Goodbye Jogja : Part III – English Debating and Jogja Debating Forum

III                   ENGLISH DEBATING AND JOGJA DEBATING FORUM

Jogja Debating Forum Awards 2009

Rolling back to 2005, announcements of reregistration to complete my position in UGM Department of Physics. Even before fully entering the faculty, I have already participated in UGM English Debating Society practices. I called out to the indodebaters mailing list asking around for UGM debaters. Dimas Arie and Maria Aleida (both from the faculty of law) responded.

At that time, EDS UGM practices would be on 2-4pm followed by Jogja Debating Forum practices until 6pm, where after that we will pray and dine together. In the following years, many things happened. Seniors of EDS UGM and JDF had personal problems which led to organizational problems, that EDS UGM quit from JDF. For quite an amount of time, I was caught in between. I was an active member and one of the coaches of EDS UGM, but I was also the Vice President of JDF (from 2006 onwards). Infact, I had to resign from EDS UGM due to extreme pressure not only to me but to those that supported me. Furthermore, for many years (which has stopped only recently) I and JDF members have always been labeled as threats and should not be befriended as instructed by seniors to juniors in EDS UGM. It is relatively peaceful now, actually.

EDS UGM was quite significant to me. There, I established a strong foundation of my debating and adjudicating skills (of course, I developed them much later after I quit. But EDS UGM accumulates everything I had from highschool, and concludes it to a strong ground). Under their banner also, I went to my last competition which was the Java Overland Varsities English Debates in 2006.

JDF started out to be a very fun community. An alliance of debating societies of various universities and highschools, we literally debated for fun. Then we always hung out together. Perhaps the PKL eatery in Demangan have already blacklisted us from coming, as we caused so much mess and chaos to the place –shouting, singing, hacking so many tables and pulling them together. In every competition we attended, JDF members have always caught the attention of other participants as we have our unique “war chant” before we start every single round. Yes, its loud and annoying. But thats JDF!

Perhaps it was fate for something bad to happen wherever we conduct our presidential election. In 2006, it was conducted in the UGM Rectorate Hall. Around that time until early 2007, the tension between EDS UGM-JDF went to escalate to its peak so we had to leave that Hall and move elsewhere to conduct our practice. In 2007, we held the elections in Dekat Rumah Cafe (Sagan) –which closed not long after. In 2008, we elected Agung (UII) as president in Depot Pak Raden (Demangan). It also closed not long after. It was a joke to think of a place we dont mind closing afterwards.

In 2009, we elected Meganusa in kontrakan Cacat Asmara. Not long after, we always had problems paying rent due to this certain individual asshole, and then we had to move out because of rent problems also. Somehow, in 2010, this asshole was elected as president. Lumbung Padi Resto did shut down and was replaced by a different restaurant. But Pondok Bambu, where Hanif was elected, still stands until today. I wonder what to make of that.

Since I quit EDS UGM, I was only active in JDF. I became so much more active in proliferating debate through training, adjudicating competitions, and assisting government debate-related projects especially in Jogja. My career in this area escalated, and I really thank JDF for this opportunity.

The best part of it was friendship. JDF was established under the notion of friendship, and it has always been so at least for me. Until very recently, I did not have a best friend in Jogja that was not affiliated to JDF in some ways. Most of my nights and days was spent with JDF friends. And the more I train people, which many of the kids end up calling me “Daddy”, JDF became family to me (and myself becoming a very productive father). Many of these friends of mine have left the city earlier, but quite a number of them remain. This is the hardest part of leaving Jogja.

However, throughout the years, JDF grew weaker and weaker. My generation was highly achieving, but this deteriorated over the years. I personally think that we have failed to train our next generation. EDS UGM was the only debate community in Jogja with stellar achievements, and has become one of the best in the country. I can only do trainings in JDF sessions, every Saturday, yet only so few ever came over the years. Most especially recently, we do not always have enough people for even a single debate.

