Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Teacher Workshops Begin

<== Some of the teachers attending

We have two teacher workshops going on this week.

One is being led by John Meany and it is a teacher/coach workshop for those who want to learn how or improve their ability to lead a competitive debate program. The program will cover organization, recruiting, training, judging, tournament preparation as well as covering the major debate formats that the teachers are interested in. The program is five-days long and goes from 9 AM until 5 PM.

The other program is being led by Bojana Skrt with help from Alfred Snider and it is called "Deliberation Across the Curriculum." This is similar to last year's workshop at WDI as ell as other similar workshops that have been held in Singapore, Slovenia, Montenegro and other locations. Attending are teachers who want to use debate in the classroom to teach their current subjects. The class utilizes MANY SIDES: DEBATE ACROSS THE CURRICULUM, a book written by Maxwell Schnurer and Snider, now in its second edition. The reason it has been changed from just "debate" to "deliberation" is that many of the techniques (round table discussion, mock trial, legislative assembly) are not really debates but are still quite beneficial.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Television Programs Now Available

All three of the 30-minute television discussions staged by the Pakistani students in the International Student Leaders program at WDI are now available online.

Right click to download, click to watch right away, best viewd through iTunes:

Stereotypes of Muslims and Americans

The Future of the UN

Justifications for Intervention

College Policy Debate Workshop Begins

College policy senior faculty from left to right: Jackie Massey of Oklahoma, Sarah Green of Kansas State, David Register of Vermont and Kevin Kuswa of Richmond.

One program departs and another one arrives as WDI's busy summer continues. Now we have a group of college debaters who are preparing to debate the national policy debate topic next academic year.

The topic is:
Resolved: that the United States Federal Government should increase its constructive engagement with the government of one or more of: Afghanistan, Iran, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, and Syria, and it should include offering them a security guarantee(s) and/or a substantial increase in foreign assistance.

There are four senior faculty members in the program.
Kevin Kuswa is a professor at the University of Richmond and the director of debate. One of the most respected debate coaches in America, he was the top speaker in debate at high school nationals in his senior year and as a college debater he won the national championship by winning the National Debate Tournament for Georgetown University.
Sarah Green (recently changed from Snider) is a debate coach at Kansas State University. She has previously coached at Vermont and at Rochester. While at Rochester her teams won the NDT national sweepstakes title. For three years she was the director of the District of Columbia Urban Debate League. She reached the elimination rounds at CEDA Nationals and the NDT as a debater for Vermont.
David Register and reigning national champion coach Jackie Massey are here after teaching in the high school policy debate workshop.

Friday, July 27, 2007

High School Policy Camp Comes to a Close

The High School Policy Debate Workshop has ended. The tournament was completed and the students left this morning. I have to say that they were a truly outstanding group. Not only was there research work excellent, but they also debated with zest and always tried to do their best. It was a very impressive group. For example, of the many hundreds of books checked out on the topic, ALL of them were returned by day two of the tournament.

The faculty also did an amazing job, always cheerful and willing to do more when they needed so, they certainly made my work directing the program easier.

Here are the results from the tournament.




2. RYAN MOORE 111-6
3. JANE CAVALIER 110.5-6
4. JOSE RIVERA 110.5-8
6. ALIM MOHAMMED 110.5-11

The most important awards we give out are the "hats." Hats go to those students who have done the most to improve the intellectual environment of the workshop. Our winners were: Brittany Brown, Michelle Likhtshteyn, Stormee Massey and Tyler Schwind. Congratulations to these students for making the experience better for everyone else.

It was sad for people to be saying goodbye, but that is the nature of the WDI experience. It comes, it happens in a storm of activity that changes lives and then it is gone and those who have experienced it are back in their normal lives, but in some ways always changed.

Pakistani Students Discuss Stereotypes of Muslims and Americans

This is a group of Pakistani students who attended the International Student Leaders Program held in cooperation with the World Debate Institute this summer at the University of Vermont. Students designed, rehearsed and then filmed a round table discussion on this issue. For more information go to: https://sharepoint.uvm.edu/sites/ce/global/isi/Academic%20Program/Forms/AllItems.aspx .

Right click to download, click to watch right away, best viewed through iTunes:

See the whole video library with the newest additions on top at:

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Pakistani Students Featured in Local Newspaper

From http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=200770726001

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Kanza Agha, 22 (from left), works with Sultan Baber Mirza, 20; Ayesha Imran, 21; John Meany, director of forensics at Claremont McKenna College in California; David Paul, 20; and Sidra Saeed, 22, as they prepare Tuesday at the University of Vermont for a roundtable discussions that will air on cable television.

