Muhammad Ahmad delivers welcome at opening session
Over 80 students from seven major universities from all around Iraq attended the first day sessions at the Iraq Debate Academy 2009 held in Duhok, Iraq. There were Shia, Sunni, Kurd, Chaldeans and many more as all major ethnic groups were represented. The program is sponsored by iraq Debate, Za In Proti national debate program of Slovenia, and the World Debate Institute of the University of Vermont.
The opening ceremonies featured a welcome speech by Muhammad Ahmad, director and founder of the program, followed by speeches from the President of host Duhok University and also the Mayor of Duhok. Later the governor of the province of Duhok within the Kurdistan Regional Government dropped by to wish his best and send congratulations to the organizers.
Bojana Skrt of Slovenia, who had been delayed in Amman, arrived today.
Alfred Snider of the World Debate Institute at the University of Vermont delivered a short opening speech about the progress of debating throughout the world and discussed empirical evidence about the value of debating in skills in professional and personal life. This was followed by Jason Jarvis, former director of the Asian Debate Institute and now a doctoral students at Georgia State University, who reviewed the format for practice and competition.
Students were divided into groups for activities in public speaking and delivery. After a delicious lunch (it really was delicious!) it was back to small groups for instruction on argument building and refutation. This was followed by extended periods of small group brainstorming on the motion for the first practice debate, THIS HOUSE BELIEVES THAT UNIVERSITY EDUCATION SHOULD NOT BE FREE.
Tomorrow students will form teams and be in their first practice debate, many of them for the first time.
Faculty were impressed by the enthusiasm and interest showed by all of the students. Some were naturally apprehensive about their first debate on Monday, but the vast majority of them had to be held back from debating right away.
More after tomorrow.