LEXINGTON, Kentucky (April 8, 2022) — Nishita Chaduvula started volunteering for the Bluegrass Debate Coalition (BDC) as part of her school club’s volunteer requirement. However, her time at BDC quickly turned from an assigned obligation to a spontaneous desire to help. She is now one of the organization’s most valuable volunteers.
The BDC, overseen by the University of Kentucky Championship Intercollegiate Debating Team housed at the College of Communication and Information, is an organization that works with schools in Kentucky to make competitive debating accessible to all elementary school students, of middle school and high school. Since September 2020, the coalition has worked to increase academic performance, enrich academic and career opportunities, and provide the intellectual and networking tools for young people to thrive as active and responsible leaders in their communities.
The seventh-grade student from Meyzeek Middle School in Louisville first joined BDC as a sixth-grader shortly after the organization launched. She attended workshops and debate camps to supplement the work she was doing in her school’s debate club. After also joining her school’s Beta Club this school year and learning about her volunteer mandate, Nishita saw an opportunity to give back while doing something she loved.
“I love the idea of teaching other kids how to debate and helping them with their debates,” Nishita said. “So I decided that for some of my hours, I would volunteer at BDC.
As a BDC volunteer, Nishita acts as a junior curriculum developer, researcher, mentor and judge for elementary students. Once given a topic or skill to create a lesson plan, she uses research and her personal debating experience to create slideshows and video presentations. She then helps distribute the workload in large online classes by dividing students up and giving them a topic to discuss, providing real-time guidance. She also provides commentary as a judge at elemental events.
“Nishita has been a tremendous asset to our organization,” said BDC Director Bill Eddy. “Volunteering is at the heart of what we do at BDC. Not only do we organize courses and events, but we also need to staff these activities with qualified mentors. As part of our commitment to providing a deeper learning experience, we employ an apprenticeship-style learning experience where more experienced students assist us in the teaching/learning process by working with less experienced students.
While Nishita held the role of teacher, she also found herself as a student among her talented and fast-learning mentees. After she started volunteering with BDC, she realized that attending more workshops could also help her grow as a debater just as much as they helped her elementary students.
His school’s debate club began its season in September 2021 with Nishita’s first tournament in December. She won two of the three debates, a big improvement since her sixth-grade season. His father, Rameswara Chaduvula, said his participation in BDC not only improved his debating skills, but also his communication and teaching skills.
Although the Meyzeek Beta Club only requires Nishita to do 30 hours of volunteer work in a school year, and she is already more than halfway to the requirement, she does not expect this to limit her participation in the BDC. She loved the learning and teaching experience BDC gave her, not to mention the personal connections she made along the way.
“I hope to have an impact on the children I help, even if it’s really small,” Nishita said. “I want to help them on their journey because if I had that much help when I was younger in fourth and fifth grade, I felt like I would be doing so much better. So, I hope they can at least learn from me and that I can help them on their journey.
To learn more about BDC, visit https://bluegrassdebate.org/. If you would like to help support BDC, visit https://bluegrassdebate.org/supporters/.