Making Worlds Truly Global: The WUDC Scholarship Program

Datum: Dec 30th, 2012
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Category: international

Chelesile Ndlovu, Michael Mhlanga, Thabo Arthur Dube and Tatenda Muzamindo from the Lupane State University in Zimbabwe are debating for tree years. After participation at the Zimbabwe National Debating Championships (ZNDC) last summer they applied for the scholarship program and succeeded. Martin Funck, Chief Editor of WUDCwatch, the WUDC newspaper, spoke with them:

Martin Funck talking to participants of the scholarship program

Martin Funck talking to participants of the scholarship program

Achte Minute: How did it feel to be admitted?
Thabo: I feel privileged. That was an inspiring moment. Hopefully this leads to the establishment of scholarship programs in years to come.

Achte Minute: It’s your first time in Europe. How is it?
Chelesile: I believed all people in Europe would speak English. I was surprised when they barely understood some words. That motivated me to stick more to my own language. At home our native language is becoming less important. Even lessons in school are in English
Michael: In general, I expected snow – sadly that hasn’t happened. I brought all my heavy clothes with me. Before, I had some stereotypes in my head and expected racism. But people were so friendly when we arrived.
Chelesile: It creates connections and we are becoming a global nation.

Achte Minute: Looking at various crises is the world is becoming a global nation?
Chelesile: I know there are a lot of differences. It’s about inequalities, languages, currencies, borders, wars…
Thabo: I would like to disagree. There are differences but we are starting to share more of the same values in the worlds societies. One of that is democracy. Based on that value, we need to create our own understanding of democracy in Africa. It’s not just about copying and pasting the western system.
Tatenda: Yes. Concerning the cultural and language differences we have compared to others and within the country we need to clarify: What does democracy mean for us?

Achte Minute: What else do you want to do during your trip abroad?
Tatenda: On January 1st I will join the excursion to Poland.

Achte Minute: Why poland?
Tatenda: That counts when I go back home. I can say I was in the Netherlands, in Germany and Poland (laughing). Next time I come to Berlin I would like to do the Berlin Wall Trip. In my studies of European history we engaged with construction and deconstruction of the Berlin wall. The unification fascinated me.

Achte Minute: Would you take souvenirs home with you?
Tatenda: Yes. A model of one of the old buildings I saw in a gift shop.

The WUDC Scholarship Program

With the help of the Open Society Foundations (OSF), the WUDC Berlin 2013 was able to grant 100 scholarships to participants from countries traditionally underrepresented at the WUDC. These additional participants represent 31 countries not previously represented in Berlin, bringing the total number of countries to 81. This makes this year’s WUDC the most international yet.

In order to maximize participants’ personal experience and the benefit for their home debating communities, they were provided with special training during the two days before the official start of Worlds. Co-Chief Adjudicator Doug Cochran lead a team of renowned trainers who provided two days of intensive training in adjudication and debating.

In all, over 600 scholarship applications were submitted. In addition to individual need, participants’ desire to apply their WUDC Berlin 2013 experience in shaping and enriching the their local debating communities was an important selection criterion. After the resounding success of this year’s training program, Cochran expressed hope that the OSF would sponsor a similar program at the WUDC 2014 in Chennai. “This really adds to Worlds’ diversity.”

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