Friday, April 08, 2011

Cold War Debate: Not So Cold

Just yesterday, I had my round of debate in Cold War in Europe module (EU3230). Why, I felt I was so inferior at first. Many had background in Cold War and they were incredible sane hardworking history majors. Just take my group for example, all of them were really admirable good students! During discussion at the earlier stage of this semester, I usually find myself talking some very shallow things while it was their interpretation and analysis that woke me up, telling me I should not only stop at fulfilling just for the module, but really putting myself into it. During the first debate round, I was the floor. I shivered upon seeing how the fight was so intense and everything was so quick. The questions were definitely of quality and the explanations were really right to the point, showing how much knowledge one has. To speak the truth, my confidence fall right after the first debate. And when my group lose the coin toss and giving the other group the choice of choosing the motion, I knew it would be tough.

The motion came out to be:

This house believes that Khrushchev is out of his depth as the ultimate successor to Stalin as the leader of the Soviet Union.

The worse came when the other group chose proposition. During the class, without any background, I was so dumbfounded by the fact that Khrushchev had been losing his marbles all the time. I can’t believe what should I do when my team was supposed to oppose the motion and support Khrushchev as not out of his depth as the ultimate successor to Stalin as the leader of the Soviet Union; when, in fact, I was going to label him as one big buffoon! Straight after getting the title, I was convinced that the first thing I need to do is to delete any thought I had and brainwash myself. The ‘programme’ started with me getting books like his memoirs and books talking good things he did and his autobiographies. In fact, in the end, I started to see good things in him and I am now totally convinced that he is doing well (that’s not really a good thing but it helped a lot!). We had meetings and decided and discussed – and I landed myself on his foreign policy on Cuban Missile Crisis. It was quite one big thing and I felt the stress actually. But nonetheless, others were getting important topics as well, all of us just need to work hard towards it!

Other than writing out the essay for my 5-minute speech, which is the expensive 15%, I need to practice it as well. Unlike in Why History, I do not want myself to succumb to such embarrassment and regrets anymore. I took my one night practice over at the staircase near my room. It was quite funny because there were people walking around. Other than that, I do want to thank Hui Min who encouraged me when I felt certain inferiority over speaking in front of history majors; and also the G3 girls who let me repeat my speech over and over again in front of them! And the time came when the debate started. It is bad to feel nervous (feeling like throwing up and increased heart rate with cold sweat…) – it is worse when you are the opposition and needs to wait till the second half of the debate to speak! We took the break for the loo just to release all the stress before our first speaker started the talk. As the third speaker, I was quite nervous but at least we did it!!! During the Firing Session, we were asked to stand up (OH MY GOSH!) and we were subjected to any question anyone in the room has. It was really an intense fight and I think it is much more than the first one (maybe because I am in it, haha). Anyway, we were asked to leave the room for the voting and returned to listen to the professor’s comment of this as a ‘first rate performance’. Seriously, I think that at least means I am not doing something rubbish in the debate. And in the end, it was announced that we won the motion! Not that I think we did extra-super-better, but I think this is a very subjective thing and shall leave the comment for the commentators…

Anyway, this is a really good experience… Sourire

And this is the Debate Essay I prepared for my speech upon Khrushchev’s Foreign Policy during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

*Note: Personal particulars were removed for privacy purposes. This document is for reference purposes only.

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