Without doubt, the most fruitful decision I have made in my university career is to join the UDPSS,(University of Technology, Jamaica Debating and Public Speaking Society). It has affected every single aspect of my university life, giving weight to my voice, empowering me to represent my fellow students, and opening the ears of the faculty to my concerns.
It is undeniable, throughout my entire life I have always been a debater. I love world affairs, politics, economics and history – even though they are not my degreed area of study – and they always make for good debates. I enjoy deep conversation about random topics, I have always been this way. It is who I am. Despite this natural inclination, formal debating was not a part of my world until six years ago, when Shelly-Ann Munroe asked me for help.
Shelly invited me to debate for the Inter-Faculty debate put on by the Students’ Union. This, was my very first formal debate, I was the closing speaker and I loved it. I was then invited to a meeting, we met in a little room in the Caribbean School of Architecture, it was fun, but I wasn’t quite ready. The commitment was more than I could even think of giving. The very next semester, I was.
I dived in head first, I was at Thursday meetings and then Sunday meetings. Before long, I became both treasurer and editor of the society. I enjoyed the camaraderie, the intellectual environment, the challenge to know more, the ability to argue and remain friends. It was a society, that lived in an odd bubble, we were friends, foes and comrades. We played scrabble in Lamon’s office, had lunch by Mr Simmonds, called each other when we got stuck on assignment, and even just to hang out.
The love was shared not just within our society, but stretched over to the debaters from UWI Mona, and when we got to Worlds, to the other Caribbean Universities.
Being a part of debating made me more aware of the importance of once voice; it reminded me that with the sharing of ideas, lives can be changed; it shined the light that being heard was only good when you had something of purpose to say. Debate both quieted me and empowered me to speak up, it helped me successfully run for a seat on the Students’ Union Council.
Being on the Students’ Union Council, afforded me opportunities to speak directly with those that impact our nation. I represented at he Jamaica Diaspora Conference, met with World Bank representatives, spoke with Ministers of government on behalf of the students and represented the students in the media. Yes, I could have done some of these things without the position, however there is no greater gift I can receive than the opportunity to serve my fellow citizens; that is what I got to do.
On December 17, I will serve as an adjudicator for the first national BP style debating tournament in Jamaica. I am honoured to have been considered, and I do hope that this will lead to Jamaica one day hosting the WUDC.
In closing, being a debater has given me these wonderful gifts:
- Tyrone’s friendship
- Debating in Cork, Ireland
- My Entire Debate team of ’09
- Becoming friends with Mrs. Deane
- The pleasure of being around Mr. Simmonds
- George Davis‘ friendship