By Anda Rama, YES 2016-2017, Kosovo, hosted by ASSE International in Berlin, PA
The cloudy weather on Friday, November 11, did not prevent ten students ages 12 to 15 from gathering at the American Corner in Prishtina’s National Library for their very first debate workshop, an activity I organized together with Visar Zeka (YES 2014-2015, hosted by AYUSA in Prosper, TX), Behar Bunjaku (YES 2017-2018, hosted by CIEE in Palestine, TX), and Riona Sopi (YES 2017-2018, hosted by AFS in Oak Lawn, IL).
The participants were all students from Pavaresia, a suburban school which had not been included in many projects before. This was precisely our motivation for selecting this school’s outstandingly bright group of youngsters: to offer opportunities to learn and shine to those who rarely have such opportunities!
Over the course of six hours, we helped the students learn to effectively build arguments, identify logical fallacies, break stereotypes, and manage the fear of public speaking. Combining interactive learning sessions with fun activities and energizers really brought out the students’ best qualities. We, the alumni, also shared our own experiences in debate clubs back in the U.S. and brought some of those experiences to our sessions.
Towards the end of the workshop, the we monitored two sample debates in the Karl Popper style, which involves teams of three. The students chose “Is use of electronics in schools good or bad?” and “What is the best season of the year?” as their debate topics and showed great amounts of passion while debating.
We wrapped up the day at Domino’s, where we discussed our successes over pizza and shared ideas for collaboration in future projects.
This project was inspired by the IDEAL Workshop for YES and FLEX alumni held in Prishtina, Kosovo, in March 2018, and supported by the workshop's grant program through funding from the U.S. Embassy in Prishtina.