First time at HOEDT: Life as a debater
by Hannah Habekotté
My first year at the tournament was in 2017. I was in my last year of high school and had just graduated. By this point, I have been debating for 3 years but never did anything like the world school debate at HOEDT. Let’s say our team was not prepared as well as some of our opponents. As a team we thought: “let’s just go, and experience how this goes”. I think I speak for all of my teammates when I say we had such an amazing week. Not only did we have a lot of fun with the other debaters, but during the week our skills had greatly improved. Due to the constructive feedback from judges and others we learned so much just in that one week.
As a debater, the days can feel very long and tiring as you’re so focused throughout the entire day. In hindsight, I can truly say that the stress and energy drinks provided by our teachers were truly worth it. The lessons learned are reiterated through me to the kids I teach how to debate.
For all debaters, I do want to stress that this is more than a tournament! You have the opportunity to have your cake and eat it too, as some of my greatest experiences at HOEDT were outside of the debating rooms, so make sure you join the activities as they will teach you a lot about the other teams and their cultures.
From a debater to an adjudicator
By Joram Wijnstra
In addition to the aforementioned story, I would like to highlight the other side of the coin, fence, or picture. The side of what it’s like to adjudicate. After participating in 2017, we both came back to learn more and teach what we’ve learned. Whilst I debated, I was convinced that the adjudicators had a much easier job. Well, honestly, they do not. As a adjudicator you should firstly be focused on which team should win the debate, and secondly on giving feedback which is often more stressful than we let on.
The first thing I experienced while I was sitting on the other side of the table was how difficult it is to give good feedback which the debaters can not only use for this debate but also in the long run. I always try to give feedback which is straight to the point and still has some positive aspects, but that does not made it any easier. Our aim is to provide the debaters with comments from which they can learn and grow, whilst as an adjudicator you are constantly learning how to be relevant and precise. Therefore as an adjudicator you’re not only focused on improving the debaters but also on improving yourself. Hence it was rewarding to see that some debaters did use your feedback when you saw them later in the tournament. You don’t only learn from giving feedback but also from just watching the debates. To hear great arguments, to witness major clashes and to face new and original speaking styles is what we are there to observe. Overall, joining the Heart of Europe Tournament is a great experience. It doesn’t matter if you are a debater, adjudicator, volunteer, coach, or an organiser. When you join the tournament, one thing is a given – you will learn a lot either about debating or yourself.
Remember that to open one’s eyes, one should: Ask, Acquire and Attain. Opening your ears is the only way to fully eye the wonders of life.
The article was co-written by Hannah Habekotté and Joram Wijnstra with the various sections being marked as to who wrote which part.