Friday, June 10, 2005

welcome party at Sophia University

Yesterday we had a very fun and adventurous day. We were picked up at our hotel by Father Scott Howell from Sophia University here in Tokyo. Father Howell has been in Japan since 1972 and has been a very important facilitator in the US-Japan tours for a long time. We went to the university, and then to the hotel across the street for an American-style meal. When we returned, we had our orientation, which included being handed all of our plane and train tickets for the trip, getting an updated schedule for the tour, some articles about debate and rhetoric in Japan, and a history of all of the US-Japan tour participants and coaches. {Shoutout to the William Pitt Debating Union, here! the University of Pittsburgh has had quite a presence on the tour, beginning with Professor Kane in the 1960s}. It was interesting to learn that Leah and I are only the second team from the US to be comprise of two female debaters. Father Howell and Mr. Yano (the president of the Japan Debate Association) briefed us for the rest of the afternoon.

Around 6PM, we had our welcome party. It was a great showing of debaters and coaches from many different schools around Tokyo. The student debaters from Sophia University told us about the most popular arguments being run on both sides of the immigration debate. Many of the debaters were very excited to talk to us, and we were quite impressed by their english skills. Several debaters who will compete against us later in the tour seemed a bit nervous about the debates (one person commented that we were very friendly at the party, but feared we would turn mean once the debate rounds begin-- they seemed very concerned about how fast we will be speaking in our speeches, but we did our best to assure them that we wanted the events to be fun and educational.We also had a chance to talk to Mr. Ayabe and Mr. Kanke, the debaters at Tokai University that we will be debating today. Other features of the party include having an east/west fusion of sushi and pizza for dinner, lots of beer and wine, and Leah, Kevin and I being asked to give the parting words at the end of the party.

At the end of this very fun evening, we took the subway back to our hotel with Mr. Yano-- our first Tokyo subway experience! We were amazed at how quick and efficient the subway system was.

Well, that is about it for now. We must now go and do some last minute preparation for our first debate of the tour-- wish us luck!

PS) Leah and I demand more comments...


Blogger Damien said...

I suspect that there is always a fear that the incredibly nice visiting debaters will turn into monsters during the debate...when I debated the British years ago and this is exactly what happened. They were jerks.

For what it's worth, if there are any Japanese debaters out there reading this blog, let me relate a story to suggest that Carly (and I assume Leah as well) are the real deal when it comes to being nice.

Every winter holiday at the William Pitt Debating Union, where Carly is a coach, we have a small party where we draw names from a hat and get gag gifts for whoever we drew. Oftentimes, these gag gifts can be quite mean, or at least biting...and there is an implicit competition to see if you can get the gift that best makes fun of the person you're giving to. The slightest misstep during the season generally means a really nasty / humorous poke at your foible.

One of our new debaters got Carly's name. She ended up confessing that she couldn't get Carly a gag gift--mean or otherwise--because Carly was just too _nice_. Yes, for the first time in the history of the William Pitt Debating Union, Carly's niceness shut down any attempts to mock or abuse her. :-)

So...a long way of saying that you're seeing the genuine thing, prospective Japanese debaters!

Good luck!

9:39 AM  
Anonymous Gordon said...

Sounds like the party was a blast! Did you line up Isao and Kanke for karaoke later in the trip? That's a must, especially to see Kanke do the Rolling Stones!

Carly wrote: "It was interesting to learn that Leah and I are only the second team from the US to be comprise of two female debaters."

Indeed - this is a historic trip! If you get a chance to visit the Babel Institute or meet with Shigeru Matsumoto, see if there are any copies left of the famous radio debate that your two female debate predecessors (Northwestern debaters Cate Palczewski and Julie Arthur) put on during their tour in the late 1980s.


6:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NSU - 4efer, 5210 - rulez

12:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NSU - 4ever, 5210 - rulez

11:58 PM  

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