| Introduction | 11/22 | 11/23 | 11/24 | 11/25 | 11/26 | 11/27 | 11/28 | 11/29 | Alfred C. Snider | Debate Central |



I was awakened this day by a wake up call from the front desk of the hotel. Well, better late than never. I arose and made my way downstairs for the usual Hotel Conde Ansurez breakfast. As I munched I thought about the duties of the day -- two lectures for Drina's group, COBA, and some time in the middle of the day to walk around town and do some investigating.

As I returned to my room I decided to be "high tech Tuna" today and deliver my lectures from the screen of my iBook. Just in case I printed copies so that no tech disaster would doom my presentations. I packed it all up and went outside to find a taxi.


The Instituto Chileano Norteamericano Cultural is located on a side street in a very fashionable part of town. I was glad that Benito had supplied me with a map so that my taxi driver could better locate the place. Once again I was able to carry on a decent conversation with the taxi driver even in my broken Spanish. We encountered some serious traffic on the way, and it became clear that something was "going on" in the town but I was not quite sure what. The drive to the Instituto was very interesting, as I had not visited this part of town before. It was clearly middle and upper class. The commercial areas looked like shopping areas in America before the advent of the major mall and the strip mall. Instead of such mall designs stores used solid and excellent buildings from previous years. Restaurants and professional offices also were seen regularly along the street. Set back from the commercial zone seemed to be more mixed use buildings with offices as well as housing. We left the main street and found the Instituto with no problem. However, it was clear to me that the driver would not have found it without the map, as he did not know of the street named Pios X right off of Holandia right off of the main boulevard there, Providencia.

The Instituto Chileano Norteamericano Cultural is mostly a large brick and concrete building of modern design. In the main building there seem to be offices and classrooms. In a lovely bungalow off to the side of the main building but within their lovely grounds were spaces for seminars and group presentations. This is where I was guided to as soon as I mentioned my name --- I was expected. I was welcomed by many of those I had met before, including Augusto. I met briefly with the translator back in the translation booth and was very impressed by her as well as the technical set up. Each member of the audience would have a wireless headset that would play English into Spanish on one channel and Spanish into English on another. Benito, Paola, and Miguel were there. They had the camera set up but there was some disagreement with the translation team about who owned the rights to the translation of my remarks. I decided not to get into this discussion and they carried on their negotiations. Drina and others greeted me as the audience began to arrive.

The audiences for the morning consisted of those leading citizens that COBA draws on to judge its advanced and national debate events. Alvaro Ferrer was also there. The attendance was a bit over twenty, which is how many were expected. I plugged in my iBook [named after the Doctor Who character K-9 the robot dog] and brought up my talk outline on the screen. I began by introducing myself and thanking all of my sponsors for making this trip and these presentations possible. My remarks then covered the skills a judge needs, techniques used by judges (including flow charting), techniques for awarding issues, and standard decision rules. In much of this presentation I was critical of current Chilean practice. I am acutely aware of the importance of developing a unique debating culture, and I respect what has happened in Chile and have learned much from it, but there are concerns. Many of the debaters have spoken to me about what they would like judges to do, and I used this information to frame my remarks without officially noting that these concerns were “student complaints.” I handled these issues directly while (I hope) diplomatically. In many cases the Chilean calculus was one I had not considered. For example, when asked about format I suggested fewer speakers and longer speeches in order to allow the debate to develop more depth of argument. The answer was that this would significantly reduce the number of people who were able to debate, and that six person teams would be superior in terms of training the most people. I really had to agree with this point. COBA had sponsored training of 20 or more students at each of 45 universities, and while some had not followed through, a huge mass of students were trained by one modest program resulting in a national tournament. However, some of the ideas presented to me by the debaters of Chile had seemed realistic to me. These included over-emphasis on speaking and presentation and lack of a clear decision protocol given the complex nature of the points on the ballot. I attempted to present my ideas as options to be considered. The response seemed to be good and a number of excellent questions were asked when I was finished. Drina asked several very pointed and specific questions that indicated her sophistication in interpreting debate events as well as her concern for the future of the Chilean national debate competitions. The audience, once again, seemed very attentive and energetic. Of course, the fact that delicious fresh squeezed orange juice and delightful small cakes were being served also helped to improve the morning mood.


At the conclusion of my presentation and the questions, the crowd dispersed and other, smaller, conversations continued. I again spoke with Augusto Coello of the Australis Group about his reaction to some of my remarks as well as a discussion about the Tercer Torneo Hispanopamerican de Debate to be held in Honduras next year, with Honduras being a nation he was very familiar with. I packed as I talked and as a result of my own foolishness I left my power cords behind. Benito, Paola, and Miguel accepted my offer to share a car and we were off after confirming with Drina the time and location of my evening presentation.

