AmCorners Debate Championship Engages Young People Across 10 Regions in Kazakhstan

ASTANA — The AmCorners Debate Championship engaged more than 400 people in the American Corners of 10 cities in Kazakhstan from April 27 to May 5, reported the American Corner’s press service. 

Debate participants. Photo credit: American Corner

The championships in Aktobe, Karagandy, Kostanai, Oskemen, Pavlodar, Petropavlovsk and Shymkent were held from April 27-28, while in Almaty, Astana and Uralsk from May 4-5.

The championship consisted of competitive and educational components, offering master classes on the British parliamentary format and competitive debate in the English language. The participants included both experienced debaters and 14-year-old beginners. 

According to the American Corner, debate benefits the participants with multifaceted knowledge, develops critical thinking, and increases self-confidence. The American Debate League noted that debates improve academic performance and access to higher education by developing literacy and public speaking skills.

American Corners Debate Championship. Photo credit: American Corner

In Kazakhstan, young debaters, including those from remote areas, who participated in the championship, improved their English language skills, public speaking, and analytical thinking.

“This championship was a journey of personal and academic growth for many participants,” said one of the American Corner coordinators.

“I liked the tournament. It was well organized, and volunteers helped me find the right rooms. The topics were clear, but the semi-final and final were tough – we were banned from using our phones,” said Dilnaz Konarbayeva, a second-place winner in the Best Speaker category from Oskemen. The theme “This House Prefers a World with Differential Penalties for Crimes Against Women” was complicated and very emotional, she added.

Photo credit: American Corner

Debate is also essential in developing social skills and empathy. It teaches considering other viewpoints, necessary in a diverse society, as participants argue from different perspectives.

“Debate training promotes teamwork and mutual understanding, which are vital in our interconnected world,” said the debate coach from Shymkent.

According to Stanford’s National Institute of Forensic Sciences, debaters can improve their critical thinking and leadership skills because debate structures thoughts and articulates points of view. Thus, the skill leads to better results in school and career.

The overall feedback from the championship was positive, reads the American Corner’s message, despite the challenges ranging from hiccups to severe emotional strain on the participants. The competitive yet friendly environment became a platform for further development of debate culture in Kazakhstan.

By the end of the debates, participants gained improved skills, new acquaintances, and a great sense of community and honoring certificates. 

“Seeing these young debaters tackle complex global issues with such eloquence is very hopeful for the future,” said the head judge from Petropavlovsk. “We look forward to participating in next year’s championship with even more enthusiasm,” she added.

American Corners in Kazakhstan is a collaborative effort between Kazakhstan’s public libraries and the U.S. Embassy to provide access to educational and cultural resources, technologies, and programs that support educational development in the country.

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