Diego Garcia (rising junior at Fremont High School’s Media Academy), Rashid Campbell (Skyline High School Class of 2010, soon-to-be sophomore at University of Oklahoma) and Annessa Lopez (rising junior at Skyline) tell us all about last week’s Bay Area Urban Debate League summer camp, a free institute that was held last week at Oakland’s Westlake Middle School. – Katy
DIEGO GARCIA: Two years ago I went to my first BAUDL summer institute, dragged along by my sister Jazmin to the foreign world of debate. I remember being nervous: I had never engaged in an activity like that before, and was worried about having to speak in front of a crowd. But in the end I loved it, and started spending a lot of time on it, enough that my partner and I came out of last year’s season as League Champions.
When the 2011 BAUDL institute began my biggest concern was the camp tournament – I had a reputation to defend. The last day of the institute there is a tournament were debaters would test their knowledge based on their own personal experiences and what they learned during the week. Being the competitive debater that I am it’s always exciting being at a tournament just to really challenge opponents and make it a learning experience for both teams.
This year we will be debating about space – like my lab leader at the summer institute told us, space is literally infinite, so there was a lot to talk about. There was a case on space colonization – should we send a group out into the stars just in case we blow ourselves up here on planet earth? – a case on global weather monitoring systems, and a few others. Up for debate were whether developing space could lead to nuclear proliferation, and whether the government or private companies should take the lead.
The best part of debate camp was the whole learning experience not only with my coaches, but with my peers as well. To be able to share knowledge and different perspective in debate camp is just fun because we can compare ideas and see how they tend to play out. Every year it is great just to see new debaters rising up so to speak, because I know that the league will become better as a unit as these new recruits join our community. I like to see debaters with years of experience share the knowledge they have gathered with the young and less experienced minds. I know that the new recruits eventually will do the same for the next generation.
This year I am really looking forward to all the tournaments and debate rounds my partner and I will engage in since it is a great deal of fun – clashing with arguments, advocating for policy options, and researching our own cases. This year, my biggest goal is to win league championships all over again, but for that I see a lot of new, tough competition that are quickly learning, that they too have the same goal – but hey, that’s debate.
RASHID CAMPBELL: Being from Oakland has taught me a lot about how to deal with and handle certain situations. As stressful as the competition of debate gets some times, I know I have been through more, and every hard experience I have had actually helps me win in debate. I am one of those debaters that brings poetry and stories about what has happened to me and my people into the arguments I use in competition, and I am motivated to help the youth use the same strategies to find the power in their own voices.
To be quick with it, I was excited to be working with Bay Area Urban Debate League youth as a staff member for this summer institute. This year we had some great students. Some of them were really not enthusiastic about debate at first, but over time they grew to love it just as much as the staff. My lab in particular was the “underdog” group of the varsity labs. We took the students who had less experience in debate and helped them develop tools and tactics so they could compete on even ground with the top teams in the league.
Over the week, we helped them understand that winning a debate round takes more than just an abundance of information from politicians and academics. Read the rest of this entry »