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26/08/2021 - 08:47

Debate - an intellectual venue for Hue youth

Over the past few years, debate has emerged as an academic playground which opens up opportunities for young people to voice their opinions on a wide range of topics from everyday life issues to hot-button matters on social media.

Nguyen Nhat Thuy Tien at the game show “Truong Teen” (Teen Academy).

Embraced by the youth

Debate was introduced to Vietnam around six years ago, and has quickly gained the appreciation from the youth across major cities like Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City. In Hue, young people have been exposed to debate and ever since, it becomes a spiritual food among their intellectual activities.

Founded in 2016, The Anecdotist (TAD) is a debate club of Quoc Hoc Hue High School with around 30 members practicing once or twice a week.

Nguyen Nhat Thuy Tien, TAD former president, explained that debate is an intellectual activity in which debaters collate and analyze given information, and then build up a system of theoretical points, and organized a structure of arguments to convince the audience.

According to Thuy Tien, “debate is most widely known as a formal discussion which involves more than two parties presenting their arguments to uphold their opinion on a given topic.”

There are various types of debates such as Academic Debate, Public Forum, Presidential Debate, Informal Debate, Model United Nations Debate, etc. Currently, students in Hue only practice the Academic Debate. 

Having known and loved debate since grade 9, Vo Huong Giang from Quoc Hoc Hue High School shared that a certain number of people equate debate with mere argument, which is totally untrue. Although both are about conveying one’s opinions, the latter offers subjective views only whereas the former entails presenting further explanation, clear examples, and factual evidence in the interest of common benefits. 

In developed countries, debate is a popular intellectual activity in which tournaments come in all shapes and sizes and are organized under certain rules and formats. In Vietnam, youth debate is played by the Asian Parliamentary Debate Rules. 

Huong Giang explained that each debate round involves a judge panel, audience and two teams with three speakers on each for and against side.

One speaker from each team in turn will have seven minutes to deliver their team’s speech and answer the Point Of Information raised by the other team speaker. The judge will evaluate the debate and deliver the final decision. Generally, the round lasts about 1 and a half hours. 

Opportunity for self-development

Debate is becoming increasingly popular in Vietnam thanks to the game show “Truong Teen” broadcasted on the national television channel VTV6. Thuy Tien confided, “After having represented Quoc Hoc High School in the show, I was quite surprised to receive so many compliments from everybody. I can confidently say that the show and debate activities in Hue have attracted a great amount of attention and held such a great appeal to the community.”

Nguyen Xuan Tung, a student from Quoc Hoc High School, said that he had joined the TAD since grade 10. Being a fluent person who is not shy away from voicing his personal views, Tung admitted he was immediately in his element when joining the debate club. 

“Debate has helped me develop critical thinking and learn to consider matters from different angles. It also helps me improve my ability to persuade opponents, my public speaking skill, and learn how to receive other opposing views in a debate,” Tung shared. 

Not only in Quoc Hoc High School but also in other secondary and high schools in Hue, debate has been recognized as a venue for students to improve their presentation skill, information analysis, logical thinking, along with the ability to own the stage as well as to perform teamwork. 

Tran Cong Dai, a member of Wars Of Words (WOW), a club at the Provincial Youth Activities Centre, shared that the members often hold debate rounds to sharpen their skills and, together with TAD Club,host debate camps for keen students to participate.

Debate camps such as WOW, National Novice Debating Championship, Quoc Hoc Hue Debate Camp have taken the youth in Hue by storm in recent years. 

 “I have learnt many amazing things from those camps. What I treasure the most are not prizes or awards but friends I have made along the way. Debate has brought us together. I have also learnt to become a better person with each camp experience,” Huong Giang shared. 

For all intents and purposes, debate should receive more focus on development in quantity and quality to reach out to more young people. Consequently, the youth in Hue would be able to have more opportunities to sharpen their critical and logical thinking, not only applied in their academic endeavors but also in everyday life. 

Story: Dang Trinh. Photo: Thuy Tien

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