Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Critical Thinking Across Cultures: Uganda 2007

The video of the US trip to Uganda in July 2007. Features interviews with students from Northern Uganda. The transcript of one interview is posted below as "The Kids of Northern Uganda." A transcript of the second interview will be coming shortly.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The IDEA Weekly, Volume 142 August 23, 2007
Dear INN Readers,
At this point, I hope you’ve finished recovering from lingering post-forum blues and begun looking ahead at plans and activities for the upcoming year. I’m beginning to recover, but I miss those little packages of cookies the fairies brought out at coffee breaks. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of snack accompanies the coffee breaks next year in Bulgaria. Moving on from cookies: though you can’t easily access Dobra Voda or Dobra Rano (unless you’re still in Trest), you can visit www.idebate.org/blog to relive memories and see the latest blog postings. And, don’t forget our beloved the IDEA Alums Facebook group, where you can see photos from other IDEA Alums…and even visit some memories you don’t want to remember. J IDEA has been hard at work coordinating fall projects and activities, and we are beginning planning for next spring and summer already, so remember to visit the IDEA website often for up-to-date news! ~Arminda

TPS Global Debates 2007-2008
The weeks of Global Debate are quickly approaching. If you haven’t signed up for the TPS Global Debates, now is a good time to do so! This year, TPS looks different from years past, so be sure to read carefully and ask questions. For the TPS Global Debates this fall, you can get involved by organizing a debate at your school on the topic: “Resolved: Market mechanisms are preferable to regulatory approaches in reducing carbon emissions.” The coolest part? You and five other people from your school could with a trip to the U.N. Youth Summit in New York July 2008! There are also lots of other prizes and special benefits for IDEA members! For more information, go to The People Speak’s website and register. There is additional information on IDEA’s website at www.idebate.org/thepeoplespeak. Download the Global Debates Toolkit and learn how you can become involved in the Global Debates today! Please don’t hesitate to contact Arminda with questions. You can also email info@thepeoplespeak.org . Take advantage of this opportunity!

The TPS Global Debates Festival in Haiti
As part of this year's the People Speak Global Debates, IDEA and its partner, Fokal, are pleased to invite high school debaters to the first international debate event it is hosting in Haiti. The event will take place in the beautiful city of Jacmel October 31st—November 4th, 2007. The festival will feature a five round debate tournament, as well as training, discussions, and cultural activities. All high schools who register for the TPS Global Debates 2007 will be eligible for participation in the Global Debates Festival. You can see more information about this event on IDEA’s website.

IDEA and CCD Announce Dates for the Bosnia Open
The Centre of Cultivating Dialogue in Sarajevo, IDEA, and The People Speak announce The 2007 TPS Bosnia Open, an invitational tournament for Southeastern European countries, will be held November 17th-20th, 2007. To be eligible, debaters must participate in the Global Debates this October. We will announce this event and necessary details, including how to register, on the IDEA website soon.

The IDEA Wiki: An Important Source of Information
The IDEA Wiki is quickly becoming one of IDEA’s most popular website pages. On the Wiki, you can find information about a variety of topics that are debate-related and IDEA-related, and you can add topics and articles as well. The most recently added topics include: Karl Popper Debate Judging Handbook, The People Speak: Global Debates, The People Speak: Cartoons, Debate in the Neighborhood, the IDEA Debate Hall of Fame, and The September-October NFL LD Topic.

It’s Not Too Late to Sign up for the IDEA Exchange
The IDEA Exchange is an academic conference that will take place in Kaunas, Lithuania November 7-8, 2007. IDEA invites university professors, university students, debate activists, youth workers, and debate educators to attend the conference and capacity building workshops. This year’s academic conference topic is “Debate in the Neighborhood.” To submit workshop proposals or register to attend, contact Jurate Motiejunaite.

IDEA Multimedia
IDEA is continuing to develop multimedia resources, including the IDEA Encyclomedia, IDEA Citizen Journalism Pages, and of course, IDEA Radio. You can even upload your own materials to many of these resources! Go and check ‘em out!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

What is Climate Change?:Join Global Debates!

