Meet the Winners of the Global Debate and Public Policy Challenge

Meet the Winners of the Global Debate and Public Policy Challenge

The first annual Global Debate and Public Policy Challenge was a huge success in Budapest!

Finalists from all over the globe gathered in the Hungarian capital to attend workshops to improve their policy advocacy and public speaking skills as well as compete in progressive rounds of competition for prizes up to $10,000. This year's 23 finalists represented 11 countries including China, Croatia, Estonia, Ethiopia, India, Macedonia, Mauritius, Moldova, Morocco, United Kingdom and United States.

The first Global Debate and Public Policy Challenge attracted a wide range of undergraduate students into the realm of policy advocacy and was designed to encourage students to reflect critically on policy questions that present serious international challenges.

The final competition took place in two stages. In the first rounds, students presented and defended their public policy briefs to a panel of six judges. In the final stage, the top eight finalists gave a policy recommendation to the president of a large developing democratic country about how to balance security and liberty during an impending terrorist threat involving airline passenger safety. It was an extremely close competition and the six judges on the panel were impressed with the skills of all of the finalists under pressure.

Please join us in congratulating our five winners:

5th place and $1,000:
Niyati Gandhi, age 20, from Mumbai, India.
Studying law at the National Law School of India University in Bangalore.

“I did GDPPC because it was different. It wasn't a debate. It wasn't a Model UN. It wasn't just a public speaking competition. It was something more than that. And more than anything else, I appreciated the whole process behind GDPPC.”

Speaking with pride about her country and culture, she had this to say: “I am a true Bombay girl at heart, so I'm somebody who likes using public transit, I'm independent. But that's because the community in Bombay allows for that. I'm very aware of the fact that some communities do not allow for so much independence, for girls especially. At some point, I want to do something about it, maybe through policy changes, maybe through reaching out at a personal level. India is slowly opening up its door to everyone, its experiencing other cultures, other communities and we're willing to take it all in. We're a country of 1.2 billion people -- I'm sure there's space for everyone.”

4th place and $1,500:
Yusuf Anwar, age 21, from Brooklyn, New York.
Yusuf was accepted to the eight year B.A.-M.D. program at City University of New York --Brooklyn College.

He will pursue health care public policy as a physician in hopes of improving the health care system in the U.S. and abroad. Yusuf said that he is ‘’extremely grateful for the scholarship awarded by GDPPC. This award reminds me that my diligence is recognized. It will help propel me to strive to implement real change in the world.”

Commenting on his experience at GDPPC, he reflected that “It has been an absolutely incredible journey. I feel so fortunate to meet students from around the world who carry unique experiences and personalities. I have learned how global our world truly is and how many different perspectives exist in our global community.”

3rd place and $2,500:
Martin Kiik, age 20, from Tallinn, Estonia.
Studying neurobiology and government at Harvard University.

Martin said that during the workshops he ‘’definitely gained insight into the complicated world of public policy.’’ With regard to his fellow finalists, he had this to say: “It’s a truly amazing group of people and I'm glad to have met them. Coming from such a variety of countries and backgrounds, I think we all learned from the different perspectives on world issues.”

2nd place and $10,000:
Rebecca Grace Tan, age 23, from Singapore.
She’s just graduated from the National University of Singapore with a degree in political science.

Rebecca is especially interested in international law, migration, and development and would like to go into non-profit work to advocate for the rights of transient workers either in a local NGO in Singapore or an international organisation. She will use her award to fund her graduate studies, beginning in September 2012, at the School of Oriental and African Studies, which is part of the University of London.

“It was a great experience to meet the other finalists and to learn more about their different backgrounds and cultures. We spoke a great deal about the politics in our countries, such as discussing the Chinese political system. I was quite inspired by how open everyone was with each other and how we all got on so well.”

1st place and $10,000:
Guy Miscampbell, 21, from Aylesbury, United Kingdom.
He has studied economics and politics at Durham University and will graduate on 28th June.

Guy would like to use the prize to study a Masters in Public Policy, most likely in one of the London universities. Although, he says after visiting Central European University in Budapest, he is definitely considering studying that institution as well. He’s also planning to apply to several think-tanks for internships.

When asked about the best part of the whole experience, Guy said: ‘’It sounds kind of cheesy, but I think the best thing about all of this wasn't actually the prize, but the people, the experience. We've all become really good friends and I'm really glad I did it.”

Congratulations to each of you!

Here’s what some of the 23 finalists had to say:

“It was very enriching and enthralling and thought provoking. It was one of the most unique conferences that I’ve ever attending. Thank you for such an amazing job.”

“I think that the ultimate purpose of such events is to actually learn from every single participant and what I found amazing is that in getting to know the background from each of you was quite challenging because it just pushes you to do more and be better, so thanks for that.”

“We shared a lot of different thoughts and experiences about our cultures, and learnt a lot that we wouldn't have otherwise known from each other. The different perspectives on public policy we had due to our backgrounds was incredibly interesting!”

“This is been more like a journey with no well-defined destination. I’ve learned a lot from all of you, different cultures, but also different ways to tackle problems. It’s all been amazing and just makes you realise that life is just gorgeous.”

The Challenge is a recurring event and the 2012-2013 Challenge will begin in late summer 2012. We encourage new participation for students in the 2012-2013 Challenge! To learn more, please visit the Challenge website:

This competition is organised by IDEA in partnership with the European Council on Foreign Relations and Central European University, and made possible by the generous support from Open Society Foundations.
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