„I remember my first competitive debate“ / Joe Roussos verabschiedet sich vom Debattieren

Datum: 14. August 2012
Kategorie: Turniere

„Debating was a huge part of my educational life. That was its home, as a competitive activity“, erklärt Joe Roussos, Debattierer aus Südafrika, der zuletzt für Cambridge zusammen mit seinem Teampartner Ashish Kumar im Finale der European Universities Debating Championship (EUDC oder Euros) in Belgrad stand. Auf seiner Facebook-Seite erklärt er seinen Abschied vom Debattieren – für ihn ist es mit Uni und Studium verbunden, jetzt aber startet er in sein Berufsleben. Seine bewegenden Worte dürfen wir hier veröffentlichen.

I never know how to begin the story of my debating. I remember wanting to debate from very early on, long before it was possible at my school. I think my parents had told me I would like it and I, young and trusting, decided that it must be the thing for me. As primary school drew to its close, I remember excitedly telling my friends that I would be a debater, without any sense of what that meant.

Joe Roussos, Debattierer aus Südafrika, redete im Finale der EUDC im serbischen Parlament. (Foto: Privat)

Joe Roussos, Debattierer aus Südafrika, redete im Finale der EUDC im serbischen Parlament – er trat dort mit seinem Teampartner Ashish Kumar für Cambridge an. (Foto: Privat)

How right my parents were. It is often regarded as shameful to be seen to be ‚too enthusiastic‘ about a pastime, but I am happy to say that debating has been my life for almost 12 years.

I remember my first competitive debate, painfully prepared over weeks, though to little effect. I remember the shock of discovering how difficult something as simple as talking could be. As I learnt this game, I realised I was good at what was then regarded as a tricky, advanced part of it: speaking eloquently and cogently with little preparation. I was slotted into the role of „third speaker“ on my school team and discovered the absurd freedom of 6 minutes of rebuttal.

I remember the embarrassment and jealousy spawned by debating against schools with bigger and better debate programmes. The realisation that we would have to teach ourselves, to get better alone.

I remember the first time I felt the thrill that accompanies hearing a beautiful speech. The feeling of connection with the speaker; the sense that they get it. I remember, years later, the first time I delivered such a speech. It felt powerful. It felt right.

Just as I had believed my parents‘ assertion that I would enjoy debating, I believed them when they told me I would be good at it. It took time for that belief to become true. I remember the deep frustration of losing, born of disappointment not at the loss itself but at my own inability to do well something which seems so simple.

I remember discovering the sense of injustice that results from losing in the absence of that self-evaluative disappointment. The falling sensation in the pit of my stomach when, at the judge’s first words, I realised that we had lost.

I remember my first big university tournament; discovering that there were people like me. Not just a few, but many. Each taken with their own path to greatness, each straining for the rarified heights of success. Endlessly enthusiastic about this strange activity, they erased its strangeness and it became the most natural thing I could hope to do. They revelled in thinking about the world, not shying away from it as so many do. They became my friends, because once I had known them others seemed pale and dull.

I have loved this game. I have burned with the desire to win, and I have felt the shame of defeat. For me the central pleasure of debating has always been the feeling that I understand why my opponent’s argument fails.

I will miss it dearly.

Text: Joe Roussos / apf

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