Seawolf Debaters travel to China, promote academic debate

by Kathleen McCoy  |   

Members of the University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolf Debate program recently returned from a trip to China to promote academic debating.Supported by a grant from the Alaska International Education Foundation, the trip took the team from Beijing to Xi'an to participate in two different debating events.  

The first stop was the Foreign Languages Teaching and Research Press (FLTRP) Cup, the national English language debating tournament.  More than 500 students and their instructors, representing over 130 colleges and universities from around China, attended the tournament.  Steve Johnson, UAA's Director of Debate, participated in training and served as Chief Adjudicator for the event.  Other members of the Seawolf Debate program mentored Chinese debaters and served as adjudicators for the competitive rounds.  

From there, the Seawolves traveled to Xi'an Jiaotong University to participate in the International Debate Education Association's international tournament.  Approximately 30 other American students from the West Coast and over 150 Chinese students joined the Alaska debaters in Central China to train and compete.  Each of UAA's debaters was paired with a Chinese partner for the event to enter the competition as "friendship teams."  Though they competed against teams of native English speakers, all four of UAA's friendship teams advanced to the elimination rounds and three of those four teams were selected to participate in the "friendship" final round-open only to teams comprised of one Chinese and one American student.  Two of UAA's debaters took the top two individual speaking prizes at the tournament: Michael Rose and David Childers were ranked second and first individual speakers, respectively, out of the over 200 debaters that participated in the event.

In all, the UAA students learned a great deal about Chinese culture, introduced a significant number of Chinese students to the educational experience of academic debating and made some life-long friends.  The debaters will take the rest of the summer off to recuperate from a challenging competitive season.  The team will return in the fall to open the 2007-2008 competitive season with a trip to Los Angeles to compete in the Claremont Colleges Invitational.  

For more information, please contact Steven Johnson at 786-4391.

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