“Taking part in the competition has given me a number of invaluable experiences, good friends and a stock of skills which have stood me in good stead ever since.”
There are a number of things I’m grateful to Debating Matters for; taking part in the competition and being involved as an alumnus have given me a number of invaluable experiences, good friends and a stock of skills which have stood me in good stead ever since.
When competing in Debating Matters in 2007, I remember developing the confidence to stand up to those who were in a position of authority and argue a case against them. Prior to taking part in the competition I suppose I’d considered the perspectives of those over the age of 25 to be sacrosanct, but being encouraged to take a stance on an issue and defend it against contrary ideas broke down this illusion. Preparing for the topics gave me an insight into issues outside of the curriculum that I never would have had I not been involved in the competition. I remember preparing for topics on globalisation and open borders policies which I still have an interest in to this day. Studying for A Levels can be a fairly intense academic experience with a tendency of eclipsing your intellectual horizons, so the demands of DM are a really refreshing experience to counteract this as well as equipping you with the ambition and research skills necessary to be successful in university.
When I was an undergraduate at St. Andrews there weren’t many competition alumni based in Scotland, so for myself and one or two others it was a really exciting time for getting new schools into the competition, and relying on alumni to run rounds to a greater extent; I’m lucky to have been involved in this when I was at university as it massively developed my organisational skills and ability to work in a professional environment. Having to think on your feet when schools have prepared for the wrong side, judges are turning up late and students are throwing up mid-debate are challenges you learn to deal with as and when they come up. Though it can be intimidating being the first port of call for frantic teachers, you always know you’ve got a team back at the office ready to back you up.
Finally, Debating Matters has given me a really solid group of friends with a shared interest in current affairs. When helping out at rounds it’s difficult not to continue the debates on the train home. A personal highlight for me was being sent to Northern Ireland with other alumni earlier this year; it was like a Debating Matters trip!
As the London Administrator it’s a real honour to still be involved in the competition and to facilitate its expansion in the capital. If you’re thinking about helping out at a couple of rounds, do so! It’s well worth it.