We grabbed a "red car" (a sort of limo service, not a taxi per se) and headed back to the center of town and towards Universidad Diego Portales. As we neared the center of town we noticed a huge protest march headed towards the same neighborhood. Half of the road was full of marchers, who seemed to be health care workers. They were dressed in their hospital and clinic uniforms, blew whistles, chanted, and carried banners that I quite honestly could not read. We emerged in front of this group and sped towards downtown. People were dropped off at the Sociedad de Debate offices and I was the last one to be let out, and the hotel was my stop.

I took a few moments to relax and thought about my presentation for that evening. Since it was just the middle of the day I decided to go and get some dollars changed into Chilean pesos while also looking around and taking in the scenery and culture. I stopped at several banks and they all refused to change currency, and urged me to go to the money exchange (“cambio”) that was further down the main street (Bernardo O’Higgins) but never appeared. I gave up after my fourth bank and no cambio and just withdrew pesos from an ATM machine. My ATM card worked beautifully wherever I tried to use it. I decided to head back to the hotel and stop at a restaurant called “Palacio Azul” for lunch.

I noticed that the protest we had seen earlier was now in full arrival at the center of town, a science fiction type media tower bristling with antennae. The marching workers had also been joined by some groups of “La Bandera Negra,” which I assume are the young anarchists I have heard about. Huge speakers came out of a neighboring building and blasted a song with revolutionary Spanish lyrics and pure reggae rhythm. On closer inspection I saw that on my side of the street, I was away from the main action with a small between-the-roadways park and the other side of the boulevard as a buffer zone, many people were clearly doctors and senior medical professionals. I was unhappy that I had not brought my camera on the walk. When I got to within about 100 meters of the target of the demonstration, I heard a gasp and saw water canons being fired. I also noticed that the newsvendors and store operators on my side of the street had begun to board up with metal plates and grates, even though they were well away from the action. I also saw a metro subway entrance being closed. Police seemed to be very present on my side of the street away from the demonstration. I lingered as people began to rush away, and saw the black flag marching into the face of the water cannons. These are the “Guanacos” I had heard about, the water cannon trucks that spit a sometimes stinging liquid just as the guanacos of the Andes will spit in your eye given provocation. The water cannons focused on those with the black flag and eventually drove them back. Now a full-scale retreat was taking place, with many people running but almost no screaming. I watched briefly and then walked on a few blocks more. By the time I got to Palacio Azul things on the street were back to normal and except for several of the protestors stopping there for lunch things went on as usual. The menu had to main dishes – Relleano Italiano and Goulash. I chose the relleano, a large Chile pepper stuffed with cheese and shredded meat. It was very tasty but the salad, as usual, was the star of the event if nothing else because of its variety and uniqueness.

I walked back to the hotel and had a brief nap before rising to finish the preparation for my evening presentation. I decided on a new series of elements to add to the presentation and typed them into my already prepared script. This is when I noticed that I did not have my iBook power cords with me, and I feared that they had been left at the Instituto but would, hopefully, still be there. I introduced battery conservation measures to make sure I would make it through my presentation reading my outline from my screen.

When the time was right I caught a taxi to the Instituto. I was much more familiar with the trip now. As we went by the location of the large demonstration I noticed that all of the papers and confetti that the protest had produced had been quickly cleaned up.

I arrived at the Instituto suitably early and checked in past the main desk as easily as before. Now, of course, my initial focus was on finding my lost power cord. I was told that it had not been found. I consulted with those who had broken the room down after this morning to turn it into a lecture venue for this evening and they told me they had seen no such thing. Upon conducting my own search I did find one part of the cord sitting on the seat in the translators booth. The other part of it, however, was missing. As I continued to search the manager of the translation crew noticed that his audience microphone was also missing. My theory is that someone saw two pieces of interesting equipment and lifted them. The microphone might be valuable, but half of an Apple iBook power cord, not so valuable. It just looked so stylish it had to be an important device! Finally Apple style has a cost.

The title for this talk, selected by Drina, was "A Master Class in Debate." The audience was to be composed of debate organizers and the most experienced debaters in the Santiago area. I saw Alvaro Ferrer and Gonzalo Downey in the audience. I recognized other faces from the national final as well as a few that had been there this morning. I was a little concerned by the pretension of anything called “Master” (perhaps a reaction to the traditional Doctor Who villain by the same name) but I was willing to do my best.


