academically rigorous or fierce than we anticipated.”

Daniel Brown, a sophomore and an experienced debater, was impressed by the friendly atmosphere between teams in the tournament and their level of fair play.

“While many of the teams are [participating in the HKDO tournament] purely to compete, most of the teams also want to make friends and learn a lot from the experience of debating,” Brown said. “The adjudicators were all willing to help make sure that everyone would improve [after every round].”

Rene Kukk, a freshman and one of the competitors in the HKDO tournament, said that having a teammate that complements and suits you is a crucial aspect of debate. Shirley expressed a similar sentiment.

Freshman Dhia Fani was fascinated by the inner change she experienced during the tournament.

“There is something about being in a competition that can change you, your mind and everything instantly — to learn new things, perform your best and accept whatever outcome may come later,” Fani said.

In the preliminary round, Brown and sophomore Andres Rodriguez placed sixth out of 100 teams. Kukk and Fani advanced to the quarter finals.

Seven days after the Hong Kong Debate Open, another tournament opened its doors to 117 teams for one of the most anticipated debate tournaments of the year.

From Nov. 7 to Nov. 9, the NYUAD Debate Society participted in the Oxford Inter-Varsity Debate Tournament, one of the largest debating competitions in the world.

Three NYUAD novice teams participated in the preliminiary rounds. Out of 117 teams, they placed 85th, 85th and 95th, respectively. Compared to the other 20 novice teams at the competition, NYUAD teams placed 12th, 12th and 16th, respectively.

Teamwork also played an important role in the Oxford competition.

“In Oxford I was paired with Symone Gamble, a senior I have known since my candidate weekend in November 2009,” Shirley said. “Always an eloquent speaker, Symone brought experience, passion, competitive drive and a wealth of knowledge to Oxford, a very powerful mix. Together, and particularly by the end of the tournament, we had learned not only to brainstorm arguments more effectively but also how best to divide our talents to fulfil the speaker roles of each of the four possible positions.”

For many on the team, the Hong Kong and Oxford debates were opportunities to hone their skills. They look forward to future debates.

“When I think about where NYUAD Debate Society started, running drills in an NYUAD student lounge only two years ago, I can hardly believe how far we have come in so little time,” Shirley said. “I am very thankful towards those responsible for NYUAD Debate Society's growth, without whom these achievements, or even attendance, at Oxford and Hong Kong would not be possible.”

Emina Osmandžiković is a staff writer. Email her at [email protected]

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