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The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Forensics team takes on Tokyo


Benjamin Herman ’23, Joshua Hale ’23 and Shirley Liu ’23 said that their trip to Tokyo was one to remember. (Photo courtesy of Shirley Liu ’23)

For the first time in Lafayette’s history, the forensics team traveled abroad to compete in the International Forensics Association tournament. Shirley Liu ’23, Joshua Hale ’23 and Benjamin Herman ’23 flew over 14 hours to Tokyo to compete against 29 other colleges in both speech and debate competitions.

Over the course of their six-day stay, Liu placed 5th in rhetorical criticism and 4th in persuasive speaking, Herman made it to the octave finals in debate and Hale reached the semifinals of extemporaneous speaking.

This tournament differed from the way typical ones run, both in the location in which events were held and the structure of debate.

“The biggest difference was usually when we do a tournament, it’s at a college, so we’ll do speeches and debates in classrooms, but this was in multiple hotel rooms, which was kind of weird,” Liu said.

“It was probably more different for me and Josh because the shift in our format of how we debate. And I don’t usually do speech events, so it was definitely a different experience, but it was more because of what I was doing rather than the tournament itself,” Herman said.

Not only did the trio compete, but they also had plenty of time to immerse themselves in Tokyo’s culture. During their time in Japan, the group had the opportunity to explore botanical gardens, visit the Studio Ghibli Museum, watch a soccer game and head to Tokyo DisneySea.

“I think it is like a really great way, especially for seniors, to kind of wrap up your forensics career,” Herman said of the trip. “We have nationals in less than a month. That will be our competitive peak, but it’s nice to have that team peak … that we had in Japan.”

All three seniors agreed that it was an experience they will not soon forget.

“I think Ben, Shirley and I are three students who weren’t going to take something like that for granted,” Hale said. “I don’t think any of us are international travelers or anything, so we were eyes wide open, like a bunch of kids the whole time. Just childlike wonder at the whole experience.”

“I didn’t study abroad, so this was my first time studying abroad. It’s just not something I get to do, so it was just really, really cool to have the experience in general,” Liu said.

While these three seniors wrap up their time with the forensics team, the experience is one that they hope other Lafayette students will take part in.

“I think the skills development in forensics is unmatched by almost anything else you could do on campus, maybe other than [the] newspaper. No matter whether you do speech or debate, I think public speaking skills are gonna help you in literally anything you do,” Hale said. “The second thing, and honestly more important to me, is I think that the relationships that I’ve developed through speech and debate have been life-changing.”

The team will head to Peoria, Illinois on April 13 to compete at the National Forensics Association tournament.

Further updates on the forensics team can be found on its Instagram at (@lafayetteforensics).

Disclaimer: Managing Editor Shirley Liu ’23 did not contribute writing or reporting.

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    Richard MathieuMar 25, 2023 at 12:16 pm

    Excellent experience for these 3 forensic students. Nicely written article.