A unique debate competition that combines both written and oral advocacy of a policy topic, held in NYC. The International Public Policy Forum 2011/2012. And guess who was there, right in the epicenter of it all. Your blogger Lenka, one of the three coaches of the Czech Debate Team (you might remember the post about long-distance coaching – well, this is its culmination!). Let me take you on the IPPF tour and share some of the thrill and passion for logic, reasoning and international friendships.
All debate competitions have one thing in common: There is always a reception or a dinner where everybody mingles and gets to talk to people from various teams and countries. You joke about Dutch politics with a debater from Brooklyn and then discuss the merit of studying Latin with the coach of Singapore. In the meanwhile, great food and cold drinks are served (this is paradise). However, this is just the beginning.
Then comes debating in itself. Each competition has some specific rules, but ultimately, you and your team always have to go through elimination rounds to make it to the finals. And that is exactly what happened to my debaters – they became the first team of non-native speakers to break into the finals of the IPPF.
The Finals is usually held in the biggest conference room available (and is sometimes even available live online, just like here) and no matter who wins, everybody does their best to enjoy the special occasion. There are many distinguished guests who hold speeches (we had Mr. M. J. Massimino, NASA astronaut) and who subsequently announce the winner.
It was nerve-wracking, but we made it. We are the first team whose native language is not English to win the International Public Policy Forum – and probably the only team ever that has prepared solely via Skype and e-mail and the members and coaches have seen each other (all together) for the first time at the beginning of the competition.
Lights were turned off, the glamour is gone. A new day has come and we are “normal students” again. We log onto Facebook to add our new friends from Colorado…and set off to Europe, to our homes. So long, NYC, and thank you for the fish!