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Toastmasters Orchestrate Debate Showcase Event
December 11, 2013, 1:57 pm
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Sandy, Avinash and Deepak clinched the Best Debater Title

By Natalia Desai

For the first time ever Kuwait witnessed a Debate Showcase Event organized and produced by the collaborative efforts of Division I and O of Toastmasters International. The Divisions are headed by governors Bobbie Hoxit and John Joseph, who are exemplary leaders and work tirelessly, leading and providing support at all times. The brains behind it all, the man of the hour was Area Governor Satish Kumar. His leadership was par excellence and his quiet brilliance revealed itself in the outcome of this successful event.

The hours preceding the show had eager and animated organizers working around the clock to ensure the event was the talk of the town.  Not a stone was left unturned and for the first time ever Kuwait National Television (KTV2) covered the event. It was with a feeling of pride and euphoria that Division Governor, Bobbie Hoxit and Area Governor Satish were interviewed before the opening ceremony. There was magnificent encouragement to participate in the Debate Showcase as it gave members an outstanding opportunity to develop three basic abilities – Listening, thinking and speaking.  To give a unique twist to the show, the event had THREE compelling debates with six teams, one from each of the six areas of Div. I and O.  The participants work in the fields of Management, Engineering, Teaching, Medicine, and Finance and set the stage on fire with their lively arguments.

The stage was set, the cameras were ready and registration desk queued up to let in a monumental number of participants, members and guests. At the Registration desk Natalia Desai, Joanne John and Sreekant Nair, greeted guests with warm and energetic smiles. Inside the main hall the Show had begun.  As the canon sounds in the distance, so did we hear the hearty BOOM of Rodel Cuaton, Sergeant at Arms who gave us the ground rules and then handed the podium to the Debate Event Chair – Satish Kumar.  The warm and thunderous applause that followed his entry died down enough for him to explain and introduce the reasons why a debate contest is the next best thing in Toastmasters and will soon become a major part of our lives.  He also introduced the Chief Judge for the evening a pioneer of the toastmasters movement in Kuwait and a friend like no other, Don Prades who presided over the event as Chief Judge for all three segments.

Toastmasters International states “The debate setting encourages participants to make quick responses, present coherent arguments and make a clear presentation of their views. Nowhere else can a Toastmaster find a more ideal method for learning competitive speaking in a direct opposition situation”. The Debate in this regard was a contention in which two sides use reasoned discourse to argue about a particular subject. The immediate goal of each team was to convince a panel of judges and the audience that its arguments on the subject are better than those of the opposition. The speakers in this debate presented credible arguments and supported them with facts, anecdotes and data.

The debate for each segment was divided into three parts which began with a constructive speech where Speakers were asked to give a five minute speech supporting their side of the resolution.  A brilliant cross examination came next where Speakers asked skillful questions aimed at discrediting the validity, adequacy or logic of specific aspects of the opposing side. Finally they summed it up with a chance to refute the other side’s argument, to rebut their own argument and finished with a concise summary of their case.

The very first debate started in the fine fashion and had the audience gripped in tense and excited silence. The Debate Chair – Area Governor Praveen Madhavan who is one of the best humorous speakers quickly swiveled the contest into an exciting array of fun and entertainment. The topic was “Social Networking Web Sites are counterproductive“. The audience reacted to the arguments and vehement appeals made by the affirmative team – Musaddik Peshimam, Leslie Saldanha and Binoy Sebastian. Mussadik, Team Captain opened with a powerful speech that resounded through the packed hall.  And to counter what they had to say, the warriors of the negative side – Dana Winner, Sandy Stein and Milt Dana.  Dana, Team Captain graciously put together her research and cross examined the opposition. After a heated, heartening and holistic argument the winners were the negative team. And Sandy Stein was declared the best debater for this segment.

