In summer 2010, Jessica worked for the National Center for Policy Analysis' debate institute, "Debate Central" in Amman, Jordan. Jessica traveled to Jordan in July to instruct debate and public speaking with the camp, as well as to educate the students there on the debate topic, which addresses the Middle East peace process.
The program I am with, Four Star Debate, seems to be going really well so far. Teaching kids in the Middle East about the Middle East Peace Process is an amazing thing. The students are (mostly) receptive to the information we are teaching them, although there are some Palestinian students who are extremely militant in their views against Israel, which often makes it difficult to teach them anything they don't already agree with. We don't have any Israeli students here, so I can't speak for them, but I would imagine that if we did they would have the same issues.
You could tell that the Jordanian students felt so empowered by everything they were learning because now they understood what was going on. American foreign policy, which while it does have an impact on the lives of Americans, has more of a direct impact on the people in the areas where we are instating our policies. Because of this, the Jordanian students were much more interested in the implications of what each different plan advocated would have on their part of the world.
The final round was debated in front of all of the celebrity judges, as well as the entire camp and General Tommy Franks. Needless to say, my team was very nervous when they were sitting up on stage, but after some encouraging words they felt confident and were able to clearly win the round.
Jeris and Britt were by far my hardest-working lab group, which says a lot because every single one of my teams worked so hard. I don't think Jeris or Britt ever used any of their free time to do anything but prepare for the tournament, and it paid off. The winners of the tournament were awarded a $2,500 scholarship to the college of their choice.
I am extremely proud of everyone in my lab group, and I couldn't be happier with the amount that they forced themselves to learn. Debate tests your knowledge on a given subject more than just about any other form of communication. Given that, they had to know the facts and figures they were presented with like the back of their hand, and they did.
I am so blessed to have had this experience, and it is something I will always remember. I have learned so much from being here, that I'm not sure any international relations class could have taught me anywhere near this much information.