Winter ADI 2015
I’m Makoto and I’m (supposedly) the International representative at KDS. Hello there.
In February I attended Winter ADI.
No I am not talking about the Association of Dental Implantology, nor am I referring to Animal Defenders International (although they suUpport a noble cause). I am of course alluding to the Asian Debate Institute. Held twice a year in Seoul, Republic of Korea (that’s the one without Kim Jong-Un), ADI brings students from all over Asia together for two weeks with the express purpose (or at least with the hope) of instilling up and coming debaters with basic principals and skills.
We obviously felt culturally inclined to stick together which resulted in all the Japanese participants (thirty odd people from eight different universities) staying in the same lodgings for the duration of our stay. This an experience in itself, the “Yellow Submarine Guesthouse” quickly became a comfortable place of abode filled with late night drinking and Karaoke, but moreover a warm refuge that shielded us from the foreign world outside. Naturally, for better or for worse, living in such close quarters brought all of us together. From having to share facilities, to breaking bread together, we became inseparable and I can safely say that I became firm friends with many people I otherwise would not have met. I honestly did not expect it to be, but this was perhaps one of the most rewarding aspects of the trip.
If you’ve been to Korea you’ll know that the food is absolutely mindbogglingly scrumptious. From chijimi (pancake) to samugyopusal (barbecued meat) the nourishment alone kept all of us in high spirits throughout our stay. Everyday we tried new and exciting foods at one of the myriad of restaurants in Seoul. The coffee however, was much to be desired and we were constantly in want of a decent cup of Joe. We got so desperate that we would actually get on the train and trek to Starbucks of all places (because that’s the epitome of good coffee right?!) in the early hours of the morning to secure our fill of the black stuff. Over the top maybe, but being a band of caffeine addicts, it was an issue of profound concern to us. Mental reminder to stock up on supplies in Kaldi before going.
ADI itself coined in one word was enlightening. Enlightening because of the lectures and practise sessions, and enlightening due to the wealth and diversity of knowledge of the other particiants. After reaffirming our knowledge regarding the basics of Asian style debate and the different roles of individual speakers, we split up into groups of about 20 based on ability in terms of English and debating skills. This meant that each of us could go at our own pace and receive relevant and appropriate tips. Each session covered various topics such as economic policy, the criminal justice system, sexuality and gender, and international conflicts. My lecturer was a Malaysian called Habib (apparently it means my beloved in Arabic), and was the source of much wisdom and knowledge which he imparted unto us with a dash of sexual innuendos and some racial slurs thrown in. The abundance of laughter and encouragement made the difficult tasks all the more doable and the experience that much more fun.
Perhaps the most memorable of the talks was actually one of my electives at the end, where participants are able to choose several topics of interest and get there feet wet in them. The lecture was by Nora, a Palestinian who had been forced out of her homeland and marginalised in her own country like so many others from that region. She vividly described the horrors and the restrictions that people undergo everyday at the hands of their perpetrators. It was a poignant reminder that the seemingly hypothetical and abstract issues that were being debated were actually very real indeed and strike at the very heart of our existence.
The other participants were from a plethora of backgrounds with students from China, Macau, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Korea, Palestine and of course Japan. Their academic disciplines, creed, ethnicities, and experiences were naturally wide ranging as well. It was a refreshing breath of fresh air coming from a society that is largely homogenous and quashes diversity. From discussing foreign policy and discrepancies in history with Chinese and Korean students to LGBT rights in Singapore, the invigorating conversations I had with my peers were highly enjoyable and strengthened my hope for greater Pan-Asian cooperation.
One guy I got incredibly close with was Carl, his self proclaimed nickname Panda as he was from Schenzen: the region of China where Pandas reside. He was neither furry nor black and white, but had a very warm disposition and we instantly got along. I miss his company and cannot wait to go to Shanghai at some point to visit him.
There are many more memories that I am far too lazy to write about but are by no means insignificant. I thank everyone who touched me and made my time at ADI go above and beyond my expectations. I am certain that I will cherish and hold dear those two weeks in Korea and cannot wait to go again in the summer!
I’ll leave you with some more photos.