Student Testimonials

Jennifer Yan (TAS), 2022 NSDA Taiwan District Outstanding Senior

When this senior first showed up at PF practice, they seemed to be a bit timid. But it didn’t take long for her energy to fill the room – and I knew that she was bound to achieve great things in this activity. Since that time, this senior has helped lead practices, mentored our MS program, and has had a very successful career herself. Advancing to elimination rounds at Sunvite, Bronx, and NSDA Nationals. Even when results do not go this senior’s way, she has a great attitude and is always committed to what is best for her teammates. This senior isn’t going to be able to join us in Kentucky this summer, but I know that she will be with us in spirit – and likely be texting us between each round. That’s the kind of leader she is – it isn’t about her – it is about our team. This senior is going to leave a big hole in our PF family when she moves on to college next year, but thanks to her hard work, there are a number of younger debaters that I am confident will rise to the challenge of filling that hole. Her legacy will live on for quite some time.

Ethan Tai (Fuhsing), 2022 NSDA Taiwan District Outstanding Senior

I was initially pushed into this activity by my parents – I remembered hating this activity at first. I even cried at my first tournament, here at this exact place, because I just didn’t want to be here. but as I attended more tournaments, I began to appreciate the activity. and as I gained experience, I became a more confident speaker, better listener, and a stronger debater overall. I even learned big words like “epistemology”, “ontology” – two words I continue to use in my essays at school.

But I think the most valuable thing I gained from my time in debate isn’t the trophies, or awards, or number of rounds won – it’s the fact that through debate, I’ve been able to discover my passions in different academic fields. Because of debate, I’ve cultivated a strong passion in politics and philosophy – two subjects I’m considering studying in college, where I’ll also continue to debate competitively. Because of debate, I’ve realized that I want to use my voice for a greater good, and I want to attend law school with the goal of becoming a civil rights lawyer – something I would never have thought of before debate. For anyone here who’s thinking of quitting debate, don’t, you’ll thank me later.

Ethan has chosen to study at Emory University because he was recruited by the Emory debate team.

Fiona Kao (KCIS), 2022 NSDA Taiwan District Outstanding Senior.

Very grateful to end my high school debate with this award. There are too many people I would like to thank, my coaches, my partners, my friends, and all the judges and opponents I have met throughout the years. Collectively, these amazing people have made me the happiest when I debate and also empowers me personally. I would like to share two honest realizations as a debater.

1) Not every round is about winning and losing. One of my biggest weaknesses back then was that I took failures or losses too seriously to the point where I could not express myself freely. But debate has offered me a sphere that secures my thoughts, opinions, and argument and gives me the opportunity to learn to lose gracefully without letting my emotional side take over my sportsmanship. Many years after, I finally learned through painful experience. Debate is not always about the result, but about how clashing perspective spark a new idea or how discourses inspire realization in our mind and thus make us a more thoughtful person.

2) Learning to find my own voice through representing someone else’s perspective. During the early years of my debate career, I was not like most novice debaters in this room. I was much quieter and was not confident in speaking in front of people, but the process of roleplaying a distinct voice allowed me to discover my own. I was exposed to ample viewpoints that sharpen my awareness regarding any subject and was bestowed with unique voices to speak my mind. That is the power and benefit of speech and debate. That is how debate shaped me into who I am today.

Cynthia Lin (Putai), 2022 NSDA Taiwan District Outstanding Senior

Debate has shaped who I am. Starting debate from a young age has influence my way of thinking. I would instinctively choose an logical interpretation and point of view towards an event or issue. Evidence and logics are my best friends, they have taught me right from wrong, good from bad. Debate has also shaped my character. Couldn’t stand illogical argument or disorganized presentation, I always naturally become the leader (not bragging). I am not afraid to step up and give guidance and instruction towards others. I am keen to share different opinions and engage in passionate discussions. One of the utmost significant benefits debate has brought me was stress management. Everyone is scared to speak in front of the crowd, scared that u will make a mistake and become the joke of the year. But debate has taught me how to keep my cool under a stressful event. And how to speak up for myself when someone or I are not treated fairly. I don’t know if I can put my experience into words for only for u guys to experience them urself.

I am proud to say debate has made me whole and made me who I am today. My gratitude is extended to those given me the opportunities in the first place. I want to thank my mom for supporting me since the start of this journey. Special thanks to Jessie who devoted her time in maintaining a platform for debate each year and nurturing us from a young age. I also want to thank Julian and Mike for being there for me, replying my texts in midnight and accompany me through many tournaments. Without all these people, I wouldn’t stand here today sharing my experience.

