For the first time ever, the Cayman Islands will send a team of world-class debaters to compete in the World Schools Debating Championship (WSDC) hosted in Macau, China.
Arjun Dhanasekar, Thomas Dickens, Sophie Ellison, Sadie Finch and Aiden Watler will represent the Cayman Islands.
The team of five was drawn from pupils aged 16 to 18 who had previously succeeded in the local Conyers Inter-Schools Debating Tournament, held twice a year during the school year.
The Championship will see the Cayman Islands go up against around 80 teams from all over the world, speaking in at least eight rounds between Monday 26 July and Friday 30 July. Resolutions of the prepared rounds range from the commercialization of space, to the geopolitics of the Horn of Africa and the Gulf States, to import substitution as a preferred way to improve developing economies.
As part of their training, (which has been ongoing for months), the team has engaged in a friendly skirmishes with teams from Bermuda, Brazil and Panama.
They also participated in a practice tournament hosted by Singapore, involving a gruelling 1AM to 11AM schedule for three days.
The team is being managed by over 15 volunteers lead by Ian Whan Tong, Krista Finch and Hadleigh Roberts. They are assisted by many business and legal leaders from many firms, including Conyers (which has provided the majority of the infrastructure and funding for the team), Cayman National, Kobre & Kim, Bedell Cristin, HSM, Ogier, the Government, and Dentons.
Ian Whan Tong, the Team Manager and Coach, said:
“This is the first time ever the Cayman Islands will be represented on even footing with nearly 80 other countries in an academic event at the high school level. It is very hard work, but the team of debaters and coaches and other volunteers have equipped the students with the skills and training they need to do well. As a small territory, we can punch well above our weight on the global scene!”
Sophie Ellison, one of the debaters, said:
‘This is a challenging and exciting opportunity for all of us. We are proud to represent the Cayman Islands and we look forward to competing in a few weeks’ time against many strong teams.’
Arjun Dhanasekar, one of the debaters, said:
‘Debating teaches many useful skills including public speaking and critical thinking, which are extremely important in life. We are very grateful to have this opportunity, even if it means getting grilled sometimes!’
After meeting the debaters, His Excellency the Governor commented:
‘I am delighted that Cayman is taking part in this global debating tournament for the first time ever.
‘Many thanks to all volunteer coaches and organisers, and in particular to Conyers law firm for continuing to sponsor debating in the Islands.
‘I wish the team the very best of luck for the competition and, above all, I hope they enjoy themselves.