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Durham University

Welcome to John Snow College


Joel Nee - Debating Championship in Cape Town

At the end of last year, I competed for the Durham Union Society in the World Universities Debating Championship in Cape Town, South Africa. I was fortunate enough to be awarded a sum of money from the John Snow College Student Development Fund to partially pay for my travel expenses to Cape Town. As the competition took place around the busy holiday season at the end of the year, and Cape Town was a long flight away, the money was useful in lifting the prohibitively expensive burden of flight tickets to some extent.

Taking part in this competition allowed me to greatly hone my public speaking and debating skills. The World Universities Debating Championship is the largest debate competition in the world, and the Cape Town edition saw over 260 teams representing universities from all over the world coming together to engage in a battle of wits and words. All teams debate in 9 preliminary rounds before the top 48 teams qualify for 5 elimination rounds; this all takes place in about the short span of roughly a week, with about 2-3 gruelling rounds a day. The sheer scale and intensity of the tournament enabled me to engage deeply in the activity, enhancing relevant self-mastery skills like effective communication, thinking on my feet, mental fortitude, teamwork, and others. I was extremely privileged to be able to discuss and debate ideas with possibly the best and brightest university debaters globally under a competitive, high-stakes environment. Additionally, the format of the competition involves absolutely no restriction on the topics or motions to be debated. Thus, having to do upwards of ten unique and separate debate motions about anything under the sun at WUDC made me a better thinker. This gave me the chance to stretch myself intellectually, allowing me to capitalise on this for great personal debating growth. Eventually, my debating partner and I were lucky enough to qualify for the elimination rounds, though we were quickly eliminated. While it was no doubt an exhausting experience, (everyday, my debating partner and I would crash out in our rooms immediately after the rounds and a light dinner), I feel, on reflection, that it was a deeply fulfilling one, even though it certainly did not feel like it while we were in the thick of the competition.

Beyond the debating aspect of the competition, I was also given the opportunity to explore another country. Given that I had never previously been to South Africa, or even the continent of Africa, the opportunity to discover another country gave me a valuable opportunity to expand my horizons, see more of the world beyond my protected bubble, and provided insights into myself. The friends I made, both old and new, while debating and exploring the surroundings, was also a highly enjoyable and satisfying part of the competition.

In conclusion, I am grateful to have received the monetary award from the John Snow College Student Development Fund which enabled me to partake in this thoroughly gratifying experience.

Christine Adesoye - Spanish course

Constant development and learning is something that is extremely important to me and this was my main motivation to apply to the student development fund.

After spending my year abroad in South America, Spanish was something that became very important to be me. I was passionate about learning Spanish and therefore I continued to commit to it by taking multiple classes in Spanish. At the end of the year I achieved a high level of Spanish through my classes and completely immersed myself in the Chilean culture.

I wanted to continue learning and developing my spanish so that i would not lose any of the laguage skills that i had developed in the past year. Therefore I decided to spend the money granted to me in extra curricular higher advanced Spanish classes provided by the university.

During the classes, I was able to meet new people and create valuable and sustaining relationships. I also have a broadened perspective of the Spanish culture, not just of the Chilean culture that I was previously exposed to, but to many other different hispanic cultures. Each week we touched on a different topic, helping me to expand my vocabulary on many ideas that I have previously not encountered in Spanish.

I also spent part of the money on important grammar and classroom textbooks. Although speaking and ready Spanish may come easier, learning the grammr and fulling understanding it, is an imprortant part of learning any language. These textbooks have been of great use to me throughout the lessons that I took and I also plan on using them to help me revise for the upcoming langauge exam tests. Now that I have taken these classes, my aim is to take a B2 language test which is an offically recognised language exams for non-native speakers. This will help in future job applications, proving my ability in the Spanish language.

Not only have these classes helped me prepare for the B2 exams, they have also kept me speaking a language on a regular basis that without the classes, would not have been possible. Having a weekly interaction were I was able to interact purely in Spanish for 2 hours helped me to keep my Spanish to the high level that I have achieved. For me this was very important as after I graduate, I plan on going back to Chile and possibly work there or in another Spanish speaking country in South America. I feel as if this course has helped me to maintain my level in Spanish and my goal of living in a Spanish speaking country is closer.