September 2, 2019 by Assemzhan Bazhina
Tin Puljić is an Athens EUDC 2019 Open Finalist, ESL Champion, Top-3 Open and Top-1 ESL speaker, a Cape Town WUDC 2019 Open Grand Finalist and a Novi Sad EUDC 2018 ESL finalist and Open semifinalist, as well as being a Cambridge IV 2018 Open semifinalist and Oxford IV 2018 ESL champion. Apart from this, Tin has won 6 other tournaments (Belgrade Open 2016, Split Open 2017 and 2018, FINDA Turku Mini 2017, UCU Open 2017 and Zagreb Open 2018) as well as having been a finalist at an additional five (PEP IV 2018, Budapest Open 2018 and 2019, Leiden Open 2019 and Munich Open 2019).
– Tin, could you please tell us a bit more about yourself (where do you come from, where do you work or study)?
– I was born and raised in Zagreb where I still live, I have just finished my undergraduate studies at the Faculty of Political Science here in Zagreb where I also intend to pursue my Master’s degree starting this fall. What the future has in store for me after that is unclear and maybe it is best that it stays that way for the time being.
– How and why did you start debating?
– I started in high school, I heard there was going to be a show debate given by my school’s debate club and I decided that going to watch was a rather more enjoyable activity than doing my math homework. I really liked it and decided to join, and have been hooked ever since.
– How did you feel when you realized you are going to speak in two finals (Open and ESL) within several hours?
– It is surreal and very hard to explain. During that day we did not quite realize the magnitude and importance of what we have done, similar to when we made Open Finals of Worlds; you are just too excited and pumped on adrenaline to think and reflect and the only thing you are focused on is doing your best and trying to make it count. It is only after the tournament that we had time to look back on our achievements and give ourselves a pat on the back. Not more than a year ago all of this would have been crazier to imagine than our wildest daydream, so this has really been an experience.
– What difficulties did Lovro and you face while prepping for Internationals and how did you get over these obstacles? And how generally you can describe your team?
– Well, I would say that our primary issue was a lack of financial resources which meant we could only attend a certain limited amount of tournaments, which meant we had to very carefully choose which tournaments to attend based on our expectations of quality debates and judging as well as a number of other factors. This also meant we had to spend a lot of time prepping by ourselves (cracking motions, watching debates, watching workshops, debating with other people from our circuit) to make up for the lost time. What was really helpful was that we could always contact debaters and judges we knew from literally anywhere in the world to judge us over Skype, give us a lecture or whatever else – I would encourage younger circuits with lesser financial means to do so as well, I guarantee that anyone you ask would be very happy to help out (Lovro and myself included)!
As for our team, I would say we make a very unlikely combination – we are very different people with very different interests. This is however also what made us tick; we have varying styles of debating, we can cover a wide array of topics and contribute different but mutually enhancing content. We were also always very supportive towards each other while never making things too serious or strained, I have always felt that debating with Lovro was a genuinely fun experience, which is what I will remember most at the end of the day.
– Did you have fails at the beginning of your debating career and what kept you motivated?
– Absolutely (and not just at the beginning…). Novi Sad EUDC was my first break at a major international. I have done two Euros before that and WSDC as well while I was in high school, and having debated for quite a long time already I felt disappointed not being able to fulfill my expectations at any of these tournaments. Staying motivated was hard because it is easy to start to feel insecure and not good enough, but it all comes down to telling yourself that after having worked so hard and having invested so much time and money, you deserve to get something back, you deserve the recognition and you will keep going until you get that (which I also think is just good advice in general).
I also had a lot of help from my closest friends (who then got a wholesome post-Athens EUDC social media post they deserve) who aided me in regaining my self-confidence and believing I can succeed. My biggest barrier at competitions important to me was exactly my fear of failing again which was what was holding me back, and getting over that was a very key moment.
– Why did you apply for the position of the Deputy at Astana Euros, what did you feel when the CA team announced the names of those joining the A-team and what are your expectations about the upcoming EUDC?
– I applied because I truly wanted to contribute to organizing one of the most important international debating competitions and making it memorable, and I was elated to see my name on the list. It also represents a recognition of sorts; the fact that my hard work and effort have been rewarded so it is also a huge personal milestone. As a CA team, we are very convinced that we will be able to deliver an excellent EUDC with top quality judging and engaging motions, and personally I have no doubts about us working well together.
– How did debating help you in your life (work, study)?
– It helped me develop clarity and structure in expressing my thoughts which is of course extremely helpful in written and oral examinations at uni. But looking at the wider picture, it also aided me in gaining a large amount of knowledge on various topics and challenging some of my views which I used to hold quite strongly (that tends to happen when you’re often forced to debate against what you believe in), so I would say it made me more open-minded. Most importantly, I met a lot of lovely people who now have a special place in my heart, including my best friend, so I definitely would not have been the same person without debating.
– What are the best and the worst motions you had to speak on?
– This is, of course, a matter of personal preference, but I really enjoy anything related to IR and anything metaphysical (religion, philosophy, ethics), and I am not particularly partial towards econ and social movements debates although these can also sometimes be very fun!
– What was the funniest thing that happened to you during your debating life?
– Hands down the fact that Lovro is now a global debating meme with his iconic “stuff like this” catchphrase! I get a good laugh out of that whenever it is mentioned anywhere. There are also, of course, numerous incidents related to ungodly times of the night in combination with a few beers but these are probably better left unsaid…
-The socials of which tournament did you like the most and what was memorable about it?
-Anything in the Balkans! Cheap drinks and the lovely company is what makes a great social (this is also a subtle invitation to Zagreb Open 2020…)
– Who is your favorite singer/music band?
– This is a very hard question because there are quite a lot of them. If I had to name one it would be Đorđe Balašević, a Serbian singer whose songs I have loved and been coming back to for years at different times of my life. There is always one which will strike a chord with me depending on how I feel.
– Does your Dinamo Zagreb scarf bring you luck or is it the way you show support to your favorite football team?
– It started off as a way to show how proud we are to represent not just Croatia but also our city, which Dinamo Zagreb is an important symbol of. There is just a special feeling related to “showing your colors”, especially as we are both huge football fans and Dinamo is our team. Now I would say it is also kind of a tradition and a “trademark” which we are very fond of. It cannot really be explained rationally but as a fan who truly loves a team, it is truly beautiful and fulfilling to get to debate the most important rounds of your life with your team’s crest and name on your shoulders.
– What are your hobbies except debating?
– There are a lot of them – reading, watching football, playing tennis, learning languages…it depends on my mood. There are also some rather quirkier hobbies of mine but I prefer not to reveal all the weird aspects of my character.