Archive for the ‘Debating’ Category


I read a note written by Michelle Dian Lestari Anugrah on Facebook (you’ll find it at the bottom of this page). Suddenly all the memories came flooding back! It was like looking at the mirror, and see myself ten years ago.

In 1999, I sacrificed two weeks of my one-month vacation to attend a debating workshop at campus. The workshop was started with about 20 persons who were crazy enough to attend it. On the second day there were only 15 crazy people left. On the third day there were only 10. And so on and so forth. There were also days when the trainers outnumbered the learners. At the end of the second week, all the crazy people left were told to leave campus and enjoy the rest of the vacation, while the trainers, along with the members of the panel drew their swords, fought and killed each other, to choose 6 crazy people who would represent our campus in IVED (Indonesian Varsities English Debate) 1999.

Of course it was only a figurative writing. The crazy people were actually smart and love challenges, the trainers and members of the panel were actually discussing matters peacefully, in a wise, grown-up manner, accompanied by coffee and cigarettes… ooops…!!! ^^

The two-week workshop really changed my entire life! I spent the following two years debating (which is another way to say ‘enjoying life’). In 2001 it came to a stop (at least for me). Yet, the memories live forever. Yeah, the kind of memories that will fuel my heart to be happy for the rest of my life… ^^

This is what Michelle Dian Lestari Anugrah had written. I love it so much that I decided to put it here for you guys to read!!! It also works as a back up. I mean if someday, somebody attacks and destroys Facebook, we would still be able to read this lovely writing here in wordpress ^^ (please don’t attack wordpress, anyone…peace…!!!)

Reminiscing the Past

by Michelle Dian Lestari Anugrah

Friday, October 2, 2009 at 12:17am

It’s 11.28 PM and I’m still stuck at the 33rd floor of Artha Graha building, working on concept paper for my client’s upcoming event. While the other conceptors were picking on the keyboard, selecting most difficult English words to be pronounced (and there are a lot, since my client’s English is equal to a junior highschooler), I pecked on my keyboard trying to google my name in the net. And, guess, what I’ve found? The following posting from Indodebaters back in 2000. Some of you might remember this, but I totally forgot myself. The thread was followed by Flori and Avie.“Guys,

TILL JANUARY 01 NEXT YEAR. All transactions, especially money transfer,
must be done by 11 AM on Dec 23 to have the money delivered on the same day.
Banks will operate again on Monday Jan 02. This is rather tough for you
guys whose university birocracy is complicated and needs at least one week
of ass-licking to have got the money proposal read by the honourable purek
III, not to mention the delay of actually getting our hand on the dough. So,
get a rush guys and good luck…!!!


PS: When you get your invitation from ITB, read the Registration Form
carefully. One of the clause says (and I quote) “BAndung in January will be
very cold and wet. Please bring your raincoats, umbrellas and sweaters or
jackets as the committee will no be able to provide enough bodyheat.” Any

PS for RIVAN: You might want to look again re. eligibility of participants
written in your Registration Form. It says that participants are not
eligible if they have participated 3 times in IVED. I think, the count
starts when the constitution was ratified, means the participation is
counted starting from IVED 2000 at PETRA (iya khan ya?)

Hei….it means that I still can debate…hmm…hmm..wonder if Avie wants to
be my team mate….hmm…hmm…what do you think, Rivan?”

Suddenly, it all came back to me. Those crazy years of debating, my first debating championship that threw me, a newbie, an innocent, pure, loveable, timid me, into an adrenalin pumped, argument craving, fact junkie bitch I am now, the fear and thrill of facing Ade, Agung and Ria in the finals, and lost to them. The headaches, the materials, the coffee craving, the lack of sleep, the drama, the tantrums, the tears, the booze, and most of all, the comradeship that I always experience whenever there was a championship loomed and we had to prepare to our teeth for it.

What have I learned from those years? What have I got from them? What did these years do to my life now? Was it worth it? Is it still in my blood?

