Debating is a multifaceted activity, as it tests the participants’ speaking, logical thinking and argumentative skills. It is widely practiced in Western Europe and North America, but not in Hungary. Therefore, the ICYD (International Competition for Young Debaters) was an excellent opportunity for Hungarian students to see how they would fair in an international competition. At the Hungarian qualifiers, held at the Milestone Institute in March, three teams (including two from the Milestone Debating Society, pictured at left) won the opportunity to travel to Cambridge for the finals. The competition is organised every year to give the youngest debaters (those aged 16 and under) the opportunity to compete. The venue is always either the Cambridge or the Oxford Union, which makes the competition very special.
The organisers provided the opportunity for participants to take part in a wide range of debating-related events on the days preceding the competition, such as a VIP debate, a fancy black-tie dinner, debating workshops and a tour of the town. The Milestone debaters definitely enjoyed this programme, as the workshops were useful and engaging, the dinner was delicious and the tour was interesting.
Right before the start of the debates, there was much excitement, since the participants only got to know the precise topic, which side they would be on, and who their opponents would be 15 minutes before. The judges came partly from Cambridge, whose debating society organises the ICYD, and partly from the Debating Society of Hungary, alongside with the leader of ELTE Debating Society.
The competition was preceded by qualifiers not only in Hungary, but in the other participating countries as well, and apart from the 56 teams who made it to the finals there were many hundreds who did not get the chance to travel to Cambridge. Teams arrived from 3 continents and from a wide range of countries, including Canada, Greece and South Africa. On May 2nd the debates began at 10am with four debating rounds that lasted until the afternoon. The teams advancing to the semi-finals were then announced, and the day ended with a phenomenal final in the evening. Unfortunately, none of the Hungarian teams advanced to the semi-finals, but it was still a great experience for them to receive feedback from great judges and to compete with the best debaters in their age group from around the world.
Although the debates were tiring, most participants found the topics interesting and engaging. There were debates about abolishing NASA, legalising performance-enhancing drugs, forcing immigrants to write a values and language test, and abolishing the minimum wage. The Hungarian teams faired well in all of their debates against excellent opponents. Congratulations on their achievement to Kata Moravecz and Attila Juhász of team Debrecen, to Viola Für and Ani Nguyen of team Milestone Sushi, and to Orsolya Dóbé and Tamás Tolerián of team Milestone Evidence.
More information about the competition can be found on the ICYD website.