Perse students are up for debate in international competition
Alina Turchyn, Rebecca Li and Sanjana Bhatnagar will put their debating skills to paper after qualifying for a major international competition.
The Lower Sixth students will be taking part in the International Public Policy Forum (IPPF), a competition organised by the Brewer Foundation and New York University featuring school teams from across the world.
Sixty-four teams were chosen having submitted essays for or against the motion ‘NATO is an effective model for international co-operation’.
It is the first time a group from The Perse has entered the IPPF and Alina, Rebecca and Sanjana are the only UK team to have made it through to this stage.
They will face representatives from India’s Delhi Public School in the first round of the knockout competition, in which teams make arguments via essay before judges select a winner to move into the next round.
Once the teams are whittled down to the last eight, a regular in-person debating contest will be held in New York in May to decide the champions.
Alina, Rebecca and Sanjana, who have also qualified for the regional finals of the English-Speaking Union’s Mace debating competition, are all excited about the opportunity awaiting them.
Rebecca discovered the IPPF while researching international debating competitions that they could enter.
Alina added: “We’ve taken a position of leadership within school debating, mentoring some of the younger students, and as part of that we’ve been looking at a lot of brand-new competitions to see how they run and how they work.
“We’ve never done a written debate and all of us are taking science subjects for A level, so we’re looking forward to being able to practise our essay writing skills in an environment we love, which is debating.”
The first round of the IPPF has the same motion regarding NATO’s efficacy, with the Perse team having been drawn to oppose.
They will soon receive a 2,800-word essay from Delhi supporting the motion, to which they will respond with a counter-argument of the same length by early December. Delhi will then come back with a shorter essay before Alina, Rebecca and Sanjana offer their final points just before Christmas.
Rebecca said: “It gives us the ability to communicate quite complex subject matter and delve deeper into subjects than we’ve done before. It’s a formal essay, so we have to look at research papers and cite our sources.”
She added that Director of English and Drama Chris Green, Head of History Nuala Long and history teacher Alex Courtney had been extremely helpful in supporting the team so far.
However, the students will also have access to an advisor assigned by IPPF to guide them along the way.
Sanjana said: “We’ve been matched with a mentor who has won the competition, so we’re going to talk to him about the best way to take forward the essay we’ve prepared and try to find out what the judges are really looking for.
“Getting to the final in New York is what we’re aiming for, but we’re taking it one round at a time.”