News Students

Diving into Debate

Two international students find success together in the 2018-19 debate season.

Duong “Danny” Nguyen ’23, originally from Vietnam, and Amina Fatkhulloeva ’23, from Tajikistan, have found success debating together across the Midwest. They took first place together as novices at the University of Minnesota in December and most recently won the JV division at Wichita State University. 

Nguyen joined the debate team with no expectations, rather with intentions of just involving himself in the community. 

“I decided to get involved in debate not only for practicing the language and thinking process to express myself, but also for developing my confidence and expanding my college experience far from just campus,” he said. 

“Involved” is an understatement as Nguyen has found success in articulating his points on a rather controversial subject: should the powers of the president of the United States be limited? 

“In this period of different competitions among different nations, the topic of limiting executive power is a debate subject because it can turn into two different scenarios: the U.S. takes a step back from power or the U.S. actually shows the world its true power of humanity,” Nguyen said. “Especially during a presidential term full of questioning, the topic is more heated.”

As an international student, Nguyen understands how this affects not just the United States but the entire global community. 

“The topic doesn’t seem very close to our daily life, but in the long term it will directly affect our daily life, not only in the U.S. but also in creating global instability,” he said.

With such a powerful topic, diversity of thought is hugely beneficial to the team. Grace Anderson ’20, a fellow teammate from Shoreview, Minn., appreciates all that the international students have brought to the table. 

“The international students have such a strong bond with each other, and I'm really glad Danny got them all into debate,” Anderson said. “The diversity of thought and background is extremely beneficial to our team.”

With English being a second, sometimes third, language for the international students, the ability to confidently debate is quite extraordinary and Dr. Fred Sternhagen, director of Debate, has been nothing short of impressed. 

“That they are not only competing, but winning, is tremendously impressive,” Sternhagen said. “Their drive and dedication has been remarkable.”