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Exploring social issues and culture via debate

By Valeria Felix '18 on July 24, 2015
Colgate student Valeria Felix participates in a debate round at CMUDE 2015.

Valeria Felix ’18, a sociology major from San Diego, Calif., responds to a challenge at the world championships of debate in Spanish in Bogotá, Colombia. (Photo by Daniel DeVries)

As Colgate University’s Spanish Language Debate Society continues its journey through Campeonato Mundial Universitario de Debate en Español (CMUDE) 2015 in Bogotá, exciting and enriching experiences continue to shape and strengthen the relations between students of distinct countries.

Our second day at CMUDE consisted of three official debate rounds in British Parliamentary Debate format. This format simply consists of four teams in which two represent the government and two represent the opposition. Each team is made up of two debaters who work together to form a coherent argument for their side of the motion.

These debates brought up crucial points for us as students and future leaders. We debated questions of human rights and when it is permissible or justifiable for them to be bent. Further, we debated whether a government should be allowed to intervene during a humanitarian crisis in another country when that foreign nation does not allow help from abroad. Being able to debate for a side, even when it is one with which you personally do not agree, allows us to hear other points of view and gives us a better understanding of how to use various rhetorical techniques.

At the end of our day, we headed to Night of Cultures, where participating students beautifully showcased snippets of their countries’ cultures. We sampled snacks and drinks, such as Mexico’s famous tamarind candies and Guatemala’s canillitas de leche. Each country brought their traditional national alcohol, such as Peru and Chile’s pisco. Colombian participants brought even more adventurous exhibitions of their culture by exemplifying traditional forms of dance unique to their country while fully dressed with bright colors. They also brought with them a vallenato band, which played a traditional style of Colombian music.

Participants from all over the world danced and celebrated each other’s cultures. The beauty of it all was simple: extremely distinct nations coming together because they speak — and debate — in the same tongue.

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