Hidden Stories: 2015 Hanoi International Debate

“In this column, a story of something extraordinary at UNIS, but went by largely unnoticed, is examined each week”

Debaters trading blows at the Hanoi International Debate 2015
Debaters trading blows at the Hanoi International Debate 2015

Every once in a while, something great happens at UNIS and few to no one know about it. The 2015 Second Annual Session of the Hanoi International Debate is such a thing.

Organized by 8 seniors, the Hanoi International Debate was UNIS’s invitational arena to see which international school has the best students holding mastery over the ‘art of rhetoric’. The first session was conceptualized and made real by Eun Bee Ko ‘14, who invited many schools to come and participated.

The schools would send teams of four students each to debate on 7 topics divided into categories of Science or Humanities, ranging from the viability of cryogenics to what is the best political ideology. It was going to be 4 rounds of intense oratory skills, culminating in a champion’s round at the end of the day, with the winner taking home their own shiny medals.

Unfortunately, all 5 schools that was invited, failed to show up. BVIS chose not to come. HIS and SIS responded to the first email, but never replied to the latter ones. Amsterdam couldn’t schedule in time (or rather sent an acceptance the day before the debate) while 8 out of 12 participants from Concordia fell ill to a flu epidemic. This all happened within 5 days before the event.

It was an intense debate itself, whether to postpone or move forward with the planned date. “I personally wanted to delay this and wanted more schools to participate.” Tae Jun Park ’15 said. Although “TJ was essentially our leader”, said Jonas Fiebrantz ’15, the vote would favor continuing with the planned date. “We thought that the problem will happen again and the debate will never be organized”, said So Hee Jeong ’15. Other reasons such as logistics and theater booking were also strong arguments in favor of continuing. So on the 17th of January, 2015, 14 UNIS participants, 4 judges and 8 leaders convened at building B6, where UNIS would host the 2nd Annual Session of the Hanoi International Debate.

It was smaller and less, yet bigger and more. Even though not all schools participated nor anybody came to see the debate, everyone involved felt it was a success. There were only 2 rounds, which made the debate more intimate. Between rounds, debaters can commend each other for each other’s biting logic, or poke fun at each other’s weaker arguments. Then there was the the iron-willed organizing team. They had struggles nobody had to deal with, flaky participants, flaky supervisors, flaky schools, yet they persevered. The participants were a joy. Even with the prospect of a smaller event, they still brought their full fervor, remained committed, and were really good debaters as well. More people should have seen the ferocity with which the President and the Vice President of the Senate duke it out over the merits of a democracy. In my opinion, the Vice President gave his boss a technical knockout on why democracy is not the best political ideology.

That is not to say the small scale of the event didn’t have some negative effect over the Debate. The Debate would have been an absolutely amazing event if more people participated. In a student population where debate is behind closed doors (MUN), geared toward speech-making (Forensics), or just between friends, the HID is the perfect opportunity to bring the stimulating microphone–to-microphone battles to the mainstream. As a recommendation, we should have the President and the Vice-President hold a second battle, and see if our President can win this time, that should bring the attention HID deserves (yes, it was amazing, I want to see it again)

So to sum it up, it was an ambitious project, and though some would say it failed in many ways, it definitely brought what the participants wanted from it, a good time debating. Coupled with the effort and courage it takes to make this event happen and the possibilities of future sessions in the future, something great might have just silently entered the history books of UNIS Hanoi. We will hope the Hanoi International Debate will be even bigger and better, next year.

Any comments, oops *debate*, on the HID is welcomed below!


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