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Perspective: Strength in Community

Executive Director Leans on the Debate Community to Rally in Difficult Times

March 27, 2020 – Some would say debaters don’t agree on much; however, former debaters, urban debate league alums and current students agree: debate is a forever a community. In fact, many of our students say that in debate, they found a new kind of family.

At the time of this writing, recent reports indicate that 1 in 5 students globally are out of school due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As school districts and community organizations throughout the U.S. work tirelessly to amend year-end plans and develop online curricula, NAUDL is also working with urgency to develop and adapt e-learning resources. We take comfort in knowing that the debate community will rally for our students in these unprecedented times.

Although the next weeks and months will not allow for typical interactions, it is important to remember that community distancing does not equal community isolation. We aim to do our part by ensuring that access to quality debate programming remains available for students, so that they can continue to develop their skills and collaborate virtually.

There is tremendous power in a collective movement, and as we face a pandemic as a global community, it seems clear that we as individuals are not that different.  We have similar fears, challenges, and vulnerabilities — yet we press onward.  To that end, our debaters are resilient students who are eager to learn and will seize these new opportunities. We are grateful they are supported by a network unlike any other I have seen in my career. A network that I know will remain committed to ensuring their continued access to their debate “families” at a time when they need them most.

Let us work together to keep our young peoples’ needs in our hearts and minds.  Now, more than ever, they need our leadership and engagement as they navigate unprecedented educational circumstances, among other things.  Please continue to invest in our next generation of leaders and the organizations that are using novel and creative methods to ensure their success is not interrupted.

Rhonda Haynes
Executive Director

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