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     Volume 2 Issue 70 | August 3, 2008|


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Silk Road to Bangladesh - EWU AUDC 2009

Rashedul Hasan Stalin

WE have always dreamt that oneday we would host an international debating championship in Bangladesh. After spending 6 years with English Debating in Bangladesh, I realised we have the potential and we can bring glories for the country from international tournaments. But, very often, we lag behind because of a low-level interest for English debating and less affiliation with top international debates.

Nevertheless, Bangladesh has a rich history of English debating. A movement that started a decade ago now has reached maturity with another international debate movement this year. The recently concluded Asian Universities Debating Championship 2008, which is known as AUDC, was hosted by the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) and it brought colossal glory for Bangladesh. East West University (EWU) is leading this movement by wining the Bid to host the next Asian Universities Debating Championships-AUDC 2009 in Bangladesh, championship that will unite the top debating universities of Bangladesh.

AUDC is considered the world's second largest debating tournament and largest non-sporting student event in Asia. This massive student gathering attracts more than 1000 university students and faculty members each year. AUDC hosts more than 70 universities each year from four parts of Asia; Middle East, South Asia, South East Asia and North East Asia.

Most of our Asian neighbours have already overcome the lack of focus on English debate by hosting international tournaments like AUDC in the near past. Singapore AUDC in 2005, Philippine AUDC in 2006, Indonesia AUDC in 2007 and Malaysia AUDC in 2008 respectively show their gradual International English Debating affiliations. These involvements are creating an organised vision for furthering their English debating movements. They now have more English debate coaches, more professional and qualified adjudicators to run local tournaments and more “debating professionals” to take the next steps. This learning had an impact on the Bangladeshi English debating arena.

Voyage from Vancouver
Nothing comes without hard work and passion for achieving. Tough times come and we overcome it with our dedication. I had this feeling when I went to Vancouver World Universities Debating Championship in 2007. One day I met with one of my good debating friends at Worlds 07, and he was surprised to know about East West University's intention to host Asia's largest student event AUDC. He kept on questioning me about our strength -- “Do you have any five star hotels?”; “Do you have air conditioned rooms for this tournament?” After hearing question like this, I started wondering the reputation that we have as a country in the outside world.

As we gradually put our plans for announcing East West University AUDC 2009 bid publicly in the World Council Meeting in 2007, we learned how to make our case stronger.

During the WUDC in 2007, we heard that, International Islamic University, Malaysia and Singapore Management University are also planning to bid for AUDC like us. These two universities have an inspiring regional and international debating track record. So we were heading towards a fight with two Asian Debating giants. But we decided to continue with our run for AUDC 2009 host status. At that time some of my friends where comparing us with England with their 2012 Olympic host bid battle, where England was facing well prepared and favourite France. But we all know that later England won the bid for the Olympic, and we for AUDC 2009.

After coming back from Vancouver Worlds, I shared my experience with my East West University Debating Club members and with the members of Bangladesh Debating Council-BDC to prepare our case. At first we noticed that Bangladesh does not have any regular annual international debating tournaments, so we decided to inaugurate a “Bangladesh Open” a brand new annual international debating tournament with all the international debating and adjudication requirements in 2007. That same year I was nominated and later elected as the first Deputy Chief Adjudicator-DCA from Bangladesh for AUDC 2008. That announcement gave us the important boost for the AUDC bid.

We started contacting with our potential sponsors from January 2008 because Asian Universities Debating Union needs the sponsors papers for the Bid presentation unlike other regional tournaments. East West University Debating Club at that time was going for its best professional approach for AUDC Bid preparation. Our Vice Chancellor Professor Mohamed Sharif, Club Moderator Mr. Kamrul, EC members of EWUDC, Anika Rahman, Shanto, Barsha, Sabera and always dedicated EWUDC Alum like Sohab, Salman, Manik and Towsif.

Mission Malaysia
EWUDC started its well-prepared mission for Malaysia on May 12, 2008 two days before the AUDC starting dates to lobby for our case. Throughout the championship we had great support from Mr. Abdul Latif, a Bangladeshi and who was also the Chief Adjudicator of AUDC 2008 and from his team. All Bangladeshi Universities supported us and had campaigned in favour of our bid. This time, we had the best AUDC results for Bangladesh till date. Sohab Sayeed of the EWU Team was crowned as the Grand Runner up of AUDC Public Speaking Championship; he was also judged the Best Speaker among all the English as Foreign Language-EFL Debaters. Sinthia Farhad Barsha from EWU Team was ranked as the best Bangladeshi adjudicator and got 4 out of 5 points for the first time in the adjudication test of AUDC from Bangladesh. Mahbub Manik and Anika Rahman judged the AUDC Public Speaking Finals. Chitagong University CU and East West University also qualified for EFL Quarter Finals. Later CU went for the EFL Semifinals. Overall Bangladeshi Teams Result was remarkably well considering the fact that, most of the debaters and adjudicators went for their first international debating tournament. And more importantly these young debaters did very well and showed their potentials.