Pakistanis visit to build bridges

Published: Thursday, July 26, 2007
By Tim Johnson
Free Press Staff Writer

The overseas visitors were talking about how they keep up with world events when they're in their home country, and several mentioned Fox News.

Was Fox News their main news source in Pakistan? They smiled.

"We watch it for fun," said Mustafa Haroon, as others nodded. Some said they like CNN. Samir Anwar said he preferred the BBC.

"British media are more unbiased than American media," he said.

They were talking over lunch in the dining hall of Harris-Millis, a dorm at the University of Vermont. For these 17 Pakistani university students, spending a month at UVM courtesy of the U.S. State Department, lunch these days consists of pasta, nachos, French fries, brownies -- not exactly the spicy fare they're used to. No meat for most of them, either. Not that they're vegetarians, but halal meat -- slaughtered according to Muslim law -- isn't available. They eat a lot of cheese pizza. Eating pizza is nothing new -- Pizza Huts can be found in Pakistan -- but eating it every day is.

The students are no strangers to American culture, but this is their first visit to the United States. Part of what they find striking has to do not with American culture, but with Vermont.

They're surprised to find so few supporters of President Bush. They knew Vermont was a "blue state," having followed CNN's election coverage, but this blue?

For a little variety, one of their UVM coordinators is planning to take them on a field trip to New Hampshire next week. Among the stops: Mitt Romney's campaign headquarters.

They're surprised that government officials are so accessible. They spent 40 minutes with the governor. They interviewed Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss.

Some of that accessibility is inherent to Vermont, or Burlington, where it's not unusual for pedestrians on Church Street to cross paths with the mayor or a U.S. senator. It's also true that doors have been opened for these visitors as guests of the U.S. government. Selected students from Pakistan and about 10 other countries, including China, Nigeria and Ecuador, are staying at universities around the country and will convene in Washington, D.C., for a few days at the end to compare notes and make presentations. Another Pakistani delegation is in Carbondale, Ill., at Southern Illinois University.

The State Department's stated rationale is to build bridges to other countries by exposing future leaders to American culture. The 36 Pakistani students spending a month in Vermont and Illinois are Fulbright scholars who were selected from about 1,200 applicants. Not surprisingly, the members of the UVM delegation come across as articulate, self-assured and with a kind of worldly sophistication.

"The idea is to increase mutual understanding between Pakistan and the U.S.," said Jennifer Phillips, program officer with the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, who visited Burlington last week to check on the program. "From a foreign policy perspective, we think it will improve relations and break down barriers and misconceptions. I really think they are having a life-changing experience."

Life-changing or not, some of their experience will be unforgettable -- beginning with their arrival at U.S. airports. Anwar flew in to Newark, where immigration officials detained him for five hours without explanation, without food and without even bothering to interview him, he said. He missed his connecting flight and spent his first night in the United States sleeping in the airport.

Others arrived at O'Hare, in Chicago. The male students were detained for four hours by immigration officials. Haya Fatima, one of the female students, recalled overhearing one official calling out to another: "Hey, should the Pakistani females be included?" The answer was no, and the women weren't detained, but they waited nevertheless for the men to be released. They all missed their connecting flight to Burlington.

They tell these stories with some amusement and without apparent bitterness. Once they got through immigration, they say, virtually everyone has been friendly and welcoming.

They have maintained a full schedule at UVM, with seminars on history and culture, religious diversity and politics, interspersed with field trips (including a visit to Bread and Puppet Theater in Glover) and sessions with various government officials. In keeping with one of UVM's favorite themes, they attended daily classes for a week on facets of sustainability.

For poor people in Pakistan, Hira Sarfraz acknowledged, the notion of sustainability is largely irrelevant -- after all, people struggling to survive care less about the environment. For these students, however, the idea makes some sense: relying on local resources and thinking ahead about the relationship between community and environment, as Haroon put it.

This week, their regimen has included morning workshops on public speaking led by two experts on forensics, UVM's Alfred "Tuna" Snider and John Meany, of Claremont McKenna College in California. On Tuesday morning, they each delivered a four-minute speech on topics that ranged from cultural diversity to U.S.-Pakistani relations. They spoke fluently, with humor. They've used English throughout their school careers (it's a common medium of instruction in Pakistan), along with Urdu, the other language they share. At home with their families, they're more likely to speak a regional language.

