On January 3, members of 400 participating teams along with distinguished guests gathered at the Main Hall of Technische University, Berlin. Thousands if not millions watched the live feed online, from all around the world, eagerly and anxiously waiting for an announcement, the results of the World Universities Debating Championship 2013(WUDC 2013). The tournament is dubbed as the World Cup of debating and it is also considered as the largest non-sporting event in the world. Bangladeshis around the world chimed in to watch the finals live on YouTube. At around 6 a.m. (Bangladesh time) the heart of the entire nation skipped a beat when it was announced that BRAC Bangladesh A team, Aaqib Farhan Hossain and Ratib Mortuza Ali, from BRAC University claimed the World ESL Championship for 2013. Tears of joy and a sense of disbelief flowed amongst each and every debater in Bangladesh as Aaqib and Ratib slowly crept up to center stage and collected the coveted trophy, while emotionally clinging to the Bangladeshi flag. In addition, Ratib Mortuza Ali was crowned ‘Darling of the Audience’, the best speaker of the final, as per the general consensus of the audience.
Over the course of seven days, BRAC University participated in nine preliminary rounds, of extreme debating, where they beat the universities of Vermont, Swarthmore, Utrecht, Haifa, Colgate and Nottingham among others. BRAC University then qualified for the ‘English as a Second Language’ (ESL) quarterfinals; this is a first for any Bangladeshi team. Soon, they debated their way to the semifinals and eventually to the ESL Grand Finals, where they faced off and triumphed over two teams, from Netherlands and Israel respectively.
The winner’s trophy may be a small porcelain bear, the Berlin bear; symbolic of the host city, but the value and pride that it bestows is incomprehensible. The thought that, ‘Bangladesh became the World Champions’ still took some time to grasp and once it was realized, the sentiment that followed was only natural. Ratib and Aaqib’s triumph established Bangladesh’s significance in the world debating arena. It also validates years of hard work put in by this pair in developing the Bangladeshi debating circuit. Moreover with this victory, they have set a high bar for all future debaters from Bangladesh.
The debaters have already given multiple interviews to the German media and are enjoying their well deserved popularity in Germany and Bangladesh alike.
Ratib (21), an economics student, and Aaqib (22), a business student, have dedicated their victory to all of Bangladesh. Well-wishers eagerly supported and celebrated their, BRAC University’s and Bangladesh’s, success wholeheartedly. This pair has also won three national debate championships in 2012, they say, ‘Debate needs a lot of external support, in terms of understanding and money’, and expressed hope that their victory will encourage and promote the debating culture in Bangladesh and attract support for debate from parents, universities and corporate sponsors.
In addition they have also expressed their deep gratitude towards their parents, peers and BRAC University for their continual support in their endeavors. Above all their triumph propels Bangladesh to the forefront of the debating world.
The writer is a member of BRAC University Debating Club
Article originally published on New Age