“Because you’re all so incredibly nice!” – Memories of WUDC 2013 (Part 2)

Datum: Jan 22nd, 2018
Category: [:de]International[:en]international[:], Menschen

It’s been five years since the first WUDC in Germany took place. Teams from all over the world met in Berlin to determine the best debaters in the world. But how was it for the volunteers and organisers? Read more of their memories in the second part of our feature.

Jens Fischer

© Henrik Maedler

© Henrik Maedler

Being the tabmaster of a tournament the size of Berlin Worlds with around 1200 participants is a strange situation: You feel like you’re in the centre of a hurricane around which a lot of drama is circling but actually your job is “only” to collect the results of a round and compose the next one based on that data.

At the same time, the entire tournament depends on that because every single result counts. With 100 rooms you have 800 single and 400 team results each round and over the course of the preliminary rounds almost 8000 given speeches – and each one of those speakers and teams had to be at the right place at the right time.

After the start of each round, the tabroom took control of the tournament. The chief adjudicators were on their way to their own rooms so we had to make hard decisions by ourselves: An Australian team presumably missed the break because it had gotten lost in the TU and therefore lost the “race to the room” by seconds against their replacements. The anger and disappointment spread is – to a small degree – still present today.

Florian Umscheid led a fabolous team of runners. Not only were the results always on time, the crossing of the “Street of June 17th” lead to no accidents as well. We were a little bit worried about that each round.

© Henrik Maedler

© Henrik Maedler

Obviously, the arrangement of the rounds was done by the CA team but everyone was watching the big screen as well to assort the judges correctly to the respective rooms. After the draw was ready, we could issue the result and walk it over to the assembly hall – a mixture of grandeur and simple running.

The tab team itself was multinational and did its work highly focussed. Each result was checked multiple times and collated on its plausibility. Furthermore, each single factor had to be reviewed one more time as well, until shortly before the break “Cambridge Union”, “University of Cambridge” and “Cambridge Union Society” existed in parallel in the system.


Andrea Gau

© Henrik Maedler

© Henrik Maedler

I was lucky enough to only be part of the infantry at WUDC. As a little helper, who was sent where support was needed, I was able to get to know every part of the WUDC from the inside. The first three days consisted of runner activities under the expert supervision of Florian Umscheid who named the rooms after the NATO-alphabet for the radio communication (“The golden goose has landed in Echo Bravo 3!”) and regularly intonated the famous Scorpions ballad “Wings on Chair” in the recovery room. Interim result on December 31st: A sore patella tendon and the incapability to change floors without an elevator.

During the next days, I could successively inspect the catering, the shuttle-service and the main-convenor-room. And even though the dark rings under the eyes were growing from day to day: the fun of dealing with the challenge was notable throughout – in countless inside jokes, in motivational songs and in a (most of the time) great mood. I believe that the cohesion created between clubs back then is present in the German debating community to this day.

© Ljiljana Bozovic

© Ljiljana Bozovic

My strongest memory is from New Year’s Eve: The completely overtired dancing to Rihanna’s “Diamonds” at 3am. And from the moment in which an American debater – after I had served wine cups over the counter from 9pm to 1am (to all first-aiders: sorry!) – gave me three dollar bills with the remark: “Here, because you’re all so incredibly nice!” Was he drunk? Yes. Was the compliment still deserved? Hell yeah. Those dollar bills still accompany me in my wallet to date.


Patrick Ehmann

© Henrik Maedler

© Henrik Maedler

Without WUDC Berlin 2013 I would not be who I am! I have learned a lot through Worlds. And even more through the reflection about that project. There were several moments of happiness from which I pick out two: I had people around me with whom I could very extensively discuss that intensive time period. And I had enough time to reflect myself and my doing. Without these two moments I would not be who I am today. I could process everything entirely, subsequently apply the gained insights to new situations and I didn’t have to do it all by myself.

Since around one year, I am managing director of the Diakonisches Werk An Sieg und Rhein with around 90 employees. If I had not made the experience of mistakes and achievements, for example in the human resource management of WUDC Berlin 2013, my understanding of the relationship between workers and supervisors would not be as clear. Everything I do now is essentially written in books about leadership and is taught in management-seminars. And a lot of what I’m saying might be truisms. But why is the practical application oftentimes in such bad place then?

And there I return to my fortune: Not everyone has the opportunity to reflect their experience and to implement the gained knowledge. Therefore, the probably most important thing I have gained from WUDC Berlin 2013 is the recognition that I, for me, have to create the personnel and temporal structures to do a good job in the long term. That is what I try to exemplify for my employees and I encourage them to create similar structures suited for them.

© Ljiljana Bozovic

© Ljiljana Bozovic

I have learned as well, that a social organism like a tournament with 1,400 participants or even just an organisation comittee of 200 volunteers is not controllable. As Convener, als managing director or as head-orga, the best case you can hope for is to set targeted impulses which have an increased probability to lead to a spectrum of desirable outcomes. All of this has trained me in humility, realism and serenity. This deep stance of mine results out of the reflection of WUDC Berlin 2013 as well. I have the impression that with this stance, I was able to built trustful, sustainable work relations.




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