So week 1 has almost reached it’s end, it’s the 1st of July 11:30 PM and finally I’ve found the time to actually write a blog!
Here’s a quick review about my week full of classes and fun.
First of all, let’s talk about my 27 hour sleepless trip to the states 🙂
My flight to Philadelphia got cancelled, so for a while we thought we’d be stuck in Amsterdam for a day. Luckily, Sarah, one of our mentors, could split us up in groups and sent us away with other flights!
I ended up with Milton(the Netherlands), Josipa (Austria) and Anindo (Finland).
Next to me on the plane was an American named Nichole. I was astonished of how friendly Americans are! She noticed it was my first flight (I absolutely didn’t look stressed or scared or anything…..) and asked if I was alright, then she started to comfort me and even gave me chewing gum to distract me! Michigan people are fantastic 😉
I landed in Canada, aaaand…. Everything went wrong in Toronto.
We lost our luggage,
had to wait for almost 35 minutes in some room to hear they had lost it and
another 15 minutes in Immigration
We would have missed our flight if it didn’t get delayed.
Once on the plane, they weren’t even sure it would take off…
We did meet Harry the Canadian. We talked while waiting for our luggage. He was with the Canadian air-force and told us his story and we told ours. These unexpected and short meetings are the best!
We arrived in Charlotte, couldn’t find our luggage again and went to the luggage service to ask. There they told us it was going to Greensboro. In Charlotte we finally regrouped with Sarah and her group so it was fine again!
In Greensboro, we received a warm welcome from the host families and some mentors. The best part was hearing my luggage was in AMSTERDAM! Either it got shipped back (Thanks Canada!) or never followed me. While waiting someone jumped in the conversation once I mentioned Murphy’s law and she made us laugh with how horrible her day was. Everything went wrong! Never I heard so much bad luck! I thought my day was bad until I heard her story! (And 3 of the participants stranded in Texas so it could be worse).
The first day was amazing, but exhausting. The climate, warm and humid, is new for me and hard to get used to. It was fun though, meeting so many people from so many different countries is, without doubt, to be called magical.
This week, we mainly got theoretical classes.
The first thing we did was a UN simulation. Everybody got a country, a function and the background of that country. Those countries were: North, South, East, West.
Some had economical issues, others were dictatorships (like the north) and others had tensions with each other. Your job was to solve those issues through any way possible (so through diplomacy or even war). It was really fun and intensive, we ended up with an economical and military alliance between all Democracies (South, East, West) and declared war with the North, which was a dictatorship.
One of the courses we got, was debate class. We got a simple statement:”Should the UN establish a human right for birth control?” meaning that governments would be obligated to provide birth control to their people.
Some arguments were pro, like everyone should have the right to choose whenever or not they are ready to get a baby. Some were against, like is it fair to force an idea to a country and the classical “who’s gonna pay for it?” argument dropped as well.
The first part of the class was pure chaos. First about birth control, then about North Korea, then about the refugee crisis, but whether or not you were pro or contra the statements given…Jarred, our teacher, could always break down every argument you gave to support your opinion. He’s so good in it!
We had our laughs, but of course he wanted to teach us something and here’s what I learnt.
First of all, we got a definition of “Argumentation”.
Argumentation is the study of principles by which beliefs and actions are evaluated.
There are two main forms of argumentation. The first one is “argument as inquiry”, which can be defined as the process of discovering appropriate beliefs and actions. The second one is “argument as advocacy”, which can be defined as using language strategies to justify your beliefs and actions to others.
The coolest thing we’ve learnt is something called “flipping the warrant”. A good argument exists out of a claim, ground and warrant. A claim is your statement (e.g. immigration got to be decreased). Your ground is why you make such statement (e.g. they can take our job). A warrant is the connection between the claim and the ground. Your warrant could be something like “Those refugees will take all jobs our uneducated people should do, for less money, causing them to be homeless.”
Flipping your warrant means you agree with the ground to get another claim. You agree immigration can affect jobs, but your warrant could be something like “Immigrants increase demand for products creating jobs” instead, so you agree with the ground that there’s a connection between jobs and immigration, but change the claim to “there needs to be MORE immigration, not LESS.”
The next thing we learnt about argumentation, is the fallacies it can have. There are 10 lethal mistakes a debater can make.
1) Hasty generalization: A judgement made before the facts are in.
2) Post Hoc: Doing something because something else happened (so a shitty reaction, like making alcohol illegal because “an intoxicated driver got into a lethal accident” or something like that)
3)False analogy: No proof of a connection between the two things compared.
4) ad hominem attack: Against the man (not attacking the debater’s arguments, but the debater. E.g. Donald Trump calling Hillary ugly, so all media attention will go to that fact instead.)
5) False dilemma: Argue that the situation is an either/or situation when there may be other options available.
6) Slippery slope: arguer predicts that the first step will lead to an undesirable spot. (E.g. if a rapper is allowed to rap about killing police, the next step may be someone rapping about making a a bomb and how to do it).
7) Begging the question: When the arguer makes a statement that assumes the question at hand has already been settled (e.g. imagine a club where no women are allowed and some journalist asks a member what their opinion is about this situation, an answer begging the question would be “right now, no women are allowed in the club”. This is, in no single way, an answer to the question but makes sure the arguer can’t be hold responsible for being pro or contra the fact that women should be allowed in the club).
8) straw person: cite an authority that concludes against you, but outlines your argument before attacking. (E.g. professor John starts an article with “There has been a lot of debate about why the Brexit is a good thing for the British economy”, but he ends up completely concluding the opposite thing. If a debater pro-Brexit only reads the first line and mentions professor John as an authority while trying to defend the Brexit, the debate is technically already lost).
9)two wrongs make a right: the arguer points to a flaw in the other person’s position rather than defend their own.
10) non sequitur:” It doesn’t follow”. Basic fallacy of irrelevance (e.g. son asks to go to a party, dad replies with “no you can’t, because 4 years ago you broke a window so you might do that again and get yourself into trouble.” The argument has nothing to do with the actual question).
The next course we got, was civic engagement.
Civic engagement means you do something to impact the world. The most valuable lesson we were learnt, was the fact that to impact the world you got to think on a small scale. If you are engaged to clean the ocean from plastic, just think small and clean a certain area. Without doubt, there are more people doing the same you do elsewhere and together, you are part of something big.
We saw how change really happens and were taught that if you want to start up a project, the first thing you got to do is observe others that already tried to improve them. This way, you can attempt to solve flaws + build up networks and connections.
We are tasked with finding Civic Engagement project, which we’ll have to present in front of the group. This will be live streamed to the rest of the world.
Finally we got movie class, where we had to make our own movie. It isn’t finished yet, but it sure was fun until now!
The people here are great and very diverse. They come from Malta, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, Germany, The Netherlands, the UK, Russia, Slovenia, Turkey… all over the world! Even though we all are different, with different religions, cultures, nationalities… We all get along! In less than a week, we became a very close and tight family already!