When again will you be able to help out at such a big project? – Teresa Widlok talks about managing the participant affairs at WUDC.

Datum: Nov 14th, 2012
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Category: international

We all know it out of our own tournament experience: waiting to get the desired slots, the first information about the schedule, and the innate hope that the OrgComm does not forget about all the requests you had. Whatever happened at a small tournament, will also apply to the World Debating Championships.

The sub-department ‘participant affairs’ will ensure that all participants feel well informed and taken care of so that they can travel to Berlin with no worries beforehand. Christian Landrock talked to Teresa Widlok, one of the divisional heads in charge of registration issues. Teresa has been debating for the Debattierclub Münster since three years. She served for two years in the executive committee, thus organized already several tournaments, such as the recent ZEIT DEBATTE in May 2012. Next to this, she studies law and currently prepares for her “Staatsexamen”, a formal examination every law student has to undertake in Germany. Since Galway 2011, Teresa is also debating in English and became responsible for international affairs at the VDCH, an umbrella organization for many German and Austrian debating clubs.

Achte Minute: Teresa, the success of a tournament largely depends on its participants. How many debaters, judges and other guests are expected to turn up at Berlin Worlds?

Teresa Widlok: First of all I am very happy about having been asked to give an interview. It demonstrates that many people are interested about the organizational details of Berlin Worlds. To answer your question, we are welcoming 400 teams consisting of two debaters each, 300 judges and up to now about 30 observes (or observing participants). In total these are about 1110 to 1150 people who will be participating in one form or another.

Achte Minute: From how many and which countries will participants come from? Which country sends the most participants to Berlin Worlds?

Teresa Widlok: Participants will come from 51 different countries, whereas the most come from the United States of America – 52 teams from about 33 institutions will travel to Berlin.

Manuel Adams created a very helpful list enumerating how many teams come from which countries. It is accessible online: https://docs.google.com/a/wudcberlin.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Ah-WvuMQdoQZdGVZdndIQ0QyRTE0VXJKcWYzMHRtLVE#gid=0

Achte Minute: Among those that are coming, are there any international recognizable and successful debaters and clubs attending?

Teresa Widlok: Naturally there are debating clubs that already gain prestige through their name. I am thinking of Ivy League Universities in America for example, like Harvard or Yale – but Australia and Europe alike have prestigious institutions that can be found in the top of the tabs in many tournaments and the final rounds of World Championships. Those are for example institutions like Monash (Australia) or Oxford and Cambridge (UK). However, concerning the participants I can’t tell you anything specific right now, as we are currently in the process of receiving all this detailed information through our system FastRego. After the deadline has passed I will be able to tell you more.

Achte Minute: You were talking of your registration process – how do you organize all the work in your task area?

Teresa Widlok: The registration is organized in the department of Participant Affairs. We are responsible for everything having to do with the registration and collection of participant details. We therefore act as an interface between organizing socials and catering, transportation of participants and the allocation of people to hotel rooms. This includes first of all the management of all registrations and all the information associated with it. But it also concerns writing invitations so that participants can obtain a visa more easily or writing receipts when we received the registration fees. Lastly, our department is also involved in all the things that have to do with the participants directly, for instance managing the check-in on the first day and on any day indeed, as well as the preparation of the badges everyone should wear. On a day-to-day basis though we also answer emails from participants who have specific questions about the registration status of their institution or who want to know if there are any free places still left.

Achte Minute: So your work won’t be done when the participants arrive? Which other tasks will your department be responsible for once the tournament begun?

Teresa Widlok: Together with Dessislava Kirova, I will be leading the Department of Participant Affairs. As for registration, tasks will not stop once registration has closed. People will need to check-in, and be helped out with problems such as if they lost items (f. ex. passport or badge). In any case, other departments will need to be informed with important participant information throughout the tournament.

Achte Minute: This sounds like quite an intimidating responsibility. How many people will help out in your department?

Teresa Widlok: Currently we are six people. Right now I am trying to enlarge the team – we still need help with processing all the requests concerning invitation letters and receipts.

Achte Minute: So helpers are always welcome. As far as I know, you don’t live in Berlin, where the tournament will take place. How does the communication work out with your colleagues and other task areas?

Teresa Widlok: It’s fairly simple. We use the phone a lot, next to skyping and emailing. We also have our own Google working area online, so that people can work on documents together at the same time. Thankfully, as not all helpers are located in Berlin, nobody complains if once again there is a Skype breakdown in the midst of a meeting or if a Google doc stops working. There was only one time when working was not that easy. During summer, I have been in Ecuador. But even then we managed – and by the way, my departmental colleagues are not based in Berlin, but rather in Stuttgart, München, Düsseldorf, Mainz, Paderborn and Münster.

Achte Minute: Why are you motivated to help out at Worlds in general?

Teresa Widlok: one of the main factors is to gain experience. When again will you have the chance to help out at such a great project? And besides, it’s really great that there is such a thing as Worlds championships in debating and that it will take place in Berlin too. I therefore try to help the organization with my little contribution. Of course I asked myself whether or not I should actually participate rather than help out – firstly, it’s really close this year and second I have never been at Worlds before. But, to be honest, I rather quickly decided to be a helper instead of a debater when I realized how motivated the team was and how much you can manage even with just a few people working on it.

Achte Minute: Recently, the meeting for all volunteers took place in Berlin. What were your impressions?

Teresa Widlok: I had the feeling everyone was pleased to meet each other, and it was surprising how quickly it led to the evolvement of some very positive team dynamics. There was a meeting though in June already, but many volunteers couldn’t be part back then, so everybody was really looking forward to this one. Furthermore, there was surprisingly much input given by all volunteers. If you put together a bunch of debaters it is really interesting to see the potential for ideas and creativity that emerges of it.

Achte Minute: Lastly, one other question: do you think, after having finished with Worlds, that you will be knowledgeable about all participant data that was given to you?

Teresa Widlok: Definitely not, there is just too much data to be remembered. But I believe I will probably know the names of institutions and their representatives quite well.

Achte Minute: Teresa, many thanks for your time and we wish you and your team much success.

The Berlin Debating Union was chosen to hold the World Universities Debating Championships (WUDC or Worlds) in Botsuana 2011 and was confirmed again in Manila 2012. Estimated 1400 debaters from about 70 countries will fight for the title of the World Champion from 27th of December 2012 to 4th of January 2013. The World Universities Debating Championship is taking place yearly around New Year’s Eve, and since 1996 in British Parliamentary. Whoever feels interested in communicating with people from every corner of the world and working at one of the important intersections of this tournament shall write Teresa: t [dot] widlok [at] wudcberlin [dot] com

Text: Christian Landrock / msi

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4 Kommentare zu “When again will you be able to help out at such a big project? – Teresa Widlok talks about managing the participant affairs at WUDC.”

  1. Philipp St. says:

    In Manuels Liste sind 74 Länder verzeichnet, Teresa spricht aber von 51 Ländern. Was stimmt den nun?

  2. Manuel (der mit der Liste) says:

    Die Liste ist nach dem Interview aktualisiert worden und somit aktueller.

  3. Manuel (der mit der Liste) says:

    Der Zuwachs kam durch das Scholarship zustande. Die Daten kamen jetzt ganz neu rein.

  4. Teresa W. says:

    Vielleicht kann man das im Interview noch irgendwie editieren. Das wurde nämlich noch im Oktober geführt (wenn ich mich recht erinnere) und zu dem Zeitpunkt waren die Länder der Scholarship Teilnehmer mir noch nicht bekannt.

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