I selected 15 points in no particular order, and they covered argument, strategy, and delivery. They are also the sorts of public influence skills I think are most useful. They include the following issues:

1.      Watch the audience and judges. Read their signals. Use their signals as you speak.

2.      Have diverse body language. Develop a gesture vocabulary.

3.      The voice -- dynamism with diversity. Integrate voice patterns with content and strategy.

4.      The turn, the capture. React with offense to arguments made against you. Two kinds of turns, link and impact. Avoid the double turn.

5.      Personal relevance is persuasive. Use examples that the judges & audience can relate to.

6.      Put on a show. You are on display from the moment you enter the room. You need to look confident and relaxed at all times.

7.      Multiple forms of support. Use a variety of techniques to support your different arguments, such as statistics, expert testimony, historical examples, narratives, trends, personal testimony, common knowledge, statements about human motives, etc.

8.      Weigh the issues at the end of the debate – ours is bigger: number, size, probability, risk, time frame, reversibility, personal choice, and moral required ness.

9.      Using the weakest opposing argument. Hold it up as an example of the standard of argumentation offered by the opposition.

10.  Build in defense they don’t see. Put things in your early remarks that answer anticipated arguments, but hide them. Then say, "we have already answered this, perhaps they were not listening."

11.  Take advantage of factual errors. Ridicule such an error tastefully.

12.  Make a personal connection with the judges. Gain eye contact, watch non-verbal signals, refer to them specifically but not by name.

13.  Time allocation. Divide your speech into 30-second segments, plan it out in advance.

14.  Steal all good arguments and techniques from other debaters. Watch debates after you are eliminated.

15.   Note taking techniques. Learn to flowchart a debate. Use separate columns and separate sheets if necessary.

After my remarks there was a short break. Because the microphone was now missing, it was decided that questions would be taken in writing and translated to me, I would repeat the question and answer it while my remarks were translated through the headsets. The break featured various beverages and tasty cakes, but I spent all of it answering more questions from members of the audience who approached me in English. Drina asked me if I had always been such a good communicator, and I took this opportunity to tell her about my very serious stuttering problem I had as a child. I was unable to communicate clearly and as a result was hampered academically, kept in low reading groups, and generally angry about the entire situation at school. Through considerable therapy I was able to overcome that barrier, and now I only stutter when I am talking about the problem itself. She shared with me her attempts to overcome communication anxiety. I think we have both done very well in this regard. As we finished our stories it was time for the question period. We all went back into the main room and the translator read me a number of questions. They were, again, excellent. Questions included how to properly integrate emotional expression into a debate, the differing cultural implications of various gestures, and other concerns.

I asked for a brief photo of the group, although some had to leave before the photo due to personal commitments. After the photo I was able to say farewell to both Drina and Augusto, who had been so kind to me. One of the most active of the students attending was Christian Vera, a member of the national championship team from Universidad La Republica. I expressed an interest in having a real Chilean meal and he indicated that since his job was as tour guide, he could do that. He advised a seafood restaurant near my hotel, and that sounded fantastic. I invited him to dinner, and when Gonzalo Downey came over I was anxious to have him join me for dinner. We left the Instituto and found a taxi.

We arrived at a section of town very close to my hotel that I had not been aware of. We left the taxi and then looked at several potential restaurants, since there were many in this part of town. We settled on a beautiful restaurant called Ocean Pacific. It had the most overdone "maritime" decor I have ever seen. The floors were covered with clear plastic and below were collections of crabs, fish, shells, and blue neon. The walls were dotted with round windows and ropes and nets along with other maritime kitsch seemed to be everywhere. We went upstairs where the decor was even denser. We ordered some Pisco Sours (traditional Andean drink I really like) and inspected the menu. The menu was extensive but I was told that many very fresh offerings were not on the menu. We decided on a series of dishes, including calamari ala pil-pil (squid with pungent garlic), a delightful abalone dish, and for my main dish I had a steak covered with a sauce of mixed seafood. I will just say that all of this was very delicious and was followed by a creme de menthe cordial.


The dinner was a delightful and enjoyable experience with two of Chile's most talented debaters. Gonzalo had been an international champion and Christian was just recently national champion. We talked about a wide variety of subjects, including the cultural differences in various South American countries, their debate experiences, the recent USA elections, and the possible futures of these two talented young men, and their fascination with the stunning beauty of the women of Chile. On this last topic I remained mostly a listener. We enjoyed our conversation greatly and all of a sudden I looked up to see what we were the only people left in this large restaurant, as we had closed the place down. We quickly paid and were on our way.

We walked the short distance to my hotel and said goodbye. I went up to my room and realized I only had one more day left. I went to bed a little after 1:30 AM.