Debate Spaces Fellows

Our fellows are a crucial part of Debate Spaces' operations. Typically undergraduate students, fellows have developed our curriculum, assisted at sessions, and furthered our outreach. We hope to invest in all members of the Debate Spaces community. For fellows, that means collaboratively designing a professional experience that will advance their careers and impart skills they would like to gain. Interested in our fellowship program? We usually recruit at the beginning of college semesters, but please feel free to always reach our team at

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Tania Kaleem

Tania Kaleem is from Lahore, Pakistan. She is junior year student, currently pursuing a degree in Economics from Kinnaird College. Tania started debating in her freshmen year at college and in this brief time, has been able to get local and international achievements whether it be speaking finals of tournaments or judging finals of various tournaments. Having mentored novice students from her debating Society, she wanted to extend the entire learning/coaching process to outside her society as well. Her particular topic areas of interest include Economics, IR, Politics and Sports. Tania believes that the debating community has allowed her to transform her introverted self and compel her to become more open to exploring different ideas and understanding things in a better way, where her (very) opinionated self has learnt to structure her thoughts better and present them in a more organized manner. She feels like there is a lot she has learnt from this community and definitely wants to give back to it as well!

She further believes that Debate Spaces, in that respect, feels like an inclusive environment where learning seems reciprocal and one can grow as a person too, while also watching young debaters fall in love with this activity that is so close to her heart.

Davida Paul


Davida is from Abuja, Nigeria. Currently she is a third year law student at the Federal University of Ilorin, where she fell (quite painfully and hard) in love with debate. When she's not in school, or debating somewhere, she loves to intern at a prestigious law firm in Abuja called YC Maikyau & Co.
She is an incredibly young debater, having been in the debate circuit for just two years, but has a lot to show for it. 
Davida was 3rd best breaking team and a quarter finalist in the recently concluded Pan African Championship last month. 
She's won a couple of women's open and has being awarded as best judge in several tournaments. She hopes to do even more this year.

Davida has however found a new love for training young kids and contributing to the amazing work at Debate Spaces. She believes that the work at Debate Spaces makes for a wholesome future generation of debaters and is happy to be a part of it. At the top of her hate list is racism and the abuse of gender minorities. In her spare time, Davida loves to binge watch tv shows and fry an awful lot of pancakes.

Lydia Silverstone


Lydia was born in Florida, but her family roots come all the way from Bulgaria, a small but unique country in Europe. She is currently an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she is a member of the biggest professional pre-law and debate fraternity and sorority. She has been in Speech, Debate, and Ethics Bowl all throughout her high school career, as she was the Junior Varsity and Varsity Captain for several of the state and national winning teams. She was a participant in the Great Debate and in the Harvard Invitational Tournament in Boston, MA. With her fluency in four languages and with her international roots, Lydia has a special place in her heart for helping all students, regardless of their background and where they are from, to become better public speakers and future debaters and judges all around the world!

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Boemo Phirinyane

Boemo Delano Phirinyane is a debater from Palapye, Botswana who gave up chess in high school to try out for the debate team, a move which will forever change his life and he has been a loyal servant to the sport since then. Debate Spaces resonates with his personal aim of cultivating the next generation of speakers from a young age.

He has served in numerous Adjudication Core’s over the years and he is now a Deputy Chief Adjudicator for the World’s Universities Debate Championships 2021 to be held in South Korea. Boemo is an internationally recognized debater and judge.

Past Fellows


Prashasti Saxena

Prashasti Saxena is from India, grown up in the UAE and a final year student of International Relations at King's College London. She started debating a lot in university and has been involved with debate coaching and training since three years. She has qualified for outrounds as a speaker and a judge at multiple tournaments in the UK/EU region, and is currently the President of her university's debating society. 


Debate Spaces has been a point of intersection between her love for debating and her inclination towards increasing empowerment and critical thinking amongst the political voices of today's youth. She is excited to be with Debate Spaces and to see the change it is going to build.

Raphael Khalid | Fall 2020

Born and raised in Islamabad, Pakistan, Raphael is currently a freshman at Minerva Schools. He intends to major in Social Sciences, concentrating on politics and government. Raphael was on Pakistan's national debate team in 2019 and has competed in countless competitions since starting debates in 2015. Debate revolutionized Raphael's life by making him into a more confident, articulate, and curious person. And he hopes to impart similar skills and values to the next generation of young debaters!

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Zhanin Al-Shargabi
| Fall 2020

Zhanin Al-Shargabi is from Pleven, Bulgaria. Currently, she is a 2nd year law student at Sofia University. She has been very immersed in her native debate circuit: she is the national winner of many competitions, she has CAed a variety of regional and national tournaments and is in the Board of Directors of the Bulgarian Debate Association. She is also an alumni of the Bulgarian national debate team and now one of its trainers. Her biggest international achievement is reaching the ESL semi-final of Oxford IV in 2019, although as of recently she has found being a trainer may bring her even more joy than being a speaker. She began her time as a Debate Spaces fellow with a lot of enthusiasm and is having a blast meeting and helping young students develop their potential. In her free time she likes to cook and listen to old kpop hits. 


Sharmila Parmanand
| Fall 2020

Sharmila Parmanand is a PhD candidate in Gender Studies at the University of Cambridge and a Gates Scholar. She has been involved in debate coaching for 15 years, across 45 countries. She has taught speech and debate courses at the University of Vermont and Ateneo de Manila University. She is also a board member of the World Schools Debating Championship and the International Debate Education Association. Sharmila believes in debate education as a way of building open and participatory political cultures and is excited about Debate Spaces' mission of making debating and critical thinking training accessible to young people around the world. 


Tafsia Shikdar | 2019-'20

Tafsia is currently a junior at MIT studying Materials Science and Engineering, with a minor in Political Science. Tafsia currently leads the MIT Debate Team as Co-Captain, having joined as a freshman, and has attended many APDA tournaments along the East Coast. Born and bred in London, Tafsia was initially exposed to debate at age 14, but never had any formal school debate societies to join until reaching MIT. Grateful for the chance to attend the English Speaking Union Debate Academy in 2015, Tafsia looks forward to creating similar opportunities for other young minds!

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Maya Benziger | 2019-'20

Hailing from Chicago, Maya is currently a sophomore at Bates College. She is planning on declaring a History and Politics double major with a minor in Music.  Maya is one of two Novice Directors for the Bates College debate team.  She was a novice quarterfinalist at the United States Universities Debating Championship in 2019 and a novice finalist at the North American Women's and Gender Minorities' Debate Championship in 2019 as well.  Before coming to college, Maya did not ever get the opportunity to experience debate so she is excited to be able to share this activity with all the young debaters-to-be!