Saturday, November 8, 2008

WDI Student Ten Years Later

From Kate Aishton:


I'm sure you don't remember me, but I attended WDI's high school program in the summers of 1997 and 1999. After bouncing around the country for a while, I'm a 1L at Georgetown in D.C. Honestly, before this week I hadn't thought about high school debate in a while (beyond occasional light conversations of nerd-solidarity with students).

I was fortunate enough to get a spot in Georgetown's great "alternative curriculum," a program that focuses the first year of law school on critical analysis of the law with an historical and theoretical bent. My fellow students are all incredibly bright and motivated, and, but for one or two out of 80, far-left-leaning. Campaigning and poll-monitoring with them over the last months has renewed my faith in my generation, and I'm proud to know them.

However, our central legal theory class makes WDI's impact on my life ring clear. I keep hearing my friends, smart and arriving from a wide array of backgrounds, struggle as we move away from familiar Classical Liberalism and comforting Realism and into Critical Legal Studies. It took a couple weeks of working through this theory and its various feminist and race-focused strains to remember why I felt so comfortable: sitting on the floor outside the auditorium at UVM, struggling to cut cards and hash out the details of a Critical Pedegogy plan with the other students in my lab.

I asked around, and this isn't average, even for debaters. There are many of us at my school, and I'm the only one I've met who worked on issues of this depth rather than combing the economist for crime figures. The exposure has given me comfort with discussing race and gender, rights and needs, that allows me to hold a substantiative discussion with our professor while the rest of the class struggles to outline basic principles for the final. In other words, it's made my education a pleasure rather than a chore.

So thank you (and in turn, all the lab leaders and teachers whose names I've forgotten). I hope the students you had this summer will write you more versions of this letter in another ten years.


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