[Reflection] Lessons learnt from Ngoc Tran – IDEA AYF Coach/Judge

Ngoc Tran took part in the Coaches and Judges Track at the IDEA Asia Youth Forum 2012 in Pattaya and Bangkok, Thailand. Below, she reflects on her time spent there, what she’s learnt, how it has changed her and her plans for the future. She blogs at: http://iamngoc.wordpress.com/

Setting value for the debate

One important thing that I learned from being judge in KPDC (Karl Popper Debate Championship) is setting value for the debate. I was always difficult to decide which team won when they have made same weight for their arguments. When I asked Margo, he replied that the decision depend on the mind and heart of judges. and here is my interpretation of his answer
When two team in debate make both same sound arguments and rebut well, the judge can decide by applying their personal value to the debate. For example the motion that “states should ban smoking”, the affirmative may set their value is the state’s responsibility to protect health of citizens, and the negative may speak strongly for the freedom of the right to choose of citizens. Which one wins if they perform well both on argument and rebuttal? That depends on judge to choose what is more valuable. This is similar to when you choose between living in the city or in the country. Each has both advantages and disadvantages and you can give perfect reasoning and example for each. If only basing on arguments, it is hard to find out which one is better. But if you concern more about quality of living than money, you will prefer the country more. Why value is so important? I think because of it is fixed with personality and it is hard to change some one’s value.
The value of the judge when deciding which team wins is applied for other decision making as well. Before choosing which to buy, choosing schools… I should set my own value and priotize it. What are my most important value? and which one is more important: development or victory, quality or money? (this will be very effective when the two decisions are very close to each other when weighing total aspects). It also forces me to understand my value to decide better (maybe i will set my philosophy right after writing this note)
It will makes me not regret about my decision again, as long as I know my value and think and research carefully enough to have good reason for the choice.

Change the way I see the world

Asian Youth Forum help me to see the world in different aspects.
Because AYF participants come from different countries, i had the chance to know more about many different people with different cultures, settings. I can know more about other countries that I never ever meet people from before such as Indonesian, Nepali, Mongolian and know more about their culture, politics, and social condition.
Knowing about the differences is not enough, I also learned how to understand them by seeing the world through their eyes. A funny activity of TJ in my lab on delivery actually help me to do that. TJ assigned motion and gave to groups of two a papers writing different roles of actors in the motion (and no one can see other group the paper), requiring us to feel, think, act like that person. After 5 minutes, one person from the group went to the floor, presenting his/her own case in the role assigned. I was the command general for the motion “states should fund to establish brothels in military bases overseas”. The exercise forced me to be that general and speak in favor of his interest and concerns. And it was really interesting to listen to other’s speech in different roles and predict what group they are representing for. Sometimes they were for, sometimes they were against, but they all spoke strongly about their positions. This exercise help to brainstorm ideas for debate, but I think that it is also important for me in actual life to set myself  in other’s role, specially when conflict happens.
Further, I also learned that I am so small in this world. Before each debate round, i came with my own prepared case to the motion. And then i was surprised by new ideas, by the way they were convincing me, and by the way the opposition rebutted it. I am learning to get more diverse and deeper view.

Too happy to be part of AYF

AYF was once in a lifetime experience for me. I have never been with so many participants from many countries. Colorful folk costume, stories of countries, leader and traditional foods, the country Expo Night made me so proud of diverse and rich culture of Asia. That was an unforgettable night that we joined in each countries’ traditional dances together.
I felt very happy here because this is forum of young people with many thing similar to me. They are young, open minded, and full of zeal, and some are same to me on future path. We shared stories, dance, music freely. Knowing many people happy and very enthusiastic in their career, it help me to have more belief on what I am doing and the future that we are creating.
I also love games that we played on the playground with Burma, Korean, Malaysian, Nepali friends. I like Pattaya learning resort center. Living, studying, and playing in one location make us like a small communities as much as comfortable. However, I wish we would have more time to play game together.

Improvement – one value of MTT

I was really moved when seeing the best improving debaters and teams going to receive the awards of MTT (Mixed Team Track). MTT was really tough when putting students from different countries and different level of debating skills working together. To be honest, the debates I followed in MTT were not as interesting as what in KPDC mainly as the significant gap between members of team. The awarded debaters and teams were very happy, some speechless, and some already cried. They were not the best, but they had made the most significant improvement with all their courage. If there had not been the mixed team track, they would never faced such challenges and can not reached such improvement. At that time, I realized that the purpose of Mixed Team Tournament and AYF as a whole is for learning ultimately.

A start for my plan

Coming back from the Forum, I feel having more energy and motivation to start debate club in Vung Tau city where I have just moved to.
I was motivated by Lam Le, Minh that I can start and learn from each step to realize my goal.
Furthermore, I am more confidence with debating and coaching knowledge skills I have learned.
One important thing of debate coaching I learned from Margo is that coaches must take the initiate to create exercises to help improve debater’s individual skills that fit with their current level. Lectures they gave to us proved for the effectiveness of using exercises and activities in debate teaching. We learned in a very interactive way, much relaxed, funny, and so, interesting and easy to remember. In fact, the CJT track is the activities I like the most in this Forum. Also, the books I got from IDEA are treasure for me to start teaching debate. I am getting more debate coach materials from Margo and I want to apply these for my club now. Let’s start now!!!

As for conclusion, I want to say that:
I am no longer afraid of saying my opinion,
challenging someone’s idea,
and making decision,
if (the reason is)……. I have reason to do so.
Ngoc Tran


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