I considered starting this post off discussing the things I knew about Wales, but that didn’t seem particularly positive. Not that I wasn’t expecting great things, but everyone I’d met had sapped my expectations lower than the Clinton campaign. Yay, topical humour! As it happens, Cardiff is actually a pretty fantastic place. Some travels are hi-lighted by gorgeous sites, visits to places of notable significance, or spectacular scenery. Others are made memorable by the people and the experiences that make the places you stumble upon so special. While it’s possible that Cardiff possesses all of the former, it’s the latter that made Cardiff a fantastic stop on the trip. We didn’t see the castle, nor did we stop by the waterfront, but I wouldn’t trade a moment of the weekend for anything.
We headed out of Wales by train, led by Oxford by Aled and Joe, two members of the Union who were headed to participate in the same tournament as we were. We met Joe on Friday evening, when he took us to dinner at Jesus College lodge before we dashed to the train station to just miss the first connection to Cardiff. Though it ended up working out in the end, we only made it into the Welsh capital around ten-thirty that evening. We registered for the tournament, where we found out the final round motion (This House would hand Kosovo back to Serbia) and that the top team and top speaker would receive cash awards. All of this news excited us, but we needed to check into our hotel, so we couldn’t join in the evenings festivities at the pub. Perhaps this was for the best, however, as we woke up rested and ready to debate the next morning.
The tournament started off in usual fashion for Meredith and I - taking a third in the first round - before we found our stride and began debating much better. There were resolutions on genetically modified food aid, contraceptive pills for minors, military action in Kurdistan, rights of ethical refusal for physicians, and the division of revenue from state assets among citizens all of which were fairly interesting, even if we were both less than glad to advocate universally withholding the Pill from women under the age of 18. We made the best of it, and the rest of the resolutions, and were surprised and excited to find out at dinner that we’d made it to the final round, along with our friends from ULU and teams from Bristol and Warwick.
The draw for the final round happened, and we were the first opposition on the final round motion - supporting the independence of Kosovo. It was an interesting and fun debate, though apparently we didn’t do quite enough and did not win the round. Still, we had the next best outcome: Kallina and Pantellis won the round and Meredith won top speaker for the tournament! That’s right, Meredith was the best debater at the tournament. Whether or not we were the best American team to do the ESU tour, Meredith is THE BEST AMERICAN EVER. Not American debater on the tour, or American debater, the best American. Full stop. All caps.
This called for celebration, and we obliged. The rest of the evening was spent in the familiar haze of all post-tournament successes as we hung out with all the wonderful people we’d met over the weekend in the student union’s club. Yes, the student union has a “club.” Like, techno music, alcohol covered floors, shout-outs from the DJ, dancing and all that jazz. Well, no jazz. But some 50 Cent did make it on the playlist. But eventually we had to call it a night - the day of debating had taken most of our energy. Clearly, we had our priorities out of order.
The next day was spent inhabiting the haunts of central Cardiff - watching Six Nations rugby while we had the rules explained to us and later enjoying the 2-1 victory of City over United in the Manchester Derby. We didn't so much "see Cardiff" as we experienced it, in all its pubs-and-Indian-food glory.
For some reason, comment moderation was turned on, so if you had trouble posting comments, it should be taken care of now. If you’ve read all this, and find yourself still wanting more, I’ve posted some more pictures to my flickr accout and I have a new piece up at neon hustle tangentially related to the tour. Indeed, most everything there is tangential, as I and the other two contributors tackle anything and everything in long-form and essay. The (fantastic!) opening video is from Los Campesinos, a Cardiff band whose debut album comes out February 25… in the UK.