Calvin Chao (KCIS), 2022 NSDA Taiwan District Outstanding Senior

I first started debating in 3rd grade, and it has since been a life-changing activity for me. It has greatly influenced the way I interact with various aspects of my life. Cross-examination has always been what frustrates me the most about debate. When my opponent comes up with a twisting question that I have no answer to, I find it embarrassing to have to stand in silence. However, these moments are also the parts of the debate that has changed me the most. Through these years, I’ve slowly developed my ability to withstand pressure and enhance my line of logic, constructing better questioning and responses in a concise and efficient manner.

My lessons from debate extend beyond competitions and classrooms. They have been a great aid to my investments and business ventures as well. Over the course of my 8-year debate journey, I deeply felt my improvement in reading comprehension skills. Now, as I trade in the stock market, I have to consume various articles, reports, and earnings called keynotes and then condense them into information for trading. Debate has allowed me to do so with ease. Debate has brought so much to my life. What I have mentioned is only the tip of the iceberg. Now, as I am going off to college and enter a new chapter of my life. No matter if I decide to continue my career as a debater or not, there’s not a doubt in my mind that debate has immensely influenced my values and largely shaped who I am today. I’m grateful for Ms. Jessie and all those who have supported me throughout this amazing journey.

Jenny Kuo (KangCiao), 2021 NSDA Taiwan District Outstanding Senior

It would not be an exaggeration to say that I grew up on ADL. Starting from the root word classes in fourth grade, to smart debate classes with Ms.Jessie, public forum classes, Lincoln Douglass classes, and policy classes…… I’ve surrounded my life with people and activities in ADL. From the little shy girl studying root words to me today, I can say that I wouldn’t have been here without ADL. There are numerous of things I’ve learned from debating these years, countless lessons, but I’ll be just sharing a few today

Having fun comes first , winning comes second. In debate rounds, I used to stress myself out, telling myself that I HAVE to win every single round of my life or else it would be the end of the world. Obviously I wasn’t winning every single round, I might have even loss more rounds than win, and the world hasn’t end. I was learning so much throughout a debate round. How to think, how to poke holes at my opponent’s arguments, how to sound like I’m right, how the world is working, how the world should work… etc All the new perspective I gain in each round of debate created who I am today.

The loving family I was lucky to grow up in. All my former partners, my fellow TPDSA staffs, my friends, and all the supporting parents. Although there were times throughout this journey that I’ve really wanted to quit debate. With the support that I’ve received throughout this family, I was able to persist, to pull through the blood, sweats, and tears. I’m so lucky to grow up in such loving family.

Jenny has chosen to study at University of Michigan because she was recruited by the UM debate team.

Benson Lin (MAT), 2021 NSDA Taiwan District Outstanding Senior

When I was in fourth grade, the thought of pursuing debate through primary school never occurred to me. Yet 8 years later, here I am as a senior. At first, debate was just another activity I partook in. Now, it has become the medium, the mentor, through which I learned what it means to exercise one’s voice and what it means to communicate as a social being. Indeed, as we all know, debate can teach you how to argue with intelligence, how to listen to others, how to manage one’s time, how to research, how to think for yourself, how to work with others, how to work under pressure, and countless other life skills needed for success beyond the debate room.

But perhaps the most important lesson I have learned is that in order to persuade someone, never force them to adapt to the way you think, but adapt your words and style to the way they think. Still, there will be times when you lose, and times when you win. But no matter how fun it is to win, it is only through failure when we learn what it means, and takes, to truly succeed. Outside of the round, debate has allowed me to connect with a wonderful and diverse community of unique individuals. Whether it be the friends I met at debate camp, the debaters I encountered at tournaments, or the coaches and partners I have shared my journey with, I am forever grateful for all that they have taught me and for being the great people they are. At the end of the day, debate is not just an activity, a game, or a passion. It is the bridge that connects you to the world, with each skill or lesson you learn as the steps that lead you safely across.

Benson has chosen to study at Brown University with a full scholarship.

2020 NSDA Taiwan Outstanding Seniors

McKenzie Engen (TAS) – Kings’ College London

Kelly Phil (TAS) – Recruited by University of Michigan Debate Team

Kevin Cheng (MAT) – Recruited by U.C. Berkeley Debate Team

Jason Liu (PAS) – Northwestern

Andrew Xu (TAS)
Jonathan Sun (PAS)

Network of intelligent debate friends is one of Ginny’s highest treasures gained from debate [VIDEO].