As part of the Global Debates effort within The People Speak 2007/2008, we would like to show you this Public Service Announcement, produced by Jumbo, on behalf of the International Debate Education Association.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Kids of Northern Uganda

When it comes to the Critical Thinking Across Cultures project, there are a lot of things I could write about -- the trip to Mabira rainforest, Jinja Community Day, the peace theater and mock parliament sessions... but I’m not going to. Instead, I’m going to wite about something that wasn’t on the planned schedule of events, something that happened when I sat down one afternoon to talk with a few of the Ugandan students about the situation in the northern regions of their country.

First, some background: underlying all the natural beauty of Uganda is a tragic reality, especially for kids who grow up in places like Gulu, Lira, Teso, Soroti -- in the northern and eastern regions of the country, some two to three-hundred kilometers away from the capital. Many of these districts remain in disarray, still ravaged by war with the Lord’s Resistance Army, a strange and ragged collection of child soldiers and militiamen led by Joseph Kony. Kony, a self-declared prophet of God, justifies his mass slaughter and rape of civilians, his abduction of children into his army, and his twenty-year campaign of torture and terror as divinely inspired. As a result of the war, much of the population of northern Uganda has been herded into Internally Displaced Persons or IDP camps, where educational opportunities are limited, and the threat of war hangs like an omnipresent cloud.

Several of the Ugandan CTAC students come from areas like Gulu and Lira. When I sat down to discuss their experiences I was shocked -- not only by the stories they had to tell, but also by the way in which they seemed to have emerged, in spite of it all, resilient and hopeful about their future as well as the future of their country. A brief word of warning: James, Genavive and Godfrey don’t hold anything back when describing the situation in the North, and some of their accounts of LRA tactics are a bit disturbing and graphic... Having said that, I believe their stories are also necessary -- in their unvarnished form -- if one is to understand not only the tragic situation in the North, but also just how special these kids are.

RB: James, we were talking earlier about the LRA and the northern regions of Uganda, and you were telling us some stories. Could you tell the stories some more?

James: What happened in 2003, the LRA came to Lira in June. At first, they started and collected all the people, and they picked some elders, slaughtered them, and gave people to eat.

RB: What does that mean, "they gave people to eat?"

Godfrey: They slaughtered people --

Genavive: They slaughter people. Then, sometimes, they boil them and then, when they are in a group, they make the live ones eat the dead ones.

RB: They do this to frighten and intimidate people?

Genavive: Yes.

James: Then, (the LRA) continued their journey up to Teso region.... They continued up to someplace called Obalanga. What they did from there, they threatened the people seriously, the people took off, and they burned everything that was there.... and they entered into some shops where they poured acid into the salt, and the people who ate that salt died.

Genavive: They used to write letters to drop in villages... "Tomorrow, we are visiting --" And it is true, when they say, "tomorrow, we will visit the YMCA," truly they will come.

RB: And when you are in a place where the LRA says, "we will come," what do you do?

Genavive: You take off. You try to run ahead where there is some security.... By then [2003], I was also in [the Northeast District of] Soroti. It so happened that they wrote a letter to the college -- the Arapai Agricultual College -- and they wrote a letter that they dropped there. But the people [at the college] didn't bother so much, because Obalanga was still far from them, so they thought "Oh, those people can't reach us." But it so happened that [the LRA] arrived in the night, and they started shooting the boys. There was a boy whose leg was shot, and they had to cut it off. People took off....They were abducting boys from Teso college -- there's a school in Teso there called Teso College -- and those boys had to run. You even leave your property, you leave your books -- actually the intention was to disorganize education....

RB: Where do you go? Where do you go if you have to run?

James: Where you think there is security.

RB: But where is security, I guess? Do you go to a camp?

