USA Debate Team wins World Schools Debating Championships

USA’s National Debate wins first place at World Schools Debating Championships held in Hanoi, Vietnam on July 27, 2023. PHOTO: Instagram @usadebateteam

The USA Debate Team made up of 6 students, two of them Indian Americans, was ranked #1 at this year’s World Schools Debating Championships. Two of the six members of the team were Indian Americans.

A press release from the National Speech & Debate Association said the World Schools Debating Championships event was hosted in Vietnam and more than 70 of the world’s top teams competed.

The two Indian American students were Ambika Grover, a senior at Greenwich High School in Connecticut, and Vinayak Menon, a senior at Lambert High School in Georgia.  The other four participants were Ollie Braden, a senior at Jackson-Reed High School in Washington DC, Chelsea Hu, junior at Phillips Academy in Massachusetts, Sungjoo Yoon, a senior at Burbank Senior High School in California, and alternate Alex Lee, a junior at Harvard-Westlake School in California.

This was the first time that Team USA made it to the final round since 1994. The championship, hosted from July 20-27, 2023, was historic as it saw the first North American final with teams from US and Canada facing off.

The two sides debated the motion, “This House Prefers a world ruled by a benevolent AI programmed to maximize utility by calculating the actions most guaranteed to reduce the greatest global suffering,” according to the Vietnam World Schools Debate Championships’s FaceBook

Team USA, arguing the affirmative side of the debate, won by a 7-4 split against Team Canada.

USA’s National Debate Team: Ambika Grover, Sungjoo Yoon, Ollie Braden, Vinayak Menon, Chelsea Hu, Alex Lee(pictured left to right). PHOTO: Instagram @usadebateteam

According to the National Speech & Debate Association’s website (, Ambika Grover has been involved in debates for six years and has achieved awards at the Ivy League Championships, Berkeley Invitational, and Connecticut Debate Association state tournament.  The website also credits her as the President of the Economics and “Girls Who Code” Clubs.  Grover has also interned at NASA and won first place at the Grand Award at the International Science & Engineering Fair.

Vinayak Menon’s profile on the website shows he also has been involved with debate for six years.  As part of Team USA in 2021-22, he “championed the Croatia Winter Holiday Open and reached finals at EurOpen. the Croatia Winter Holiday Open and reached finals at EurOpen.”  He is also the Youth President of the Forsyth County Drug Awareness Council which draws attention to the opioid crisis and campaigns for proper drug disposal.  He is also noted to have started the Board of Commissioners’ Youth Council in his county and to write articles for the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

From left, Yoon, Menon, and Grover representing Team USA at the Quarter and Semifinals of the debate competition.  PHOTO: Facebook Vietnam WSDC 2023

In addition to the two Indian American team members, Desi American coach Aditya Dhar worked with Co-Head Coach Aaron Timmons and Team Manager and Co-Head Coach Cynthia Timmons.  The National Speech & Debate Association’s website reports Dhar to have graduated from Harvard and served as the Vice President of the prestigious university’s College Debate Union.

Out of 140,000 applicants, only 12 students were chosen to join the Debate team for the 2022-23 season.  Of these, only 5 members and one alternate were chosen to compete at the esteemed World Schools Debating Championships.

The “USA Debate team represents some of the best and brightest high school students this country has to offer. I’m immensely proud of all of our team members chosen to represent the United States,” Executive Director of the National Speech & Debate Association J. Scott Wunn, is quoted saying in the press release.



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