Dasha Metropolitansky has a great story to tell about how she spent her summer vacation – competing in the World Schools Debate Championships (WSDC) and finishing among the top student debaters on the planet.
The Grade 11 White Oaks Secondary School student, who began her debating career in Grade 7, was a part of the Canadian contingent that travelled to Bali, Indonesia in August for the WSDC. The team competed against 250 debaters from 50 countries. First held in 1988 in Australia, the championships take place each year in a different country with each one sending their best debaters to compete for the world title.
The Canadian team advanced to the quarter finals, losing on a 3-2 decision to England. Metropolitansky set a new record for the best individual result of any Canadian debater since Canada began attending the world championships three decades ago, finishing in second place.
Metropolitansky describes her participation in the WSDC as an amazing time of learning and self-discovery.
“Every competitive debater dreams of representing their country at the world championships. The best debaters in the world put in years of hard work to prepare for this tournament, so it felt surreal when I placed second," said Metropolitansky, adding her second place finish, the best result ever achieved by a Canadian “feels just as good as placing first."
The overall speakers' ranking is based on the scores speakers obtain during the preliminary rounds of the championship, according to Rocío Abril of WSDC. During a debate, speakers are scored based on three main categories: style, content and strategy. In every debate, the following is recorded: what team won, how many judges each team won over, and each speaker's individual scores.
Metropolitansky, also a Board Student Trustee, feels her experience as a student in the Halton District School Board prepared her well for this recent debate championship.
“I've been very fortunate to have had teachers who worked hard to ingrain critical thinking skills, develop openness to welcome new perspectives and a love of learning in their students," she said. “I think these are the three most important qualities of any good debater."
Attending the WSDC provided Metropolitansky with many life-growing opportunities she won't soon forget.
“I learned that I love working with people. I was able to meet and become friends with so many brilliant people from around the world," she added. “It's incredible to see that such a diverse group can come together to have fun. It was an incredible experience."
Now that she's back into the throes of another school year at White Oaks Secondary School, Metropolitansky said the experience this summer will prove beneficial as she pursues her studies in Halton, and beyond.
“Debating has taught me to dig deeper. I rarely immediately accept information I'm given as fact and I've learned to uncover the conclusion-making process and questions underlying assumptions," she said. “This has really helped me as a student. I don't just want to accumulate information. I'm always trying to develop and deconstruct my understanding of the world."