Conn students participate in international Arabic debating championship
A team of four Conn students—Iyad Ait Hou ’22, Sbidag Demerjian ’23, Abubakr El Sobky ’23, and Maged Hassan ’25—competed against nearly 600 students from 90 colleges and universities around the world in QatarDebate’s sixth annual International Universities Debating Championship in Istanbul, Turkiye, in June.
The global event brings together students from different countries to debate, discuss and exchange ideas in Arabic about the most pressing societal and global challenges and contemporary issues. The Conn team, coached by Meriem Talbi, debated topics ranging from free trade and democracy to the burden of proof in criminal lawsuits. Conn won three of five rounds to finish 23rd in the event.
“The experience definitely polished our team dynamics. We received feedback from the judges on how coherent the team members were and how our speeches complemented each other,” said Hassan, who was selected based on his performance in the competition to participate in the 3rd Arabic Debate Capacity Building Program. The highly selective program aims to strengthen the culture of Arabic debate and dialogue across American universities by developing quality debate adjudicators, instructors and trainers. As part of the program, Hassan will receive training at Qatar America Institute for Culture in Washington, D.C., later this summer.
The Conn team qualified for the international championships after finishing in the top four at the U.S. Universities Arabic Debating Championship at the University of Chicago in November. The other U.S. teams to qualify were from Harvard, Georgetown and Duke.
The team plans to continue training and will compete in the next U.S. championship, tentatively scheduled to take place at Stanford University in October.