Day 1 of the Debating Competition in Palangkaraya

It is heading towards 3pm as we sit in the hall waiting for the grand final to begin. The stage is set with the long table from last night split in half so that one team can sit on the right and the other on the left. In between is the lectern while the judges are positioned in front of the stage which reminds me more of a TV talent show.

20130821-145046.jpgThye are going to debate the motion “that Iran should be allowed to develop nuclear energy.”
Our day began here at 7:30 which gave me a very appreciated sleep in till 6:30am! Absolute bliss! We met the team in their hotel room and then walked with them to the hall which is all part of the hotel complex. In the hall we were shown the draw for todays debating. Our first debate was against a team which turned out to be on a par with our team so that was a great way to start. The topic debated was “That the government should raise the taxes on cigarettes and tobacco”. All 8 teams debated the same topic in different locations around the hotel grounds. They were given 30 minutes to write up their speeches as a team and then in the eating hall outside. For the first debate, the SMA2 Pangkalan Bun team did very well considering how foreign it all must have seemed. Aviv even gave a point of interest interjection while the other team were talking and in doing so, gave our tam the one point by which they won! It was so exciting winning the first debate and it was such a confidence booster. Before declaring the results, the judge spoke to each competitor personally to give advice about their talk and she made some really good points. She reminded our first speaker that she needed to explain the motion in detail and then tie this to her teams first point in support of the motion. She reminded our second speaker that she needed to start with a rebuttal and it can include a point from the previous speaker from the opposition that was unclear or didn’t make sense! She also said that they should give reasons if they disagree with any points raised by the opposition. Her advice to Aviv was a reminder of the advice we had given him at school on Monday – expand, expand, expand! He had some good ideas however didn’t enlarge upon them and thus wasted the given 8 minutes that each were allowed for their talk, which would make his point stronger. Her advice for our third speaker was to remind her that she needed to give a rebuttal and by not giving a rebuttal she was in actual fact agreeing with the points that had been made by the opposition!
We were all then called to return to the hall where all teams were given some further general advice. The main adjudicator told them all that overall, he was disappointed with the overall level of debating presented by the teams participating today. He then explained further why he was disappointed; firstly participants must use the full time allotted. He said that if they use um’s & ah’s, they won’t be penalised at all. He also told them that pronunciation is not important and that they just need to focus on speaking. I think here he meant accents! His final piece of advice was definitely his most important. It was LISTEN to your opponent, because unless you do, you can not make an informed rebuttal!
Up on the screen, the ladder was displayed before the draw was announced for the second debate. Our team were very unlucky to draw their next debate with Palangkaraya. Whereas our students are representing their school and basically only had Monday to rehearse their debating skills, Palangkaraya had selection trials from which the best students were selected. The other issue turned out to be given a motion that our team had difficulty opposing. It was “that soldiers and ‘polices’ (police) should be given the right to vote in national elections.” Our team were convincingly defeated as not only did they have only one idea about why this would be a bad idea (reasons of safety), they also didn’t expand their argument nor give rebuttals! I think mainly they felt pessimistic about the debate from the very minute they discovered who their opposition would be!

20130828-120113.jpgAviv speaking as 2nd speaker.
Back in the hall later, we were informed that the top 4 teams would go through to the semi finals and we missed out by 1 point in the end but to be honest, I think our team had mixed feelings about this! So when the next motion was put up on the screen, we could relax and just watch the top 4 teams huddle for 30mins to plan their attacks. Then during the debate, it gave our team an opportunity to watch and film a debate which should be a valuable resource for next years team should they participate again. Both semi final debates happened concurrently and because it was so hot and muggy, we chose to stay in the hall and watch the one being held here and enjoy the air conditioning.
The grand final debate is just about finished; the last speaker is talking. The debators were then asked to leave the room while the adjudicators make a decision about the winner.
The winner was the team from Sampit!
After announcing the winner, the MC then called out the top 7 speakers from the entire competition. The first 3 will be the team representing Kalimantan Tengah at the National Competition to be held in Jakarta later this year. Here they are lined up in order from right to left after the 3 winners of the German Writing Competition on the far right.

20130828-115858.jpgThose wearing the green uniform are the team members from Sampit.

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