The Student News Site of Taipei American School




Debating in the Deep South

Don’t forget to smile! Our jet-lagged team of debaters tap into their reserves of Taipei Tiger enthusiasm.

Don’t forget to smile!  Our jet-lagged team of debaters tap into their reserves of Taipei Tiger enthusiasm.
Don’t forget to smile! Our jet-lagged team of debaters tap into their reserves of Taipei Tiger enthusiasm.

Imagine a room filled with 2,000 students. Now imagine if every single one of those students was a master of speech, having clawed their way into the room with razor sharp tongues and lightning fast wit. Throw in some awkward country music, a few dozen platters of Southern comfort food, and you’ll have National Forensics League Debate and Speech Tournament 2013.
Over this past summer, ten TAS students traveled to Birmingham, Alabama, to compete in the NFL Nationals, a massive speech and debate tournament that features notable alumni such as Brad Pitt and Oprah Winfrey.
For the first time in history, TAS students were able to make it into elimination rounds.
Justin R. (10) qualified past the first break in Original Oratory, officially placing him as one of the top 60 orators in the United States. A combination of charisma, elegant prose and a compelling argument regarding the lack of value in a “participation award” propelled him past about 200 of the nation’s most talented orators to land him a spot as one of the best. According to Justin, his speech was “primarily about people’s growing tendency to lower the standards in order to achieve something we deem significant, both as individuals and as a society.”
Now an alum, Thomas L. (‘13), was also able to pass the first break for the Lincoln Douglas Debate. The fact that the LD Debate is commonly cited as the most competitive event in speech and debate makes this achievement even more impressive.
“Nationals is a completely different ball game compared to local competitions here in Taipei, or even to our IASAS Culture Convention,” says Justin. “That isn’t to say that you get any less exposure to excellent competition and cultural diversity here in Asia–but you simply can’t compare [the two].” Mr Brundage, one of the coaches who accompanied the team, agreed. “Our performance at Nationals this year was unprecedented by internationals schools all around. For us to come from such a different style of competition, and still do so well, it’s really quite impressive.”
Unlike the locals, TAS students had a lot more to deal with than just the cutthroat competition. Just half a day before the tournament began, TAS students landed in Birmingham, after 23 hours of flight. Battling jetlag, occasional racism, and high cholesterol via daily BBQ ribs, students competed in events ranging from Dramatic Interpretation to Lincoln Douglas Debate. In addition to the main events, our competitors also participated in supplemental events, such as Impromptu Speaking, or Poetry Reading.
When asked what was most memorable about Nationals for her, Georgia H. (12), who participated in Public Forum Debate, jokingly replied, “you mean besides the part where we went to the largest, most competitive public speaking competition in the world?”

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