First Debating Experience
14 Oct 2021 By President Ireland
To begin with, I was introduced to JCI only recently. Out of curiosity, I joined JCI Galway in September 2021 and signed up for the NC 2021 at Cobh. Even though I knew nobody except National President Carol, I was prepared for a weekend of exciting events and meeting tonnes of new friends. And I was not wrong! I felt extremely welcomed by all the members and had the time of my life!
During my first day, I already met a bunch of new friends, especially the ones I lived with within the luxurious guesthouse which was provided by Mark. We all came from different backgrounds, including Nigeria, Cambodia, Ireland, Germany, and of course, I am from Hong Kong. I enjoyed the inclusion and diversity in the group. We chatted and became good friends for the whole weekend! Also, I must shout out to Mark, our lovely host, who was extremely welcoming and considerate. He basically babysat us for the whole weekend, such a nice person!
Then after greeting everyone, we went to attend the first event of the weekend, which was the friendly business award ceremony. The event aimed at recognising and awarding the small businesses that put forward great services and made positive influences in the local communities. The awards consisted of disability access, eco-friendliness, etc. I sincerely think this kind of spontaneous business award can encourage people and businesses to improve and provide better services in the neighbourhood, which is very meaningful. During the ceremony, we were also lucky enough to have the Mayor of County Cork Cllr. Gillian Coughlan to join us, who also read a letter from Micheál Martin, the Taoiseach of Ireland, to compliment JCI’s contribution in promoting positive changes in local communities. I was really surprised to see how JCI is recognized at a national level in Ireland, which made me even more proud of joining! After the great ceremony, we went back and enjoyed a few drinks to end the night.
The next morning, I got myself ready and prepared for my first ever public debate. I have never tried debating before, not to mention debating in English, which is only my second language. The experience was a bit nerve-wracking. We had an hour-long introduction session which educated us on the basic rules of debating. Then the topic was announced and we only had 15 minutes to prepare for it. To be honest, I regretted a bit for not preparing enough beforehand. During the debate, we tried our best to follow the rules and protocols, such as greetings, challenging the other team for points of information, etc. It really tested my multitasking skills, and I think my team nailed it, especially as a team of beginners. Although we lost in the end, it was a fantastic experience for me. I enjoyed learning and practising public speaking, especially when I had to react to different situations promptly while trying to deliver and express my speech clearly. It was not easy, but I am glad that I went through that, and thank you Carol for signing it up for me!
Then the day continued, we had a JCI Tinder event to meet with new friends. With these new friends, we went on to explore the Spike Island prisons. What a day! Later we went back to our sweet guesthouse and prepared for the Gala Dinner. I have to admit, it was such an eye-opening experience for me. Everyone dressed up in formal suits and dresses, gathered together in a fancy hotel room, and celebrated the achievements of JCI individuals and local chambers. I was really impressed and moved by how united JCI members are, in which the National Presidents of Scotland, Malta, and England came all the way to support our event. Not to mention our international friends from various countries, such as Finland, the Netherlands, etc. It was one of those experiences that you must witness and participate in yourself to fully comprehend! Afterwards, we took some nice pictures and went back to our guesthouse for drinks and card games until 4 am!
In summary, I had the time of my life in the JCI National Convention 2021 Cobh. I stepped outside my comfort zone and participated in a public debate. I met and became friends with lots of wonderful human beings. And I got very interested in JCI activities, which I will definitely be joining more in the future. I would recommend anyone who wishes to develop personal skills and expand their social network to join JCI and especially the national conventions!