JCI 2022 A Year Of FirstTime Conferences

31 Dec 2022 President Ireland By President Ireland

After my first year of membership with JCI I’ve recently renewed for year 2. Speaking with 2022 JCI
President Áine Mc Manamon we decided a post about what to expect in a year of membership. I’ll
touch on all the fantastic experiences that I’ve had and how I made the most of my membership to
develop and “Be Better” this year. My first big JCI event was in January - when I attended JCI
European Debate Academy with a hearty Irish Delegation. It helped me develop my public speaking
abilities and I would strongly recommend attending the 2023 European Debate Academy for anyone
who wants to compete for Ireland this year. While in Scotland I got the chance to debate alongside
(and against) all my future teammates for the coming year, Lorraine Lally (European Debates), Pierre
Yimbog (Tri Nations Debates), Melissa Collins (World Debates) and finally Valerie O’Brien (all
debates). Through engaging regularly with debaters like these I was able to hone my skills for the
upcoming competitions.

After great training in Scotland I participated in the Irish National Public Speaking and Debating
Competitions on March 12 th . This event included a training session by the fantastic Siobhan Brennan
Fitzpatrick of the Athlone Toastmasters, who encouraged us to connect with the audience on a
personal level with storytelling. I was lucky enough to be selected to represent Ireland for upcoming
debating competitions. I started preparing for the first of these in June, when I attended the JCI
European Convention, with a view to win the European Debate competition.

Attending a JCI European event in Bruges was an unforgettable experience. It was packed with
inspiring speakers, workshops, and networking opportunities. I arrived a few days early to explore
the charming cobblestone streets, visit the iconic Belfry Tower, and sample some of the delicious
Belgian chocolate and beer. We competed against some tough competition and first up had to go
against one of my new friends from Edinburgh Debate Academy, Monsieur Grégory Calonges who
was fresh from defeating the local Belgium Debate Team. Grégory was the best debater I have come
across this year and was shocked when we beat him and were able to advance to the finals. Coming
into the finals meant having to debate against the incredible Finnish Debate team opposing the topic
“Business schools should aim at creating more entrepreneurs than managers” – and I was thankful
to have great sparring partners to help develop my own abilities.

Upon returning to Ireland as victorious debaters I got more involved in local JCI activities, including a
fantastic sustainability talk organised by the local JCI Dublin chapter in August. I also attended the
national convention in October hosted by JCI Dublin. At national convention I decided to participate
in everything that was to offer – whether it was observing the national executive meeting, debating
in the Tri Nations Tournament (and losing to bonnie Scotland!). After a fantastic gala dinner on the
Saturday we got up early Sunday morning to planning for the 2023 year with incoming 2023 JCI
President Neve Isic.

I used the practice from the Tri Nations debate competition to work with the Irish Debate Team to
put forward our best foot forward at the JCI World Conference (hosted in Hong Kong, but held on
Zoom this year), and we were lucky enough to win after stiff opposition from JCI Jamaica and JCI

As I reflect on 2023 my resolution is to give back and help others – so if you are reading this and
want to go compete in the debate then please get in touch. I am thankful to so many in my JCI
Journey so far, whether it was 2022 JCI President Áine encouraging me and being an active
supporter, to members like Ben Hall who actively coached our various debate teams this year!