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Bilingual debate tournament spawns international student partnerships

By Stephanie A. Reid, Contributing Writer, Campus Life

Colin Cozad C20 “retired” as an Emory University debater for his junior year to give more focus to academics and career building.

But when he received an email last fall inquiring about his interest in a bilingual debate in Colombia, he jumped at the chance to participate—and went on to score a major victory on behalf of Emory and its nationally acclaimed Alben W. Barkley Forum for Debate, Deliberation, and Dialogue.

Colin CozadCozad snagged an award for the top U.S. debater at the What We Owe to Each Other tournament in Bogota last October. Months later, he’s happy to have been able to successfully represent his university and country. (Photo by Alexa Palomo.)

“It’s wonderful coming out of retirement and experiencing such a victory,” said the senior quantitative sciences major. “Bringing it home to Emory shows that we have representation internationally, that we should continue participating, and that we do so very well.”

The program paired 10 U.S. bilingual students with bilingual partners from 10 colleges and universities in Colombia for four online debates and an in-person bilingual debate championship. Cozad, whose heritage is Cuban-American, is fluent in Spanish. He partnered with Borginney Moreno, a student at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogota. The two used video conferencing to prepare for the debates.

The tournament’s Moreno and Cozadgoals include promoting impactful learning through intercultural civic debate for future U.S. and Colombian leaders and developing a long-term foundation for promoting civic debate as a tool for peace and social justice in Colombia.

Cozad, 22, overcame competitors from George Washington, Vanderbilt, Rutgers, and other U.S. universities, a victory he garnered without preparation assistance from the Barkley Forum’s coaching staff. (Pictured: Cozad and debate partner Moreno in Bogata preparing for competition.)

Seasoned debater and community volunteer

Cozad has participated in competitive debate since eighth grade and at Emory since his freshman year. The Barkley Forum’s national reputation for debate success and team culture helped draw him to Emory.

“I like the whole process of advocating and intellectually challenging different arguments and thoughts,” he explained.

The former Florida debate stCozad and Leeate champion has made the most of his involvement with the Barkley Forum, which also includes serving as senior advisor to 30 student facilitators for the Emory Conversation Project. The program, which he helped found, facilitates on-campus dialogue on a range of often difficult-to-discuss issues. Cozad also volunteers with Barkley Forum’s Atlanta Urban Debate League, which sponsors debate tournaments for middle and high school students.

Cozad’s win comes as no surprise to Ed Lee III, Barkley Forum senior director, who had the Miami native in mind when he issued the email to Barkley Forum’s 40 competitive debaters last August to gage their interest in the Colombia debates. (Pictured: Cozad and Lee at the Barkley Forum offices. Photo by Alexa Palomo.)

Success required an experienced debater fluent in English and Spanish with the ability to deal with the pressures of debating in two languages. Cozad, said Lee, fit the bill.

“This Colombian debate model demanded the ability to process information and think in Spanish and English and to convey messages in two languages to two different sets of judges,” Lee added. “Colin demonstrated a unique capacity to do so.”

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