Genavive: Yes, you go to a camp. Of course, the army men guard the camp.... You know, these army men also fear the LRA rebels. When they see them coming, they also take off, because they know it's dangerous.... Sometimes we suffer out of the negligence of the military force, because they're supposed to provide security, but they also take off.

RB: So the rebels are very strong, in other words?

James: Yes, very strong. But I want to state everything that happened, step by step. These people came in four steps. The first step when they came, they were very simple, and they came and joined the community.... and they were asking for food, and if they joined a family, they were asking for cows they wanted to slaughter; they were asking for goats, hens.... They eat and then they go; they eat and then they go.... I think they were studying how the region is.... The second step, they followed up... They started abducting the youth. Abducting every youth. And if they get a girl, they rape her. If you don't want to be raped, they will shoot you dead.... And if your parent or dad or mom starts crying "Leave my child, leave my daughter," they will shoot you together with your dad or your mom, because you want to be together.... And then the third step is they start to kill everyone they get. Every one. Each and every one. They get, they kill. They get, they kill. If they get a baby, a young baby, they just throw it into a tree (gestures toward tree). That one dies there....

RB: They just kill everything.

James: They just kill everything they get. Everything.

RB: Godfrey, you were abducted. Is that correct?

Godfrey: Yes.

RB: Can you explain what it was like to be abducted? What happened?

Godfrey: One year I remember very well. It was 1996, I was six years old, and the rebels came and broke into the camp. They came at night, and they started abducting people, and they also abducted me, along with the other people. And when we were moving back -- the people were many.... For me, I managed to escape, because I found there was a little pit over there (gestures toward a spot) and I tried to get into it, and they passed and left me. And then I went back home. The second time they came, they started abducting people, killing everyone they would get. They came up to the camp, they killed many people along the roadside. Up till now, the Gulu people are still remembering that day they killed a lot of people. Some were slaughterd, some were boiled.... Some were -- If they ask you, "Do you want a padlock?" If you say yes, they will lock your mouth --

RB: They will say what?

Godfrey: They ask you "Do you want a padlock? Do you want a padlock --"

James: They will give you options. "Do you want us to lock your mouth with a padlock?" And they will pierce it here. Or they will say, "Do you want to be silent or do you want to laugh?" If you say you want to laugh, they will cut all around like this (points to his lips).

RB: So they cut your lips off....

James: Yes.

RB: But Godfrey, tell me more about the time you were abducted. How did you get away? How did you escape?

Godfrey: When I was abducted... Because we were many by then -- many of us were just children and some elder people. Me, I was just sleeping with my older brother. My brother escaped, leaving me just asleep. He didn't inform me that the rebels were coming.... But when we were moving -- because when they abduct you they will take you to where they can train you to become their soldiers, and you will become their soldier. By all means you will become their soldier....
For me, I was given some heavy salt to carry. They will give you anything they have, and you have to carry it. Even if you are small, you must carry it.... There were very many people, and some of the children were crying, because some of the mothers were also abducted.... But for me, I got a chance... of finding a pit, a hole, a small hole, and I entered inside. I dropped myself together with that thing I was carrying, the salt. By the time they all went, I got up, left all the salt inside the hole, and went back home. And I was lucky.... Up till now, I'm still studying. I'm still in school, in senior 4. (pauses).
In 2003, there was a fire that dropped onto the houses, and it started burning. In 2003, in December, it started burning around midday, and around 5pm the whole place was burned. You could just see -- you could stand from here and just see what was over there (indicates a long distance). Then, the NGOs came, the Red Cross.... They gave us a blanket, some clothes.... And then a tarpaulin to cover the tops [of the houses].... And some of the people were left without anything, because they couldn't manage to get what was inside, because the fire was so serious... and it was in the dry season. You couldn't get anything.

RB: So do you guys have bad dreams about this? Do you think about these things?

Genavive: Yeah, we do --

James: Sometimes when you are remembering, someone will start crying. If you go back to the history, about how you lost your brother, your sisters, daddies, parents....you will start crying.... And even if you dream about it in your bed, you will find that you are in the middle of your house, and you were trying to run --

Godfrey: When I came back, I dreamed one day.... I started crying, and my father just pushed me down.... Because I thought that those people had come... that they were there for the second time, and I started crying.... And my father just cooled me down.... Those dreams are many....

