At the beginning of this semester, two students from the University of Klagenfurt participated in an English-language debating workshop at the British Embassy in Vienna. Alexandra Weiss and Lukas Salbrechter share their experiences.
On the 29th of September, the British Embassy in Vienna hosted a debating workshop for young adults from all over Austria. Lukas Salbrechter (BA International Business and Economics) and I, Alexandra Weiss (BA English and American Studies), were invited and gladly attended the event.
Nerys Jones, the British Deputy Head of Mission, and Giuseppe Abignente, from the Italian Embassy in Vienna, opened the workshop with speeches on the topic of climate change in light of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference that they will host together. This was followed by an introduction to British Parliamentary style debating given by Joy Edobor and Miri Muntean, who are both professional debaters in Vienna’s debate club. During this, we learned how a debate is structured, different debate rules, what techniques we can use to improve our speech, and how to properly prepare and organise our notes.
Afterwards, we enjoyed a fabulous lunch and then the debating started. We were split into two different debating teams, a small one with just four people and a larger one with six debaters. This was the perfect opportunity to put our newly acquired knowledge to the test. The motion we debated was “This house believes that the government should adapt to climate change, rather than trying to prevent it.” This motion was well-suited to the theme of the day which was climate change. The debates where fiery, passionate as well as a lot of fun.
My colleague Lukas Salbrechter described his experience as follows: “Throughout the event at the Embassy, I learned so many valuable lessons, such as the ability to convince people of my ideas and arguments, which is an important skill in life, and it is useful for a successful business career. The trainers, Joy and Miri, explained to us the foundations of debating excellence as well as some techniques for speaking confidently in public. We met exciting people who share similar interests, were given a fascinating tour through the historic building and enjoyed delicious food. Overall, this workshop was a valuable and worthwhile experience.”
The workshop officially ended with a round of feedback and a short socially distanced get-together. Some of us also gave a short interview for the ambassador’s camera crew and stayed a bit longer for a nice chat and obviously a cup of tea. I had a great time at this workshop and I am very thankful to the British Embassy for organising such an interesting event, especially in these difficult times.
The British Embassy organises many different English-language events and activities for students in Austria throughout the year. If you are interested in attending a workshop or similar event, then follow the British Embassy on Facebook for updates.
Text by Alexandra Weiss.
Photos by British Embassy, Vienna.