Friday, December 20, 2013

Interview with CADC’s Sonia Motwani

From left: Sakina Banu, Megan Hon, Chin Chia Joo, Nazmus Sakib (Coach), Khairunnisa Jumat, Prabhmeet Kaur, and Sonia Motwani
NYP’s Current Affairs and Debates Club (CADC) made history when they emerged champions at the Inter-Poly Debates Competition for the 13th time in the competition’s 18-year history. The competition, which took place at Ngee Ann Polytechnic,saw four polytechnics battling it out.

NYP B team  of Sakina Banu (SCL), Prabhmeet Kaur (SBM) and Chin Chia Joo (SEG) brought home the championship while the NYP A team  of Megan Hon (SBM), Sonia Motwani (SBM) and Khairunisa Jumat (SHS) put on a respectable showing with Sonia winning the “Best Speaker (Series)” Award.

We speak with this Year 2 Diploma in Business Management student to learn more about how she has grown since she joined CADC.

What attracted you to join the CADC? 

I have always managed to speak confidently and eloquently, so the first thing that came to my mind when selecting a CCA was, ‘why not join debating?’ Being able to express my thoughts and opinions freely is  my forte, and the debates club has definitely helped me to build on this strength.

Besides, it was also an avenue for me to increase my knowledge on current affairs, gain new insights and a deeper understanding of how global or domestic issues could affect us, either directly or indirectly, and what we could do to solve them. I believe these skills are definitely very relevant as our government reaches out to the youth in its outreach programmes such as REACH and the Polytechnic Forum. These initiatives aim to involve the youths in policy making and brings us closer to achieving an ideal Singapore for all.

How has CADC groomed you into a better debater?

Our coaches have always encouraged us to read widely to keep updated on current issues. We are usually presented with news articles from the web and our coaches will help to simplify and explain these issues to us, teaching us the techniques to analyse and discuss in detail the subject matter, as well as to properly construct our opinions and arguments. These sessions are interactive, and sometimes we do get humorous responses as we share our opinions and try to put forth logical yet convincing arguments.

How did you prepare for the competition?

We actually trained a lot for one month before the competition actually started. Our team comprised  experienced alumni debaters.

How did you face the pressure of the competition?Coping with the pressure came naturally because of the intensive training sessions. We have done so many debate competitions like the NTU Pro-Ams so we were able to handle the pressure. It all boils down to how well you can manage stress. Despite all that, we can move forward and I think that the ability to manage yourself well is very important. With that ability, you can perform your best.

What was one of the biggest challenges you faced during the debates?

I would say one of the biggest challenges is making our case against the other team. We always want to win, but we face obstacles along the way. For example, during the competition, we faced one team that had more flair, but less substance than us, so we tried to arguebased on the substance of our content to give us the advantage. Ultimately, how the adjudicator feels about the arguments from both sides also matters.

How did you argue your case?

There are some effective techniques out there that can help with debating, like framing your speech using a particular structure. How well you set up the case and how well your speech is structured are some of the techniques I have used to argue my case. Do make your argument simple for the the adjudicator to understand as well, so that you will be more convincing.

How did you win the Best Speaker (Series) award?

During the qualifying rounds, each individual speaker is given a score based on his or herr performance. The ones with the highest scores will have a chance at winning the award. For example, if you take part in debate 1, debate 2 and debate 3, you will be assessed on whether your scores are the highest. The reason I won was mainly because I received high scores for speaking in each debate round.

How would you describe your journey with CADC in three words?

Fun, as I enjoy the various challenges that debating often presents. Every moment spent during training and tournaments was a battle of wits, not to mention the immense satisfaction you get from winning the inter-school or inter-poly debates.

Empowering, because the debates  have instilled in me a greater sense of confidence and encouraged me to take a stand on issues that I strongly feel for.

Knowledgeable, as success in debating depends mostly on how much we know and understand about what’s happening in the world around us.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I have a final question for you. What advice would you give to aspiring debaters?

Don't give up and keep reading. Debating may seem extremely daunting at first and you might feel like giving up many times, which was how I felt sometimes. But perseverance is the key. Prudent training, reading up on issues and keeping yourself updated on current affairs is the formula to success in debating.

By Hanafi Bin Sedik, Year 1, Diploma in Engineering Informatics
Choo Yu Liang,, Year 2, Diploma in Medicinal Chemistry

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