San Antonio students, preparing since February, gear up for 2022 Texas Great Debate
In the first of a series highlighting 2022 Texas Great Debate teams — in advance of the June 11-14 quest for the Silver Cup – NHIMagazine.com spoke to Anita Fernandez about the 36-person San Antonio team that will compete at Schreiner University in Kerrville.
What kind of things are you doing to prepare the team and build camaraderie?
We have been training for four hours on Saturdays at college and university campuses in person since February, and were able to bring back our long-standing traditions as part of our training, like the Annual Weekend Series and Induction Ceremony, Spurs Recognition Night & Fundraiser, Continental Cuisine, and Community Panel. We will culminate their training experience with our 24-hour Lock-In.
In addition, we have been able to continue to offer opportunities for training virtually for those who occasionally cannot attend on Saturdays, and also conduct outside trainings in addition to the Saturday sessions. All of these experiences, on top of our curriculum, not only serve to prepare the GDers and staff, but also allow for them to get to know each other, their families, their histories and perspectives.
What do you think distinguishes this particular team? What about them is notable and special?
First and foremost, it is the first NHIatSA Great Debate team back in person since the pandemic shift to digital Great Debates took place. This team will always hold a special place in our hearts, but also in history. Our small but mighty and dedicated high school and college staff have worked diligently and with passion to create the best possible experience for the Great Debaters, many of them with absolutely no point of reference for how things “used to be done.” This has fostered an environment of creativity and true imagination as well as reminded us of the power of connection. In addition, we have an incredible group of young, bright minds from across the city as well as our continued members who are legacies.
How are they engaging with this year’s theme?
The staff-led curriculum highlights the theory and practice of the theme. Asking them to not only use the NHI Fundamentals and Third Reality Text as a foundation, but to truly imagine how they as young leaders engage and interact with the theory, topics and themes in their day-to-day lives. One of the staff’s favorite sessions is when Community Equity Building is introduced and debated. The stage is set through having Great Debaters interview their parents and talk about their family history and involvement in and with the community. Then, when CEB is introduced, they are able to see how they and their families are (or are not) engaging with it in their own lives.
Our community panel is another way — where we invite community members, often NHI alumni or parents of NHI alumni, to speak to the theme and topics from their own lens and experience.
Some final thoughts about this 2022 Texas Great Debate team …
We are excited to be a part of the Texas Great Debate being held for the first time at Schreiner University and grateful to the staff, students and families who all made a commitment to leadership and their community by being a part of this historic experience.