In this occasion, Medan Debaters Forum (MDF) is conducting a cover story featuring our local talent that have managed to re-carve a long-forgotten history in the most prestigious debating tournament in the world! Our special friend today is Jovanovick Luidaniel! He has returned from his voyage in World School Debating Championship (WSDC) 2016 – Stuttgart. He does not only bring home pride, but also stories and lessons, which he will share with us soon enough through the interview below.
Interviewer: Hello Jovan, How are you? I am here representing Medan Debaters Forum, and we are really eager to hear your story, especially on your recent debating milestone in WSDC. And also, as the one and only representative of student debater from Medan. So, do we have the pleasure to hear it from you? The given information will later be available and accessible on our website.
Jovanovick: Hi Kak, I’m fine. How are you? Okay, sure.
Interviewer: I am doing fine. Thank you. So, let’s have it started!
How many Indonesian teams are there in WSDC? How hard it is to get the opportunity to represent yourself in WSDC? Is it easy? How do you get it?
One. A team of 4 people. It was most definitely not easy haha.
Kak Odi (Roderick Sibarani) informed me of an independent selection for the national team to which I had to finalize a range of tasks within less than 2 days. Independent selection was basically open for all students throughout Indonesia who missed or was not offered the chance to join NSDC (this is particularly relevant when it comes to private schools e.g. Sutomo). Long story short, I made the cut along with Greg (Sekolah Pelita Harapan) and Gracia (SMAN 4 Denpasar). We were sponsored to join the remaining top 6 speakers from NSDC (totaling 9) and were put under stringent one-week selection camp. That was one of the most taxing (physically and mentally) series of events I’ve ever gone through, but would love to do it all over again. Anyway, there were lots of lots of challenges, emotional turbulence and obviously debates in that short span of time which I can’t detail. Eventually, a team of 4 was chosen out of the batch – Me, Vincentius Michael, Gregory Jany, and Ilham Akbar.
Yes, we also notice that the national selection does not fairly involve all institutions. Despite of the misfortune, seems like you managed to find a way and proved your worth to join in the WSDC. Congratulations Jovan!
We have heard stories of training camp session from debaters that joined an international scale competition. So what do you think about your regular training in your club compared to your WSDC preparation?
Training sessions in Sutomo are very simplistic, consisting of occasional lectures and debates that we personally organize. There is certainly a stark contrast between this and the one we underwent in preparation for worlds in terms of the time invested and obviously the quality of the training.
I don’t think it’s possible to lay out all the stuffs that we did one by one. But here’s an attempt to give a general view. Training sessions lasted for 6 months. There were 4 training camps in between, each spans for approx. 1 week respectively, where we stayed in a particular hotel to practice. Apart from that, training was conducted via Skype or other means, basically online training. The first couple of months were mostly packed with written assignments in which we had to deduce academic readings, answer tricky questions and incorporate personal yet reasoned views in them. Also, we had intermittent Skype discussions. Then, discussions became daily once the assignments evolved to be more group-oriented. These assignments usually started from 9 AM until 10 PM with short breaks in-between. Assignments came with adjudication, so we had to re-do certain tasks that were either completely off or not satisfying enough. That’s for the online training which apparently was much more draining in comparison to the training camps. In training camps, we frequently did debates (Asian Parliamentary, British Parliamentary, circular). We hone our style in delivery, that is through practicing different emotions when giving an equally varying types of speeches (heartfelt, angry, etc). We also learned how to strategically debate such as re-framing, defining terms of engagement, pointing out contradictions and constructing nuanced arguments. In essence, a practical version of what we did in online. This is undeniably a very brief description, but I hope it’s clear enough to give a visual representation of what the training looks like.
Whoa whoa. Surely it must be very intense. Wait… previously I did hear you saying something about ‘emotional turbulence’. How was it?
Well, there were times that I questioned my credibility and doubted myself. It’s inspiring yet stressful to be around people who are really smart, it seems as if I’m never going to be of the same page as they (my teammates) are. But eventually, just like any other clichéd stories haha, I committed myself to the training irrespective of the results, at least I know that I have done my best and I would never turn my back on my teammates just because of my personal predicament. As a result, I am grateful to finish the comp with (IMO) a really good speaking score (credits to my coaches and teammates). The biggest down tho, was that we experienced a lot of unfair adjudications. We lost to a lot of split decisions – the chair adjudicators giving us the win, but the other panels losing us. We never got adequate justification as to why we lost majority of the rounds, most of our arguments were largely dismissed by the panels to the point that some of the chair judges even got upset over our loss. But on the bright side, we got to make a lot of new friends from various countries and cultures (most of which are party animals haha). And of course last but not least, the up(s) is that we get to be coached by two of the most prominent and caring coaches, Kak Odi and Kak Vera.
It is indeed very disappointing to have experienced an unfair adjudication. But, on the other side, we could learn how to deal with adversity. Knowing that the world does not always in favor with us actually helps us to be stronger. More importantly, you managed to expand your social networking!
Speaking of coaches, do you only have Kak Odi and Kak Vera? Any other coaches?
Our main coaches are Kak Odi and Kak Vera. But we often have guest coaches coming, to name a few – Kak Alif, Cara, Boby, Aldi, Gaby, Deta, Terry, Dennys, Melanie, and many other coaches who are equally as important.
Hey, what is your biggest motivation that helps you survive in this competition?
What kept pushing me forward was the fact that my coaches have invested so much in me and my teammates, it would just be morally abhorrent not to appreciate what they’ve done, and the least I can do is by committing myself to the training. But aside from that, is my teammates’ enthusiasm.
I see. Seems like you have learnt a lot of both debate-lessons and life-lessons. They must be priceless! Here is my last-but-not-least question: Do you have any message regarding to the development/growth of Medan debating circuit?
I’m very excited to see medan debaters clinching national/international titles in the future. I think the proliferation of debating competition has been amazing. Good luck to everyone #EFLandproud
Thank you, Jovan for kindly answering all of my questions. Best of luck for you! We are really proud of you!
Thank you, Kak.
Well, it seems to be everything. We do hope whoever reading this, are inspired more to expose themselves in honing their potential. Thank you for reading!