WSDC – World Schools Debating Championships
Formal debate is a great activity in the classroom, but it also offers excellent opportunities for talented students who would like to sharpen their analytical tools and meet bright young minds from around the globe.
For ten days each summer, around 60 nations send a team of five highly skilled young debaters to take part in the annual championships. In recent years, the competition has been held in Thailand, Croatia, Bali, Germany, and Singapore, as a different country hosts the event each year.
Who can apply?
Danish high school students in their first or second year who have not turned 20 years by the time the championships will take place. As a new student, your first year will be spent on the junior team and you might make it to the championships the year after.
What does it take?
You should have an analytical mind, speak fluent English, do very well at school (10-12), be interested in global issues, be fine talking in front of an audience, be a team player, be competitive, persistent and willing to work hard. Your school should be ok with some days of absence when you participate in an international debate tournament at Harvard University in the spring as part of your practice.
What is the cost?
The Danish Ministry of Education pays your registration fee if you make it to the championships (includes hotel, transportation and most meals for 10 days), but you or your school must cover flights. For the first year on the junior team you, or your school, must cover all expenses for participation in debate tournaments. In your junior year (first year on the debate team) you will usually take part in three tournaments:
Nordic Schools Debating Champiomships (reg.fee approx. 500 kr.) Spring
Harvard Debate Tournament (reg. fee and flight approx.. 6500 kr.) March
AWSDC (debate tournament in the summer holidays that leads up to WSDC. Takes place in a different country each year, so the cost varies accordingly.)
If you make it to the WSDC national team in your second year of debating there will also be costs connected to a couple of tournaments that year.
Why should you apply?
Deciding to apply to the national debate team is a decision that can change your life. You will experience an impressive learning curve within a relatively short span of time, and much of this knowledge can also be used in your high school classes/assignments. Your teachers are very experienced and highly qualified debate coaches from Canada, that you would normally never have access to.
You will work closely with new people, some of whom are likely to become your friends, and you will travel the world and experience the ups and downs of being in an exciting and competitive international debating community. Participating in WSDC often impacts a student’s choice of future career. For example, previous students have gone on to study at Cambridge, Oxford or other prestigious universities.
Check out this video with former WSDC participant, Andreas, to hear why he would encourage you to apply:
How do try outs work?
Try outs usually take place in December at Sankt Annæ Gymnasium. Each school can send video applications from up to three talented students. In your 3 min. video you should introduce yourself, explain about your interests and any debating experience that you may have, and argue for why you would be a good fit for the Danish national debate team. You must also attach proof of your exams and grades from high school so far. Applications are sent to team manager Charlotte Ib at firstname.lastname@example.org once the deadline and info on try outs are released on the WSDC Danmark FB page.
Suitable applicants will be invited to the first try out where you are introduced to formal debate, you will take part in exercises, previous WSDC debaters will talk about their experiences, and you will get the chance to ask questions. Shortly after the first try out you will get a mail notifying you about whether you have made it to the second try out which is usually a five day debate camp.
At the second try out, Canadian debate coaches and debaters will teach you a lot more about competitive debate in a short period of time. At the end of the camp (which is without accomodation), the new junior team will be announced. Note that getting on the junior team is not a guarantee that you will make it to the championships. That depends on your development as a debater and on team dynamics.
What if I make it to the team?
If you get on the junior team you will be training debate from January to July. After that, you will notify the coach and team manager whether you wish to proceed the following school year and try to make it to the championships. Based on your results from this initial period, they will let you know if you can proceed and later sign up for the final try outs to go to WSDC.
Once you are on the junior team, you will have weekly Skype debate sessions with your Canadian debate coach. You should also expect homework like reading up on political philosophy, history, analyzing debates etc. You are expected to keep up with the news and know what is going on in the world.
If you are curious as to what a debate at the World Schools Debating Championships might be like, you can watch the first speech from a debate in Croatia in 2018. Christina Lindeman from Rungsted Gymnasium is on side proposition and speaks on the motion 'This house would require professional sports teams to be owned by their local communities instead of individuals or corporations.'
That sounds amazing, what do I do now?
You regularly check out the WSDC Danmark FB page for info, you talk to your parents and your school to find out whether they support your participation, and when we open for applications you send us yours!
The content on this page is written by Charlotte Ib, who is the project manager of World Schools Debating Championships in Denmark, owns the company Do Debate! and is a teacher of English at Sankt Annæ Gymnasium.