The Colgate Spanish Debate team traveled to Mexico for a tournament.

The Colgate Spanish debate team traveled to Mexico to compete in the World Universities Debating Championships.

Competitive debate at Colgate is not limited to English. Nine members of the Spanish debate team traveled to Mexico City this summer to compete in the World Universities Debating Championships, an all-Spanish-language tournament.

Representing one of only three U.S. schools at the international event, Colgate practiced British parliamentary debate style in Spanish during the Spanish As Second Language competition.

“You were frowned upon for speaking English at the debate, and the better you spoke Spanish, the more you were respected,” said Kevin Iglesias ’17. “Just being in the country helped my Spanish so much.”

The Spanish debate team is a branch of the Colgate Speaking Union, which is coordinated by John Adams. The team has been active for the past three years, and has competed in Chile, Spain, and Mexico.

“Spanish debate gives the students hands-on experience using a language that is ubiquitous,” said Adams, who joined the team in Mexico City. “The team is highly motivated to excel. Along with their liberal arts education, the experience empowers them to effectively and successfully negotiate social and political interests with global import.”

The team practices in Spanish biweekly during the school year, but held Skype practice sessions during the summer in preparation for the debate.

“I wanted to find a way that I could continue my knowledge of Spanish, and I felt like Spanish debate was the perfect way to do that,” said Iglesias. “Now I have grown a passion for it and I want to get better.”

Outside of the tournament, the team explored Mexico City’s museums and toured the pyramids of Teotihuacán.

They also attended tournament-sponsored social events; a highlight being La Noche de Paises, or “The Night of the Countries,” where everyone shared snacks from their home country and explained the ingredients’ significance. The team was in Mexico from July 26 to August 3.

“It was a really enriching experience,” said Iglesias.

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