| Introduction | 11/22 | 11/23 | 11/24 | 11/25 | 11/26 | 11/27 | 11/28 | 11/29 | Alfred C. Snider | Debate Central |
My acquaintance with Chile began several years ago when in 1999 Rodrigo Rojas, director of Sociedad de Debate at Universidad Diego Portales in Santiago contacted me and was interested in attending the international portion of the World Debate Institute summer program at the University of Vermont. Rodrigo did attend and I was extremely impressed. An accomplished poet and educator in Chile, Rodrigo felt a strong need to invigorate debating in Chile in order to further enable Chilean democracy in the post-Pinochet era. His knowledge and vision was inspirational, and I knew that I had gained not only a new colleague in promoting debate, but a new friend as well.
In Chile in 2001 - Snider, Manuel Montt, Jaime Torrealba, Rodrigo Rojas |
| In Chile in 2001 - Snider, Manuel Montt, Jaime Torrealba, Rodrigo Rojas |
On his return to Chile Rodrigo was very active, both in terms of promoting debate in Chile (university and school debate) but also in mobilizing pro-debate forces throughout Latin America. In May 2001 he organized the first international Spanish language debate tournament, the Torneo Hispanoamericano de Debate, held in Santiago and hosted by his university. The tournament drew teams from Spain, Bolivia, El Salvador, Chile, Argentina, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, and the USA. I took a pair of English-speakers to the tournament and they debated in Spanish. The experience was fantastic and I got to know many wonderful people, like Benito Escobar, Jose Julio, Roberto Vega, and of course Manuel Montt Balmeceda, rector of Diego Portales. I also met wonderful debate supporters like Drina Rendic, Rene Lara and Paola Bernales.
Rodrigo won a Fulbright Fellowship to study Poetry at New York University with Noble prize poet Derrick Wolcott and came to New York City. Benito Escobar took the helm at Sociedad de Debate at Diego Portales and philosopher Francisco Mas joined the team there. A huge outreach program began at the high school level, now with hundreds of teachers and some 1500 competing debaters. Benito and Jose Julio attended WDI in 2001 along with outstanding students Andrea and Mattias. I met the UDP group again at the second Torneo Hispanoamericano in Puerto Rico, along with tournament champion Gonzalo Downey from Universidad Central de Chile. Alvaro Ferrer of Universidad Catolico also came to WDI last summer, sponsored (along with Gonzalo) by Drina Rendic and COBA (Corporacion Cultural de los Barnechea). After WDI I continued to hear about the advancement of the debate outreach program now organized by Benito and the growth of debating overall in Chile.
Last Fall Drina Rendic suggested that I come to Chile for the finals of the university debating championship in late November. I was excited by this possibility and Universidad Diego Portales also offered to sponsor my stay in Chile. As the non-stop debate competition in the USA raged throughout October and November plans took shape for a one-week visit to Chile that would include the university finals, seminars for judges and university debaters, workshops for high school teachers and students involved in the debate outreach effort, and assistance in fundraising for these and other outreach efforts.
My ticket arrived, apparently donated by United Airlines, and I prepared training materials and lectures for translation into Spanish. I was ready to go. Drina Rendic of COBA and Universidad Diego Portales had made it all possible.
Rendic, Corporacion Cultural de lo Barnechea |
| Drina Rendic, Corporacion Cultural de lo Barnechea |
CONTINUE TO NOVEMBER 22, 2002