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Oct 09, 2012 Exploration Programs English Immersion Emergency Medicine Orthopedics + Sports Medicine Alumni News Veterinary Science Foreign Affairs Grades 8-10

First Join the Debates a Success

We didn’t just watch the debates at Explo. We launched a global discussion — with high school students. Our project is called Join the Debates, and we hope ...

Lauren Frazier

We didn’t just watch the debates at Explo. We launched a global discussion — with high school students. Our project is called Join the Debates, and we hope you will check it out and join us for the next one.

Wednesday, October 3, marked the first official debate of the presidential election season. Two candidates — Governor Mitt Romney of the Republican party, and President Barack Obama, the Democratic incumbent — pontificated, bantered, and battled onstage at The University of Denver. This was a big moment for the candidates, the campaigns, the nation, and the world — the first head-to-head contest for Obama and Romney.

But for Explo, it was a big night for a different reason: the launch of Join the Debates (JTD), an outreach project dedicated to providing high school students with a place to share their ideas about the issues facing the world. Via our online forum, students get a chance to be heard — and to listen closely to the thoughts and opinions of others.

JTD is more an educational project than a political one. Because their votes don’t count yet, many high school students feel that their voices don’t matter, and Explo is trying to change that, one small group at a time.

JTD fosters passion and instills the idea that as teens our opinions matter and our voices should be heard.

After Wednesday’s debate, we had many groups get together in virtual hangouts, and we received incredibly positive feedback from students and facilitators. The students were thrilled to talk about world issues with other curious high schoolers, and they enjoyed the gentle leadership of the facilitators. For their part, the facilitators were extremely impressed with the level of engagement from the students. All are eager for the next debate, but more importantly, the next JTD discussion — this Thursday, October 11.

For each of the remaining debates (October 11, 16, 22), Explo will put together small groups of students from across the country and around the world — with differing perspectives and opinions — to exchange ideas respectfully. At a time in the world when too many of our leaders are practicing finger-pointing and negativity, we seek to provide young people with a different example and a better option.

I was so happy to speak to students who are truly invested in their future and the future of our country. I’m excited for the next debate!

JTD provides students an opportunity to talk online, with each other and a trained facilitator, about the things that really matter to them. All students agree to ground rules about respect for difference and civility in discussion, and understand that people can disagree without a clear determination of right or wrong. The live debates provide a great springboard for these healthy discussions, and so far our students are loving them.

If you are interested in learning more, getting involved, or joining the discussions (if you are a high school student), check out www.jointhedebates.org or email jointhedebates@explo.org.

Lauren Frazier

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