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The Legacy
Gaochy Discusses Debate; State Tournament for February 7th

Debate ’12-‘13
This year’s topic for debate was “Transportation Infrastructure.” The U.S. Federal government has to create a policy where they fund or increase transportation infrastructure within the U.S. For the transportation infrastructure topic this year, I argued for the freedom of choice that has been taken away from students in Minneapolis and many other students in the nation. Even if one is not Hmong, we are born into a nation that speaks about liberty. I am angry that choice can be taken away so easily simply because a group of people has decided that this is for the best. Where can I ask you, is the freedom of that? When the district chose to replace school buses with public transit buses, I thought about how our country views education. I thought about the Hmong community. To come to America, my people relied on a government that they couldn't trust. Especially not one who had left so many of their families in the jungles to die away. However, rely they did. It is what we did. The older Hmong people do not trust public transportation. They barely trust school bussing to begin with, but after years of relying upon it, they came to accept it as a norm to get to school. With this new bussing though, the Hmong community did not just stay silent. They did fight. The Hmong’s fear for transit bussing is a simple one; they do not trust the people of America. They do not trust that their children will be safe. They had just escaped a war where they were hunted like animals. They hear all the time of the crimes in these cities. They trusted that their children will be safe, and that the District would not ignore them and give them a choice in how to protect their children. Yet just like that, the District has once again taken the freedom of choice from the Hmong people. As human beings, we value freedom. I value the freedom of choice because choice is everything. I am not just angry, but I am anger, anger at the fact that choice can be taken away simply because of fear. Fear of failure, fear for oneself. I never thought I would have the chance to voice my opinions like this, but debate showed me I could.
When I joined debate, I never thought it would be a life-changing experience. I joined only because I wanted to make friends and to learn about the world. Debate gave me much more though. I feared that I would never make friends because we would be spending so much time competing against each other. However, I soon learned that we were simply not just teams from different schools competing against each other; we were a community and that community changed my life. The debate community opened my eyes to what the world was and can be, to the very nature of human beings, and to the paradigms of those who judged us. I thought I was signing up to be in another class, but what I found were people who became mentors and friends. My coaches influenced me the most in the debate community and made me realize that I could do so many things. Debate taught me that I had a voice and I can use it. No one could tell me that I was too young to understand something as important as war and debt because I was a debater. It was my job to learn about these matters instead of just letting “adults” handle it. The debate community encouraged me to speak out against different injustices. It was through the coaches and other debaters that I learned I could make a difference. Silence bespeaks violence. I knew I made a difference in the community because my debate friends told me how after debating with me and listening to our plight, it made them think about what was going on and how they wished they could do the same. I learned that I could make a difference. Debate not only taught me about the world, but what I can do for the world.
This year, Henry got into the State Tournament for the second time since 1945. Charles Varberg and I won one debate and lost five. Overall, it was a great tournament, honoring Tamar Kaplan. She was a debater for the UDL that passed away studying abroad in South America.