Cliff Gardner

Friday, March 23, 2007

Good luck at NPDA, Willamette! :-)

For the second straight weekend, I will miss a national debate tournament starting in about three hours...not that I counted or anything. So, to honor all the debate I'll be missing, here's a list of reasons why speech and debate prepared me extremely well for my job teaching in a Ukrainian school:

--the work never stops, and I can handle it. Just as I was constantly researching and preparing for tournaments, I am pretty much always lesson planning.

--I am flexible. This is key in the Peace Corps. At tournaments I would get a wacky impromptu topic or a strange resolution about an issue I didn't know much about, and I often had to think on my feet. This prepared me well for random schedule changes at the last minute--I'm not the least bit taken aback by them and I never was, and I think forensics is a big reason for that.

--public speaking skills come in handy. I don't think this needs much explanation, but I'm basically responsible for keeping the attention of teenagers for hours at a time, in a resort town when they could be easily at the beach, using nothing but my entertaining and hopefully interesting speaking voice. THANKS, EIGHT YEARS OF COMPETATIVE SPEAKING! I'm about as prepared for this as I could ever hope to be.

--I can stay strong in the face of angry folks. See, students get daily grades in Ukraine, and every so often a student will just disagree with the grade I gave them for the day and loudly say so. One thing judging debates between ego-filled college students for a year gave me is the ability to defend myself calmly and rationally, even when people are very mad.

--I can really wear a suit. I had to dress up for speech and debate, and now I dress up every day. There's something comforting, and even exciting, about that for me.

The moral is this: if you're reading this and are involved in speech and debate, you would probably be a great Peace Corps Volunteer!


  • cliff, I enjoy your blog. Keep up the good work. I was a speech major in college. I didn't participate in debate, but I can appreciate your points very much. I am now a college librarian in Tennessee, and I think speech prepared me in a lot of similar ways. I have also been to the Ukraine, in 1993, to teach english in Kiev. I was not in the PC and it was only for about six weeks, but it was a wonderful experience. Your posts are quite interesting to read. Take care,

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:33 AM  

  • Speech has prepared me for a lot in life. This Monday-Wednesday I will put it to the test. Can I successfully pass a government polygraph test, a written exam, and a psychological exam/evals? Stay turned.

    By Blogger Paved In Gold, at 9:55 PM  

  • I met a prof that is from Willamette this weekend...I said "oh they have a great debate program" she said "Yes they do....have a couple debaters that are among the top of the nation" I said "Yes...and they are at a big tourney" :)

    Hope it well for your school :)

    By Blogger Kourtney, at 8:40 AM  

  • I hope that the PC is giving you trophies every weekend, and dry bagels in the morning.

    By Blogger magic, and with love from Sam,, at 9:25 AM  

  • "The moral is this: if you're reading this and are involved in speech and debate, you would probably be a great Peace Corps Volunteer!"

    OR an AmeriCorps volunteer as well!

    There's no question eight years of speech and debate helped immensely in preparing me for the work I've been doing in AmeriCorps this year.

    P.S. Not sure if you know since you still have my old URL on your site, but my new URL address is:

    I'm glad to hear you're having a blast! Things are equally as awesome on the domestic side of national service! :)

    By Anonymous shea, at 4:34 PM  

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