Jasleen Randhawa, a rising junior at Silver Creek High School in San Jose, was a member of one of the teams representing SVUDL at the National Association for Urban Debate Leagues (NAUDL) championship tournament in Washington, D.C. in April, and a member of the SVUDL team that placed 9th out of more than 200 teams at the National Forensic League championship tournament in Milwaukee in May. She recently shared how SVUDL has changed her perspective on her own life and her goals for the future:
Q. What strikes you the most about your experience with SVUDL?
A. When I look at other students my age, many of them are not interested in politics. It is through SVUDL that I learned how important policy changes are to our daily lives. This insight comes from debate. Being able to vote, we should have an interest.
Q. What surprises you?
A. I’m actually shocked by how many people my age are not involved. Debate lends a world-view and makes you more empathetic. What used to be just statistics in a debate on a topic of immigration become news stories. I see how rough and broken our system is and how it’s affecting people’s lives. Debate through SVUDL has changed my perspective permanently.
Q. How has SVUDL changed you as a person?
When I first got involved, I wasn’t very outgoing, but with the experience of SVUDL, I learned the value of being able to communicate well with others. I especially like that the skills aren’t contained solely within the debate space. They transfer and translate well into every aspect of life.
Q. How did you get involved with SVUDL?
I heard about SVUDL on the first day of my freshman year of high school. I already loved arguing with other people, and spent a lot of time debating my family and friends.
Q. What was the experience like in the beginning?
Once I met Coach Jimi, I knew I had found my place in the world. The biggest challenge was getting accustomed to losing many of the debates my freshman year.
I learned that it was a fact of life of the journey, and that although it is hard to keep your spirits up under the tensions of constantly losing, I saw that you have to grow as a person and as a debater before you can win.
Q. How has SVUDL impacted you?
The best part is not only did I become more outgoing and self-confident, but I don’t lose as much anymore. It is hard for me to recall which tournament was my first win freshman year, but I do remember the sheer joy of jumping up and down outside the room with my partner rejoicing over that first win.
SVUDL has had a major influence on me for the major I am thinking about for college. I used to want to be a doctor but now I am genuinely thinking about becoming a lawyer.
Q. What do you most enjoy about SVUDL?
I particularly love the opportunities SVUDL provides, especially that I don’t have to worry about paying for the expenses that come along with the debate team. Having debate be accessible and free means I am able to enjoy the experience itself without any unnecessary added stress. One of my favorite aspects of debate is that I get to dress up for tournaments and spend my Saturdays talking about politics.