When I returned from my second year at the Women's Debate Institute in August 2017, I reflected upon the transformation that I witnessed with the student participants. Students have the opportunity to engage with qualified instructors and build their academic community while growing as an individual. The WDI is a tremendous academic and social benefit for students but it also provides a supportive cohort of women that really care about the success of their colleagues and the future of students.
Students at the WDI are recruited from high schools all over the US to attend a four day camp and training. Students stay in dorms, participate in many educational lectures, engage in team building exercises and have a chance to interact with other students and teachers. This intensive teacher-student interaction produces the highest quality education for a student interested in debate. Students are encouraged to become involved, ask questions and practice their craft.
The WDI staff and instructors are at various stages of their academic careers. The instructors and staff members range in their experience and activity to provide a comprehensive education for the students. The staff and instructors range from current collegiate debaters, former national debate champions, college professors, and debate coaches. The varied experience of the instructors is a tremendous resource for the high school student that attend the camp. There are workshops to help students access these resources as they get ready to transition from high school to college.
The WDI provides a space for students to grow as an academic, a debater, and as an individual. These students feel safe in this space and yearn to grow as a competitor and student. As a second year instructor at the Institute, I am honored to participate this transformation. Students become more confident and comfortable in the WDI community.
The Institute provides excellent instruction and resources for high school students. An equally strong component of the institute is the emphasis on community. Teamwork and group efforts are prevalent throughout the institute. Students are encouraged to make strong connections with other students and staff members. The competitiveness of debate is almost forgotten during the institute because students are there to learn and become better advocates. Students gain the skills and knowledge of debate, but also are rehearsing skills that will be essential for their future in college and the workforce. Students practice public speaking skills, engage in critical thinking, learn about persuasive strategies, and practice working on a team.
This institute helps students develop academic, social and career skills. Watching others gain confidence and become a unique personal advocate is the biggest reward of being a coach.