By Juan Carlos Ramirez ’18
Speech and Debate often takes excursions out of Arizona as a highly competitive team that dedicates their time to prepare for rigorous national competition.
One of these trips that Speech and Debate commits to is a competition in Chengdu, China.
This trip is not a Brophy funded trip, so students receive financial assistance through the institution GreatChina International.
Ms. Elizabeth Clarke, head coach of Speech and Debate, said that this trip is life changing.
“Seeing the potential for debate to bridge cultures–it’s really being done in China as this educational tool helping kids get ready to go to American universities,” Ms. Clarke said. “They [students] had a blast hanging out with these kids.”
She added that this trip was set up by Phoenix Sister Cities for any student in the Phoenix area who wanted to attend.
Ms. Clarke said that one team placed second and another team took third place.
Nico Pacioni ’18 and Jack Fyan ’18 are the team who placed third place and said that they both were blown away by the amazing city, culture and students.
Pacioni said that the style of Chinese debate was completely different form than that of American debate.
“A big point that we learned in China is that Chinese debate is extremely aggressive and fast paced,” Pacioni said. “That does not reflect the students. We would get out from a debate where the time would be ticking down, and this kid would be screaming at us. ‘You’re lying, you’re false, your sources are nothing.’ They are screaming and shouting at you. Bell rings. Beep. Kids stands up and smiles. ‘Thank you so much for coming to our city. Thank you so much.’”
He added that screaming and shouting is not allowed by western coaches because they want to see you calm and composed.
Fyan said that the Chinese students were incredibly smart, and he credits that to the way the classrooms are run.
“These kids are unbelievably smart,” Fyan said. “Most of these kids went to school for ten hours. I sat in one of their english class. They have all the phrases up. Their teachers rotate the rooms, not the students. They have crates full of English books. This is why they can debate in a second language.”
Pacioni added that these students are teaching themselves at their own pace.
“They are just screwing around just having a great time,” Pacioni said. “ Timer clicks. Click. One student stands up, and shouts something in chinese. Everyone goes quiet. Half of the room sorts out, and the other half of the room is still screwing around. In like thirty second, they sorted themselves and took a test. Timer goes off. They hit thirty minutes. Boom. All those desks go back to the wall and the other half take the test.”
He added that they have off campus lunch in a communist country.
Fyan said that the speech and debate team is simply amazing and provides extensive opportunities.
“The Brophy speech and debate team is awesome,” Fyan said. “We do traveling. We obviously went to China. We did travel tournaments at Harvard, Berkeley, George Mason and Vegas. We do a lot of traveling. This is not just an Arizona or a regional thing. This is not just America. We have great coaches and a really good program.”