Ginny Hwang (DIS), 2019 NSDA Outstanding Senior is, without a doubt, one of the most active, driven, and independent students I have come across in my stay at DIS. Her passion in debate and forensics is something that she has carried both in and out of school. Although DIS lacks a debate program, I know that she has, throughout her high school career, worked outside of school to compete in both national and international tournaments. She has also challenged herself by attending debate camps in the United States as well as competing in different forms of debate. Within the school campus, she has also exhibited leadership skills through her dedication to DIS’s Model UN club, mentoring younger students along the way. Her work is an inspiration to her fellow peers and students in the school community [written by her DIS MUN Coach Mr. Alistair].

Ginny has chosen to study at Yale Singapore with a full scholarship.


Great life lessons from debate – teamwork – is what James will remember [VIDEO].

James Pan (TES), 2019 NSDA Outstanding Senior, has been debating for so much of his young life that he cannot even remember when he started. He has been juggling school work and speech for so many years that it has become second nature to him: we often talk about students burning the candle at both ends, and James has probably been burning the candle in the middle as well. He has represented Taiwanese debate in both China and the US, nowadays doing a lot of judging, and he has also found time to be Student President at Taipei European School. He has moved from PF to Policy and then back again, and acknowledges that he has got a lot from doing debating: knowledge of a lot of issues, critical thinking under pressure, and a lot of friendships [written by his TES coach Gavin Matthews].

James has chosen to study at the University of Michigan.


Confidence is what April has gained  from speech and debate [VIDEO].

April Tsai (TAS), 2019 NSDA Outstanding Senior, has been a tremendous leader in the TAS Speech & Debate program. As a competitor, she has represented TAS well at IASAS, reaching the final round the last 2 years in extemporaneous speaking, and also in the United States, reaching the quarterfinal round of extemporaneous speaking at the Cal Berkeley Invitational this year. As a leader, April has led our Forum Club in the MS and Forensics Society in the HS, including running numerous practices and training sessions for dozens of students at TAS. Her dedication to the TAS Speech & Debate Team has been critical to our efforts this year to grow both the MS and HS programs and we will miss her dearly next year [written by his TAS coach Chase Williams].


Better time management and friendship come through debate, says Darren [VIDEO].

Darren Fang (TAS), 2019 NSDA Outstanding Senior, has made debate a priority throughout high school and it shows in the impact he has made on the Taiwan debate community – at TAS and beyond. At TAS, Darren has competed in PF, IASAS Debate, and IPPF – excelling in all three during his four years. Outside of TAS, he is a member of the Taiwan National Team and has given countless hours to coaching and judging at tournaments for younger students. Darren was the de facto leader of the TAS IASAS teams this year, organizing practices and research assignments. His dedication to speech & debate has left a lasting impact on TAS and Taiwan and we will miss his leadership sincerely next year [written by his TAS coach Chase Williams].

Darren has chosen to study at the Brown University.

Darren talks about how debate has helped him with the college application process [VIDEO].


Bryan explains how debate has shaped his analytical thinking process [VIDEO].

Bryan Ying (PAS), 2019 NSDA Outstanding Senior, has developed an analytical mind and critical thinking skills through his high school MUN and Debates. He has seriously participated debate tournaments in the past three years, winning the second place in policy debate last year and qualified for the NSDA US Nationals. Since his participation in the NSDA tournaments both Taiwan and China, Bryan co-led PAS Debate Club and has been actively helping the novice debaters at PAS with his own debate experiences. Bryan excels in logic and philosophy, always seeing and interpreting the world and his own problems through his unique perspective. While debate essentially is the predominant manner in which he experiences intellectual growth, he is also an outstanding cellist, exhibiting instrumental logic and abstract interpretation through music [written by his PAS principal Pamela Chu].

Brian has chosen to study at the University of New York – Abudabi – with the full scholarship.


Salina explains why debate has a special place in her heart – community and civic duty [VIDEO].

Salina Kuo (PAS), 2019 NSDA Outstanding Senior, has been living in Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Vietnam, where she started her early interest in the social welfare, social justice, and community involvement while experiencing different cultures and lifestyles. Most importantly, she has a big heart for charity and community service. She has participated in many MUN conferences and our student government since sophomore year as the Head of Council Committee and has found several organizations to advocate for different human rights and social activities. She is frequently involved with helping the poor while helping the PAS debate club as the Head, assisting all the younger debaters to refine their debate skills. She has been awarded the best speaker in many tournaments, and placed 2nd place in policy debate in last year’s NSDA Taiwan National Qualifier. She was also the top speaker in Lincoln Douglas [written by her PAS principal Pamela Chu].

