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Photo used with permission from Nicholas Carverhill
The Yale-NUS College Debate Society opened its international campaign with a successful trip to Jakarta, Indonesia, competing in the Indonesian Debate Open. Pitted against teams from over 20 different countries, the squad of six took home the championship trophy and an array of individual accolades.
Nicholas Carverhill ’17 and Joan Ongchoco ’17 triumphed in the final round, arguing on the motion that ‘Indonesia should stop enforcing religious laws’. Carverhill also won best speaker of the tournament with Ongchoco following closely as the second best speaker. Promisingly, Jay Lusk ’18 and Simonas Bartulis ’18 progressed to the semi-finals, with Lusk scoring the fifth best
These successful results reflect the new passion brought to the team by the freshmen inclusions. “Having new people in the team has made it more exciting to debate,” said Ongchoco after the competition. “We have freshmen with a lot of potential and who are definitely enthusiastic and committed to debating. This potential has made the team stronger and I really look forward to seeing how we’ll grow from here.”
The planning of the event did raise the eyebrows of some participants. “I, personally, had a problem with several of the motions and in my opinion this lead to some serious inequality in terms of level of debates,” commented Scott Currie ’18. However, for the most part competition was formidable at the Open. Many opposing teams included PhD students. “Whilst lacking in some areas it was a fairly well run competition.”
Expectations prior to the competition were measured. “We didn’t expect much going into the Indonesia Debate Open as it was our first international competition of the season.” Ongchoco said. “We, of course, wanted to do well and gather momentum for future competitions, but we really wanted to just test the waters, shake off the rust and see how we would fare.”
The remaining members of the squad – Currie and David Chappell ’18 – began the campaign as representative adjudicators but were appointed as chair-people as the competition wore on. Ongchoco commended the work of the freshmen adjudicators: “This is really good given they started out as trainees but clearly proved themselves well and capable of serving as chairpersons and even judging the out-rounds.”
Balancing the number of debaters and limited positions to compete has been manageable thus far for the senior organizers like Ongchoco, who heads Internal Communications. “For competitions like Indonesia, we first make a call for interest and from there decide on which teams to send depending on commitment and experience. We usually try to pair people up according to who we think will complement each other well.”
Ongchoco and Carverhill will represent Yale-NUS at the Asian British Parliamentary Championship later this semester.