Voices from Abroad: An Exchange Student’s Experience with URDU

This is the first blog post of many to come featuring student voices describing their experiences with URDU first hand! Our first Student Perspective comes from Aminatta Sylva from the United Kingdom, who studied abroad in Rochester for the Spring 2017 semester. We are so lucky to have had her debate with us this semester, and thank her for sharing her experience! Best wishes, Aminatta!

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My Debate Experience at The University of Rochester
define debate

Debate is defined as a formal discussion that happens in public meetings where proposing and opposing arguments are brought to the table regarding a matter. Whilst this may be the definition of debate, in my eyes, debate is more than just debating, it enables us to imagine worlds where the motion may actually take place or on the opposing side where the possibility of that motion happening could have devastating consequences for us all. Debate has taught me more than just being a confident speaker, thinking on the spot and scanning for information quickly, it has given me an insight into the way that politics is portrayed to the public vs behind closed doors. This notion came about me during my first tournament at Cornell University. My partner Marta and I were in a heated worlds debate (the best format) with students from across the nation. After the debate had ended, the judges told us to “shake hands”. This was shocking as it made me think about MPs in Parliament having the same if more heated debates like us and whether the Labour and Tories would go to the same pub and buy each other a drink, if I am able to shake all 6 hands of opposing teams. This experience made me really question the real intent of politicians. Is it all an act to make us the audience and voters go against each other because of our opposing views of policy? So now I am very sceptical of the debates going on in Parliament because I know that when the cameras are switched off they will shake hands and go about as if nothing had happened, like Marta and I did after the end of each rounds.

18222515_10208844874266135_1580069106493557023_nDebate I hear on UoR campus is characterised to be very geeky, but I have never felt geeky doing debate, I feel like a real geek would never have the confidence to stand up in front of many and establish their view points in a manner that is ever so persuasive and convincing. This is skill, in fact it is a varsity sport as my coach Brady (Mr B) says. During speeches your heart is pounding, hands are becoming sweaty, stuttering is becoming the devil as you try to read your cards to opposing team. That is how I feel when I debate. It takes up so much energy and it is a euphoric feeling when your speech is done and you are about to fire shots during the cross examining of the opposing team as you have got through the hardest part- the first speech.

The debate team is phenomenal! Extremely diverse in race, gender, nationality and sexuality. I think this is what made my experience of debate with URDU amazing, they are all so friendly and encouraging, even when you know that you are giving a bad speech. Debate has also given me the opportunity to make great friends and meet people belonging to various corners of the globe, this is what makes the URDU special! Thank you all so much for letting me a part of this team; full of laughs, banter and most importantly debate ❤ And also big up to Brady for being an awesome tutor this semester 🙂

Aminatta Sylva

University of Sussex ‘18

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