National Debate Championship (NDC) is the name given to the closing event, which brings together representatives of all 80 schools that participate in “Youth Engaged in Society” (YES) debate club project being implemented and funded by Jinishian Memorial Foundation and “Youth for Achievements” educational NGO and co-funded by European Union. This special championship is organized at the end of each academic year and has a very unique character. At first sight the National Championship is a “championship” which presupposes competition of teams, but in reality each year this event turns out to be a real celebration for all directly and indirectly involved in the project: debate club members, their mentors, parents, teachers, judges of debates and project implementers as well.
NDC 2008 took place on May 7-8 in Yerevan Marriott hotel conference hall and became the biggest of all championships organized so far within YES project. It counted 14 teams and overall more than 100 participants. “For me, personally, the most challenging, yet the most exciting in the Championship was the fact that our team united representatives of 6 different schools of our town, most of whom were our ‘rivals’ during previous debates. However, today, I can state that now I have 5 new friends and hope for this friendship to carry on”, said one of the members of Gyumri 1 team.
During two days of the Championship teams debated on 4 topics related to civil society. They had already done preliminary research and preparation and gained knowledge about these topics. “It is remarkable to see the diversity of opinions that these young people have formed, to witness the work of their inquisitive mind and analytical skills. I am not ashamed of saying that I myself learnt a lot from these debates”, said one of the judges of the competition.
As already mentioned, the NDC has two goals: to teach and learn from each other. And this teaching-learning experience is not limited to the art of debate, it goes beyond the scopes of the competition and encompasses such elements as making new friends, learning about other schools and towns of Armenia, learning to be patient and tolerant towards each other.
One of the mentors of a team from Yerevan at the end of the competition said, “I think this championship is a wonderful opportunity for our students to meet their peers from other schools, for students from the regions to explore more of Yerevan, and to spend a few days as members of one big family called YES project”.