Salina has chosen to study at the University of Columbia.

Salina explains how debate has helped her with the college application process [VIDEO].

2018 NSDA Taiwan Outstanding Seniors: Kevin Chuang, Brandon Chen, Allen Huang, Brian Hsiao, and Faye Shih!

Keven Chuang (MAT) – UC Berkeley (collegiate policy debater)

Brandon Chen (TAS) – USC w debate scholarship/ Northwestern Invitation by the coach, chose BYU for religious reasons

Allen Huang (TAS) – Emory

Brian Hsiao (TAS) – Stony Brook

Faye Hsih (MAT) – Bryn Mawr College


Kelly Phil’s Mom Jessy Says Don’t be Afraid of Losing.

A mom of Kelly Phil, 2020 NSDA Outstanding Senior, shares her experience. If anyone tells you it is impossible to win in the U.S., tell them, yes, it is possible. I have seen Taiwan kids win in the U.S., even in TOC Champion, the most difficult tournament in the U.S. But remember, when my daughter first went to the U.S. NSDA, she lost every round. Also, Ms. Jessie often told everybody that when her son first went to the U.S. NSDA, he also lost every single round. So, the only reason why they got this honor today is because they didn’t mind losing, and they never gave up!!! So, I would like to encourage all of you to never give up!! ONE TIP: If you don’t send your child to debate intensive camps during the summer, then it will be very difficult for them to improve and win in the U.S. because that is what all the good debaters do in the U.S.

I know when Ms Jessie first started American Style debate in Taiwan 6 years ago, many people didn’t believe her and thought MUN was debate, even many of my daughter’s friends all quit debate because of MUN. So I was really confused and asked her, and she said don’t quit MUN because it shows leadership, but MUN is not debate and cannot replace debate, so do both. I am so glad my daughter did both MUN and Debate. But if you ask my daughter, which one she is willing to quit, she says MUN because it is boring, and when there is conflict between MUN and debate tournament, my daughter always chooses debate. In fact, when the TAS coach selects kids for the school debate team, he never considers kids with MUN experience and only select kids with real debate experience..I am sharing this not to brag, but just in hope that my daughter’s experience might help someone, thank you!!!” [a message she shared in ADL LINE chat]


8th Grader Angel Huang got 2150 on SAT Because of Debate Training; She got early acceptance to MIT!

I entered Taipei American School in 6th grade as an ESL student, who could barely speak English fluently. In 7th grade, my sister’s friend asked me to join Taipei Debate Academy (also known as Asian Debate League). While learning policy debate, I was forced to read hundreds of articles and highlight the important sentences within an article. Through the highlighting process, I learned how to grasp the main idea of a story instantly. This skill is extremely important while taking a SAT exam, especially the critical reading section, because of the limited amount of time. In the SAT summer camp in ADL in 2013, I took the SAT for the very first time, which I received a score less than 1000 points (out of 2400). Through the 4 weeks and 5 mock exams, my grade increased to 2150 points, which was a large improvement as a current freshman. In my opinion, debate truly helped my SAT grades because of the skills, mentioned above, learned through the debate process [self-written testimony].


ADL Courses Help Anthony Hsu Pass ESL! Anthony in High School got the Best Film Award!.

On December 15, 2012, Virginia Shao came to ADL in the afternoon to thank us and share the good news! Her 5th grade son, Anthony Hsu, has passed the Taipei American School ESL exam with the highest possible score of “6” on all subject areas. This means Anthony will be placed in a regular 5th grade English track as of next semester, and Virginia believes it is because her son has been taking classes at ADL.

Anthony’s first class was “Root Words”; this class helped him enlarge his vocabulary repertoire by listening to JC’s recordings every morning and playing instructional games in class with his peers. Anthony is now simultaneously taking two classes – “News Presentation” (pre-debate in order to broaden his geopolitical knowledge and presentation skills through current news) and “Kids Book Writing” (a beginners’ writing class in order to polish up his writing techniques while memorizing thousands of adjectives for academic purposes). Thank you, Virginia, for sharing the good news with us, and Kudos to Anthony for obtaining the perfect scores in all subjects!