Berlin is the place to be! – BDU wants to bring Worlds 2013 to the German capital

Datum: Nov 13th, 2010
Category: Turniere

Together with his club mates John Eltringham and Cloud Ramasendaran, Patrick Ehmann, president of the Berlin Debating Union (BDU) has travelled to England for the Oxford IV this weekend. On his agenda: Of course taking part in the most prestigious and biggest debating competition in Europe – besides Euros. But much more important: Patrick and his companions are going to shake lots of hands since they just started their PR tour across Europe to advertise their bid for the World Universities Debating Championships (WUDC a.k.a. Worlds) 2013. To gain a broad majority for their project, they chose to start in Oxford, “because debaters from all over the world fly in for this competition,” Patrick told Achte Minute during an interview this week – more than 100 teams are expected at the IV.

This broad majority is the goal before BDU is going to present their bid at the WUDC Council in Botswana on 1 January 2011. Presenting the bid there is the only official part of bidding for convening the Worlds. The Council, an assembly of the delegates of all participating nations, are going to decide which bidder will be convener of the Worlds 2013 – so far, there are only rumors about other bidders, so Patrick doesn’t want to talk about it, he told Achte Minute. The WUDC Council is similar to the EUDC Council. The part which is different is the number of votes: Individual delegates may have up to four votes depending on the number of institutions of their respective nations having sent teams to the Worlds in the past two years. If you are interested in more details on that, please see the Constitution of the World Universities Debating Championships.

In the past week, BDU has made heavy use of the means of web2.0: Today, just in time for the presentation at Oxford, they put their homepage online: Get a first impression on! In addition to that, the Berlin Debating Union has launched a Facebook site on their WUDC 2013 project and started releasing latest news through Twitter related to WUDC 2013. Until last minute, they refined a video which advertises the WUDC-at-Berlin project.

How did BDU come up with the idea of staging an event as large as the Worlds at Berlin – around 1100 debaters will be expected to flock at the German capital in December 2012. “It was at this year’s Euros in Amsterdam – Cloud and I sat in our hotel room and I assured him, ‘I am not crazy – I would never be hosting the Worlds in Berlin!’ But then, on our way home to Berlin, I found myself on the train with Dessislava Kirova, Lukas Haffert and Manuel Adams – brainstorming on organizing and managing logistics of an event such as the WUDC. And now I find myself traveling to Oxford to present our bid,” Patrick revealed to Achte Minute.

Belrin’s debating society stands on the shoulders of giants – a project as large as this cannot be managed single-handedly by just one club, Patrick admitted and is now happy, to have other VDCH debaters by his side in Oxford to cheer for the Berlin presentation. On top of that, it was VDCH, the Association of Debating Societies at Universities, who facilitated the support between BDU and the German weekly newspaper DIE ZEIT. “Thanks to a donation by DIE ZEIT, we can afford to travel to other important tournaments too to promote our bid – we’re going to be at Cambridge, Cork and the Latvian capital Riga,” Patrick unfolded his itinerary. Another partner is the Technische Universität (TU) of Berlin: After negotiations with the president of TU, they agreed to provide the rooms for prelims, as is reported by Patrick – for the Worlds, around 120 rooms are needed. Finally, the organizational team may rely on the expertise of old stagers from Euros 2006: Back then, BDU was convener of the European Universities Debating Championships (EUDC a.k.a. Euros). Patrick himself was part of the logistic department, “thus I already have a good impression on how such a big international event works.”

The international debating circuit is really curious about the adjudication team. Confronted with rumors concerning the CA team, Patrick does not want to affirm nor deny any speculation, “we are still negotiating intensely – but in Botswana, we will announce who is going to be in charge of the motions.” Still, the perspective of having Worlds staged in Berlin causes fervent resonance on the web: Some “Brisbanite“ shouts out on Twitter: “I will be actively delaying graduation if @wudc_berlin win the bid for worlds 2013. jawohl! ich möchte dorthin zurück.“ And “cervus”, former VDCH vice-president Sebastian Hirsch, cheers: “The Berlin Debating Union bids to host the World Universities Debating Championship 2013. Pretty awesome cool and good luck @WUDC_Berlin!”

On Facebook, debaters from across the planet surf by the Facebook site and leave their comments, among them Mark Collins, member of the organizational team of the Worlds 2009 in Cork: “Looking forward to seeing the launch at Oxford, the very best of luck with it, running Worlds is an incredible experience!” Anne Valkering, convener of EUDC Amsterdam 2010, sends her best wishes as well: “good luck on the presentation! I hope you win it!” Ross Reid McGuire, CA of Euros 2010 in Amsterdam, shows some German skills: “This sounds fantastic. Viel Glück!“ And from Vermont, Alfred Snider, debating professor of the local university, states: “Berlin is one of my favorite cities and this would be a great way to recognize the tremendous things happening in German debating.” Chris Croke, acting WUDC champion, assures BDU: “Berlin Worlds sounds like one of the greatest debating tournaments that I’ve ever heard of!”

From Athens, an e-mail from Manos Moschopoulos, Best Speaker at Worlds 2010 (ESL) and acting EUDC vice-champion, reaches the editorial office of Achte Minute. There, he depicts his personal connection with Berlin: ”I feel great about Worlds being staged in Berlin […]. As far as Berlin is concerned, I attended Berlin EUDC 2006 which was a very well run tournament in an excellent city.” He adds some personal as well as historic reference: “I’m really looking forward to Worlds being held in Berlin, given that it counts among my favourite cities – I grew up with stories from my father that used to live in – and love – the city when it was bitterly divided in the 60’s and I was lucky enough to experience it for myself as a united capital full of life. Berlin is perhaps the best landmark of Europe’s struggle for freedom and integration, I think that a Worlds round in the city will only bring those values to light.”

Since 1981, debaters from all over the world have been competing at the World Universities Debating Championships (WUDC) at alternating locations across the planet. It was not before 1996 that the British Parliamentary Style became the mandatory format for this annual tournament. The African continent has been host to previous Worlds and stages the Worlds now for a third time, this year from 27 December 2010 to 4 January 2011 at the University of Botswana, Gaborone. Language of debate is English and there are three categories: “Main” for native speakers, “ESL” (English as a Second Language, for those who prove great proficiency in English) and “EFL” (English as a Foreign Language, for those who studied English as a mere subject).

In 1999, the Berlin Debating Union (BDU) was founded by Jens Fischer and Kai Monheim, back then with the name “Streitzeit (Berlin Debating Union)”. Since then, the society has gained some experience in convening national and international tournaments: BDU has twice been host of the German Debating Championship (2001 and 2008), the biggest tournament on the German speaking debating circuit. In 2006, Berlin was stage of the European Universities Championships (EUDC). In addition to that, the Berlin Debating Union invented the Central and Eastern European Debating Tournament, later renamed Berlin Open and then Berlin IV, thus open to debaters from Western Europe as well as to Israel.

apf / glx

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