Five of our finest debaters visited Washington, DC recently to see the World Schools Debating Championships, explore the city and visit some SMUS alumni. While in Washington, the students heard the National Symphony, saw Romeo & Juliet and explored as much of the city as they could. They also visited David Chmiel ’91, who has supported debate at SMUS for several years, and Anthony Quainton ’42-44, who is a Distinguished Diplomat in Residence at American University.
“The trip was a great learning experience,” says debate coach Sean Hayden. “The richness of seeing the different styles of debate, the variety of strategies and the cultural diversity made it very worthwhile.”
Canada made it to the quarter-finals before losing their match against Scotland. Grade 12 student Harmon Moon writes about the finer points of debate.
Our debate team spent a week in the heart of inarguably the most powerful nation in the world: Washington DC, dividing our time between watching the World Schools Debating Championships and exploring the American capitol.
After arriving at Ronald Reagan International Airport, we began our immersion the next morning by watching Canada defeat the US in the first round. World championship debating style is considerably different from the cross-examination and parliamentary-style debate that the SMUS team is trained in, and many of us came into the championships with no real idea of how the rules work.
Although quite similar to parliamentary style in mechanics, world style is most notable for having three people on a team, as opposed to the usual two. This resulted in two things: us being able to watch a much greater variety of speaking styles, and the debates being longer than what we were usually used to.
We were able to watch with interest Team Canada versus Team USA and, in later days: Team Israel versus Team Scotland, Team Pakistan versus Team Holland, and Team Sri Lanka versus Team South Africa. We alternated our viewing sessions with trips to and around the Washington Mall, visiting such landmarks as the Lincoln, Washington, and Jefferson Memorials, the Capitol Building and even the White House. It was an amazing trip.