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When talk isn’t cheap

Natasha Beckles

When talk isn’t cheap

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As debate continues over whether males are performing below their potential, three young men are hoping to prove that Barbadian youth are not a generation in crisis.
Kemar Roberts, Christopher Morgan and Joseph Haynes are also looking to make Barbados known internationally in the field of debating and they have already achieved some progress towards this goal.
Last year, for the first time, Barbados had a presence at the World Schools’ Debating Championship (WSDC) in Dundee, Scotland, and the three youngsters led Barbados to win the coveted prize of Best New Nation.
Their performance was so impressive that Barbados has been invited to participate in the Pan-American Debating Championships to be held in Chile next July and the WSDC in Turkey in January, 2013.
The three Harrison College students related their “eye-opening” experience to the SUNDAY SUN recently and discussed their plans for the future.
“It was very challenging as we had to adapt to an entirely new style of debating which we never did here. That was a lot of work. We were practising every day here at the school just to grasp the style,” said Joseph during an interview at the Crumpton Street, St Michael school.
“Then over there we still had to get everything down pat so after certain debates that we would’ve lost or come close to winning, the judges would tell us ‘do this next time’ or ‘this needs to be improved’. We were learning along the way.”
This “new style” of debating involved not just longer speaking times, but completely different topics.
“In Barbados we do minor things like aquaculture or other things that are related to Barbados, but when you go to that World Schools stage you have to debate international topics like military intervention, or geo-space exploration or dictatorship. 
“The way you tackle it is also very different because you’re expected to be the government of the world and you have to come up with a full policy as to how you would address that specific issue,” said Christopher, who was recently selected as head boy.
There was also a heavy emphasis on research and content but apart from the actual competition, there were also cultural differences.
“We had people from across the globe with different religious backgrounds, different socio-economic backgrounds and the rules that we had to follow tried to encompass all the groups.
And if this was not enough, as a result of the cold temperatures and the little sleep they got, all three youths were sick by the end of the competition.
Still, Kemar, who will be the new deputy head boy, was proud of their achievements.
“We had a better track record than teams that were there for two or three years,” he noted. “[Teamwork] is what stopped us, in my opinion, from winning the entire competition.”
Now that they’ve improved on this element, the boys are backing themselves to win this year’s competition under the guidance of faculty advisor Carl Applewhaite Jr.
They all agreed that debating has influenced both their academic work and their career plans.
“[Debating] has helped me in many ways, from being able to manage my time to having more critical and objective thinking, so it would directly affect me in my language subjects,” Joseph noted.
Meanwhile, Christopher is now certain that he wants to practise law, fight for a cause and ultimately work for the United Nations.
“We’ve debated so many topics and, especially after Worlds when we debated a moot about universal primary education, I realized that so many countries across the globe don’t have that. I really want to ensure this happens across the globe.”
Kemar’s interest has always been in law and criminology but because of debating, he is even considering accounts now due to “the extensive fund-raising” the debating society always has to do.
“People might not believe it because it is an oratorical society [but] I think that has opened me to the numbers side of the career choices,” he said.
These careers may still be a long way off but the immediate concern is raising $51 000 for the trip to Chile. The group is appealing to corporate Barbados to once again lend its support.

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