For a third year in a row, the Slovak Debate Association (SDA) teamed up with a group of young Czech and Slovak enthusiasts, many of them Oxford students and alumni, to deliver a week-long training event for high school students from the two republics. Over a hundred of them participated in the 2013 “Discover” summer academy, held August 4-11 in Podskalie, Slovakia.
Participants went through a competitive selection process based on their reponses to a “personal” and an “expert” essay question. Every participant chose 2 courses to attend every morning of the academy. The selection ranged from Neuroscience to Sociology and included two debate courses: one for debaters and one for beginners. Afternoon activities consisted of various one-off workshops, some held by guest lecturers. Workshops dealt with racism, feminism, corruption, startups, studying abroad and many more topics. There were fun activities too – the obligatory team-based scavenger hunt, a talent show, impromptu poetry sessions and star-watching with IDEA’s very own Irena Kotíková.
This model is the sort of summer camp for nerds that debate organizations may be interested to hold. It is open to debaters and non-debaters alike (the latter category includes debaters who do not yet know they are ones). It caters to debate skills, academic as well as personal development. Knowledge debaters attain is deeper that at the usual tournament or camp, due to the amount of time spent studying a subject. Perhaps most importantly, for many young people this is an opportunity to get to meet completely new people, not completely unlike themselves, and experience approaches to their fields of interest that they lack in school.
The “Discover” summer academy was organised as part of the project idebateEU. This is a cooperation project of IDEA Amsterdam, IDEA London and ten IDEA members from all across Europe. The project aims to improve cooperation between IDEA and its members and between members, sharing debate methodologies and organisational knowledge in the framework of common activities on European topics. The project is made possible with support of the Europe for Citizens Programme of the European Commission.