Watch above: Saskatoon student Jason Xiao will represent Canada at international debate competition
SASKATOON – They can be intense, they can get heated …but debating isn’t for the faint of heart.
“It can get very confrontational because the very nature of debate is arguing against someone else and why your point of view is superior,” said debater Jason Xiao.
To some, arguing comes natural but it hasn’t always been that way for Xiao.
“When I first watched Jason, he would speak very quickly, he rarely made eye contact and his idea’s were so complex that despite the fact that I’ve been coaching debate for over 20 years, I struggled to understand,” said Wendy James, Xiao’s debate coach.
Instead of hanging outside with his friends this summer, the 16-year-old is inside glued to the computer and spending it with a desk stacked with books, cramming his brain for the biggest stage of his life.
“I’ve definitely been putting in a lot of time into debate, I’ve been watching lots of videos, doing lots of research and have just been working on debate arguments and cases,” said Xiao.
Xiao began debating when he was in Grade 6 but it wasn’t until the end of Grade 8 when he fell in love with it.
“At that point I really knew I wanted to do debate seriously, it was really interesting, I learned a lot from it and I was always engaged,” said Xiao.
Putting his nose to the grindstone has paid off. Jason made the national debate team after trying out in April. The only Saskatchewan representative will compete in Germany this November and is hopeful, out of 14, he can crack the top five to go to the 2015 Worlds Schools Debating Championships next July.
“Jason’s strengths are so unique though that I think it’s going to be difficult to replace him with someone else who thinks that well, so I think he has very good odds of making the team,” said James.
“I think I definitely could be with the right amount of effort put in and I think if I put in enough time and work I can definitely make the five this year,” said Xiao.
That kind of drive won’t get too many arguments.
© 2014 Shaw Media