James: [When you are dreaming] someone will say "Where are you running?" And you will say "Leave me,they are coming! Leave me, they are coming!" They will tell you that story in the morning, that you were like this....

RB: So do you have anyone you can talk to? Or... don't people talk about it?

Genavive: You know, in Uganda -- Those village people, the people who suffer.... The high officials, the people who are supposed to help, are based here in the city. So the leaders who are in the village there, you tell them that this and this is happening, but I don't know what they do. I don't know what step they take. They take long to react, and even.... (pauses). Let me say this: if the Northerners and Easterners had not united themselves, those people [the LRA] could have crossed to somewhere over here. The real army of the government was fearing [them].... But the people got strong hearts to fight with the LRA rebels. That's why they were pushed back. Otherwise, we wouldn't be here. But this thing about telling the government to help.... Okay, we do tell, but the action takes so long....

James: Now, what happened, the people -- the boys, the youth -- they formed a group and went to the government to say "give us guns." Because [the government] didn't want to bring security to our region, boys went for a training -- they don't train even! They just get guns and go... These boys -- I don't know how to say it -- gave themselves to secure their own people.... We are tired of running....

RB: James, if you could tell people in the United States one thing, what would it be? What would you tell an American student about your experience?

James: What would I tell? This has been a very sorrowful experience. Very sorrowful experience. I think -- what I could tell them is that people really suffer in the northern regions of Uganda. People suffer really. And I pray that God has tried to solve this, but peace talks have not gone -- [the LRA] have refused peace talks.... They tried to go for peace talks, and [Joseph Kony] says that, until the case is dropped out of the International Criminal Court, he will never come out.

RB: We only have a couple of minutes left, so let me ask you this: what do you want to do with your future, when you become an adult?

Genavive: For me, okay.... It's only the education, which I may not get fully because of fees; but otherwise, if I attend (school)... I want to become a leader, a strong leader... who can see to help those poor people suffering in the villages. When there is a problem I see that is going to affect my people, and I see a solution to it.... I have to see to it that the government sees what the village people are undergoing, and take an action. Do it. Not let people continue suffering....

RB: And you want to go to university?

Genavive: Very much.

RB: In Kampala?

Genavive: Anywhere. As long as I'm in a university.... I believe that when I'm graduated and working, I can be in a position to help my people....

Post script: I later sat down with Genavive and several other of the Ugandan girls of CTAC to discuss the hurdles facing the youth of Northern Uganda -- especially those who want to attend university. That interview, which heightened the sense of awe I had, and continue to have, toward these kids, will be published in a future edition of Idebate.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Facts: Join Global Debates!

As part of the Global Debates effort within The People Speak 2007/2008, we would like to show you this Public Service Announcement, produced by Jumbo, on behalf of the International Debate Education Association.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Trest Idol Show

It past one week from IDEA Forum Talent Show in Trest. From participant to trainers everybody show their talents on Talent Show that suddenly turned into an Idol Show.. I choosed three performance. First one is Rob, then we have some beatbox and at the end we have Macedonian delegation. Don't panic, before Macedonian performance there is a clear sign for Parental Advisory :).

Enjoy it!!!

I apologizes to others participants which are not included in this video. Better luck next year. And if you have any questions about why I choose Macedonians, don't forget that I'm Macedonian too.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Legend of Fishbone and the Lake.... Click to Enlarge.

The Mixed Teams Finals

The two teams who advanced to our mixed teams finals were "Fear Factor" and "Just Because." The resolution was, of course, "Hate speech should be a crime," and, as a result of a strategy employed by the affirmative team, "Fear Factor," the debate centered around violence, children, and censorship in the U.S.--with particular attention to violent video games. An interesting point in the debate was in the first cross-examination, when representatives from each of the teams argued about the violent attributes of the popular children's game, Pokemon. In the end, it was decided that, for now, it's okay to let Pokemon continue to corrupt the minds of young children.