First of all, I learned about being me, that I actually loved being me, that I am a significant being. I learned that I was quite awesome, that I had something worth being proud of, that my brain can actually work, that I am someone worth to be feared by someone else, and could actually intimidate someone (admit it Flori, you were intimidated by me, yes?). I was no longer this low esteemed girl who slinked away from any arguments and never peeped any words in a crowd, just because she felt she was not beautiful enough, rich enough, or smart enough to be noticed.

I also learn that there are people who accept you as you are, who admired you not because you were beautiful, rich, nicely dressed, loaded with cash and wore designer goods. My fellow debaters accept the quirky me, because I am one of them, a freak of nature who just love to debate. And I learned to accept other people who were freakos, just like me, and admire their ability to think, rather that they were rich, beautiful, handsome, so on and so forth. I learn to love myself and be proud of myself.

Secondly, I’ve got the ability to put everything that I think into order (not necessarily what I’m doing though. I’m still learning to do that until now). I’ve learned to be competitive when I need to competitive, how to argue effectively, how to talk and who to talk to about intelligent stuff without being thought as a weirdo.

Moreover, debating has changed the course of my life. I used to be content to think that I would work for a certain number of years, got married, have kids, and….that’s it. However, debating has opened my small, insignificant, narrow, tunneled view of life into a wider, more interesting vista. I was introduced to many things that I didn’t know exist before. I used to read newspaper just for the sake of reading, and then turn into the funnies and then left the paper. I even existed for years without reading any newspapers (shudders….the horrors….the dark age). Now, I just have to read newspapers, and I just have to comment on something, analyze some news, ponder on some thoughts, and whenever I have the time (which is now really rare) write something in my blog, journal or in my mind. Debating has turned me into a thinking being, and thus, I started to exist. And starting to exist has made me want to do things, to leave my mark in the world, to do good, to be someone useful to my surroundings. Or, in YB Mangunwijaya’s words, I start to live as a humanized human being, not merely an entity. Plus, I’ve got the skills that enable me to find good paying jobs that are satisfying both to my soul and my pocket.

But the most important thing is, I have found a lot, and I mean a lot, of people that I can consider as my friends, both in needs and in deeds. I’ve found two of the loveliest gems in the world, Lita and Avie, the two bestest friends one can ever have. I have found Nuansa, a great friend with warm heart, Santi, the best team mate you could ever have, who was ready to jump into the fire with me with only five minutes preparation (remember IVED Petra’s Quarter Final, San?). I have found Tedjo, Ijoel, Norman, Plo-plo, Ria, Ade, Agung, Nad-nad, Day-day, Bubu, Budi, Widj, Maryadi and many other friends I could not name one by one, who are there for me and like me for who I am and what I am, not who my parents are and what I’m made from. I have found my birds of the same feathers. And it is the most valuable thing one can get from debating. Friends who are great to talk with, great to be with, and great to make you feel good. And that, my friend, is something worth more than all the gold and diamonds in the world.

So I thought, all those sweat, those tears, those sleepless nights, the stress, the pressure, the pure hard work, the social life and time sacrificed for debating have been worth it. Those were small payments compared to what I’ve got from debating: My self esteem, my existence, my life, and my friends.

The final question, is it still in blood? Oh, hell, yes it is. I was, am and will always be a debater. I learned to think critically and logically, and that stays for now and forever, amen. I learned to value people not from their looks and appearance, and that, my friend, is something that can make you survive in this cruel, cruel world. And most of all, I learned to appreciate what I have and to be sensitive to others, and I’m proud to say, that makes me a better person than I was before.

Finally, I’ve put my mark in the world. The three bitches of Atma Jaya Debating Club, Aviva, Lita and Michelle, with helps from other crazies, have founded the distinguished Atma Jaya Debating Club, surviving for more than nine, yes, nine years, and is still something worth considering in the debating society in Indonesia. Plus, the people of ADC, those who have graduated from Atma Jaya and those who are still in Atma Jaya, are also people of great existence, worth being considered. They are successful, smart and fun at the same time, retaining their craziness and uniqueness in the world full of conformity, daring to do the change and to change the do!! Ain’t that something to be proud of, guys?

