Two Bulgarian Teams are the Winners of the International Debating Championship Held at Our University

Monday, 21 August 2023 18:40

Two Bulgarian teams qualified for the finals of the International Debating Championship Sofia Pre-EUDC 2023 which was held at our university on 18 and 19 August. The main partner of the prestigious competition was the University of National and World Economy which provided 20 halls, sound, technical support and logistical assistance free of charge. 150 people, including representatives of our university divided into teams, took part in the two days of competition.

The first place won the team of Alek Selveliev and Velina Andonova who competed against the other Bulgarian team of Biser Angelov and Maria Macheva.

Alek Selveliyev and Velina Andonova /from the right to the left/ are the winners and Biser Angelov and Maria Macheva deserved the second place

They were followed by the teams of Naomi Panovka and Daniela Williams from Trinity College - Dublin and Annie Schwartz and Boatz Katzir from the University of Tel Aviv.

All the finalists. The winners Alek Selveliyev and Velina Andonova with the trophy /on the left/

The theme of the final debate was This Government Rejects the Glorification of Self-Sacrifice in War-History Literature.

 There was also a ranking for speakers where Maria Macheva and Biser Angelov shared the fourth place out of 122 ones. The best individual speaker was Zarina Bell-Gam from Oxford University. Aniket Chakravoti, also from Oxford University, came second and Ted Chang from the London School of Economics was third.

The competition judges were making their decisions after each debate. They are all highly experienced being former competitors and finalists in the previous international competitions.

The major judges of the competition: Matt Kaito from the London School of Economics and Political Science /the world's best debater in 2022/, Anna Schrader from the Technical University of Haifa, Israel /she will be the major judge at the  European Championship 2024, which will be held in Glasgow/, Tamar Ben Meir from the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel /the world's second best debater in 2022/ and Tino Pulic from the University of Zagreb - the world champion in 2021 /from the left to the right/

Rumen Marinov: Every debate is a lesson, every mistake builds you up, makes you a better person and a better debater

We talked to Rumen Marinov, a student from the UNWE, participant and winner in a number of international debating competitions, one of the main organizers of EUDC 2023 /European Debating Championship 2023/ which started on 21 August in Burgas and will last until 25 August.

Is this the first time the most prestigious European Debate Championship is held in Bulgaria?

Yes. And we, from the Bulgarian Debate Association are very proud that we managed to meet the criteria and that Bulgaria will host this biggest European debate competition. I would especially like to express thankfulness to the Rector of UNWE Prof. Dr. Dimitar Dimitrov for appreciating the importance of this competition and immediately responding to hold the preliminary round at UNWE. He provided us with halls, sound system, technical support... The conditions were excellent and helped the competitors to give their best.

What awards have you received?

I reached the finals of the European and World Championships in 2022. I also won a number of prestigious competitions organized by universities in the UK and USA along with my teammate Nikolay Angelov.

I am the second best speaker in the world at the World Debating Championship 2022. I have also been a finalist in competitions at Oxford, Cambridge, Princeton, Yale and Harvard universities.

How long have you been participating in debate competitions?

I started debating in my 10th grade at high school. At first it was just a way to learn how to speak in front of people, earn easy sixes and participate in an extra-curricular activity. Then it became a passion of mine and also through debating in high school I was able to meet a lot of smart kids that we are still good friends with. As an undergraduate at the UNWE, I continued to develop my skills, for which I am thankful to my professors.

These achievements are not accidental, they are the result of years of hard work and they are also due to the help and activity of the Bulgarian Debate Association.

What is specific about the methodology you use in the debates?

The most interesting thing about debates is that we only have 15 minutes to prepare after the topic is given. In those 15 minutes we have to develop the thesis, to find arguments that are convincing, to speak clearly and understandably but also with evidence and sometimes with scientific arguments. The speech must be rhetorically strong to be remembered and distinguished.

What attracts you to these competitions?

There are many benefits - I meet new interesting people, visit many remarkable European cities, create thousands of memories. I also have to admit that it's very addictive. When I prepare my speech, time stands still for me. All I care about is to win. I cannot explain this feeling but it is very strong.

What themes have you developed during the competitions? Were there any surprising ones?

The topics are indeed diverse and of all kinds. We had a topic about the countries of South America, whether they should create a common currency similar to the euro. We were very prepared on this topic as we discussed the advantages and disadvantages of a common currency at the competition in Greece. The topic of social norms in starting a family and whether it is good or bad was also interesting. You are never fully prepared but you concentrate and think.

How can the skills you develop in preparation for debate competitions be used in your future career?

I use what I have learnt in the debates every day in my work - from meetings on internet platforms to talking to clients and asking my boss for a higher salary. Debating helps me to communicate and to stand my opinion. By the way, I don't really like arguing, and frankly most debaters don't either but when you've "argued" hundreds of times in debates, it helps you separate the important from the unimportant. Every participation is a lesson, every mistake, every debate builds you up, makes you a better person and a better debater.

The Bulgarian Debate Association has been working to promote debates among Bulgarian school and university students since 2011, organizing annual international and national competitions and supporting debate clubs in different parts of the country by organizing training seminars and providing training materials through which the debaters develop their oratorical and analytical skills.

The competitive debating continues to develop at school and university level and in the recent years our country has regularly achieved success in some of the world's most prestigious competitions.


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