CHS students speak out about their experiences going abroad for a debate competition

Sometimes, all it takes is one spectacular trip to change a life forever.

It happened three times over in the case of Cedartown High School students who once again represented the Polk School District in an international debate competition in January. And their report back to the Board of Education who provided them with permission to go is one of building lasting friendships with their counterparts across the globe.

Cam Lorys, Gabriel Foster and Hayden Zebeau provided insight into what their trip to the 2018 Parliamentary Debate World Congress was like in Saitama prefecture, Japan, along with travels around the country with fellow students representing countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and a contingent from Australia and New Zealand as well.

They spent months preparing for the annual debate with Jennifer Cupp, Heather Rogers and Angela Ritchie to get ready, and with their help were able to present their arguments against those from the other visiting nations.

But what they remembered most were trips to a Shinto temple, seeing the bright lights of Tokyo, enjoying cuisine exotic to their taste buds and most importantly, connections made to last a lifetime.

“You really get to see the similarities and differences between American teens and those around the world,” Foster said. “And to be honest there weren’t all that much in the way of differences.”

The group also added that they were grateful for the opportunity to be able to take part in the debates as well, described by Zebeau as “friendly argument, but a fun argument.”

“Afterward you still make fun of each other, as teenagers do,” he said.

He said like his teammates that he was blessed to have the experience, and hoped to be able to return to the debates in the future as an ambassador for the program.

The annual debate world congress is organized by the Waku Pro Foundation, started by Kazuko Nakadai, and Cedartown students have been able to take part thanks to the efforts of Kimoto Tech and the Kimoto family for getting students into the event.

The once in a lifetime opportunity was extended twice to one at least student, Nathan James Garner, who has had the honor to attend event twice.

Garner was a member of the 2017 team, and was voted Future Peace Ambassador. He returned this year as a volunteer ambassador.

Students that attend on a team one year are able to apply to return the next year as a volunteer ambassador.