“An incredibly awesome surprise”- Interview with ESL Champions Peer & Emilia

Datum: Aug 28th, 2013
Category: International, Menschen, Mittwochs-Feature, Turniere

EUDC ManchesterLast weekend a dream that many debaters dream came true for Peer Klüßendorf and Emilia Carlqvist: They became European Debating Champions in English as a second language. Peer started debating in highschool when he attended “Jugend debattiert” and advanced to its national and international final in 2007. One year ago, he resumed debating when he moved to Lund. Emilia just moved to Lund in 2011 and tried debating at a local tournament. Despite liking it, she was too busy and did not debate again until 2012 when she decided to run for the board of Lund Debate Society. Achte Minute caught up with Peer and Emilia and talked about their triumphal procession.

Achte Minute: First of all: Congratulations to both of you! Let’s be honest: Would you have dreamed of actually becoming European Debating champion?  
Peer Klüßendorf: These were our first Euros and no Swedish team had ever broken before, so we didn’t expect much. We knew that if we did well, we would have good chances of breaking but advancing much further was truly an awesome surprise for us.
Emilia Carlqvist: I don’t think we had fully understood how far we had come until the morning of the final. We decided to sleep in but woke up at 6am instead, hearts pounding and realizing that we had actually reached the final. It was impossible to fall asleep again so we each grabbed an old dog-eared economist and lay reading. The thought of potentially winning was still not comprehensible.

Let’s recap: How did the tournament go for you?
Peer: Given our poor preparation, our start into the tournament was as expected an awful one, resulting in 4 points after the first day. From there, things gradually improved (if we ignore a cringeworthy round 8) and in the out-rounds everything just seemed to go our way.

Peer Klüßendorf and Emilia Carlqvist

Peer Klüßendorf and Emilia Carlqvist

Were there any motions you liked in particular and that helped in improving?
Peer: I had almost given up on the idea that I could ever apply my studies in real life [Editor’s note: Environmental Studies]. Thus, I was very excited about defending radical environmentalism in the semi-finals. Additionally, I honestly believe that environmentalism is becoming a social consensus nobody openly contradicts, yet in practice most people ignore. It was great to make this important topic the motion of a public debate!
Emilia: I tend to like gender and social policy motions most.

Talking about motions: Did you prepare any specific motions? How did you generally train for EUDC?
Peer: We attended two very nice tournaments together: the Nordic Debate Championship in Helsinki and the Jacobs Open in Bremen and to our surprise won both of them. We then had grand plans, including online training during the summer, none of which became reality because Emilia was in Botswana and I was travelling through the Balkans until the last day before Euros. I’m afraid I lifted more beers than newspaper pages in the last two months.

If you had had the chance to train, how would you have proceeded?
Emilia: Read on your own, discuss it with your partner and debate! Afterwards, let your guard down, neatly tuck away your ego and accept all the feedback you get in order to truly learn and develop.
Peer: Read, read, read. Studying a broad range of humanities and social sciences, retrospectively, turned out quite well for me. More short term: Make a list of around 20 topics that are intensely discussed in international media, sit down with your partner for an hour per topic and create a convincing case for both proposition and opposition. Even if the topics don’t come up, you’ve really improved your skills in creating a good logical narrative. Record your speeches and exchange them online so you can debate teams from your club even when you can’t meet in person. And if you can, try to attend a prep tournament in the week before Euros, so that you’re back in debate shape right from day 1.

When did you decide to become a team and participate in the EUDC?
Peer: We decided to work together for Euros half a year ago and given that we have quite fundamentally different backgrounds and political views, I’m still amazed how extremely well we function as a team and especially how much fun it is to debate together. Emilia is even slowly becoming vegan, I just have to check she’s not turning me into a liberal.

How did you like the Manchester EUDC in general?
Peer: The only bad thing I remember are the towel crisis [Editor’s note: There were no towels in the dorm rooms] and the food queues, so it has most likely been a fantastic tournament. I met so many extremely nice people that started to support us long before the final and I was honestly amazed how wide the international debate scene would open its arms to two new kids from Sweden. It was truly an intellectually and socially inspiring experience.
Emilia: I second Peer, it’s a pretty good tournament when “towelgate” is the biggest problem at an event of this scale. The organisation committee and volunteers were all very helpful and extremely friendly, the CA team provided great motions that varied, were challenging and generally fun, plus, the adjudicators and debaters were nothing short of amazing. I will never forget how supportive and welcoming people have been towards Lund. Such great people attending and organising, such great debates and a great outcome!

What are your plans for your debating future?
Peer: Given that my studies end in a year, I’ll try to speak at as many tournaments as possible and I am especially looking forward to my first WUDC and next Euros. After that, I fear there’s no escaping the inevitable career as a debate dinosaur adjudicating many tournaments. Currently we are also trying to build up the Scandinavian debate scene, so I’ll try to give many workshops, the first one being next week in Oslo.
Emilia: I will be working on a debate project in southern Africa which brings together local future leaders to discuss the challenges and possibilities of regional integration. I hope to be attending a couple of local tournaments, mainly in Botswana and South Africa, before going to the WUDC. Simultaneously I will also be working on the development of debate in Scandinavia, especially supporting new female debaters since there unfortunately is – as everywhere else – a lack of women in the debating scene.

Can you tell us something about the Swedish debating scene?
Peer: It’s very small, yet very kind and hopefully now growing more than ever. In Lund, we focus a lot on the social aspects, cooking before our weekly debates, having cookies and coffee for our growing audiences, many of which I hope are slowly starting to speak and adjudicate as well. We have recently organized a Nordic Debate Forum (see article on Achte Minute) and will in future, increase our efforts to propagate debating, ideally supported by all the new attention and support from debate societies around Europe.
Emilia: Personally, I am thrilled to see how debate has grown in Lund over the past year. We went from being a handful of debaters to filling our debate café to the point where there was not a single chair left in the aula. Having put so much work into developing Lund Debate Society, it’s really satisfying to see the development of a new generation of Lund Debaters.

Peer and Emilia, thank you for talking to us.


Das Mittwochs-Feature: every Wednesday at 9am, the “Wednesday- Feature” introduces a idea, a debate, a book or a person. If you want to kick of a debate, send us your proposal via email (team [at] achteminute [dot] de).

Peer Klüssendorf (24) is in his final year of his Master in Environmental Studies in Lund. Before that he had studied Political Science and Philosophy in Rostock and Lyon. He was best speaker and champion of the Nordic Debate Championship and won the Invitational tournament in Berlin this year.
Emilia Carlqvist (25) is studying to be a medical doctor in Lund. Before that she pursued a degree in Economics and languages in Gothenburg, Rome and Madrid.

The interview was conducted by Annette Kirste.

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1 Kommentare zu ““An incredibly awesome surprise”- Interview with ESL Champions Peer & Emilia”

  1. Thore Wojke says:

    Very cool interview, thanks Annette/achteminute – and congrats to Emilia and Peer!

Comments are closed.

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