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We are sitting in an empty classroom, two hours after school has ended. Our hands are scribbling furiously across the page, trying to catch up with our torrent of ideas. It is the week before the debate final, and we are doing a dress rehearsal. The topic is child discipline.
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“No, no, no. Cut that part out.” Someone suggests, “Give examples. Give alternatives. We must convince the adjudicators that force is unnecessary. That’s our goal.”
We nod in unison. But no, someone disagrees.
“Remember, ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child’. What are our rebuttals for that?”
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And so it goes on. We are animated in our discussion, all with different opinions. We sit in a circle, taking turns to speak, trying to keep some semblance of civilization. However, disorder soon sets in as we start conjecturing about the other team’s approach. We are selfish people, all trying to be heard, and all raising our voice until this din becomes unsupportable. But we love the chaos, where ideas, opinions, and counter-opinions intermingle and unite into a product of coherence and clarity. We watch, we listen, we criticize, and we support one another’s arguments. We help our teammates on the finer points of rebuttals, and give feedbacks to their speeches.
I love debating. It gave me my best friend, it introduced me to the works of Raphael, and it instilled in me perceptiveness that I am able to use every day. It has made me realize that there are always many sides to an argument, and that you can never form an opinion without seeing all sides. Debating has also taught me to argue for my own beliefs, but at the same time, to be more receptive to others’ ideas. It has made me work as much as 10 hours a week, slogging through mountains of information and condensing all that into a 6-minute speech. There have been times when I have felt like quitting, when I became so frustrated after countless writings and re-writings that I had just wanted to turn off the lights and go to sleep. There have been times when I was physically exhausted or just mentally worn out. It was during those times that thoughts of defeat crept into my mind. But in the end, I pulled through. I reminded myself of my team and of my love for this activity. I kept going and I’m proud of that.
I look around at my team members. Some look frustrated, some look excited, and some look nervous. Some are arguing, and some are jotting down notes. But in our words and our actions, there is one thing that connects us all: it’s why we are here in this room at five thirty in the afternoon. It’s the passion.
I love my team.
I love debating.
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