We had four very good adjudicators as our DCA for AUDC 2009 bid. Sohad and Salman did an excellent job for preparing the Bid slide. Tanvir, Zoheb, Nafiz, Ipshitt and Sahmi were planning for AUDC 2009 wining strategy all the time. Sahmi had his own T-Shirt for Bangladesh AUDC 2009 bid and that T-Shirt shows how much bonding all the universities from Bangladesh had for its first AUDC bid.

May 18, 2008 will be remembered in the history of EWUDC as the winning day. Singapore Management University-SMU and College of Saint Bennel -CSB from the Philippine was up against us but later SUM gave their support to CSB.

We were concerned about that latest change. All the members of EWUDC, IUB, BRACU and CU were performing their last minute responsibilities when Estter, chair of AUDC union announced that EWU will present their bid first. Sohab started the introduction with me. As the bid chief adjudicator of EWU AUDC 2009 bid, I presented the Adjudication Part. The most important part of our bid was to show the cost effectiveness and quality adjudication that we have offered for our bid by proposing 20 full adjudicators subsidy. Our challenges were on the distance that we have from South East Asian region. But we had it in our mind before, so we used our Official Airlines Sponsor GMG Airlines and their AUDC special discounted offer to overcome this challenge.

To counter our offer, CSB came with experience and Personal Cuisine solution. AUDC union first passed our adjudication core that includes one CA and four DCA's for AUDC 2009. I was elected as the Chief Adjudicator-CA for 2009 AUDC. Then the moment came. All the union reps selected by all participating universities where asked to secretly submit their votes. When the result was announced I heard some one from the crowd singing “Amar Shonar Bangla…Ami Tomai Bhalobashi..”.

Special thanks to GMG Airlines, Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation, Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh, Vice Chancellor of East west University, all Bangladeshi Universities at AUDC 2008 and all members of EWUDC for their support and valued contributions.

Author is the Chief Adjudicator-CA and Convener of EWU AUDC 2009 and Chair of Bangladesh Debating Council-BDC.

Bangladeshi teams show their mettle at the Asians in IIUM

Abdul Latif

THE Asian Universities Debating Championship (AUDC) is the most competitive debating tournament in Asia. The best debate teams from all over Asia participate in this tournament with great enthusiasm to outperform each other. The championship is held annually based on a competitive bid by the universities to host it. A total of 82 teams and 120 adjudicators from all over Asia participated in the tournament held recently (14th 21st May, 2008) at the International Islamic University Malaysia. This year, the Asian Universities Debating Championship saw a great show of talent, skill and camaraderie from the participants from Bangladesh. A sizable number of Bangladeshi teams and adjudicators representing BRAC University, Chittagong University, East West University, and Independent University of Bangladesh also attended the tournament.

After debating in eight preliminary and four knockout rounds, the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore emerged as the Champion after a close fight against Ateneo De Manila University of the Philippines in the grand final. Bina Nusantara University (Indonesia) was awarded the Champion of English as a Foreign Language (EforL) category and Glenn Tuazon of the Philippines as the Best Speaker of the Tournament.

The tournament proved an uphill battle for all teams with the best of the teams and judges of Asia participating and showcasing their knowledge and skills.

Teams from Bangladesh had their fair share of glory with the largest ever participation of Bangladeshi teams in the AUDC. The teams from Chittagong University and East West University progressed respectively to the Semifinal and Quarterfinal of the EforL category. Md Sohab Sayeed of the East West University was awarded the Best Speaker of the EforL category. He was also among the finalists of the Public Speaking Competition. These are no small achievements given that English is not widely spoken in our country and the opportunity to excel in the English language is still very limited in many schools and even universities. In addition, unlike teams from Malaysia, Singapore or the Philippines, teams from Bangladesh don't have as many opportunities or as much funding to participate in major international debate tournaments. Despite all these constraints, our teams did not fall far behind in the race.

The Bangladeshi contingent at this year's AUDC showed good camaraderie and teamwork. Although they represented different universities, each competing to outperform others, they worked together as a unit and supported each other in their initiatives and achievements. Recognising the good work that the Bangladeshi contingent has put forth, the Asian Universities Debating Union awarded the bid to host the 2009 tournament to Bangladesh (East West University) over the Philippines (College of Saint Benilde). This will be the best event to happen in the country's English debate scene in years. English debate in Bangladesh will cover more grounds when next year the best teams from Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia and other Asian countries will come to Bangladesh for the tournament. Our local teams will have the chance to debate against the best of Asia. Let the work begin now for local teams to show their mettle in the tournament in 2009. Let this be the first step towards having our own team win the Champions title. On behalf of the Bangladeshi community at the International Islamic University Malaysia, we congratulate our Bangladeshi participants for a job well done.

The writer is the Head of the Speech & Interpersonal Communication Enhancement Department at the Student Development Division of the International Islamic University Malaysia

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