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Demonstration debate to feature Linfield, Chinese students

Students from Xi’an International Studies University and the Linfield College Forensics Team will face each other in a public debate Tuesday, April 10, at 7 p.m. in the Pioneer Hall Reading Room at Linfield.

The event, which will be in English and follow the British Parliamentary Debate format, will feature a discussion of the Global Influence of U.S. Popular Culture. This marks the third year students from China will visit the Northwest to participate in debate activities.

“We are delighted to welcome the debaters from China to our campus,” said Jackson Miller, professor of communication arts and director of forensics. “Competitive debate is growing quickly in China and it is providing some wonderful opportunities for promoting dialogue, cooperation and cultural understanding.”

In addition to the public debate, the visiting students will attend classes in political science, communication arts, modern languages and business. The team is made up of two students, Zhou Zixi and Bihan Zhang, both from Xi’an International Studies University, and they will be accompanied by their sponsor, Yang Ge from Dalian Nationalities University. In addition to Linfield, the team will debate at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem and at Willamette University, where they will participate in the United States Universities Championships. Zixi and Zhang qualified for this opportunity by winning the 2011 China Open Debate Tournament sponsored by the International Debate Education Association (IDEA) and held at Northeast University of Qinghuandao.

The U.S. Northwest tour provides the Chinese students with opportunities to engage in free speech by discussing topics that are often censored in their home country. Over the years, throughout non-democratic societies, IDEA has learned how to help students debate censored topics safely. The tour also provides opportunities for U.S. students to debate with and learn from their international counterparts.

Interactions over the last three years with the Chinese debaters involved in the Northwest Debate Tour have provided some of the impetus for the formation of a China Debate Association. This initiative, spearheaded by Willamette University and five partner institutions, University of Puget Sound, Pacific Lutheran University, Regis University, the Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and Linfield College, will bring the U.S. colleges and universities together with six counterparts in China to initiate intercollegiate debate tournaments in six Chinese provinces. These activities will be funded by a grant from IDEA.

The event is free and open to the public and a reception will follow. For more information, call 503-883-2802.