Teens Take on Shyness, Sexism and Global Issues in Dallas Debate Tournament

A group of teenagers from Texas are taking on their counterparts from England, Mexico and Canada.

By Laura Rice and David BrownJanuary 30, 2015 9:03 am|

What if you could ask young people to hash out the world’s problems? Teenagers in Harlan Crow’s third annual Old Parkland Debate Tournament in Dallas are doing just that.

Texas Standard talked with Tom Melsheimer – a member of the Debate Tournament Advisory Board and Sidra Siddiqui from the Hockaday school in Dallas about the tournament and why some students participate.

Tom Melsheimer on Why the Tournament is Unique:

“A lot of the debate tournaments that take place locally and nationally are a different format of debate that’s one topic that the students study and prepare on for the whole year. This one is a little bit different and allows a full and rich debate of some of the important issues of the day.”

Tom Melsheimer on Who the Tournament Brings Together:

“It started out just being high school students locally. Then it was high school students from all over the country and from other parts of the world – and this year, for the first time, it is college students and high school students.”

Sidra Siddiqui on Why She Participates:

“I actually joined this primarily to enhance my public speaking skills. I don’t have any interest in pursuing law, or politics in the future. But this is certainly something that is prevalent in many aspects of today’s world. Whether it’s in medicine or global politics.”

Sidra Siddiqui on How Debate Has Helped Her:

“Debate was my main way of trying to overcome that [being shy] as a freshman and someone coming to a brand new school. I definitely recommend it for anyone who’s shy. It certainly helps them develop those skills and hopefully unleashes another passion.”

Sidra Siddiqui on Sexism She Encounters:

“You run into arguments that may be offensive as a woman in debate. I think one of the biggest challenges and one of the things that I’ve really gained from debate is learning how to approach those things with a certain poise and a certain, I guess, calmness and try to get your way through it through pure argumentation.”

Sara Rana, Aleena Tariq and Sidra Siddiqui of the Hockaday School debate team.

Courtesy the Hockaday School.