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This was not on the original schedule, but at orientation we discussed with Yano-san the possibility of visiting his school. We are glad to have decided on this, it was a great day. Shanna was sick so couldn’t attend, so Tim and Anne Marie traveled to the suburbs of Tokyo to Chuo University. It is a beautiful campus. Anne Marie gave a lecture on Environmental Patriotism. We enjoyed lunch in the faculty lunch room. Tim led a group of students in a discussion of why Japan is a good place to visit. We then enjoyed a party with many of Yano-sensei’s students. A nice relaxing day! Thank you to Yoshiro Yano for being such an excellent host!
On June 16, we participated in the National Association of Forensics and Argumentation (NAFA) debate. We were met by Yuichi Ishimoto, the president of NAFA who guided us to Keio University.
Tim and Shanna judged the semi-final and final round. Anne Marie Gave participated in a discussion during the semi-final, on kritik arguments and paperless debating in the United States. We provided a live comment during the final round – we sat in the back of the room and NAFA members asked questions after each speech. The results of this conversation were published in a newsletter for JAFA students. Anne Marie, Tim and Shanna participated in a panel discussion in the closing ceremony about debate strategy. We are very impressed that NAFA is a student-run organization.
On Saturday, June 15, we participated in the JBDF debate – Japanese Businesspeople Debate Federation in Tokyo. Mr. Kazuhiko Seno and Ms. Hiroko Kamata met us at the hotel. After a stand up sushi lunch, we debated against the JBDF team on whether Japan should abolish the death penalty. Shanna and Tim were negative and ran a counterplan based on some arguments Tim developed using Buddhist sutras. It was a little funky, but provided a good debate. Anne Marie gave a lecture on paperless debating. The audience was very interested in the changes to debate. We had a great reception afterwards at a Chinese restaurant and then went to Karaoke.
On June 13, we traveled to Sapporo! This is our first overnight trip outside of Tokyo. Sapporo is in the northernmost island of Japan – Hokkaido. We took a bus to the Haneda airport, where Tim got into the spirit.
Then a train to Sapporo station where we were met by Mr. Jun-ichiro Kimura. We had a few hours to rest, where we visited a “fast food” restaurant where we ordered by machine! After a nice rest Kimura-san picked us up and drove us to the civic center (Sapporo Kyoiku Bunka Kaikan) where the debate was held.
Shanna and Tim had time to prepare with the students beforehand. The students had prepared speeches, and worked with Shanna and Tim on attack and rebuttal (wrap-up) speeches.
Before the debate, we listened to a presentation (in Japanese) about the Benesse Global Seminar about studying abroad. The demonstration debate followed – on the Rice Tariff topic in HEnDA format. This was a truly educational debate – after each speech Kimura-sensei explained the arguments in Japanese, and another instructor (Sean Scarbrough) provided commentary in English. Anne Marie provided commentary after the debate. The practice of summarizing each English speech in Japanese is an important educational strategy that ensures students can keep up throughout the debate – fostering better audience engagement with the arguments. After the debate we enjoyed an excellent dinner featuring local seafood!
The next morning, on June 14, we enjoyed the breakfast at the Grand Hotel in Sapporo. Kimura-sensei picked us up and drove us to Sapporo Intercultural and Technological High School. We had a tour of the school: the building’s architecture features much natural light, which many studies show facilitate learning. We visited classrooms, including an English speaking class in session. Shanna and Tim had time to prepare with the students for a debate on the rice tariff topic. They debated the same students who participated yesterday, switching sides. This debate was in front of many of the debaters’ classmates.
We returned to Tokyo in the evening via plane. A great visit to Sapporo, we would have liked to stay longer!
We spent a lot of time meeting amazing students, eating fantastic food and engaging in some wonderful debates. Occasionally, though, the three of us venture out on our own and explore Japan. We recognize that, at all times, we represent the United States and take that seriously.
During our travels, we happened to stop for a delicious lunch. To our relief, our waiter happened to speak English. When we were done eating, our waiter asked us why we were in Japan and we told him about the tour.
His response was truly astonishing.
He informed us that he was from Burma. When he was in university, he had participated in some anti-government protest for which he was arrested, imprisoned and tortured. Twice.
He eventually fled, sought political asylum and has been living in Japan for over twenty years. We spent quite some time talking about the status quo in Burma, what activism was present in Japan to change Burma and how debate is so important for exchanging ideas. When it came time to part ways, this man said something that we will carry with us forever:
Perhaps in 10 years, when things are better in Burma, you can visit Burma and teach debate because debate is important to democracy.
This tour has been an amazing exchange of ideas, debate, and friendship but never did I imagine when I landed at Narita Airport what other global relationships would be formed.
If you would like to learn more about Burma Advocacy in the United States, please visit http://uscampaignforburma.org/
Tim: After the debate and lecture, we had a great reception. Not only did we have good food and treats, but we were engaging in one of the most important parts of debating—socializing.
