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Debate:a film to be continued ——an interview of WHU Chinese Debating Team
Author:Jiang Chiheng and Chen Jiaqi  Date:2019-11-20  Clicks:

“If each debate represents a footage of a film overwhelmed with twists and turns, my film must have an epic ending.” Huang Sihan, a member of the debating team noted. And for her, this expedition in Australia brings the film to a new climax.

“Sydney, Oct.5. Huaxia Cup 12th international Chinese Debating Championship final was held in the University of New South Wales in Australia. After a two-hour battle, Wuhan University Chinese Debating Team placed first out of 24 teams from all over the world, with their convincing argument on ‘Man is the measure of all things’” -- some news website wrote, wearing a ritualistic tedious tone. But only Huang, and the whole team know deep in heart what lies behind this glorious moment.

Team photo at this glorious moment

Preparations started a month ahead. Three rehearsals a day had been a routine during the most hectic time. Given the form of Chinese Debating, every rehearsal entails a five-minute non-stop statement plus a consecutive tit-for-tat free debate for four minutes, counting Huang’s part only. Overmuch searching work, highly-frequent practice, and intensive contest made everyone exhausted. “Words poured out of me in cascades during everyday practices that, in the daily life, I somehow became a relatively silent person,” Sihan said. “Just like those competitive sports, debate requires far more than fancy words on stage, but also toil and sweat.”

Cui Lei, a debater from School of Journalism and Communication described this journey in Australia as “very joyful, sometimes even under an illusion of being on vacation”. But anyway, it was bound to be a tough vacation. They got tight debating schedule in the day, and vast bulk of content waiting to be prepared in the spare time. They became familiar with the midnight sky of Sydney at three or four clock in the morning, for that’s the time they usually go to bed. “Meal time pulls me out of a packed room, which is one of the very few moments that reminds me of being abroad or a new place,” Cui said. “Though sleeping time is terribly squeezed, I still enjoy the whole journey.” When sun rises, its light will hide all stars. For debaters, debate is the sun, and pure joy from the debate itself is way enough to back them up through all obstacles.

When it comes to the competition, real battle begins. Even from the video, one can feel the tension of the live debate overflowing from the screen. “Initially, I was kind of thrilled standing in such a prestigious City Hall, facing such a grand occasion with so many audiences. But as I was completely immersed into the debate, or to say, entangled in a vortex gathered by torrents of words, there was actually no room left for anxiety,” said Chen Xi, a junior student (also a debater) from School of Physics.

A glance at the Packed hall

This expedition in Australia, in effect, placed the whole team at a higher level, where lies higher criterion as well. Sophisticated debate topic, senior rivals, professional judges, and even more strict competition process showed its high standard across the board. Standing here on the stage, outcome of the debate became worthless. What indeed matters was this eye-opening experience itself.

Vibrant debate is underway

Debate has actually shaped a sound climate that embraces unbridled exploration, where different voices can be heard and learned. As Cui Lei mentioned, a debate on “journalistic ethics or news value, which weighs more” with Hong Kong Baptist University left great impression on him. “I am from School of Journalism and Communication, and in this debate I felt divergences of media sources and education system between mainland and Hong Kong.” Debate offers him a platform to communicate, to absorb something new, so as to broaden horizon concerning his own major.

“If all human beings are paranoias, I am convinced that a debater must be the most considerate one,” said by Luo Zilin, a junior student from School of Economics and Management, who first took a debate competition abroad. “The greatest lesson I learned from debate is to defend for the antithesis of my own perspective as well as to reanalyze myself in a profound manner.” Some people describe debaters as slick, cocky, sometimes bordering on extremists. But that is a stereotype out of their own bias and ignorance. Defending for both sides of a conflict makes a strong case for debaters to develop critical thinking from sensibility and rationality. That is how a more holistic and ordered thinking pattern is established. This kind of pattern forces them to dive deep into the problem, seek for the answer under the surface, so as to reach an empathy with two or more confronted parties.

This victory in Australia represents merely one stop in their long debating journey. At this moment several of them have already thrown themselves into another debate competition in Chong Qing. For every one of them, their debating career may one day come to an end, but this film of debate, as well as the critical thinking it carries knows no end, not at least in Wuhan University.

Photo from WeChat Official Account of WHU

Edited by Wan Qian, Li Yushan & Hu Sijia


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