Texas Great Debate kicks off NHI’s full summer of in-person programming
With the fabled Silver Cup on a table next to him, National Hispanic Institute senior vice president Chris Nieto led team after team in a roll call at Saturday’s opening ceremonies for the 2022 Texas Great Debate. In a ballroom at Schreiner University, along with co-educational director Mercedes Mercado, he called on students from all over Texas to make their presence felt loudly and exuberantly.
And then he called out, “Who’s going to win this year’s Texas Great Debate?” The room exploded into joyful cacophony — and NHI’s largest grouping of in-person programs since 2019 was officially launched.
Schreiner is hosting two Great Debates back to back, and Nieto acknowledged the Kerrville, Texas, liberal arts college in his opening comments to the students, where he also praised the commitment of students who had come before the current 2022 Texas Great Debate class — particularly those who had their experiences via online channels the last two years and returned to help this year’s teams prepare.
He also complimented the students present at the event, noting, “The individuals that heard about NHI, maybe from a presentation, from a friend, a family member, a parent — you went to your first meeting and you stuck around. That says a lot about you and your commitment to your own personal development. To start and finish something says a lot.”
Many of the 169 competing students gathered at Schreiner — representing Austin, Corpus Christi, El Paso, Houston, North Texas, San Antonio and Tip of Texas were eager to get started after preparing for weeks and even months ahead of the four-day tournament.
“I’m excited,” declared Eli Villarreal from W.B. Ray High School in Corpus Christi, who will compete for the coastal city in the Cross-X category. “Everyone seems very prepared and hyped up. So I’m excited to get going.”
He noted that he was surprised by “how much on-the-fly thinking that you have to have. I thought there was gonna be more preparation for that … the amount of critical thinking that you have to kind of develop by yourself. It’s a lot of work. You have to push yourself. I was surprised.” He added, though, that he and the rest of his teammates have come a long way since the start of the program.
Isa Bainbridge, from Veterans Memorial High School and also competing for Corpus Christi in the 2022 Texas Great Debate, feels that she’s inclined toward public speaking, but is still eager to see how she’ll grow and develop in the Extemp category.
“I think it’s a lot more strengthened,” she said of her skills following her preparation. “I think I’m a lot more comfortable talking in front of people. I can talk in front of people … it’s a little bit easier for me to talk in front of like unknown groups of people, because, obviously, presentation speaking, I don’t think it’s an easy topic for just about anybody.”
The competition is underway, with results announced tomorrow and the program closing on Tuesday. Follow NHIMagazine.com to see who the winners will be.