Opening Ceremony for The Debating Competition in Palangkaraya

After a quick mandi, Bu Wahyu & I arrived slightly late for the opening ceremony which is being held in a very flash hall with 4 air conditioners blasting out cold air! We walked in to discover a group of 4 people singing and playing traditional Dayak (original people of Kalimantan) instruments to the assembled guests, while up behind them on a dais, were 4 men sitting at a long trestle table covered in a bright green table cloth and bowls of fruit and flowers. Behind the men is a huge banner.

Once the music group had finished, one of the men from the long table rose out of his seat and went to a nearby lectern where he gave us the welcoming speech and officially opened the event. His speech seemed to be mainly off the top of his head supplemented by several A5 pages of notes. I leant that there are 42 students competing here over the next 2 days and there are 2 competitions operating simultaneously. One is the English debate and the other is a German writing competition. There are 8 teams involved in the debate competition. During his speech, he stressed the point of learning English and backed this up by saying that it is the main language spoken all over the world now and is the language of computers and mobile phones! After he finished his speech by wishing everyone’ Selamat Lomba” (All the best for your competition), he then walked around the audience shaking everyones hand! He then returned to the dias briefly and then all 4 men left the hall!
We were then invited to enjoy the food boxes that were provided to all who are present tonight. In the banana leaf is a popular snack from Indonesia called lemper. It is glutinous rice with shredded chicken in the centre. I enjoyed the pandan cake in mine! Pandan is a fragrant leaf using in both sweet and savoury dishes and can colour food green!

A young man and young woman then went to the front of the hall and using an over head projector screen and a data projector, proceeded to introduce themselves to the audience. Both are experienced debaters and will be 2 of the 3 adjudicating over the next few days. Their spiel is largely in English and most must be going straight over our students head! Students were then given a quick power point on what is a debate, what the Asian Debating rules are and the roles of each of the 3 speakers. The powerpoint is all in English and the explanation used both languages however I think our students are both very tired after a huge drive and also are very nervous and overwhelmed about what is going to happen tomorrow that it would have been far more useful had the information been given to them in written form beforehand so that they can study it later. In fact, it would have been even better had the information been given to schools when they first enrolled.
After the explanation, the speakers announced that a debate would be held to demonstrate how a debate looks and sounds like. As the main host/presenter mentioned himself, it would have been useful for students to have researched this themselves prior to this competition by watching a debate on you tube! The first tip the students are given is the use of palm cards! Sounds familiar doesn’t it! We were also informed them that teachers are not allowed to give any help at all and mobile phones also are forbidden. The model debate is on the topic “that all democratic countries should legalise same sex marriage”.
The first speaker for the government team spoke so closely to the microphone that his speech was largely blurry and hard to understand. He talked about the right of minorities to be represented and supported by their government, how marriage was historically so that couples could have children. I felt most of his speech was passionate rhetoric and not exactly addressing the topic. As he is one of the adjudicators, I am wondering if the adjudicators are going to award points more for quantity rather than quality.
The 1st speaker for the opposition is a lot clearer and her grasp of English is impressive for such formal language. One of her points is that that governments have more pressing issues to deal with than waste their time on same sex marriage!
The next speaker began with a rebuttal against the points raised by the previous speaker. This was all done ad lib which would have been very difficult and she obviously had difficulty explaining her ideas without planning and I sure know how that feels! However unfortunately, I have no idea what she was trying to say. Again it sounded good, but the meaning was totally unclear. Most of her argument was full of waffle and sentences which don’t make any sense, however I wonder if the fact that she was speaking “English” would have impressed the adjudicators had there been any?
After watching this demonstration, I am even more interested in seeing what happens tomorrow. I am particularly interested to hear the level of English from the other teams. It is 10pm and time to head home after a very long day!


7 thoughts on “Opening Ceremony for The Debating Competition in Palangkaraya

      • They are struggling with the heat exacerbated mainly by the door being left open most of the morning. I have just closed it and slowly the temperature of the hall is dropping! I think I will move to the back where I can observe while sitting in front of the aircon!

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