Panic attacks, fear, disappointment, laughter, confidence, happiness. As you go up and down a rollercoaster, you likely seesaw between these very strong emotions. This is exactly what we experienced during our first Worlds Schools Debate Championship. Charity Apreku, Nana Yaa Obeng-Nkansah and Isabel Prempeh (all from Tema International School) and Andrew Kattah and Nyankpani Abdul-Quddus Kesson (from Presbyterian Boys’ Secondary School) were rounded up and set down for the ride of the summer.
Our experience began with vigorous training sessions. While most of us had not anticipated our participation in the competition, we dived into the rigorous sessions with a lot of excitement but with some scepticism as most of us had had no experience with an actual debate contest. However, as the championship drew closer and closer, and as we lost ourselves in the traditions and craft of debating through our training sessions, we built some confidence and self-belief.
Our excellent coaches, Eric, Louis and Elisha continually guided us through the learning process and got us committed to giving the contest our very best shot. And while the criticism had to be little harsh sometimes, it was all for the greater good.
So we trained until finally, the actual competition started. Initially, and perhaps quite naturally, we were intimidated by the experience most of the other teams had. However, we refused to succumb to the feeling of self-doubt. We practised and pushed until we not only gained newfound confidence, but we also started to enjoy the whole thing.
It was a privilege to be the first team to represent the nation at the maiden edition of the Online World schools Debate Championship, one we did not intend to waste.
So, after losing our first matches we were honestly quite discouraged. However, we realised that rather than simply taking it to mean that we weren’t good enough, we could interpret the losses as an indication of the need to step up our game. This was exactly our next move and luckily for us, it paid off in a victory that spurred us into winning another round before the preliminary rounds ended.
While we did not qualify for the knockout rounds, the experience did not come down to just winning or losing. Debating and interacting with people with diverse backgrounds and from different cultures expanded our appreciation of individual differences, and developed in us a better understanding that the other person, with his/her differences, is still a unique manifestation of the human spirit. The topics that we had to research and debate about- things that ordinarily do not cross our minds – helped us develop a greater understanding of society.
Additionally, working together as a team, we made unforgettable memories; staying up into the late hours of the night practising and researching, the behind-the-scenes banter during a round to assess how well a debate was going, congregating after an unsuccessful debate to laugh at and correct our mistakes and celebrating when we won.
But perhaps the most thrilling aspect of the contest is the adrenaline rush during those 56 minutes of debate as pressure mounted and our brains constantly scrambled to find the best words to form the best sentences to express the most convincing arguments – the reason most debaters debate.
Eventually, we learned so much from the process- not just about the art of debating but about current affairs, critical thinking and various theories that govern the world’s economic and social systems.
All in all, the maiden edition of the Online World Schools Debate Championship, for Team Ghana, was an edifying experience. We are super grateful to have been given the opportunity to be a part of this experience and we are so grateful to the team coach, Eric Awuah Asamoah, for pushing us through the whole challenge. We look forward to the next edition and all the other tournaments in between.