Tumendemberel ’18 Advances to the world individual debate championship

At the Loomis Invitational Debate Tournament on January 14, Baji Tumendemberel ’18 qualified for the 2018 World Individual Debate and Public Speaking Championship, which will be held April 9 through April 15, in Cape Town, South Africa. As Co-Vice Captain of the Debate Team on campus, Tumendemberel has exhibited his talents in numerous debates since sophomore year. He attended nearly every tournament as a sophomore and junior and is trying to maintain that consistency throughout his senior year. Tumendemberel said the “many warm memories from starting out” made him stick with debate, leading to his current achievements.

Photo by Marja vanMierlo/The Choate News

Baji Tumendemberel ’18 will compete in Cape Town, South Africa in April.

Tumendemberel explains that his initial dive into the world of debate was at his first debate pod meeting. He had been called upon to do a Triple-Speak, a common speaking exercise where a participant has to talk about three random subjects, thrown out to the person during various interjections in their speech. “I got a couple of laughs, and it was just a great time,” Tumendemberel said.

From there, Tumendemberel immersed himself in Debate, so much that he rarely competed in the novice division, even as a newcomer, but instead moved straight to the advanced section of tournaments.

But even with his natural affinity for speaking, Tumendemberel had a lot to learn about the formailites of debate, including organization and timing. “It’s not just the confidence and the public speaking, you have to learn the structure and the techniques associated with it,” he said.

Tumendemberel has fully adapted to the more technical parts of debate, one of the reasons he managed to score a spot on the U.S. World Team. To accomplish this, one must be the highest ranked debater in the Advanced Division of one of the nine qualifying Debating Associations of New England Independent Schools (DANEIS) tournaments. The DANEIS tournament Tumendemberel attended was at Loomis Chaffee, a prepared cross-examination debate, different from Choate’s usual parliamentary style. His topic was centered on Non-Disclosure Agreements in Sexual Harassment Lawsuits. He and his partner, Reade Ben ’18, were given an hour to prepare their case for both sides of the argument. Once they presented their case, they would be cross-examined and questioned by the opposing side, and would then cross-examine their opponents’ argument.

Although Choate has qualified for Worlds before, this time, Choate will be represented with two students, Tumendemberel and Charlie Yockey ’19, the maximum amount of students a school is allowed to send.

Out of the four sections of the Worlds Tournament competitors contest in, Tumendemberel will be entering the After-Dinner and Interpretive Reading divisions. An After-Dinner finalist has to give a humorous, lighthearted concluding toast during the ending gala of the tournament, while an Interpretive Reading participant performs a piece of literature. The only thing Tumendemberel is concerned about is the water crisis in Cape Town — a situation so severe the media has predicted that South Africa’s capital will run out of water by April, during which the tournament will be held.

Apart from this, Tumendemberel is excited by this new prospect and hopes that it will elevate the team to perform even better. He commented, “I’d be thrilled if, come next year, we’re doing as well as we are now.”

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