With that, ladies and gentlemen, I rest my case.

PS: Younger generations of ADC, I’m proud to be your senior, believe you me!!!

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“You, the third speaker, act as the surgeon of the team. Thou art the one who hold the scalpel, and thou art going to (please tell me if the following part needs to be censored) cut your opponents into small pieces!”

It wasn’t the utterance of a psychopath. It was that of a debate coach.

Typically Javanese, I didn’t feel too good about arguing, rebutting what other people say. The urge to do so, I have long felt its existence inside me. Yet I hadn’t found the right, appropriate way to unleash it. Until the day came.

If you find yourself very much interested in arguing, rebutting, or proving that your opinion is right and others’ are wrong, there’s an appropriate way to enhance your talent. Join a debate club!!! Take part in debate competitions!!!

In a debates (and debates only) you would be trained, encouraged, stimulated to argue. No hurt feeling or whatsoever. You would even be highly praised if you can do it well.

But there’s a danger in it, though. It is addictive.

Once you experience the triumphant glory of successfully rebutting arguments, realize how the combination of your brain and tongue could produce such a mighty sword to crush your opponents with, believe me, you will be addicted to it. You would keep rebutting, arguing, and attacking other people’s opinion, even when you don’t have to. Even long after the competition is over.

If you have reached this level, then be careful. For it’s a double-edged sword. It can also cause you damages. Damages in relationship with family, relatives, friends, bosses, colleagues, just name it. I’ve been through it.

Well, it’s not that bad, actually. It’s just something you have to deal with. You have to control the urge, so that it would only come up when needed. Letting go the urge at the right time and in an appropriate manner can make you (at least) look smart. Just don’t go over the limit.

Well, many a word I wish I never have said, many a thing I wish I never have done. But I never regret having rebutting and arguing as a hobby. It’s called ngeyel (Javanese).

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Seni mengkritik

Tahun 1999 aku berkenalan dengan dunia yang sangat aku cintai, yaitu dunia debat. Sebelum lulus dari Atma Jaya Jakarta tahun 2000, aku sempat mengikuti 4 kompetisi debat bahasa Inggris di Jakarta, Depok, dan Surabaya. Setelah pertengahan tahun 2000, sebenarnya hasrat berdebat masih menyala-nyala, apa daya sudah lulus kuliah, sehingga tidak bisa ikut kompetisi debat lagi (kasiaaan deh lu…!!!)

Tapi… (seperti yang tertulis pada T-shirt yang dikenakan seorang teman debater) old debaters don’t die, they only become lousy adjudicators, hehe… :p

Saking masih cintanya pada dunia debat, aku dengan senang hati menjadi adjudicator (juri) di beberapa kompetisi debat, tingkat universitas maupun SMA. Apalagi penyelenggaranya kebanyakan teman-teman sendiri juga, jadi sekalian bantu-bantu. Selain menentukan pemenang debat dan memberikan penilaian, adjudicator juga memiliki kewajiban moral (halah!) memberikan kritik dan saran, agar para debater bisa tampil lebih baik lagi di kesempatan berikutnya.

Pengalaman pertama sebagai adjudicator kompetisi debat tingkat mahasiswa yang diselenggarakan di Purwokerto memberiku pelajaran sangat berharga, yang masih kupegang terus sampai sekarang. Yaitu tentang seni mengkritik.

Mosi yang dipilih oleh para peserta debat siang itu adalah “That elephants are stronger than ants”. Melihat mosi tersebut, aku berpikir, mungkin “elephants” akan didefinisikan sebagai sesuatu yang besar dan kuat, misalnya pemerintah, militer, dsb. Dan “ants” mungkin akan didefinisikan sebagai sesuatu yang kecil dan lemah, namun dalam jumlah banyak, kekuatannya tidak bisa diremehkan, seperti rakyat jelata, mahasiswa, pers, atau apa sajalah, yang disesuaikan dengan isu politik terakhir, misalnya.

