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PLNU Debate Team Takes on Tokyo

Photo courtesy of Toni Rutledge.

Over spring break, The Point Loma Nazarene University’s Debate Team traveled to Tokyo, Japan to compete in the 2023 International Forensics Association tournament. There were 18 people on the trip: 13 debaters, four faculty members and coaches and one judge. The team departed on March 7 and returned on March 16 while the tournament itself ran from March 13-14. 

The team members raised money for this trip by reaching out to Alumni in the debate community, which ultimately covered most of the cost of the trip. 

“The most expensive thing was the plane tickets and it was during our spring break and we fundraised the money ourselves so Dr. Skip Rutledge [director of forensics], thought it would be beneficial to experience another culture and educate ourselves,” said Tess Halbert, second-year biology major. 

The team visited the Imperial Gardens, Disneyland Tokyo, teamLab Planets, the Tokyo Sky Tree and other historical and cultural sites. 

“The culture in Japan was much quieter,” said Halbert. “People were kinder but more reserved and kept to themselves. You do what you need to do without question, no arguing, or talking back. There is a lot of respect overall and everything is pleasant.”

To prepare for the tournament, the PLNU debate team held special practices to learn more about the culture in Japan. 

“We did practice rounds centered around Japan for the three weeks leading up to going and then once we were there we did a few practice sessions to help us be sharp,” said Brianna Hosmer, team co-president and education major. 

“Normally we debate from a U.S.-centric point of view but the topic of the debates at this tournament was all Japan-centered, which forced us to learn more about Japan policies and feel comfortable debating things we do not know,” Halbert said. 

In the tournament itself, 29 international schools were competing. PLNU came in 12th overall. Halbert and Ally Gilmeister, second-year environmental studies major, got 6th place in the National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA), which is a more technical type of debate with a partner. Also in NPDA, the PLNU debate team had 5 of the top 10 speaker awards. Halbert was also awarded a semi-finalist for open extemporaneous, which is an informative speech relying on research, organization and delivery with little preparation. 

Team Co-president Sara LeGrande, fifth-year biology major, went undefeated in prelims for International Public Debate Association (IPDA), a more communicative style of one on one debate, and advanced to the quarterfinals to receive a silver medal. Alex Tseng, fourth-year international relations major, and Hosmer advanced to the final round going undefeated until ultimately placing silver against the University of Utah.

“My favorite memory from Japan was trying different foods,” said Aiyanna Durepo, second-year environmental studies major. “I enjoyed trying different conveyor belt sushi and ramen and experiencing the Japanese culture through their cuisine.”

Written By: Becky Rookard