Aline Joyce's Corner

Aline Joyce's Corner's is a personal blog with stories about her personal life and her extra-curriculum activities. She features articles related to youth, youth social inclusion, volunteering, peace building in Rwanda as well as global issues.

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The Debate Camp Under Way In Gashora.

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Today is Tuesday evening and it is my 6th day at the Gashora Girls Academy. This magnificent girls school overlooks the lake Milayi and the view of the lake from the dormitory is breathtaking.

Indeed, the general topography of Bugesera district where the school is located deviates from the Rwanda's pattern of hills and valleys. It is flat like a plateau. After a long day full of debate sessions and fun activities - overlooking through the windows - feels like I am on an exotic holiday. It is exactly what I needed as I had spent the months of October and November volunteering at my favourite Orphanage in Kigali.

For 10 days myself and more than 100 students, boys and girls have been brought  together in a debate camp organised by idebate Rwanda supported by the Goethe Institute. This is rather an intensive training as the typical day at the camp can last 10 hours. Lessons starting at 8 and finishing at 4 with 2 hours of lunch break. We are trained in how to efficiently analyse issues and policies, construct and deconstruct arguments as well as using rhetoric.

Our trainers Antonis, Jack, Jordan and Gwyn are from the central London Debating Society in Great Britain and have devised us in 4 mega groups: The Lions, Tigers, Gorillas and Eagles with 25 to 30 students each. Antonis Koutsoumbos is my group coach - the Lions. The mood in the camp is simply incredible with mini fun sessions throughout the day and joke time at the dead end of the day.

The skills I am gaining from Antonis, the organisers as well as others participants are not only about the art of debating but also time management, self discipline and leadership. All of these should help me a great deal as I am aiming to compete on global stage starting by next year.

The camp will be concluded with a debate championship on 14 and 15 December at GS  AIPER in Nyandungu. Come along and experience the art of winning an argument !

So What do I know about my trainer Antonis  so far?
Antonis Koutsoumbos or Simply Tony is the CEO and the founder of Central London Debating Society based in London. Tony is a graduate of the University of Nottingham, UK in European Politics, specialising in International Relations. He has previously been heavily involved in student journalism, starting a newspaper and a radio show on current affairs and political philosophy, aimed at students. I was so impressed by how skilled and talented  he is.  Today, I came across  a debate guide for beginners he wrote and decided to share it with you. Enjoy!

The Beginner's Guide to Problem Solving by Antonis Koutsoumbos, CLDS.

Debating is decision making. You start with a proposal to act or think differently, then you weigh up your options and make a decision. The challenge is to avoid getting drawn into a confrontational shouting match, which helps no-one, simply missing the point and going off on a random tangent, which confuses everyone.
Fear not, this short, easy to follow, 5 step guide will keep you on the right track. Enjoy !
Step #1 - Put your audience first
Let's bust one myth straight away. Your job as a debater is not to beat your opponent into submission. Your job is to convince them to support you. The best way to do this is to put yourself in their shoes. Think of how you would feel is someone tried to impress you just by shouting at someone else. Now consider how you would feel if they calmly explained to you why there was a pressing need to consider their proposal and made clear exactly what they wanted to do and how it would benefit you or someone you cared about. Who would you vote for?
Step #2 - Define the problem
The Ipad was once dismissed by its chief critics as a solution without a problem. Apple can get away with that, but for the rest of us, clearly presenting the problem you aim to solve before launching into the solution is imperative, if for no other reason then it answers your audience's most important question - why are we here? The buzz word when it comes to defining a problem is harm. Who would be hurt and who would be helped by this big idea?
Step #3 - Make a plan
Me and Antonis at Lake Milayi in Gashora
Most debates are about convincing someone to do something different. Banning violence on TV, lowering taxes, sending an astronaut to Mars. If you're going to convince your audience that your idea is key to solving the problem you just got done telling them about, then you will need to walk them through it step by step. Anyone who has ever had to write a business plan will understand just how important this is.
Step #4 - Prove it
Now you've told you're audience what you want to do and why you want to do it, your next step is to convince them it will actually work. Start off by telling them what changes they can expect to see if they give you the green light for your idea, then explain how those changes can be measured. Example: let's say the problem is petrol is too expensive and the solution is to fuel your car with vegetable oil. Now don't ask me if that's actually possible, but if you wanted to prove to me that it was, I'd expect you to tell me how much cheaper it would be, how long the car could run for without being re-fuelled, and how easy it would be to fill up - on the off chance the local Texaco doesn't have a special vegetable oil pump.
Step #5 - Clarify the options
What distinguishes a debate from just another presentation is that there is more than option on the table, so make clear not just how your idea solves their problem, but also how it is different from any other idea. Think of what your plan offers that no-one else's does, or what risks their plan may carry that yours does not. It sounds simple, but a lot of people forget to do it - or they just resort to shouting at their opponents, accusing them of plotting to kill the first-born of each audience member  - not cool.

~Top photo by idebate Rwanda
~Right side photo: Me and my trainer Antonis @ Lake Milayi
~Rights reserved - Aline Joyce's Corner.


Aline Joyce Berabose is a keen reader and writer. She writes about issues related to youth and peace building. At 17, she has developed interest in blogging and global issues at early age. One of the brightest scholars in science, Multilingual and good communicator, Aline Joyce is involved in several activities including volunteering and debating.