Irvine Valley College’s top ranked Debate Team hosted the English National Team for an animated debate Oct. 6.
The English team was represented by Ed James, 23, history, from Edinburgh University, and Derek Doyle, 24, sociology, from University College Cork in Ireland.
Co-captains Natalie Bui, 23, accounting, and Michael Rodriguez, 22, business economics, represented IVC.
The topic was “should the U.S. construct nuclear power plants?” IVC was assigned to argue the affirmative. The English, who took the affirmative position in another debate the previous day, argued the negative.
As James pointed out, the event was equally a cultural exchange as it was an exchange of ideas.
Both sides noticed differences in their opposition’s style. James noticed U.S. format did not allow them to pose specific questions, as he was used to.
“We would have loved to have had a chance to defend ourselves,” James said.
Rodriguez also noted differences.
“U.S. style is quicker, so every second counts,” he said.
“Here in the U.S. we focus more on facts, whereas they do more storytelling,” Rodriguez added.
Bui, who served as Prime Minister of the debate, made an opening speech outlining her team’s position. Doyle posed a mid-speech question concerning the risk of terrorist sabotage of nuclear plants. Bui, wearing pearls and a pencil skirt, made the audience chuckle when she responded, “I’ll get to that later, okay?”
She did in fact cover that issue, as well as many others concerning nuclear energy.
It was apparent that she and Rodriguez were “well informed and really put time in to research,” James said afterward.
Doyle and James made the audience laugh with anecdotes about their laid back experience in California meeting “foxy beach volleyball girls.”
In the storytelling style that Rodriguez referred to, Doyle incorporated his anecdotes into his argument, saying, “you guys are too laid back when you say nuclear power is pretty safe, that it’ll be fine.”
“This debate is about security and risk,” he said.
After a total of eight speeches, the audience voted on a winner and crowned both teams in a tie decision.
“This was our best performance out of the six we have had with the Brits,” IVC coach Gary Rybold said.
The English team has no paid coaches. Their endeavor is extra curricular, and they are organized more like a U.S. school club than a class.
Doyle and James met less than two weeks before this debate, whereas Bui and Rodriguez have been debating together in the same class for almost two years.
“Debate opens the world to you because research opens your eyes, and you have to do the research,” Bui said after the debate.
“We have to be current events junkies,” Rodriguez agreed.
After the event, both teams, along with Rybold and others, had dinner at China Garden, an authentic Chinese restaurant, for yet another cultural experience.
The English team continued their two month long tour, flying to Pittsburgh the next day. They will go to Texas, then Kansas and eventually end in San Diego. Doyle and James hope to conclude their visit to America with a ride along Pacific Coast Highway to Oregon.
IVC’s team, who has won five consecutive national championships, plans to host China in the first week of Feb. 2009.