SAN MARCOS, TEXAS — Sean Tiffee, a Southwest Texas State University speech communication major from Buda, took top speaker honors at the St. Petersburg Open Debate Tournament held Jan 25-28 in St. Petersburg, Russia.
The tournament was the first English-speaking debate tournament held in Russia and was attended by students from the United Kingdom, Greece, France, Sweden, Belarus, Ukraine, Estonia and Russia. SWT was the only representative from the United States.
Tiffee’s win was the first ever for an SWT student in international debate.
“Of all the years of my debating career, this was by far the most interesting and amazing tournament I’ve participated in,” he said. “It was the ideal environment to develop lasting friendships and bridge the cultural gulfs that distance our countries.”
Placing second in the competition was Mai-Liis Raud of Estonia, and Manolis Polychronides of Greece finished third. In the team competition, Oxford University defeated Pilves University of Estonia.
“We have been invited to several tournaments before and have attended five world championships, but this is the first time a member of the team has been rewarded with top speaker honors,” said Wayne Kraemer, SWT director of forensics. “When SWT can place ahead of Oxford and the members of the United European team, then I think we have certainly established our standing in the international debate community.”
Tiffee was teamed in the tournament with Vadim Senko, a doctoral student in Japanese from Siberia.
“Working with Vadim was a wonderful experience and an opportunity to learn about the Russian viewpoint on international issues like drug use, terrorism and the environment,” he said.
The project was sponsored by the International Debate Education Association and the National Parliamentary Debate Association.