Di luar dugaan, government team mendefinisikan elephants sebagai gajah, dan ants sebagai semut, apa adanya!!! Jadilah debat yang berlangsung selama kurang lebih 1,5 jam tersebut membahas apakah gajah lebih kuat daripada semut. Argumen yang diajukan antara lain, gajah lebih kuat daripada semut karena gajah bisa menginjak-injak sarang semut dengan mudah. Argumen ini di-counter-attack oleh opposition team dengan fakta bahwa semut yang masuk ke dalam telinga gajah bisa membunuh hewan besar itu, dan sebagainya.

Aku berpikir, argumen semacam ini lebih pantas untuk kompetisi debat tingkat Sekolah Dasar!!!

Maka ketika debat berakhir dan para adjudicator diberi kesempatan untuk memberikan penilaian lisan, keluarlah semua kritikan itu dari mulutku, bagaikan air bah. Aku masih ingat, kalimat yang pertama kuucapkan adalah, “first of all, please notice that it’s a varsity debate, not an elementary school debate!” dan seterusnya. Setelah puas mengkritik, aku mengatakan bahwa KHUSUS untuk debat kali ini, pemenang dipilih karena memang HARUS ada pemenang, bukan karena ada tim yang LEBIH bagus. Maksudku, supaya pemenang jangan merasa jumawa, gitu lho…

Walhasil, raporku sebagai adjudicator pada siang hari itu, jeblok. Aku masih ingat, wajah seorang peserta dari government team terlihat merah padam akibat marah ketika mendengarkan penilaian lisanku. Saat itu aku tak peduli, yang penting aku sudah memberikan penilaian dan kritik sebaik-baiknya, agar lain kali mereka lebih baik lagi dalam mendefinisikan suatu mosi.

Namun setelah itu, barulah kuingat juga. Saat memberikan kritik dan saran, tak ada seorangpun peserta debat yang membuat catatan. Government team, mungkin karena marah, sedangkan opposition team memang terlihat seperti tipikal mahasiswa yang dipaksa pihak kampusnya mengikuti kompetisi, sehingga mereka menjalaninya dengan pasrah.

Lalu apa gunanya aku mengkritik dan berbagi pengalaman kalau tak ada satupun yang diterima oleh para peserta debat?

Aku teringat juga akan seorang rekan adjudicator dari UI, yang siang itu memberikan penilaian lisan dengan baik dan ramah, sehingga bisa diterima oleh peserta debat. Saat itu aku bertanya, kenapa dia tidak marah-marah saja (mengingat rekan ini biasanya menganut garis keras)? Ia hanya mengatakan, kalau definisinya segitu, ya berarti memang kualitas debater-nya baru segitu, dimarah-marahi pun tidak mempan. Mungkin mereka masih pemula. Lebih baik menilai kemampuan mereka apa adanya, jangan menilai kemampuan mereka berdasarkan ekspektasi kita.

Barulah aku sadar, ternyata mengkritik pun ada seninya! Supaya diterima, ada baiknya bila kritikan diawali dengan pujian. Karena pujian, meskipun ringan, mampu membuka hati seseorang. Bila hati sudah terbuka, maka segala kritik, saran, nasehat, bisa diterima dengan baik pula.

Sejak saat itu, semua penilaian lisan selalu kuawali dengan senyuman, plus kalimat semacam ini, “thank you for the great efforts, it was a very good debate! First of all, let us give a big applause for both sides of the house!” Nah, setelah tepuk tangan selesai dan wajah para peserta debat sudah tidak tegang lagi, barulah kritikan kusampaikan. Rata-rata peserta menyambut kritikan dengan pikiran terbuka, mencatat apabila dirasa perlu, dan lain sebagainya.

Huaaaahhh… ternyata mengkritik pun ada caranya ya… :p

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