By Jack Goldfisher
Eight students competed at international debate tournaments in Chile, Turkey, and the Czech Republic during the summer.
Amelia Miller ’15, Sara Evall ’15, Timothy Song ’15, Tommy Choi ’14, Luke Holthouse ’13, Miranda Van Iderstine ’13, Elle Wilson ’13 and Michelle Choi ’12 each attended one of the World Schools Debate Championships and argued against representatives from almost 50 countries.
Wilson and Holthouse were part of one three-person United States team, and finished in 10th place at the Heart of Europe tournament in Olomouc, Czech Republic. Song also competed at this tournament as part of a different team. Miller was the only Harvard-Westlake student to travel to the Chilean tournament.
Debates at all of the international tournaments were almost an hour long and were conducted in English.
In their free time, Wilson and Holthouse took historical tours of Olomouc and attended the “International Friendship Night,” an event organized by the tournament in which countries’ representatives set up tables representing their nations’ cultures.
Van Iderstine, who was on a team with Evall, debated at the Eurasian Schools Debating Championship in Istanbul, Turkey. Their team made it to the octofinals where they where defeated by a Romanian team.
Michelle and Tommy Choi qualified for the semifinal round before being beaten by a team from Sweden. Michelle Choi also won an individual speaker award.
The debaters were allowed to explore the city freely, and Van Iderstine was impressed by Istanbul, particularly the Hagia Sophia, Istanbul’s historic ancient Basilica.
“It was cool to be in a place with buildings and statues that are several times older than the United States,” Van Iderstine said.
She loves representing her country on the international stage, and added,
“The US team has a bad reputation at international tournaments, but we made a great impression and I’m proud of that.”
The students are part of The Debate Union, a national debate organization based at Claremont McKenna College and headed by John Meany, the school’s forensics director. T
he organization, the official representative of Team USA debate, is not affiliated with Harvard-Westlake, but many school debaters choose to debate on an international level through the organization.
No US team was composed of only Harvard-Westlake students.
“It helps to emphasize that we’re competing for the United States,” Tommy Choi said. He added, “It’s an unbelievable feeling to represent your country on the world stage, and the social and historical aspects of the competition made the experience even more fun.”