Many members of JDF are reluctant to come due to many excuses, such as being ashamed to be watched and not knowing anyone there. I think these are perhaps the most ridiculous and patheti excuses I have ever heard in my entire life coming from the mouths of people who dare call themselves debaters. Not knowing anyone is most especially because they dont come to begin with, and this is where the seniors should act and be there to facilitate friendship. Plus, not many of their universities has any seniors with experience and qualities to train, and yet they refuse to pratices where senior and achieving seniors offer practice for free. To feel ashamed of being watched because they think they are bad is stupid. Of course they are bad, and so is everyone else. See the amount of national trophies you have won? NONE. Thats why you need to come together.

Of course I can not force and can not judge. Everyone always has their excuses. Nevermind that we never had excuses back in my time, but okay. I am just saying, that if we want JDF to develop and help, then members must indeed help out and work together! If nobody wants JDF to continue, might as well just dismiss it and RIP JDF 2004-2012. If anyone knew how hard it was for my seniors and my generation to fight for the existence of JDF and gaining trust from many parties and institutions, they would understand how disappointed I am.

Many institutions from other provinces look at us in high esteem. Yet, this fact only makes me more ashamed. Maybe non-jogja debaters are reading this, and yes guys this is the truth of JDF today. When I left, not much was going on.

I co authored a debating handbook with a few seniors, specially made for JDF and this book was used by at least 30 institutions (as per February 2012). From that number, only 5 of them were Jogja institutions. In one hand, it is great that our handbook is trusted by various institutions outside of Jogja. But on the other hand, why aint our own people using it? If it is because the book sucks, then say so. Criticize the book, then. Its second edition now, and perhaps we might have a third.

I just want to say why JDF means so much for me. I –perhaps—can still be friends with JDF members, and my career in debating is pretty much done. But there is something else that I find very important about debate. Many say that its simply for fun, which is true, but certainly there should be more to it. Some see debate as a thirst for achievements, doing anything possible to win but think that winning is everything that they just have to act like complete bastards. Others see debate as something to do in your spare time which I think is not completely wrong but then they simply wont get the full extent of its benefits. Some assholes, however, debate only to come to one competition and be registered in an organization so that they have something in their CV –and then they will leave and not give a damn.

Debate has many advantages, and is very essential to the life of someone whom wishes to become important and significant to the course of history of mankind.

First, it changes perspective. It stimulates us to think from various angles. More than to help us be more creative in our way of thinking, this should teach us tolerance. As there are many ways to see things, one should understand best not to be cocky and think that they are the only one that is right –in such a way that they underestimate others and treat them like dirt.

Second, it helps us practice scientific methodology. To support a claim, we can not simply rely on prejudice. “Private companies are profit oriented. Uuuu, thats baaad. Thank you.” is unacceptable. We must not simply be bedazzled by numbers or facts, as we know that they dont stand alone. Claims would need to be supported by a well-founded analysis full of good and effective deductions of principles and facts. This should be an important instrument for us to be a contributive citizen in a democratic system, so that we would not be easily fooled by the media. For example, we can criticize whether the increasing of corruption rates and “selective enforcement of corruption” is actually due to our president’s failure (or perhaps, its because more cases are being put on spotlight than before?).

Third, it gives us manners. What I mean “manners” here is not the aspect of adjudication, but attitude in general. We must wait for our turn before we speak and only interject when given permission. We also must deliver our points in a given amount of time, so we can learn that we must control how we talk and give opportunity to others.

Whats more on manners is something that I concluded in the last few years. It is of course important to understand principles of various knowledges and disciplines, it is imperative to bulk up facts and information on various issues, and it is essential to understand how to deduce arguments. However, the truth is that one can not simply prove an argument perfectly –especially in a mere 7 minute speech. I found that the best way to make all those analysis sink in to the audience’s mind is to explain it in the right attitude.