Their forensics mentors offered some tips on how to improve their performances -- in advance of their "live on tape" appearance on "Flashpoint," a weekly TV show on Channel 15; and their upcoming presentations in Washington.

Meany was impressed. Speakers whose first language isn't English typically lack polish or confidence, he said -- but not these students.

"This is my fifth international exchange this year," he said. "The real difference with this group is how consistently excellent they are with their English language skills. They're persuasive, sophisticated, and they're so confident in expressing themselves on these issues."

"They're fantastic," he said.

Contact Tim Johnson at 660-1808 or tjohnson@bfp.burlingtonfreepress.com.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pakistan Students at World Debate Institute

On a grant from the US Department of State seventeen young Pakistani students are at the University of Vermont for four weeks attending the Study of the United States-Institutes for Student Leaders. After a rigorous selection process these students were brought to the USA and are at the University of Vermont while other groups at at eight other colleges and universities. Find more information at https://sharepoint.uvm.edu/sites/ce/global/isi/_layouts/viewlsts.aspx

This week they are attending a special World Debate Institute session held just for them. The goal is to sharpen communication skills as well as familiarizing them with some of the discourse habits of Vermont, including small group discussion and larger town meeting simulations. The instructors are Alfred Snider, director of WDI, and John Meany, director of forensics at the Claremont Colleges in California.

After one day of instruction in public speaking and argumentation on Monday, students delivered critiqued speeches on Tuesday morning and then after lunch formed small group discussion pods and began working on their presentation for the next day. On Wednesday morning the entire crew was at Vermont Community Access Media http://www.vermontcam.org/ . They were there to tape three episodes of the local television program "Flashpoint," offered by the University of Vermont debate program, the Lawrence Debate Union.

The students staged three 28-minute discussions on three topics: Stereotypes of Muslims and Americans, Modern role of the United Nations and finally Justifications for intervention. The program tapings went very well and they will soon be available at the Flashpoint website http://flashpointtv.blogspot.com/ .

Tomorrow the students will have their town meeting simulation, but the topic of it will be an international one and they will have some assigned roles.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

High School Topic Lectures Online Now!

A happy team at WDI

The lectures providing background as well as debate ground for the 2007-2008 national high school debate topic about public assistance to sub-Saharan Africa are now available online.

Go to http://www.uvm.edu/~debate/watch/?M=D and look for files like



You will find three-part lectures about the topic by Gordie Miller and Jackie Massey.

World Schools Lectures Online

Watch them all. Check back here for more links.

This is a lecture by Bojana Skrt of Slovenia. It was the opening lecture of the World Schools Debate Workshop at the World Debate Institute. Others will follow. The World Schools format is rapidly becoming more and more popular for competition outside of the championship itself.

There are two sizes, one fairly small (36.9 MB) , and the other fairly large (podcast 399 MB).

Right click to download, click to watch while downloading, best viewed with QuickTime or iTunes.
Small file: http://www.uvm.edu/~debate/watch/wdi07wsdc1format.mov
Large file: http://www.uvm.edu/~debate/watch/wdi07wsdc1format.m4v

Monday, July 23, 2007

World Schools Workshop Debates Challenging Topics

Senior faculty members: Peejay Garcia, Korea National Coach, James Probert, Head of the Center for Speech and Debate at the English Speaking Union in London and Bojana Skrt, workshop director and Slovenia National Coach

As you may or may not know the World Schools Debate format uses a mixture of prepared topics and impromptu topics. Half of the topics are announced in advanced and it is assumed that the students will do substantial research and brainstorming in building their cases. For the impromptu topics they get a dictionary, one almanac and one hour to, among the team, decide what to argue and which strategies to employ.

The topics for this session are listed below, and they are picked day by day, and not all of them will be used.

This house would ban the serving of junk food in the schools.
This house would lower the voting age to 16.
This house would introduce 21 years as minimum drinking age.
This house would ban elective cosmetic surgeries.
This house believes that current media portrayal of women does more harm than good.
TH would broadcast executions.
This house would have harsher sentences for celebrity criminals.
TH would ban religious symbols in state schools.
TH believes cultural artifacts should be returned to the countries of origin.
TH believes marriage is an outdated concept.

