Bermuda Competes In Panamerican Debates

April 21, 2014

The 2014 Panamerican School Debate Tournament took place last week, with a Bermudian contingent traveling to Mexico City in order to compete against debate teams from Canada, the United States, and several Latin American countries.

Bermuda was represented by Ryan Robinson-Perinchief, Glenn Simmons, Asha Symons, and Jashonae Smith. The coach was Gladstone Thompson, principal of St. David’s Primary, and team adjudicator was Arleen Swan of the Berkeley institute.

The team from Bermuda fared well, notching two victories and earning praise for their speaking style and unique dress. The tournament’s format saw three debates per day, with each debate being presided over by three judges.

The first debate was against Chile on the motion “this house believes we are living a new Cold War.” Chile took 2 judges and Bermuda took 1.

Bermuda’s second debate was a prepared motion against an Argentinian team called Champagnat, with the motion being “This house would outlaw fracking.” Bermuda, who were proposition, defeated them unanimously.

Bermuda’s Panamerican debate team:


The team’s third debate was against Mexico on the motion “This house believes the whole is more than just the sum of its parts.” Bermuda was the opposition and lost 3-0.

The fourth debate was against a second Champagnat team on the motion “This house believes we are living a clash of civilizations.” Bermuda was opposition and won 2-1.

The fifth debate was against Mexico on the motion “This house believes that specialization in education is necessary.” They won 2-1, but there was a discrepancy against the Mexican team as the deciding chair judge was from Mexico. The sixth debate was against Argentina on the motion “this house believes condom vending machines should be placed in schools.”

In total, the Bermuda team won eight judges during their debates.

The Bermuda team, along with their counterparts, saw their debate experience take a potentially dangerous turn when a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the area, forcing an evacuation and a premature end to an ongoing debate.

In fact, there was a debate on the motion “this house believes that the sun rises in the east” that Bermuda looked set to win, but that the debate had to be thrown out due to the earthquake.

Debaters gathering outside the building after being evacuated due to the earthquake:


“At the time of the earthquake, we were at the bottom level of Tecnologico de Monterrey, where we were debating. I’ve never experienced an earthquake before. We ran out okay but I thought to myself that this can’t be happening,” said Glenn Simmons of the Bermuda team.”

Following the competition, Ryan Robinson Perinchief won best speaker on team Bermuda, and the Bermuda team as a whole was complimented for its style in both speaking and clothing, thanks to the Bermuda shorts that they wore to their first debate.

“It was interesting and it was a new experience for me. I learned where I had to shift my debating style and how I had to practice speaking more slowly. It was my first time debating internationally and I had a fabulous time,” said 13-year-old Somersfield Academy student Asha Symons of the experience.

17-year-old Berkeley student Ryan Robinson-Perinchief said, ”It was also my first time debating internationally and I was honored to have the opportunity to do so.

“It was also my first time in Latin America and Mexico was eye-opening for me. It was difficult adjusting to the climate and culture, especially because none of us speak fluent Spanish, but I truly learned a lot from this trip about debating and about other countries.”

“I’ve been to a few Panamerican tournaments in the past, but this one was most eventful. The topics were great and the competition was fierce,” added Berkeley student Glenn Simmons.

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