This is especially important to understand, and to take example of in our daily life. Perhaps our head is indeed full of all those awesome analysis, but then if you dont explain it the right way then you simply can not get the message through. To start, you must respect the other person. Then, you must try to the furthest extent possible to understand the way they think. Having that done, NOW you can try convey your message. Afterall, it is your interest to make sure they actually understand (for an extreme example for this, check the next chapter on the Faculty of Law under my story of Model United Nations)

The significance of this in real life is that when you have something to say, or prove, or someone to convince for something, you do not just go providing three points of arguments and two points of rebuttals. I found that many debaters, especially those who end up being cocky bastards, do this. Many debaters tend to speak like they are completely mad at the adjudicators, that they end up doing similarly in real life.

If that is the attitude of a person, they will not get to your points. They will simply dislike you and not really listen to you. When this happens, most of the things you say would not sound like it makes much sense. Some people would say “well, its their loss”, but these would be people who thinks the world only revolves around themselves and will end up being antagonized by the world.

To understand all these advantages of debating made me think long and hard about why I debated. Achievements wont last, money can be good investments but it can be lost also. But it is these important skills that I must have and pratice, so that I could be a better functioning person. One thing, though, is that there are no skills that can come instantly. It will take time and effort, which is something that not everyone seems to understand.

But what is more than all of that, as to why I stay, is because that I do believe that with great power comes great responsibility. I am so grateful for being able to obtain such skills (although of course imperfect), yet there are many who do not have such luxury. This is where I believe it is so important for me to keep on learning and to keep on sharing. Not only because I think I have gained so much thus I have moral obligation to repay, or that it helps me increase my own skills, and it definitely NOT because I think Im the best and I pity the fools.

I believe that knowledge is everyone’s rights, and that everyone who has it must share it to those who dont have it. The more experienced must share with the less experienced. I do not think that I am just another individual fighting for my own goals and then die when I have achieved them (or at least after I have tried), but I believe that I am a man in the course of history where I stand in a system in which I must contribute in. As a human race, I believe we must advance together and if there is anything that this one insignificant Fajri could do to help then I would.

This is why Jogja Debating Forum is very important. It has already obtained respect and trust from various parties including the ministry of education (if only you know how hard it was to gain their trust). We are in position to do so much for the society! This would sound too utopic and altruistic, but what we do contributes to the world! One province at a time, one kid at a time. This is what I stand for. And under my regime, that was what JDF stood for. How about today?

Before I left Jogja the last time, I wanted to have a last practice with Jogja Debating Forum. After a good 7 years, of course I have wholeheartedly longed for a nice and fun debate. I can not remember when was my last debate speech. I missed it and craved it so much, that I was very enthusiastic when I arrived to Hall Rektorat UNY. I brought all my stuff there, by the way. However only a few people came. Hanif, the president, Berli, the Vice President, and Meganusa, the Former President. Hours of waiting, my time was up. I had to leave. Alif arrived on the last second just to see me go.

You have no idea how disappointed and sad I was. As I said, everyone had their excuses. But then, they always had excuses.

Maybe my friendship with JDF members would still prevail, that is something entirely separate (friendship used to not be something separate to JDF). But to convince me to give a damn to any of it’s activities anymore, one must put in a lot of efforts. However, my hopes are high that they wont even need me to give a damn. Despite the lengthy delay from when it should have happened, its time for me to move on.

I heard some activities are taking place there, I hope it keeps up and improves because to return JDF to its former glory would take so much effort –let alone to grow it further. But on another note, this was exactly the situation that started JDF in the first place. Back then before JDF was founded, university and highschool debaters were scattered and were confused how to face the overwhelming from the west. Yet then they found a common spirit in those difficult times and they bond together and formed Jogja Debating Forum. I pray that history will repeat itself and JDF could rise again.

I deeply pray and wish that it will come true. I deeply wish that JDF is not just a place where I got many work and teaching experiences and some income.

I want to remember JDF as a family I once had, but I dont recognize that now.

Afterall, I had so many good memories with Jogja Debating Forum which I will never EVER forget. I thank you all for this.

(Next is Goodbye Jogja : Part IV – The Faculty of Law)

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