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Home > News and views > Amina Maatoug on her Debate Academy experience

Amina Maatoug on her Debate Academy experience

International student Amina tells us why Debate Academy was all she had hoped for and reveals what a week of debating taught her…

Amina Matoog  – Student of Debate Academy

Hi! I‘m Amina – a student at ‘Stedelijk Gymnasium Leiden’ in the Netherlands and I attended Debate Academy in 2017.


Why did you apply for Debate Academy and how did you find out about it?

I found out about Debate Academy on Facebook, and signed up then and there. Since that moment I was really excited about it, especially about all the new things I would learn and all the new people I would meet. I signed up because I have always been interested in debating, but never really had a chance to do it- so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity!

I really hoped I would enjoy it and thankfully, all I hoped for came true. I made tons of new friends, my English improved a lot, I learnt lots about debating and became much better at it, and the best thing was that I learnt much more about the world, because of the amazing lectures the mentors gave every day.

Does your school encourage you to debate? Do you think learning oracy (speaking and listening skills) is important?

Before Debate Academy I never really debated much, because in my school there aren’t many teachers who let us debate during class because it is not structured. I would really like more teachers to let us debate in class and it would be nice if they could do it in a structured way. I think learning oracy skills is really important and should be seen as at least as important as learning to write and read, because we have to speak all the time.

What does a typical day at Debate Academy look like?

A typical day at Debate Academy looked like this: first breakfast from 7.45 until 8.30, after that we went to the main hall where some announcements about the day ahead were made till 9.05,  then we started a debate, followed by a morning break of 20 minutes. From 11.40-13.10 we usually had some lessons that focussed on different debating skills. After lunch we had the second debate of the day, then an afternoon break of 20 minutes, and from 16.45-18.00 elective sessions about different topical issues. After dinner, the day ended with social activities until 22.30 when I had more time to get to know the other students.

When I was there I really noticed that all the other students were very eager to learn and it also made me more eager to learn. The mentors were also nice and funny and they were also really good at teaching and gave excellent feedback.

With your new found oracy skills, given the opportunity what issue would you speak out about today?

There is not one issue I find most important but, from attending Debate Academy, I have learned to look at issues from different sides. I think debating helps you to understand how other people think and, more importantly, why they think that what they think. I think that is crucial, especially in a democracy.

Would you, or someone you know, love the opportunity to learn how to use their voice to debate? Registration for Debate Academy 2022 is now open – apply now here. Find out more about Debate Academy, or get in touch with us on Twitter @theESU.

Read more stories about what Debate Academy taught other participants Ahmad Nawaz and Fatima Conteh.

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