Thursday, March 19, 2009

Osipovichi-Open: the first experience

For several years in the small provincial Belarus town of Osipovichi, a debate club has existed. Its members participated in national and international tournaments, took prize-winning places and thought, what a good idea it would be to hold a tournament in Osipovichi! This year the dream came true: March 6th through 8th, in the city of Osipovichi, the international parliamentary debate "Osipovichi Open" took place.

The population of Osipovichi is only 35,000 people; therefore this international tournament really enlivened the town. Bank workers were surprised at the number of people wishing to exchange foreign currency, and taxi drivers at last had a lot of customers. However, for organizers it became a problem; rarely do so many people visit Osipovichi. That’s why only 20 teams participated in the tournament — representatives of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.

The participants arrived on Friday, then took part in the first rounds. The general motion of the tournament was “The Union State of Russia and Belarus;” resolutions on each round appeared 15 minutes prior to a round. The heated arguments have caused discussions on the introduction of united citizenship and united currency for the two Union States. However, the final motion, “TH would leave the Union State of Russia and Belarus,” was especially unexpected. Less unexpected were the first place winners Zakzhevskaya Tatyana and Ruhlevich Olga, a team from Minsk. The team from Moscow (Russia) came in second.

It is necessary to mention social activities, too, an integral part of any international tournament. After all, communication among the participants is a necessary part of carrying out a debate. On Saturday evening, a traditional Belorussian “kapustnik," or talent show, was held. In general, the purpose of “kapustnik” is to amuse, show the abilities of each team and to share cultural traditions. Russian debaters sang songs about debates, Ukrainians held funny competitions, and everyone had fun.

The representatives of the Belarus Republican Union of Youth, the members of the New Communication Club, and the teachers and workers of almost every administrative agency in town took part in tournament organization (at the railway station, the delegation of participants was met by a greeting on loudspeaker!). "Osipovichi Open" became the first international tournament not organized in Minsk. We hope that the tradition will survive, and the tournament will become annual!
Ksenia Tsyganok, Osipovichi, Belarus

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