Provided by Joe Leeson-Schatz Binghamton University’s debate team holds a meeting.
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Following a suggestion from a Binghamton University parent, a faculty member traveled to the Dominican Republic last week to teach debate and public speaking to high schoolers.

Joseph Leeson-Schatz, director of debate at BU, taught debate skills at the Ashton School, which educates students ranging from seventh to 12th grade. His lessons focused on improving their public speaking skills and teaching them how to conduct research.

The trip to the Dominican Republic was suggested by the mother of a BU debate team member, who reached out to Leeson-Schatz to see if he would be interested in traveling to the Ashton School to work with the students. Orisley De Los Santos, a debate team member and a junior majoring in English, wrote in an email that she was once a student at the Ashton School and thought her mother’s suggestion could lead to an important trip.

“I thought that it would be a good experience for the students in Dominican Republic, because they don’t have any official coaches and mostly coach themselves,” De Los Santos wrote. “My mother asked me who she could contact so she could fly them over there and help and we thought Joe would do a good job since he is [my] debate coach.”

According to Leeson-Schatz, he quickly agreed to the trip and was excited to work with students from another country.

“Having the opportunity to travel and work directly with students from another country was something I’ve always wanted to do since the instruction you can provide is always better in person than over the internet,” Leeson-Schatz wrote.

Orestes De Los Santos, a student at the Ashton School and De Los Santos’ younger brother, wrote in an email that the trip helped him learn how to teach other students debate skills.

“I have been debating for about three or four years now so I’ve become a coach in my school, but recently it has been hard to teach the other debaters new strategies [and] tips,” De Los Santos wrote. “But after the workshop, I have found some new ways to help the other students.”

According to Leeson-Schatz, the trip also provided an opportunity to recruit international students to the University and its debate team. In the past, the BU debate team has had international students from South Korea, Japan and the Dominican Republic; however, it has never established contact directly with elite high schools such as the Ashton School.

“While I was there, on top of working with students from [the] Ashton School, we also arranged for a day for me to work with seven different high schools in the Dominican Republic,” Leeson-Schatz wrote. “After my trip, I know that many are considering applying to Binghamton even though they might not have known about our University beforehand.”