During the third weekend of November -16 it happened. We held our very first debating tournament in Joensuu. It was nothing too big, a small tournament with 40 people in total. 16 teams of two debaters from Helsinki, Tampere, Turku, Jyväskylä and Joensuu competed in the art of British parliamentary debating. Furthermore, we had a remarkable chief adjudication team consisting of Milla Huuskonen, Annabelle van Beusekom (who came all the way from Germany!) and the DCA, Sara Halonen.
The contestants had put creativity in their team names. We had ”Hot, fresh and ethical”, ”Clone army” and ”Zhen’s disciples” to name a few of them. All of them engaged in heavy verbal activity for a minimum of 4 debates. Topics were varied and included anonymous CVs, European military, religious beliefs and positive media coverage of refugees.
From the organizer’s point of view, securing the venue was a number of its own. Our original plan was to organise the tournament in the premises of Normaalikoulu but unfortunately there was a double booking due to a teacher training taking place there during the same weekend. Luckily, we could use the rooms at the university for free. Only that we were surprised a couple of days before the tournament when we heard that we would need to hire security to see over the venue because it was a weekend. Luckily we found a compromise there!
All in all, everything came to a reasonable end but – boy – was Anton under great stress for a couple of days before the tournament! Good that he was able to keep his cool when issues arose. He was determined to make everything work.
And it did! We had two days of excellent debating and judging and amazing socials on Saturday. We tackled issues on the spot. On Sunday, the room intended for serving breakfast was not open before 10.00 when the breakfast was supposed to end. All our coffee makers were in that room from the previous day. Solution!? We borrowed a water kettle and bought instant coffee for the breakfast. It worked.
In the closing ceremony Anton gave a short speech in which he explained the significance of organizing Joensuu Mini. It is to spread debating to smaller towns and outside of the capital region where most of the Finnish debate tournaments tend to be. We firmly believe that debating should be available to everybody.
Critical thinking, thinking from another person’s perspective and good listening skills never harmed anybody. On the contrary, they are more important than ever when we get all too comfortable living in our social media bubbles.
With all that said, we would like to thank everyone who worked on this tournament and everyone who participated. This would not have been possible without all of your cooperation!