Austin ready to take on 2022 Texas Great Debate with Capitol as its headquarters
In the second 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 Natalia Chapa Mills about the 18-person Austin team that will compete at Schreiner University in Kerrville.
What kind of things are you doing to prepare the team and build camaraderie?
So when we first started the debate practices, we did a lot of icebreakers, getting to know you exercises, and we’re still doing that through the forum of discourse, and getting connected. But I think a big part of it is that our high school staff is just really bonding with the students and building connections with them, just through asking them questions.
We started the first of May, and getting to use the Texas State Capitol has been amazing for our students, because they themselves feel professional, and they feel like they’re in a different environment. They get to use the same rooms and microphones as epresentatives and senators. So there’s a sense of prestige when they’re able to practice at the Capitol. And it also just helps them get their confidence up. Because one of the things we do a lot is, they have to talk in the microphone, so now they don’t even ask, they already know to turn on the microphone and start talking. So it’s been really good in terms of their communication and professionalism.
What do you think distinguishes this particular team? What about them is notable and special?
So, we’re a small team, but they’re very intelligent, very sharp, very quick to communicate. They let us know what they’re thinking. And what’s special about them is they’re our first in-person team to come after COVID. So they’re understanding that this is a journey, and they’re invested in NHI. And we want them to come back next year. And so they’re really open to learning about themselves and their Great Debate experience.
How are they engaging with this year’s theme?
So, it’s been through a lot of discussions. We had the opportunity to take them to NHI headquarters in Maxwell for a retreat. And we were able to talk with Ernie and Gloria [NHI co-founders Ernesto Nieto and Gloria de Leon] about it, as well as Chris and Julio [NHI Senior Vice Presidents Chris Nieto and Julio Cotto], and honestly, just having them research a lot about what the past social reforms have been, and asking them what they think — if they are still sustainable or viable to our society now. And the things that they have come up with, they’re pretty amazing.
Some final thoughts about this 2022 Texas Great Debate team …
I think they’re just a really awesome group of kids. And I’m excited for them to keep growing.