This house would negotiate with terrorists.
This house would apologize for colonialism.
This house would make reparations for slavery.
This house should abandon civilian use of nuclear power.
This house believes hate speech should become a crime.
This house believes that civil liberties must be restricted in the interests of security.
This house believes free trade harms more than helps developing countries
This house would substantially decrease agriculture subsidies.
This house would tie world bank aid to women's rights.
This house believes Jerusalem should become an independent city.
This house should send armed forces to stop Darfur crisis.
This house should support a Kurdish state.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

World Schools Debate Workshop Begins

Bojana Skrt opens the session

The two-week World Schools Debate Workshop began today. Students from three continents have come to learn with and from three of the top debate educators in the world.

Bojana Skrt is the director of the program, but is director of Z.I.P., the NGO that organizes debating activities at all levels in Slovenia. She has two EFL world titles to her credit and has organized a large and thriving debate community at all levels in Slovenia as ell as promoting debating globally and especially in he former Yugoslav countries. She was recently elected to be on the World Schools Council. This is her fourth year at WDI.

James Probert is the head of the Centre for Speech and Debate at the English Speaking Union that organizes speech and debate activities globally from their base in London. James was a member of the England World Schools team that made it to the finals in 1999. James has been a judge at World Schools seven times and has taught debating in 25 countries. He was also recently elected to be on the World Schools Council. This is his second year at WDI.

Peejay Garcia smiles for the camera

Peejay Garcia is from the Philippines, but is as international as a debate educator can get. He was the Asian champion while debating for Ateneo de Manilla. After a successful coaching stint in Thailand, he became coach of the Korean national debate team for World Schools. His team has had a wonderful run in th last two years. This is his first year at WDI.

Others will drop in to lecture, such as myself (Alfred Snider) as well as John Meany.

The students began debating immediately, and will have at least 20 debates before the two weeks are up. Debate is a skill, and you learn it through practice and repetition.

The students are an incredibly diverse group, but all share a certain intensity we can already detect in their earliest performances.

Watch for lectures to be available soon.

High School Policy Camp Advances With Rigor

Here at the World Debate Institute the High School Policy Debate Workshop has achieved their goals of producing an excellent set of evidenced arguments for the first wave. Gordie Miller's group was first in the race to the finish line with his Agency for International development good/bad file was a basic one people need to have. Others followed, including a huge critique of development discourse argument produced by her students, David Register's group finished their female genital cutting affirmative, and Jackie Massey's group finished their affirmative case on providing therapy for sub-Saharan African victims of landmines.

We had an exceptionally long practice debate on Friday. We decided that we would devote the entire afternoon to a "stop-and-go" debate where at each stage of the debate you advise students, give guidance and then repeat some speeches. The results seemed to be excellent as the student felt it was a strong learning experience -- learning by doing and cooperation.

The students deserved the afternoon excursion to downtown Burlington they got on Saturday.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

High School Policy Debaters Face Deadline

As we near the seven day mark for the National High School Policy Debate Workshop today is the day when research assignments are due. Each research group has thought of and designed a strategic argumentative position and today they are supposed to deliver it for printing and distribution.

Each group goes through a process of argument development, research, review and then publishing. They began with a series of discussions about various ideas, and from these discussions they develop a major affirmative or negative argument that they want to work on. The students and instructor then develop a comprehensive research plan utilizing all facets of the global information architecture. Quite often students check scholarly volumes out from the library and read them in pursuit of ideas and evidence that can support or defeat the major argument they are developing. This reading phase is very important to develop the understand that complex issues of public policy need comprehensive examination and research. Then the evidence is processed into arguments. Then the overall position has to be refined based on the actual evidence that exists. After this a comprehensive argumentative position will be published, indexed and summarized before distribution.

So, needless to say people are rush to copy, print, download and adjust a variety of information bits. Groups with laptops are "tagging" evidence and processing before final assembly. People with flash drives full of digital materials are getting them printed and processed. The final sheets that the text will be put on has been designed and distributed.

It is coming up on dinner time on Thursday. Some will cut dinner short to come back to the Tyler Theatre to finish their work. The work period for today will end at 8:30 PM, and people hope to be finished.

You can get a report tomorrow on how the groups did.

Middle School Students Make Impressive Progress

<== Greg Paulk, director

It has been exciting to watch the middle school students make progress as the week went on. They made arguments and provided proofs from their first debate, but no they are adding crucial dimensions to their debate performance: development of an overall argumentative position in the debate, adequately refuting the arguments of the other side, utilizing strategies as opportunities present themselves and finally balancing the arguments of the two sides into a persuasive argument for a decision one way or the other.