The refreshment stands were meticulously organized by toastmaster Srihari Srinivasan who brought in a variety of quick bites and finger food that went a long way in helping the contest run smoothly.  Naseema Khan played a key role in ensuring each person had a plateful of treats. The well - spaced intervals gave members and guests opportunities to socialize, encourage and support each other. The atmosphere was filled with a flurry of positivity and many a smile stayed fixed through the event. The Senior Toastmasters such as Division Governors Bobbie Hoxit and John Joseph, Pradeep Vincent, and Anil Lobo were all seen encouraging and mingling with the throng of people at the refreshment stands.

Acting Sergeant at Arms, Area Governor Vinod Raman at his charismatic best tackled the swarm of guests and kept all in order. With him Ronald Arias guarded the door so there would be no loud disturbances or distractions on entry and exit during the event.  And Rodel who was the official photographer and PR campaign enthusiast, captured moments that bring to light the many humorous scenes that replay in our minds till today.

The second debate proved to give everyone, food for thought as Area Governor Raymond Hernandez took the stage. He gave us simple and funny rules to hush members who talk during the debate with a fervent shaking of head and hand. The topic for this debate was “People should be vegetarian to have a better and healthier lifestyle.” The affirmative side being Aminah Hassan, Deylon Coutinho and Prince George who put forward their appeals in perfect coordination and left the audience feeling that vegetarianism is the need of the hour. From amazing facts to opposing views came the negative team Avinash Awhad, Ganeshan and Rajesh George who refuted the arguments put forward by their counterparts and walked away with trophies in hand. TM Avinash Awhad, Team Captain of the negative team was also titled Best Debater for this segment.

The buzzing of the crowd soon made way to the third segment of the Debate Showcase.  After a healthy round of networking and making merry at the refreshment stand, contestants, members and guests all trooped their way into the big arena where the stage was set for yet another thrilling debate – “One parent should stay at home to take care of their children”.  The excitement was palpable in the room as the Debate Chair Supriya Rojindar Deorukhkar took the stage and welcomed the participants of this round. Team Captain – Wafaa Salman of the affirmative side and her team mates Farah Al Elwani and Deepak Bindal gave the audience and the opposing team a run for their money as they made bold statements of contention.  The opposition ploughed through with its team led by Suresh Balakrishnan and team mates EP Prasad and Murali Manohar. The debate proved to be entertainment at its very best. The affirmative team walked away with the glory and Deepak Bindal was crowned Best Debater in this segment.

Debate Event Chair Satish Kumar thanked all the Participants, Judges, Sponsors and role players for their active involvement in making the event a grand and memorable one.  The Chief Judge Don Prades announced the winners and the trophies were presented jointly by the Division Governors Bobbie Hoxit and John Joseph. Everyone went home a victor as they absorbed the positive vibes and made new friends. With great success comes inordinate responsibility for all toastmasters present at the event. They have set the bar for future leaders who sharpen their skills today to take the stage in the very near future.  To sum it up the Debate Showcase was no mean feat to be achieved in a small amount of time. The organizers and toastmasters who were a part of it have memories that will last them a lifetime.  Three months of hard work was all it took to bring all the clubs and members together to share this camaraderie, excitement and views on the BIG stage. This event can be summed up in three words – Fun. Fantastic and theatrically FABULOUS.

Toastmasters is a platform where one hones their leadership and communication skills. It helps refine latent skills and expose new talents in people.  Toastmasters was founded by Dr. Ralph Smedley in the year 1924 in USA.  Throughout its history, Toastmasters has served over four million people, and today the organization serves over a quarter of a million members in 122 countries boasting over 14,350 clubs. To learn more about Toastmasters visit www.toastmasters.org.

Kuwait has been associated with Toastmasters for the past 15 years. Currently Kuwait has four divisions Div. I & O primarily serve all the English speaking Clubs and Div. G & M for Arabic speaking Clubs.   All Toastmasters clubs adopt a "learn-by-doing" philosophy, where each member learns at a comfortable pace in a no- pressure atmosphere.   The members of Kuwait’s’ Toastmasters clubs know how to take an ordinary meeting and turn it into something mind numbingly spectacular.  To learn more about Toastmasters Clubs in Kuwait visit www.d20io.org.

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