The University of Sydney Union’s first ever Mandarin-speaking debating team has taken second place at the 2010 International Outstanding Youth Cup Mandarin Speaking Oregon Debates Competition in Taiwan.
Zhenyu Feng, Ling Wang, Liangliang Xie, Pengju Han and Hong Yu Xin, all native mandarin-speakers, formed the USU’s first ever non-English speaking debating team – and continued the Union’s proud debating tradition by winning their way through to the final.
Along the way the team toppled National Chengchi University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who finished first and second it last year’s competition, before facing the National University of Singapore in a hotly contested final.
The USU team were unable to defeat the National University of Singapore, but were proud to have even reached the final as a new team.
“They are a very strong team, they effectively attacked every argument proposed by us, but it was partially because we did not change our arguments from the first round,” said Zhenyu Fang. “But I reckon we've already done a very good job, we should have no regrets in this competition,” he said.
“Our team only started this year and we defeated the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who took the second place last year and National Chengchi University, who was the champion last year.”
Getting the team to Taipei City to compete was a victory in itself, with the USU’s KickStart funding program providing crucial financial support for the team.
The USU’s Director Student Programs, Alistair Cowie, said the success of the Mandarin debaters was “a tremendous step forward for Union debating”.
With more than 5,000 students on campus who speak Mandarin, the team represent the richness of diversity that thrives within the University of Sydney.
The USU recognised the important contribution to campus brought in by the vast population of international students, opening the International Student Lounge in 2009, and following up with initiatives such as the Mandarin-speaking debating team.
The success of the Mandarin speaking team will bolster plans to further develop the debating program for non-English speakers next year.