I enjoyed talking to the students and teachers about their hobbies (music, judo, and Hakune Misu), university life, and of course debate. I learned some interesting things, including that Hokkaido has the best food in Japan, which makes me very excited for our upcoming stay there.
I discussed with Haruna methods of invention for argument. We talked about the heuristic question ‘What would a good government do?’ She seemed to find this helpful—as I did when I first learned it!
I also talked with Keitaro Fukuda-san about New York and good motions for high schoolers. He mentioned one he had used with the students recently: This House Believes That marriage licenses should be renewed every five years.
Ayabe-sensei organized a great day and has created a wonderful community at Tokai around debate. It is no surprise that his students love him so much.
Reflecting on our first week on the tour, it is clear that there is a love of debate in Japan!
Yesterday, I was really glad to be able to judge two debates in the HEnDA format. The topic was This House Would abolish school uniforms. In both rounds, the Affirmative team was in plainclothes (though they were dressed so nicely, I had to ask!) and the Negative team was uniformed. Since these students were defending the policies of their own schools, the debates were exciting!
The students made some interesting arguments. My favorite one was that we shouldn’t abolish uniforms because it wastes time in the morning when you have to choose an outfit. The students read evidence that said the morning was the most important time to study, and so were able to develop an impact! I also was impressed at how many of the students were able to articulate nuances in response to the attack speeches of the opposing side, something hard enough to do in one’s mother tongue!
Afterwards, I gave a long critique (maybe too long!). We discussed inherency and uniqueness a lot and I gave them some tips for Question Time (equivalent to cross-examination). We talked about the importance of specifying what part of the evidence you wish to hear repeated. Listening skills and good, quick note-taking are crucial for this and only come with a lot of practice.
After Anne Marie’s lecture on constructing advantages and disadvantages for the rice tariff topic, we had snacks and took a lot of pictures. In the hall, students had hung flags from many different countries. All of the Us delegates were impressed when we realized the students had tied each flag individually and folded them neatly as they took them down. We were honored to have been the object of so much care and attention. Noshiro-san and all of the teachers certainly deserve a lot of credit for the day he organized at Utsonomiya. It will not be forgotten!
On June 11, we traveled by train to Tokai University in Hiratsuka, Kanagawa. The home of popular debate coach Isao Ayabe. We enjoyed a delicious Bento lunch in Ayabe-sensei’s office.
Shanna and Tim worked with Misa and Haruna who were their competitors for the day.
Afterwards, Anne Marie did her first lecture on Patriotic Rhetoric and Global Citizenship – just one day after her book was published. There will be many more lectures on this topic toward the end of the tour.
Afterwards, we enjoyed a nice reception in the Tokai University cafeteria – a delicious buffet—and lots of cat pictures.
Kanke-sensei came to the reception—a friend that Anne Marie met in 2001 on the tour. It was great to see him again!
Thanks to Ayabe-san for his wonderful hosting.
On June 9, we took the Shinkansen to Utsunomiya. Ms. Yumi Arisaka picked us up (in her Prius!) and we arrived at Tochigi High School. This is the oldest public girls’ school in Japan! Upon our arrival, we enjoyed tea in the principal’s office with Mr. Mitsuo Noshiro and the principal.
Shanna and Tim had time to prepare with their respective teams. Students from numerous schools came to debate.
There was a formal opening ceremony with the principal and a prefecture school board member. We then had two debates on the rice tariffs topic. The students enjoyed seeing Shanna and Tim switch sides in the debates. After each debate, Anne Marie provided feedback on debate technique.
In the afternoon we had a coaching session with students. We watched students’ debate and gave them feedback. Beginner teams debated the proposition “Spring is better than winter.” Intermediate teams debated “Abolishing school uniforms.” Advanced students debated the topic “This house would ban cars in central Tokyo.” We then discussed how to build good constructive speeches in the HEnDA format. We had a great reception with students asking lots of questions and of course, lots of pictures.
We enjoyed a great dinner. Mr. Mitsuo Noshiro was an excellent host. This was a great event.
On June 8, we took an early train from Tokyo to Matsumoto Station. Mr. Hiroshi Ikegami met us at the station and drove us (in his Prius!) to the debate venue in a fantastic new event space in Matsumoto. We were greeted by teachers and students from four different high schools who would be participating in the debates. We were fortunate to have preparation time – in which Shanna and Tim worked with their respective teams.
This event was hosted by the Nagano English Club League, Nagano Prefectural Board of Education, the Nagano Prefectural Board of Education and the Japan Debate Association. There were two debates in the High School English Debate format (HEnDA) on the resolution: the Japanese government should remove the tariffs on rice imports. Shanna was negative and Tim affirmed the resolution both times. We were impressed with the high school debaters’ research and particularly their ability to debate in English.
After the debates, Anne Marie provided feedback on the debate and lectured on the transition to paperless debate in the United States.
Afterwards, we were treated to a delightful dinner! So many courses, we couldn’t keep track. Thank you to Hiroshi Ikegami for ensuring that we arrived at our train. A terrific day!
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