Returning the favor of society can be challenging to many, but not to the Jesuit Debate team. On March 2nd, the Debate Team decided to spend their Saturday serving the community at Conrad High School as a part of the DUDA, the Dallas Urban Debate Alliance, dedicated to bringing debate to underserved schools in DISD.
As Jesuit debaters arrived at Conrad High School, both DUDA staff and the Jesuit Debate Team started setting up the area. This included taping signs on the doors, setting up the hospitality room for coaches, and establishing logistics for judges and debate members in order to create smooth transitions in between different rounds.
At around 8:00, 200 students from Dallas Independent School District schools attended one of DUDA’s high school debate competitions to showcase their skills that they have acquired from the program. To manage the horde of DUDA high school debaters between rounds, Jesuit sophomores were prescribed as hallway moderators, helping teams to their classrooms for rounds. In these rounds, the DUDA debaters reflected a sense of polish, professionalism, clarity, and perceptiveness, a few of the many qualities that participation in this program has instilled within them.
For many of the debaters, English is not their first language. DUDA acts as a means of integrating these individuals into American culture through learning how to debate, communicate effectively, and develop a framework on how to use civics and rhetoric in a civil discussion.
As lunch approached, I headed to one of the lunch tables to meet with one of the DUDA debaters in the high school division of the tournament, whose name was Emmanuel Ramirez-Rios from Kimball High School. I asked how DUDA has helped him in his daily life and he commented on how the organization “has helped [him]…to communicate better with my peers through debate, [and] it has both helped [him] in [his] rounds and in the classroom.”
After the last two rounds of the day, the tournament immediately proceeded to the Awards Ceremony for those who spoke most persuasively, and for those who had won the most rounds at the tournament. As the winners arrived at the front of the room to receive their award, their faces illuminated with joy as their names were called from the podium. As we helped bring joy to these students who won their awards, I felt proud for what Jesuit Dallas provided today for DUDA.
Sophomore debater, Joshua Ramos ’21, reflected on his experience from volunteering at the tournament saying, “I thought it was an educational experience and I was very glad that I could help other kids enjoy and learn about debate.”
An exciting Saturday for an exciting year. The volunteers offered a tremendous service to the Dallas community, and provided a space for DISD students to develop their skills of persuasion, civics, and rhetoric outside the classroom as a part of DUDA. That Saturday, Jesuit Debate gave back.
To learn more information about the program or look for new opportunities to volunteer, please contact Dr. Tracy McFarland: firstname.lastname@example.org.