US Universities Debating Championship

I want to thank the coaches and friends who helped me realize my potential as a debater. Rob Boller and Jonathan Cham for encouraging my start; Daniel Hugo and Cody Hensarling for support since I returned to the University of Hawai‘i two years ago; and all the judges, competitors, partners, and teammates in between.

Five years of debate taught me a lot. I learned to think on my feet and improvise. I learned to listen, to seize the moral high ground, to simplify my arguments, and to choose my words carefully. But I also learned that humans are fallible and prejudiced judges. I witnessed teams (my own, at times) win rounds with blatantly false arguments. Moreover, it took me a year away at Harvard and two years of draining international travel to raise the profile of Hawai‘i debate.

Ultimately, I've learned that debate is a great hobby, but not a complete life. I appreciate conversations devoid of competition. I have no desire to beat anyone; I'd rather learn from them. And I'm often frustrated at the way debate rewards superficial and errant ways of understanding complex issues. Though I've met many brilliant and inquisitive people through debate, I've met many more whose curiosity extended only as far as victory.

Giraldine Duff is one of the best people I've met, and partnering with her has been my privilege. She is kind, intelligent, and tenacious. In three semesters, we competed at nine tournaments in four countries. Of these, we broke at six. Of those breaks, three resulted in runner up finishes. And this weekend, we finished in the semifinal round at the United States Universities Debating Championship–sharing the top eight with teams from Stanford, Yale, Harvard, Cornell, and Bates. There's no disputing our status as the best university team to ever compete out of Hawai‘i, and that's something I'll keep with me.

But more than any victory, I'll hold on to the moments between rounds, just chilling and chatting. As I step back from this activity, I hope to stay in touch with all the people I've met. Though I won't be around much at tournaments in the future, I'll be available online, and you all can find me for conversation over coffee in the greatest city on Earth, Honolulu!

 Hawai‘i DH: USUDC semifinalists; donut enthusiasts.

Hawai‘i DH: USUDC semifinalists; donut enthusiasts.