Public speaking and persuasion are key skills in many professions, and are tools that will serve you throughout life. With that in mind, the IEU Debate Club aims to improve and refine its members’ debate and argumentation techniques through national and international competitions against other universities—all while having a good time.
We had the chance to talk to Alisher Akhmadjonov, president of the club, to get some insights into what the club does and, more specifically, how it’s adapting its events to the virtual format. Here’s what we learned.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Alisher Akhmadjonov and I’m from Tashkent, Uzbekistan. I’m in my third year of the Bachelor in Business Administration at IE University, and I serve as the president of the Madrid chapter of the IEU Debate Club.
What does the IEU Debate Club consist of?
The IEU Debate Club is not just a regular club; our greatest assets are our members! The club exists because we want to provide a platform for sharing opinions and rationalizing ideas. Debate involves skills that can be incredibly important in any life situation, be it the workplace or a personal relationship. So, we want our members to enhance those skills and improve in the areas of critical thinking, negotiation, argumentation and self-confidence. To that end, every event we organize focuses on just that.
We don’t have any recurring events or fixed schedules. The only permanent event is the 12-session training program with a professional coach that we provide members. Apart from that, we also organize some formal and informal debates, different scenario simulations, talks with guest speakers who are experts in the field, etc. We also participate in various international conferences annually—for instance, last year we had a delegation travel to Bonn, Geneva, and Malaga. On top of that, we just started organizing our own international debate conference: IEUMUN. This year was the first edition, and it gathered 46 participants from 36 countries—not counting everyone who was involved in the organization and coordination of the conference.
How have you been adjusting to the new Liquid Learning system and how is it affecting the events you’re hosting? How has IE University helped you adjust?
When the global situation dramatically changed and Spain went into the first lockdown, we quickly adjusted and looked for the silver lining. We started looking for and inviting speakers we wouldn’t be able to invite otherwise. Now, we are exploring different virtual platforms to enhance the experience for members. We are also trying to incorporate the liquid format, where we combine the in-person activities with the virtual ones. For instance, our welcome event this year was in the liquid format, and we actually had a couple of people debating one-on-one, where one was in-person with us and the other was online.
Tell us about IEUMUN 2020. How did you manage to make this virtual event a success?
Overall, I think IEUMUN 2020 was a successful start to an annual tradition. We managed to raise funds to support the Red Cross in Yemen, and a reconstruction NGO in Beirut. We built several partnerships with other organizations, and in total, we attracted over 80 applications, 46 of whom were selected and attended the conference as delegates. In addition to that, we had six chairs from six different countries. That’s excluding the 17 people who were organizing the event.
The participants were pleased with the conference, and we were even awarded the title “Highly Rated Conference” by MyMun.
What were the main topics covered in the event?
The event focused on three main pillars of the United Nations, and within those pillars, the topics were:
- The crisis in Yemen
- Low-carbon and climate-resilient development for developing countries
- Protective measures for refugees in a post-pandemic world
It’s also worth noting that we provided a couple of training workshops, and on top of that, all participants came extremely prepared, and the debate was very professional. As a result, every committee was able to draft and pass a high-quality resolution.
What advice would you give future students who’d like to join the Debate Club?
That there’s no reason to be hesitant or afraid! We have members from all different backgrounds and levels of experience. Just join and follow us on social media to stay up-to-date with all the opportunities we have to offer.