The judges had a tough decision to make in this debate, but, with a 3-2 decision, the team "Just Because," who only had two members of their team present for this debate, came out as the winner of YF 2007's Karl Popper Mixed Teams Debate. Congratulations to both teams for great debating, and congratulations to all participants in this year's Mixed Teams Tournament! This topic was difficult, and many teams approached it with thoughtful strategy.

Monday, August 06, 2007

A Special Thanks from Jurate

The Forum is over and… long live the Forum!
I would like to thank Rene and his Forum Fairies (also know as volunteers) for organizing a superb forum! Thank you for your patience, enthusiasm and hard work not only during the last two weeks, but during the whole year.
The Forum was such an enriching experience thanks to the efforts of the training staff – all the trainers, who were led by tireless Ioana, the Chief Adjudicator Anca and the tournament Director Helina.
Thank you all for working together to make the Czech forum a success!

With big thanks,

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Disease Expert Found, Loses It In Local Trest Pub

Dustin Hoffman, the pint-sized American actor and infectious diseases expert called in to investigate a rash of illnesses at the IDEA Youth Forum, was discovered Saturday afternoon in a local Trest pub after what appeared to be a forty-eight hour bender.

His plastic biohazard suit in shreds underneath the table, a visibly agitated Hoffman began shouting nonsense words at the team dispatched to bring him in.

"He can get really violent when he drinks Gambrinus," said one anonymous source. "And he kept repeating the words 'strawberry dumplings... strawberry dumplings.' We're not quite sure what that means, but we think it might be a term of endearment for one of the women he was with. He can also get quite sentimental."

Hoffman's tirade was only stopped after he destroyed several wooden tables and was taken down with a tranquilizer-filled dart. His publicist was unavailable for comment.

KP Mixed Team Quarterfinals

We've just finished the quarterfinals on the Hate Speech topic. This particular debate went the route of using graffiti as their example of freedom of expression. Rob Bingham said of this debate, "This may be the best Karl Popper debate I have ever seen." Debaters will be signing autographs after the round.

Friday, August 03, 2007

From the IDEA Archives: Haydar Lokmanoglu's Universally Recognized Worst Karl Popper Rebuttal of All Time.

We've been digging through the archives at IDEA and we've come up with what has to be the worst rebuttal speech in the history of Karl Popper Debate. It happened in 1983 in Bulgaria, when Haydar Lokmanoglu took the stage as his team's third negative speaker on the topic, coincidentally enough, of hate speech in schools.

We here at IDEA thought that it would be educational to take a look at Haydar's speech as an example of what not to do. Here's a partial transcript:

Good morning ladies and germs if I may make such joke. My name Haydar Lokmanoglu and I third speaker from side negative. I come here with pants and shoes to share my dream, which is having free speeches for these pupils in the schools. My beautiful opponents, ladies and gentlemen, have give you very lovely case which tells all this room that these hate speeches can make large hurting in human brains. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I have big argument with this. Hate speeches do not hurt the brains of children or even old people, ladies and gentlemen, because these speeches are only words from mouth. This is the saying rocks and stones will break the bones but hate speeches do not hurt us, especially the old people, ladies and gentlemen, because they are old and sometimes know better than babies these things.

Ladies and gentlemen, this affirmative teams tell us these hate speeches in schools hurt the reputations and give to the children stigmatas of bad schools. Is stigmatas bad, ladies and gentlemen, or would you rather break your head? What if I smoke cigarette, ladies and gentlemen, but I only blow smoke into some little hole? Should I be jailed? I ask you this, ladies and gentlemen, and not as a funny person. Moreover, ladies and gentlemen, why is these hate speeches? Why do these child think of hate speeches? Because of the failure of some school teachers and some bigshots, ladies and gentlemen. If they do not teach the children correctly with the words from their mouths, it is their fault these hate speeches I think. These children are like the baby birds, ladies and gentlemen, and instead of lovely worm, the teacher who is like a mother give them poison, ladies and gentlemen. Who is to blame for these poisons in these birds? The people who give the poison, ladies and gentlemen!

