The Forensics Team Debates Abroad

by Tim Posada 05

The APU Forensics Team (also known as the speech and debate team) are back from their annual winter trip to Europe. While in Europe, they participated in two debate tournaments held by the International Debate Education Association (IDEA). The first debate took place at a castle in Taageperka, Estonia and the other in Riga, Latvia at the Stockholm School of Economics. In Taageperka, team members Jimmy MicBirney '05 and Caroline Mello '05 made it to semifinals before being defeated by Mello’s brother and partner from Willamette University. In Riga, McBirney and Mello advanced to octofinals and the other team members made quarterfinals. Mello also placed seventh as speaker — one of the only Americans in the Latvian tournament to do so.

"It's fun debating Europeans because they don't take things as seriously," said McBirney. "Instead of calling them rounds, they call them games."

Team members who participated consisted of Jonathan Payne '05, Larissa Alarcon '06, Tim Kamermayer '07, and Eli Hanna '06, along with Mello and McBirney. Konrad Hack, director of forensics, and former coach Karen Sorensen, faculty of the Department of Communication Studies, joined them for the trip.

An important part of the trip occurred when the debate room closed and casual communication between students began. Students in the Baltic countries rarely see Christians in this environment, so the Forensics Team carried the weight of representing not only APU, but Christians in general. “Our students did a fantastic job of mingling with other students and holding an outstanding witness,” said Hack.

There are many things that cannot be learned from a book or experienced through the lens of a film. This trip enriched the Forensics Team and gave them a glimpse into one of the many corners of the world. “As an American, you don’t realize you have certain stereotypes and assumptions until your beliefs are challenged, and this trip did that for us,” said Mello.

The Forensics Team has many upcoming debates throughout the semester. For more information, contact Hack at