Last week, Irvine Valley College (IVC) hosted the Rwanda National Debate Team on campus to meet with students and faculty, and participate in a debate showcase with the IVC Speech Team.
The Rwandan debaters are currently on a US college tour, stopping at California colleges and universities such as USC, Pepperdine, and Cal State Fullerton this month.
During their visit, the Rwandans spent time with students in the IVC Center for Asian Americans and Native American Pacific Islanders (CAANAPI), sharing about the impact of the Rwandan genocide, answering questions, and teaching the audience a cultural dance.
“We were so honored to hear the Rwandan team share their stories surrounding the genocide and how they rebuilt their culture,” said Edwin Tiongson, director of IVC’s ELEVATE AAPI (Equitable Learning Experience Valuing Achievement, Transfer and Empowering Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) program. “The students really connected with our guests and were eager to engage in their celebratory dance.”
The highlight of the campus visit was the international debate showcase against members of the IVC Speech Team. The topic of the evening was “Resolved: the International Criminal Court does more harm than good.” Over 160 guests attended the cultural exchange, including South Orange County Community College District Chancellor Kathleen F. Burke, District Trustee Marcia Milchiker, and IVC President Glenn Roquemore.
“Listening to the Rwandan team use their platform to spread their message of peace and solidarity was a wonderful experience,” said Carlos Pelaya, an IVC student and speech team member. “In the same way that debaters use feedback to improve their argumentation skills, I believe the Rwandans hoped we could use their message to further improve the way we speak and listen to one another. We are incredibly grateful to have been granted this opportunity.”
“With the current debate regarding the effectiveness of the International Criminal Court being discussed by our United States administration, it was wonderful to be able to deliberate this topic with individuals who had personal experience with international organizations and coping with genocide,” Co-Director of Forensics William “Bill” Neesen said.
The IVC Speech Team will participate at the PSCFA Warm-Up Tournament at El Camino College on September 22. Students interested in joining the speech and debate team should contact Jules French at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Bill Neesen at email@example.com.