This summer, PLNU director of forensics Skip Rutledge, professor of communication G.L. Forward and PLNU student Sydney Awakuni joined 55 other debate coaches and students from several U.S. colleges on a 15-day trip to China to study debate, participate in various debate styles, network with other coaches and students from around the world, and take in the incredible landscape.


“We have been considering adding a newer debate format at PLNU through incorporating more British Parliamentary events,” said Rutledge. “This was a great opportunity to see it in action and talk to other coaches about their opinions and methods.”

In addition to networking opportunities, Rutledge and Awakuni were able to travel to five major cities, visit numerous tourist destinations, and take part in some of the unique attractions that China offers, such as visiting the terra cotta warriors and the Great Wall, and riding a bullet train into Beijing.

Awakuni, who had never traveled abroad before this trip, jumped at the chance to visit a new country, and now has incredible memories to accompany her first cross-cultural experience.

“I really enjoyed the TV tower in Shanghai—it was over 1,500 feet tall and I was able to see the whole city from there,” she said. “I also enjoyed the terra cotta army and the Great Wall. Who gets to see two of the greatest manmade wonders on one trip? These were sights that I had only read about in books or seen in pictures, so it was great to see them in person.”

Awakuni also participated in debate tournaments in Xian and Beijing. Though debating in the British Parliamentary style took some getting used to, she admits she wasn’t the only one experiencing something unfamiliar.

“My Chinese debate partner had never done British Parliamentary style debate before either or spoken English in a debate. So, I think it was a great learning experience for both of us,” she said.

While Awakuni and her partner did not advance to the elimination rounds, she and Rutledge both felt the trip was a success and a seized opportunity to meet new people and learn different perspectives on their beloved art.

“The main objective of this trip was really the cultural experience and to have a good interaction with others while spreading the life-changing power and potential of debate,” said Rutledge.

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