The New Zealand Schools Debating team, comprising of Kathy Scott Dowell (Captain), Sam Coldicutt, Dan White, Craig Riddell and coach Hamish Flanagan, spent the July school holidays at the World Schools Debating Championships, held in Cardiff, Wales. We really enjoyed our time in Wales, and took every opportunity to improve our debating skills and have fun!
The debating at Worlds was of a very high standard and we really felt challenged by the other teams. The schools where we debated seemed huge, and most of them spoke Welsh, but we were made to feel very welcome by staff and students alike. Each debate was in front of an audience of about 200 students; many of whom I think just enjoyed listening to our funny accents. We won seven out of our eight preliminary rounds – we will always remember the fantastic debates we had against Israel and Singapore in particular, where both teams put together excellent cases, and it was a real battle over every point.
Debating, preparing, researching and writing kept us very busy, but we managed to find time to do some social things too. During the trip, we visited the Wales Millennium Centre, had dinner at the Temple of Peace, attended a Welsh food night, saw a debate held at the BBC studios, and got to know the other competitors really well.
We faced Canada during the octo-finals, debating the moot ‘That the government should subsidise the traditional arts of minority cultures’. Despite our very best efforts, we unfortunately lost –though we managed to convince at least one of the three adjudicators. Lots of people had come to watch us, and they were all very supportive and kind, but it still took us a while to gather our thoughts and regain our composure.
The finals were held in Cardiff’s town hall between Australia and Ireland, which Australia eventually won. That night we attended an amazing Closing Dinner in the Town Hall, which was one of our favourite nights of the trip.
The New Zealand team because very close, and we had such fun with people from 36 other countries across the globe. Being taught to tango by the Argentinean team, learning Irish slang, trying Peruvian food, and swapping stories with Estonia, Sri Lanka and Lesotho are just some of the memories I’ll keep forever. We learnt so much about debating while we were away, and we learnt so much about the world too. We thoroughly enjoyed the World Schools Debating Championships, and thank the Council very much for giving us the opportunity to go on such an amazing trip!
Kathy Scott Dowell- Captain, 2006 Russell McVeagh New Zealand Schools Debating Team