Debate veteran discusses international competitions
For Electrical Engineering graduate student Frozan Maqsoodi, the high-pressured international debate competitions don’t cause stress. Instead, Maqsoodi thrives on the excitement leading up to the debate presentation.
“It’s all fun,” said Maqsoodi on the amount of time and energy spent learning to craft well-reasoned arguments and proper public speaking techniques. Maqsoodi hopes to use her experience as a founding member of the Open Debate Society of Afghanistan (ODSOA) to introduce a debate society to SLU.
Maqsoodi was introduced to debate as an undergraduate student at Bakhtar University in Kabul, Afghanistan. She and six fellow students worked alongside Dr. Diana Carlin, associate vice president for graduate education and International Initiatives, to develop the first debate society in Afghanistan. Since ODSOA’s inception in 2010, every major university in Afghanistan now boasts a debate society.
Maqsoodi recognizes the importance of debate societies in Afghani universities. She, as one of two females on the founding team, knows first-hand that the society offers women the opportunity to be involved in a male-dominated society – in addition to gaining confidence and public-speaking skills. Maqsoodi stated the debate society “changes our minds,” in reference to Afghani women’s knowledge of both national and international affairs.
Since debate topics are drawn at random, participants must continually remain informed of political, economical, and cultural events around the world. Although the debates are usually a tiring four days long, with approximately 300 participants, Maqsoodi enjoys debating. The experience offers her more knowledge as well as the opportunity to travel across the world to partake in international debates. She has competed in debates in South Korea, India and Malaysia.
Although Maqsoodi enjoys debating and attending school in the United States, her goal is to return to home to family and friends. She would like to become involved in implementing curriculum changes in Afghani universities. Maqsoodi wants to see more student research and writing among college students in Afghanistan, as well as more debate societies to encourage the learning of English. However, most importantly, Maqsoodi wants to continue encouraging Afghani women to join debate societies. To her, the rewards are great due to the freedom and independence debating provides female students.
Before beginning her graduate work at SLU, Maqsoodi was featured on an Afghani television show “The Candidate”, which aimed to teach women how to speak confidently in front of a crowd. Maqsoodi hopes to keep reaching Afghani girls and young women in an effort to encourage confidence and effective public speaking skills – both in debate and in everyday life.