“I’m trying to be that person, for a kid, that I never had.”
As a coach for East African Debate, Anab is becoming the mentor she always wanted.
“In the entirety of the time I was in Minneapolis Public Schools, I had one black teacher. That was a disgrace considering the demographics of students in my school and in the Twin Cities. The teaching force and the students don’t match each other. The teaching in the classroom isn’t always equitable. They might be trying to teach equality rather than equity. It’s a ‘be the change’ thing. Maybe that sounds corny.
“I’m being the change. I’m trying to be that person, for a kid, that I never had.”
Of course, Anab adds: “Plus, literature is cool. If I can get a kid to see it as fun, I’ve done my job!”
Anab Muqtar, who competed in policy debate at Edison High School, is now thriving as an English and Education double-major at Hamline University. She’s taking graduate-level courses grounded in education equity, preparing her to become a high school English teacher.
Anab’s also putting her skills and principles into action coaching East African Debate at South High School. In our East African Debate program, students learn directly from mentors who look like them, debating the topics that are deeply tied to their experience. This year, students have tackled the subject of whether having POC representation on the police force changes community outcomes. “The topic was genuinely interesting and we had deep discourse in our practices. The personal aspect they could bring to it was super rich,” Anab explains.
As a coach, Anab is providing more East African students with the ability to compete in debate- many for the first time.
“East African Debate doesn’t feel exclusive. It lifts all the gates, like ‘Yo, these are all the tools you need to succeed.’ There’s no tiered system. You’re all together in one group. I think it’s nice to have your first experience with debate be so learning-based.”
She hopes to bring the benefits of debate to even more East African students, influenced by her personal experience. Her time as a former policy debater now informs both her coaching and her time in college.
“Debate keeps you on your toes and forces you to think fast. I’ve stumped a couple of professors in college with that ability,” She says with a laugh. “I’ve sent many thanks to my old coach and old competitors for the skills I learned there. There are so many great people I probably never would have met if I hadn’t done debate.”
In fact, Anab credits debate as one of the reasons she is attending college.
“MNUDL is one of the reasons I ended up going to college in the first place! I don’t think I would have been able to do it without heavy-handed guidance along the way from my mentors and fellow students.. There are so many things I wouldn’t have learned without MNUDL.”
Ever the educator, Anab left us with advice for younger students who are considering joining their debate teams:
Put yourself out there. Some of the best learning you’ll ever have happens when you’re uncomfortable- not the bad kind of uncomfortable, but the kind where you’re learning and growing. Debate pushes you academically and makes you stretch muscles you didn’t know you had. You might be sore at the end of it, but you’ll know you learned and grew, and that’s pretty cool.
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