The students staying at Queen’s and University travelled to the New Theatre, the main commercial theatre in Oxford to spectate the highly prestigious ‘Great ORA Debate’. Adjudicating the debate was Tom Fletcher CMG, former foreign ambassador to Lebanon and foreign policy secretary to Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron. Tom also achieved a first class degree in History from Hertford College, Oxford University, where he has now been made an honorary fellow.
University and Queen’s Colleges put forward two representatives out of the four total contestants to battle against the motion – ‘Modern technology and traditional diplomacy are incompatible’ – against students from Balliol and St Catherine’s Colleges. Before commencing, Tom Fletcher added his remarks on the motion, stating that “social media is fuelling a trend of distrust in leaders”, and “The big dividing line in the 21st-century is between those who believe in the existence and those that don’t”. Bob Barnes, Programme Director for St Peter’s College and host for the debate opened the debate with the “ex-Excellency, handing over to some future Excellencies”
Arya Mehta and Jingshu Ke from our Broadening Horizons and Global Leadership programmes made strong and unhesitatingly poised cases against the House. Each student was granted only eight minutes to convince the opposition, audience and mediator that modern technology and traditional diplomacy are compatible. Arya provided a short but punchy speech asserting that “technology only acts to make diplomacy easier”. Jingshu further elaborated stating that “diplomacy is dynamic, technology is dynamic and WE are dynamic”. Shortly after their competitor’s speeches, they returned to the stage to deliver their rebuttals against their oppositions points. Jingshu displayed incredibly impressive deflection skills as she expertly batted away opposition rebuttals.
Unfortunately for Queen’s and University Colleges, it was Pedro from Balliol who snatched a tight victory in an incredibly thought-provoking debate. Pedro graciously took the win taking to the mic once more to thank his tutor and his peers for their support in the run up to the debate.
Students then spent the evening at Wadham College, where they visited the Outdoor Theatre to spectate the 16th-century Shakespearean play ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. Fortuitous weather resulted in a beautiful evening enjoying some of Britain’s finest theatre.