The Minneapolis Team, Kayla and Eiset, are hard at work preparing with Jake & Travis in the Hard Times Cafe.

The Minneapolis Team, Kayla and Eiset, hard at work preparing with Jake & Travis in the Hard Times Cafe.

Four students, two teams, a VIP panel of judges (including Mayor Chris Coleman!), and all of them laser-focused on one issue: is China an ally on trade, or a competitor? To find out you’ll have to see the Great Trade Debate! These students have been training hard all spring to get prepared for this debate. You’re probably wondering who they are.

Arguing for the affirmative position, that we should cooperate with China and reap the benefits, is the team from Minneapolis! Kayla Cross from Edison High School has been debating for two years now, and she says that it’s taught her “perseverance: because sometimes debate is really hard.” Not only that, but she’s developed the valuable skill of “remembering to see people we debate against as opponents and not enemies.”

Debating alongside her is Eiset Mebrahtu, a student at South High School who also has a solid two years under his belt. He knows how important it is to discuss issues like trade with China, because “talking about the diplomatic stuff spills over into creating solutions to real world issues.” As for his preparations for the Mayor’s Challenge, he says “it’s going awesome! Travis & Jake are great helpers.”

The team from Saint Paul is arguing for the negative position, that the USA should regard China as a competitor. They’re represented in part by Anna Tran, a student at Highland Park High School who has been debating for two years (or four, if you count middle school.) As a debater she has learned “how to think on the spot, as well as how to be more confident.” Debating about the USA’s trade relations with China is important because of the nature of “our current administration and our relations with China.”

The most experienced debater to grace the stage at the Mayor’s Challenge will be Jack Lonstein, a student from St. Paul Central who has debated for four years. He has enjoyed “researching deeper into china’s labor market,” and exploring “the similarities and differences from earlier US labor markets.” For him, having this debate is important because of the present need “to address the past, present and future of our interactions” with China.

That’s all you’ll hear from them until Thursday, June 8th, when they’ll be up on stage at the Mayor’s Challenge. Right now they’re putting the finishing touches on their arguments and getting for the real test of their ideas, in the same place where they always test out new ideas: the debate round. See you there!