Former Wyly Junior Fellows teach debate to students in Jordan

July 14, 2010

by Haley Kraemer

Nick Ducote and Robbie Reeves led a lab group at the Four Star Debate camp located in Anwar, Jordan, this summer.

Ducote, a senior political science major, and Reeves, a Tech alumnus, were both the Wyly Junior Fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis through the Tech political science program during the spring and summer quarter of their junior year, said Jason Pigg, associate professor of political science.

He said Sam Wyly, Tech alumnus, was the one who put this program together, and he hopes he will do the same next year.

According to www.ncpa.org, “The goal of this program is to motivate and educate young people, instill civic responsibility, promote an avid awareness of current policy issues and teach them how public policy makes a difference.”

“The whole Jordan trip was a nice side benefit for the two of them since they maintained relationships with the people at the NCPA who invited them on the trip,” Pigg said.

He said both men are intellectually curious, which helps when working with a think tank like the NCPA.

“I think this is what set them apart from other students who worked with the NCPA,” he said.

Pigg said a good thing about the students’ work with the NCPA is working on policy and research. They work on material which gets published and sent to people interested in the issues.

Ducote said he e-mailed the debate coordinator at the NCPA in December to see if the camp was happening again this summer. He was told it was taking place this summer, but in Jordan.

“The NCPA handles the debate portion of the camp and Oklahoma Christian University and Former General Tommy Franks Leadership Insitute handle the leadership portion,” he said.

He said he is teaching debate to a group of four Jordanian kids and four American kids focusing on the Palestinian-Israeli peace process and the two-state solution.

“My experiences have enabled me to give a human face to the Palestinian struggle for freedom from Israeli oppression,” Ducote said. “Rather than view the conflicts in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank as far away conflicts.”

He said he and Reeves have known each other since his first year at Tech through the debate team, shared classes and became friends quickly.

Reeves said he and Ducote have certainly leaned on each other in terms of student instruction and debate strategy.

“My first year [working the Four Star Debate camp], I coached the winning team and the debater chosen as ‘most improved’ for the camp,” he said. “This year, I coached the second place team and the top individual speaker.”

Reeves said many parts of Jordan are experiencing tremendous change and urbanization while others remain part of an older tradition.

“In previous years, the camp has focused on bringing together a diverse group of American students to debate and learn about domestic policy concerns,” Reeves said. “I think this (year’s camp) represents a major step forward for the program. This experience has only strengthened my passion for promoting peace in the conflict and a greater understanding of the Middle East here in the U.S.”