Their energy is exceptional and exciting. During the early evenings they have been occupied in activities, whether walks, touch football, small group games and even a sing-along.

Greg Paulk, the overall instructor, has been very pleased with their progress. "They are really getting it," he said, "and starting to make good decisions in the debates." As a six-time national champion coach at the middle school level, we hope that some of his experience rubs off on these young people.

A number of them have mentioned how excited they are by debating and how they would like to help start it as an activity in their schools when they return home. Greg will be providing them with extensive information beyond hat they already have to facilitate this. As well, WDI will always be there to support and advise students and teachers. Fell free to email me, the director, at alfred.snider@uvm.edu .

Sunday, July 15, 2007

High School & Middle School Programs in Full Swing

The Royall Tyler Theatre (above) is the home of the WDI

Saturday was the first day of the World Debate Institutes's first two program - Middle School Public Debate and High School Policy Debate.

After morning welcoming and orientation assembly the real work of the program began.

Middle school students were introduced to the concept of debate by Greg Paulk, teacher at Desert Springs School in Palm Springs, California, and a six-time national champion middle school coach. The students took to it eagerly. After lunch they got some additional orientation and then started getting ready for their first debate. That's right, they have their first debate on day one. The topic was that cell phone use should be allowed in school. I was lucky enough to judge one of these debates and it was a great experience. The students were very verbal, had good arguments and supported them well with examples. They were still a little new at concepts like points of information, note-taking and such, but it was an excellent way for them to finish day one. They had some evening activities back at the dorm with WDI team member Mikyung Kwon. Sunday should be another exciting day, but with a practice debate they will do twice.

The high school students got right into the topic, that the United States should substantially increase public health assistance to sub-Saharan Africa. After their orientation thy took an assessment test to determine placement. There was a short break and then Gordie Miller of the University of Rochester gave the opening topic lecture. Gordie has been an extremely successful coach at a number of school, and is now at the University of Rochester. He has national championships and a top speaker at varsity CEDA nationals as part of his record.

<== Jackie Massey in his college coaching mode

After lunch Gordie was followed by Jackie Massey for the second and third parts of the topic lecture. Jackie Massey is currently he director of debate at the University of Oklahoma. Although he has been successful everywhere he has coached, his work at creating a new program at Oklahoma has been exemplary. His team won Harvard, Wake Forest and Northwestern and then won CEDA Nationals over Dartmouth 11-4, capping an undefeated tournament. His tam then placed third at the NDT. Jackie has a unique way of sharing information, and the students enjoyed his presentations for their clarity and candor. All three of the topic lectures will soon be available at various websites. We will let you know.

After a short break there was a final lecture of the day. The new debaters heard a "what is debate" lecture from Jackie Massey while the experienced debaters heard from Jillian Marty on how to take the "next step" as a debater who wants to succeed. Jillian has her debate roots in the Big Apple with the New York Urban Debate League, and hen sh attended the University of Vermont where she was squad president for four years. She won the JV national title and also advanced to the elimination rounds at varsity nationals as well as winning a number of tournaments. She received a masters degree from the University of Alabama on a fellowship, and is now a doctoral student on a fellowship to study speech communication at the University of Massachusetts. She is a dynamic and direct communicator.

After the diner break the students returned for the evening activities. These involved a "partner social" where students talk to each other, meet new people, and then choose a debate partner. They meet with me (Alfred Snider) and Jillian to convince us that they should be a team, and then if they convince us they receive their first evidence set and are assigned to a skills and research lab. The next evidence set comes out Sunday afternoon, with their first practice debates on Sunday evening at 7 PM. They then went to their skills and research groups to get oriented to these regular groups.

Sunday morning everyone has some time off, and we start again at 1:30 PM this afternoon. Things seem to be getting off to a good start!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

WDI 2007 begins this Friday in Vermont

This Friday high school students and middle school students begin arriving for the beginning of the 2007 WDI session to be held in Vermont.

High school students will arrive and begin the National High School Policy Debate Workshop on Saturday, This session will last two weeks and will be coordinated by senior faculty members Jackie Massey (University of Oklahoma), Jillian Marty (University of Massachusetts), David Register (University of Vermont) and John "Frosty G" Miller (University of Rochester). The program is directed by Alfred Snider (University of Vermont), that's me.

Middle school students will arrive and begin the Middle School Public Debate Workshop on Saturday. This session will last one week. Greg Paulk (Desert Springs Middle School, Palm Springs, California) will direct the program.

We will have more news and some photos on Friday, arrival day.