Our students and instructors often say that VBI is a family, which is true in many ways. Our small labs and mentor teams foster close friendships that many students maintain for years after attending VBI. And, because most of our instructors attended VBI as students, there is a strong sense at VBI of continuity, a common bond, between generations of debaters.
We value this family environment both for its own sake and for its pedagogical benefits. Debate camp can be a stressful place: it is easy to be intimidated by the amazing debaters on staff and to regard other students as competitors. But VBI's family feel fosters trust between peers, and between students and instructors, because students knows that their peers and their teachers care about them. For that reason, students quickly become comfortable asking questions in lab, approaching national champions at Socrates Hours, and working with their peers towards the shared goal of getting better at debate. These benefits extend throughout the competitive season, as students learn from and support each other while competing at tournaments together. Seeing other members of the VBI family at tournaments makes students feel at home in competitive debate. That's one of the reasons why so many of our students return to VBI multiple times and are eager to return as instructors.
Students who attend VBI join a family of over 6000 former students and staff, whose accolades and love for their institution are unparalleled. They have matriculated and excelled at every Ivy League university and have gone on to attend top graduate programs in law, business, political science, philosophy, and many other fields. They have won national and world debate championships, moot court competitions at top law schools, multiple Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships, and honors on Forbes magazine's "30 under 30" list. We could not be more proud of our family.