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Pacific Debater Sarah Hamid Takes on the Irish

Mar 15, 2010

Selected as one of only three debaters from the thousands across the country, Sarah Hamid '10 was part of the exclusive U.S. team that debated against the Irish Debate Champions at the National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA) National Championship Tournament in Lubbock, Texas.

The three U.S. debaters were selected based on sportsmanship and diplomacy, forensic and academic achievement, and effectiveness in public debate.

"It is an outstanding achievement and something very few debaters ever get a chance to do," said Dr. Marlin Bates, Pacific's Director of Forensics.

The Irish vs. U.S. debate is a tradition at the NPDA National Championship Tournament, which usually takes place around St. Patrick's Day. The Irish National Debate Team consists of three college students from Ireland—often in law school—who are debate champions at their universities.

The Irish team tours the U.S. for two weeks and participates in several exhibition debates during their visit, which they typically "win" based on crowd approval rather than official judging. While rigorous debate of serious topics is conducted, the Irish debaters are known for their sharp wit, and the events are entertaining to attend. An American coach has joked that "the job of the American debaters is to lose gracefully to our visitors from Ireland."

This year Texas Tech University hosted the NPDA National Championship Tournament, and the NPDA vs. Irish Champions debate took place on the first day. Joining Sarah against the Irish were Matt Hogan, a senior from the University of Nevada, Reno, and Stephen Montcrief from Western Washington University.

The debate against the Irish went very well, and Sarah made her mark in the official tournament competition. Out of 60 schools and almost 200 hundred debate teams, she and her debate partner, Will Chamberlain, advanced all the way to the Quarter-Final Round (top eight teams in the tournament).  This is the farthest a Pacific Debate Team has ever advanced at the NPDA Championships. Additionally, Sarah placed 12th out of over 350 speakers, and she was one of only seven people in the nation to be named an NPDA All-American.

Visit Pacific's Speech and Debate Team website to learn more about the forensics program.

Multi-Faceted, Multi-Talented Sarah Hamid

One wonders how senior Sarah Hamid keeps up with her busy life. Her academics alone are enough to make your head swirl. She is majoring in English (gender and literature) and Postcolonial Studies, while earning minors in history, film studies and film history.

Sarah has juggled her studies, earning a 3.76 GPA, while excelling as a major competitor on Pacific's Speech and Debate Team. She travels to tournaments across the country on numerous weekends, where she competes in parliamentary debate as well as individual speaking events. Sarah and debate partner Will Chamberlain are ranked second in the nation among NPDA debate teams.

Outside the classroom, Sarah is committed to many causes. She founded an NGO, Goodwill Bangkok, dedicated to helping rehabilitate young women in Thailand that have been exploited by the domestic sex industry. The program connects young women in America to young women in Thailand to help teach them English/Internet skills and to expose American girls to another culture and social vantage.

Sarah is also involved in Amnesty International and Umbrella Nepal, which provides services to orphans and refugee children in Nepal. And her love of animals has led her to volunteer at the local Humane Society and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

She loves running marathons, singing, reading historical fiction, cooking, embroidery, travel—and rocky road ice cream! Above all else, she loves to write. "Writing has been the most consistent variable in my life, and the greatest asset to my intellectual development. I've been known to say from time to time that I'd give all of it up to go off and be a poet."

Family is an important part of her life. "Nothing means more to me than being home with my younger brother," she says.

Her family history reveals humble beginnings. "For those of us who have struggled from grime and grit to get here, it's imperative that we don't forget our roots," said Sarah. "A generation ago, my family was living in a village in Bangladesh without running water or electricity. Today, that narrative still permeates every bit of who I am."

Sarah's sense of purpose and values emerge from this background.

"Every single day of my life is an attempt at being a better person, both internally in and out," she says. "I want nothing more than to create beauty in this world and seek comfort in the beauty that others have given me."