Saturday, June 18, 2005

Debate Two and Three: Fukuoka

We woke up early to fly to Fukuoka. After taking a taxi (without an escort!) to the airport, we figured out the local airport without any problems.

Upon arriving in Fukuoka, Mika Nagano meet us at the airport and took us to the university. Mika is Ph.D. student studying debate in Japan. We appreciated talking to her about her doctoral program and research agenda. A good contact for Carly and I as we envision our own academic agendas.

We arrived at the campus to start a packed schedule. Professor Inuwe greeted us. When the conversation turned to Listen to Me (a 1980s debate movie staring Kirk Cameron, for any of you with lives), we knew we were talking to someone with a deep appreciation for debate. Over bento boxes (vegetarian for Carly and I), we meet our new debate partners. Carly and I split up and were paired with two students from Fukuoka Educational University for the policy debate. My new partner and I looked over his affirmative case as Carly and her partner discussed disads. Both students had only been debating about a year and were quite nervous. Yet I think the debate itself proved to be valuable for everyone involved. Carly and I enjoyed the opportunity to set up the debate as the 1A and 1N, and then watch our partners extend the arguments. Aside from a tricky series of CX questions by Carly (in response to an argument about migrants committing non-violent crime, she asked my partner if non-violent crimes meant migrants steal things. She almost had him saying that migrants commit also sorts of bad stuff), we were nice. Really, I swear.

Then Kevin gave his lecture. Most of the audience did not necessarily speak English well. Therefore the university elected to have a translator assist with Kevin’s speech. Although this decision helped the non-English speakers in the audience, it changed the rhythm of Kevin’s presentation. As someone accustomed to feeding off of the energy of the audience, taking a break every minute for a translation can mess up the flow of the speech. It didn’t help that the translations seemed to take almost double the time of the original comment. This makes an hour speech last forever, at least for the person giving it.

During the lecture, Carly and I prepped for our second debate, our first crack at Parli. We prepped the OPP side on the internet topic. The topic proved to be a lot of fun and appropriate for a public debate. For the first time on the tour, it felt like we were giving examples that the audience could relate to. This was fun. It is nice to get nods (not the kind when people start to fall asleep). Nonetheless, I was still told that I spoke too fast—by the only Brit in the audience. In my defense, he had never seen a debate before, and I was going really slowly.

After the debate, we went upstairs to a reception where we talked to various audience members. The crowd ranged from professors to students to local Toastmasters members. Good conversations. Learned about blogs in Japan. Had interesting conversations about how to engage Japanese students in classroom activities. Good times.

At this point, it was after 9 pm, and we had yet to check into the hotel. Tired, we decided not to go out on the town and instead crash for the night. Yes, Kevin didn’t have the energy to party. Now that says something.

- Leah

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