So, ladies and gentlemen, if I do some hate speeches to you do you not feel bad? Of course! But is it not more funny, ladies and gentlemen, to have free speeches and saying all of these good things in the school with pupils? I think this is better ladies and gentlemen. These schools should be like a tree that gives shiney apples and fruits, ladies and gentelmen, and not to put fire on the children or to beat them in the face with some stones, and it is for this reason that I beg to oppose!

Romanian Bears Imported to Keep Forum Participants In Line

Forum organizers announced a bold new initiative in the effort to keep students and trainers from staying out past curfew, and it comes in the form of some furry Romanian friends. That's right, there's bears in them thar streets!

What at first seemed only a wild rumor now appears to be true: Romanian black bears have been imported specifically for the final days of this Forum in order to, as one forum organizer put it, "Keep those little $#@%s in line. If bears won't do it, I don't know what else will," said the disgruntled fairy between bites of dumpling.

But why bears? According to forum organizers, bears are not only scary and large, but can easily outrun curfew-breaking teenagers. They also, according to Forum honcho Ioana Cionea, "create the necessary atmosphere of terror we're looking for. In fact, it'll only take one of those little buggers to get mauled or eaten and that whole curfew headache will be ancient history."

A cage full of hungry bears is due at the forum hotel sometime this afternoon. "We'll wait until dark to let them out," said one fairy. Then we'll dump raw meat around the entrance to the building....

"Oh yeah," said Ioana, "This is gonna be sweet."

Experts Called in to Deal With Forum Illness

Early Yesterday morning, Youth Forum participants awoke to the strange sight of men in space suits rummaging through the Forum Cantina. Unbeknownst to most of the participants, this was a team of international infectious disease experts led by American actor Dustin Hoffman. According to the Forum Fairies, it was time to call the experts in.

"These kids have been dropping like flies," said one anonymous fairy. "We had to get the big dogs in here to deal with this. Hoffman is like a nuclear holocaust to most viruses and bacteria."

The diminutive Hoffman, completely encased in a plastic biohazard suit, was seen spooning bits of pork liver pasta into a petry dish around noon. After sniffing it, and then taking a small bite, he delcared the food edible, said "time for some o' them Czech brewskies!" and was whisked away in a white van. He was last seen in the fetal position outside one of the local pubs.

"We hate it when he gets like this," said his publicist. More on this story as it develops.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Words, More Words

Good Afternoon, blog enthusiasts. Today was the first day of the Mixed Teams Tournament on the topic, "Hate speech should be a crime." This resolution brought about many arguments centering around questions of: the relationship between words and violence, the criteria for classifying language as hate speech, and the danger of restricting freedom of expression. This topic is both difficult and fascinating in an international context, where there is such a diversity of culture, experience, and national history. Here at Youth Forum, we are in a context where we are taking advantage of our rights to freedom of expression. The photo to the left illustrate an exchange of thoughts and ideas on this particularly complex topic.

Take Action: Join Global Debates!

The next PSA in the Global Debates series is up! As part of the Global Debates effort within The People Speak 2007/2008, we would like to show you this Public Service Announcement, produced by the dynamic duo of Dumbo & Jumbo, on behalf of the International Debate Education Association.

The video has been shot and edited yesterday and today, right here at the Forum. The video features our young star Jesse Towsen, with the music courtesy by Flopsy.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Pirates Speak

The People Speak
Fall/Winter 2007-2008:
Climate Crews
Coordinate Climate Change Activism
On Campus
You could win one of ten
$500 Treasure Chests


Make a Difference, Before the Polar Ice Caps Melt
And the Blue Pearl Floods
MAP a Solution for Climate Change
Only YOU can save Johnny Depp and his Penguin