All of the prep time finally paid off, and it was clear to see. Media University was pretty strong, particularly in the performance aspect, and might have gotten a slightly better score than us during free debate; but in the end we rocked them from both a person-to-person standpoint (at least three of our four speeches were better than Media's corresponding speeches), and we also quite clearly won the debate itself. (Resolved: 'Favorable opportunity is [the] key to success.') That "the," in the Chinese, is excellently ambiguous, and combined with a definition of "key" that I found in the Xinhua online dictionary, we were able to step back from the catfight about whether favorable opportunity or skill/preparation/hard work is more important, and simply use our examples to show that opportunity is a necessary constituent of success and thus clearly "key."
As the fourth speaker, it was my job to take that step back and make our thought process really clear. At the same time, one of our 'trainers' (the grad students who are helping us out - basically every night for hours, bless them) had written this beautiful poem about favorable opportunity that I was supposed to recite at the end of my speech (the competition requires a recitation), and they all seemed to be worried that we would lose points if I didn't do it well enough because Media's fourth speaker speaks perfect Chinese (each team is allowed one foreign student of Chinese descent) and is probably studying to be a TV host/etc. And as it turns out, last night's prep - spent in my room, reciting my speech over and over for about three hours and finally getting it down to two minutes - was time well spent. I threw in something about how the opposing team already admitted one of our points and in doing so forgot two of my lines, and I choked once, but in the end I had extra time to make the poem sound nice and overall I was pretty damn happy about our prep and my performance.
Next round, we'll be up against 北京语言大学 - Beijing Language [and Culture] University, which besides being my "alma mater" of sorts (the HBA program this summer was held at BLCU) also happens to be the winner of last year's debate competition. I really think that they're not so great, this time, and in general I wouldn't be worried at all about them, but clearly I don't completely understand the judges' standards because I thought BLCU's opponents were going to win for sure in today's match.
Because next match is the final round, this time we have two weeks to prep, so I hope I'll be able to go on a real vacation (albeit only for 2 days) when ACC lets out for its very very brief fall break. That said, we're going to need the extra prep time we can get, since by random chance we've been stuck with the worst resolution ever: "Happiness depends on wealth." Everyone was sort of blanching when they saw it, and I didn't understand why until just now, when I realized I had got the grammar wrong and completely misunderstood the topic. Now I too am feeling pretty bleak... especially because, if it's in the same form as our most recent debate, BLCU's resolution is probably "Happiness does not depend on wealth."
...I will leave you to ponder that indefensible position. If you have any ideas, feel free to leave them in a comment, below.