The winners of Mandarin language BP division of the 2011 IDEA China Debate Open recently visited New York City for a debate tour. The debaters, Zeng Haiqiang and Zhuo Hao from Sichuan University, not only had the opportunity to visit the tourist sites of the city, including the MoMA, the United Nations, and Times Square, but also were able to have public debates and interact with students and educators from a variety of backgrounds.
The main event of the week was a simultaneously-translated debate at Columbia University held in conjunction with Columbia's parliamentary debate team. Zeng and Zhou debated in Mandarin on the affirmative side against Jake Davidson and Katie Bentivoglio from Columbia, who spoke in English in opposition to the motion "When in conflict, economic development should take precedence over environmental protection." The debaters and audience both had headsets so that those who were not bi-lingual could understand the entire debate. The audience had many questions for Zeng and Zhou about their experiences with debate and their impressions of their trip thus far.
The Chinese debaters were also able to visit Bronx Science High School to visit with the debate team and have a roundtable discussion about debate. The Bronx Science team welcomed their guests and presented them with t-shirts from the school. Zeng and Zhou also visited classes of Professor Martin Schoenhals, an anthropologist and expert in Chinese education at Dowling College, and were able to discuss their experiences with Professor Shoenhals' students. Finally, the Zeng and Zhou were able to sit down and discuss relations between the two countries with staff members from the National Committee on US-China Relations. In an interesting hour-long discussion, the students were able to share their views and discuss them with experts.
IDEA would like to thank Martin Schoenhals, Denise Yu and the rest of the Columbia debate team, the Bronx Science debate team, the National Committee on US-China Relations, and Dowling College for participating in this unique event. We hope to see you all again next year!