His palms are sweaty. Knees weak. Arms are heavy. Nope, we’re not talking about some underground rap battle here.
Last weekend, the ZIS debate team competed with ISZL, FIS, and ASL in our third annual debate tournament, where topics from technology to immigration to technology were disputed. The tournament was split into two parts: the typical debate, and the oratory. In the debate round, seventeen teams of two competed against each other over either a prepared topic, or an impromptu one, where they had to think of arguments on the spot. The oratory round was optional and allowed ten students to make speeches to judges about any topic they felt they could put their input into.
For many, the oratory section of the tournament is both the most exciting and nerve-wracking – with no limits on what you talk about and in which way. This year’s speeches ranged from individuality to globalism to a fully-winged speech about winging it. All three finalists hailed from our school: Max Stroemer, Madhav Tej Aggarwal and Sabrina Baur.
“I started brainstorming my oratory last year after I saw the final debate about racial profiling and realized that none of the students debating really had an insight into what it means”, says Baur, who won second place in the oratory finals with a speech about issues with identity while being biracial.”I wanted to talk about something that I knew well, and I felt like it was an important issue that gets swept under the rug a lot.
The winning speech had a different spin, featuring references to unreleased tax statements, Russia, and a certain pornstar. Max Stroemer started off his speech in his signature theatrical way by asking for a volunteer to hold an air bible beside him as if he was swearing under oath. He continued by arguing the constitutional reasons why Donald Trump – after his bribing, shady nondisclosure agreements and obstruction of justice – should be impeached.
However, in the debate portion of the tournament, students didn’t have quite as much freedom to discuss collusion and adult film actresses (unless they were being extremely creative). Participants were prepared for weeks; writing speeches, rebuttals and interrogations for the predetermined topic: stricter limits on immigration level are needed in Western democracies in order to protect cultural and political stability. The other two impromptu topics tackled whether genetic modification on humans and animals is ethical and whether technology is making us more lonely.
All of these are of course quite light and irrelevant topics – so whenever people got the chance to take a break, they would go back to discussing the real issues of the 21st century such as Santa’s criminal record, Kylie Jenner’s instagram and the lack of napping rooms on campus.
After a fierce round of debates, the two final teams were revealed: Irene Faccin and Izabela Jaszcz from Zurich, against Phaedra Letrou and Alex Gers from London. Our team took the affirmative side of the argument and the ASL team had to refute them. “We were both quite nervous representing the affirmative as all most of ZIS agrees with the opposite side of the debate,” explained Faccin about the final round – which everyone from the competition gathered to watch.
Although our team ended up coming second, Irene was impressed about another aspect of this year’s competition:”the finals featured two female teams, and I don’t remember seeing a girl in the finals for my last few competitions.”
All in all, the tournament was a great chance for the debate team to meet new students, prepare for their London competition in March, and find ways to discuss Stormy Daniels in a professional setting.