UWG’s Debate team hosted a public debate on Sept. 22 in the Campus Ballroom Center with the Jamaican Association for Debating and Empowerment (JADE).
Dr. Michael Hester, the Director of UWG Debate and Chair of JADE’s Board of Directors, invited three students and two leadership members from JADE to participate in a debate on ship tourism. Hester has already fostered a five-year relationship with JADE and traveled to Jamaica to meet JADE’s leadership and make the event happen.
“Back in 2017, I reached out to [JADE] anonymously and sent an email to them mentioning that I would love to travel to Jamaica and that I do debate and noticed that they do debate as well,” said Hester. “I eventually got in touch with a man named Germaine Barrett, the Executive Director and Co-founder of JADE.”
Before the debate, the university welcomed the JADE students and gave them a tour of the campus. The JADE students also prepared several presentations for classes and engaged with many students from different organizations, such as The Bandana Project and The Latino Cultural Society.
“In addition to the debate event Thursday night, the students spoke to multiple classes,” said Hester. “This means that in addition to the UWG students that were attending the debate, they spoke to an additional 100 students in various classes on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
“The JADE students felt very welcomed and included, so southern hospitality was on full display,” continued Hester.
Once the JADE students made their way to the stage of the Campus Ballroom Center for the debate, over 150 UWG students showed up to spectate. UWG students were given a chance to observe and ask several questions about the debate topic after the last rebuttal.
“I was very pleased with the UWG audience,” said Hester. “It was a large audience and they were very engaged.
“The debate format allowed for a question and answer period in which the audience got to ask questions and make comments and that session was filled with multiple students that engaged in dialogue with the debaters,” Hester continued. “There were several students who stayed after the debate to engage the participants in a light discussion.”
Amid the success of the JADE debate, Hester hopes to plan hosting another debate event in the Spring.
“There is currently another event in the early planning stages with another college in Pennsylvania, West Mester college and that discussion is just beginning,” said Hester. “Folks on campus can look forward to another paid public debate event in April.”
The event ultimately brought students from two different countries together to compete and debate while bringing the campus closer together in the process.
“To be able to bring Jamaica here and have Jamaicans interact with our students is an intercultural benefit that everyone’s university experience should have,” said Hester.