As “Sust IV 2.0” was our Maiden National Debate tournament, our main aim was to extract some lessons and assimilate some experiences from this platform. The journey towards Sylhet started at 1st February, very early in the morning. The starting was of resemblance to Usain Bolt’s one in the Olympics, not too good to be very exact. The day started with the frustration of missing the bus from the campus. Then, due to heavy traffic jam on the road, the possibility of missing the train exaggerated the pressure. However, we succeeded to catch the train just before its departure. But, as the day was testing us, why not the train? The train stopped mmoving before reaching Sylhet Station when it was 7.00 p.m. in the clock. Unfamiliar Station, Moon-in-gloom, Inhospitable people and the darkness with wind let us feel alien-alone there. We were like “in a fix” situation.
However, after facing loads of troubles and chasing some barriers, at the end, when we finally found our desired hotel, the feelings of that moment is not less than the feelings of Tenjing Norge, after reaching the summit of Mount Everest for the first time. The rest of the night passed without any further trouble, peacefully!
The next day, was the competition day. We, team SCLS-1, SCLS-2 reached at the venue even before the organizers arrival. The competition heralded at 12 p.m. and ended at 9 p.m. The whole day was full of experiences, arguments, counter arguments and P.O.I’s.
Now, it’s time to pay attention to the core of the journey. Some facts those we experienced, gathered throughout the whole competition must be disclosed and we hope, those particular experiences would also be fruitful for the novice debaters for their coming days.
First of all, here is no doubt, debate is a high form of art and at the same time it’s very unpredictable. You can show a lot of examples, can put a lot of arguments, can establish a lot of reasonings on your favor. But, whether those things will be picked up by the judges or not, is totally up to them. You have nothing to do here, never panic! Positive or negative, swallow it as a lesson.
2nd of all, we saw a lot of heavy weight participants in this competition. There were some debaters who have made “Debate” as their life, there were some debaters who have debated for more than 10 years, there were some debaters also who have performed at numerous international events. When it was our turn to debate against them, indeed, we were a bit nervous. But, we convinced ourselves by saying that: “Stick to the spirit we have come with, they are mere debaters here, like us.” If our arguments are strong, if our reasonings are brilliant, their experiences, their ‘heavy weight’ titles will have no use here. That’s how we extenuated our peer-pressure. There is a famous proverb- ‘Your mind is your biggest enemy.” If one can control one’s mind, then everything is under control. This is pretty simple strategy according a novice like me. That’s why, its a common message to all the debaters out there – Don’t panic. Don’t lose hope. Don’t feel inferior. Take a long breathe and start your submission.
3rd of all, which is the most crucial to be specific. In the 3rd round of the competition, we got a motion, about which we had a very inadequate knowledge. During the preparation time, we were like fish out of water. We didn’t find any information, argument and logic. We were very frustrated. But, when the round started, we started listening to the submission of other upper and lower houses, gradually we got some key points, started connecting those with the motion, tried to give some new dimensions. At the end, we got the lesson that, listening to opponents and other houses are very important for debating. And, giving new dimensions to a common thing, is somewhat a smart strategy. It’s like the old metaphor- “Old wine in a new bottle.” May be, your arguments are totally same like your upper house. But, what you have to do is to utter it in a different manner, from different perspectives.
4th of all, 15 minutes prep time is very, very momentous. No matter, whether the motion is in your favor or not, no matter whether the topic is difficult or not, the thing you have to do, is to make a connection. Its like the Steve Jobs Connect the dots strategy. If you can connect any motion with your logics, ideas, then half of the battle is won. You will definitely get a good position. So, after getting the motion you have to find out the purpose of the motion. Then, you have to connect the motion with your thoughts and arguements.
Finally, what we clearly understood from this national debate competition is that, knowledge is everything. In every debate, it is maybe impossible or very difficult to do better if you have inadequate knowledge about your society, about your country, about the globe. So, if anybody wants to get some achievements in the debate arena, there is no alternative to gather as much knowledge as one can. Because, at the end, Debate is all about establishing your arguments. If you have knowledge, you will definitely have enough confidence, which will help you to triumph over others. And, another thing, gathering knowledge is not a quick process. Knowledge is like medicines, you have to swallow it every day, in a balanced manner. If you take all the medicines in a single day, it will rather malfunction. So, earn knowledge gradually, continuously and consistently. If we try to read every days newspaper, try to study articles of national and international blogs every day, that’s sufficient.
Desmond Tutu once said-
Don’t raise your voice. Improve your arguments.”
And, debating is all about generating ideas and establishing arguments. And, for the sake of improving arguments, we need to keep in touch with the outer world, we need to gather knowledge and we need to practice with different types of motions regularly without any alternatives. Sust IV 2.0 gave us the impression that, if we continue with our enthusiastic and passionate mentality for debate, we will definitely do better in the future. And, we believe, it’s just the beginning. We have to go a long way and we have to take enough preparation tearing the shortcomings for the long and challenging walk ahead.
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