PHILIPSBURG--St. Maarten Youth Members of Parliament (YMPs) got somewhat of an advantage for the upcoming Kingdom Youth Parliament (KYP) when they received a two-hour interactive training on Tuesday, from top Dutch debate expert and KYP debate leader Roderik van Grieken.
The debate leader has only met with the Netherlands KYP team prior to meeting the St. Maarten team. He will not meet with the KYP teams from Curacao, Aruba, Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius.
Van Grieken was in St. Maarten for general preparation for the three days of youth debate in May. Former Queen, Princess Beatrix will be the guest of honour at the debate which forms part of the celebration of 200 years of the Dutch Kingdom.
Van Grieken told the youngsters that debate is a healthy way to spread ideas and ideas facing tough opposition are good for the proponents. The goal in political debate, the debate leader said, is not to convince the opposition but to get the support of the public.
KYP members from all teams will be mixed together over the three days of debate so at no time there will be a St. Maarten team confronting one of the six other teams. On each day of debate, the 50 YMPs will be split into three groups of about 17 YMPs to serve as proponents, opponents and judges. This setup will ensure that each YMP serves in all three roles and participates in two debates: one as proponent and another as opposition.
The practice session in Parliament House included a mock debate on the topic: "In the Kingdom, everyone should speak Dutch." The mock session was aimed at refining the skills of the debaters.
KYP Chairman Trumane Trotman, currently a student in the United States, was at home specially to be part of the training session. Trotman's St. Maarten teammates are Ember Samuel, Mhakeda Shillingford, Iris Hakkens, Dwayne Griffins, Daniella Maccow, Antoinette Joseph-Philips, Hailey Greaux, Murielle Jean-Michel and Shanna Vasilda.
The training session was also attended by St. Maarten Coach Franklyn Richards, Debate Project Leader Ron van der Veer and St. Maarten Youth Council Director Connie Francis-Gumbs.