Although he stayed in Japan only for a few month, he gave us a lot of meaningful influence for the club and 21 students couldn't have grown up as they are making a thousands of achievement now.
Gabe gave us a meaningful memory for us!(これが言いたかっただけ）
Gabe's comments are below
I had a lot of expectations going into ICU. I wanted to take classes to further my academic career in economics. I wanted to experience Japanese culture from a firsthand experience so I can make comparisons with my home country. And finally, I wanted to make a few friends along the way. My time with ICU debate society has transcended any expectations I've ever had and even fulfilled a 4th goal I never knew existed, to make myself a better person. My 3 months with the club has enriched my time in Japan to the point where I can confidently say that it would have been a completely different experience without it. The thrill of competition and partnership had filled a gap in my life that I forgot existed.
My first and only tournament was at Tsuda University's Umeko cup and even the trip getting to this point was a difficult one. As a newcomer in debate, who had to compete with April students, the only advantage I had was my natural English speaking capabilities. Eliminations within club was stressful and the most tiresome mental activity in recent memory. My heart was pounding as they announced the placements of speakers 1-4. When I was finally chosen as the 4th speaker, all the weight of all my effort expended that day was finally apparent to me. Relief washed over me, and I felt a sense of accomplishment that was so removed from me that it felt almost foreign. With my spot guaranteed and my partner introduced, the journey of preparation had begun.
The month preceding the tournament was harsh with preparation. The importance of the tournament was soon made apparent when my partner scheduled us with extra practice in addition to our typical debate work. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday we averaged around 6 hours of debate practice. There were even the once in a while practice that we had with other universities. The experience made me realize that I had much to learn, and I was fortunate enough to have so many upperclassmen to me and a partner to learn along side me. By the end of the month, the me from the start and the me the night before the tournament were two completely different people. Ayumi and I still had our flaws as a team, but we were ready to show the rest of Japan that we were ready for them.
The tournament was a rush. The first day had us going against two tournament favorites in Keio and Hitotsubashi. We gave everyone what we had and resulted with an end score of 2-2. Ayumi and I fell back on some bad habits and we slipped up in other places but overall, we performed the best we ever had. It was interesting listening to the competitors around us having no idea who we were at the beginning of the tournament, to speaking about us in whispers on how we were a force to be reckoned with. Even the eventual winners of the tournament feared our partnership. The events leading up to the announcement of break rounds was an emotional experience in its own. Everyone was enjoying themselves yet the tension was high. I remember the tears on my partners face when it was announced that we not only did we break, but we had to face the favorites to win the tournament. We promised each other that we would win, that our journey together would continue on until the very end.
Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. We put up a hell of a fight, but in the end, we had lost in a 2-1 split decision. I remember having that thought and emotion hang over me for the rest of the day. Not only had I disappointed myself, I had disappointed my partner and my school. We were expected to take it all the way to the end, but we stopped short. A plethora of what ifs plagued my head. What if I had said this and said of that? What if we were placed against different teams? What if I we had a more fruitful preparation time? A surprise came at the end however. When announcing the results of the tournament, it turned out that Ayumi received the 4th best speaker award while I received 1st. The applause that accompanied was euphoric. It showed that the month of blood, sweat and tears wasn’t all for nothing. Even though the award for best team didn’t go to us, we could never have achieved the end result without the support of one another.
I can’t say for sure what I would have done without debate, I can say however that my experience wouldn’t be the same without it. I learned so much about myself, developed skills that would last a lifetime, and made a partner who I trusted with my whole being. When people ask what was the most central experience to your time abroad. I can definitely say with a smile, that it was debate.