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 hope to gain. Interested in our fellowship program? We usually recruit at the beginning of college semesters, but please feel free to reach our team at

Zhanin Al-Shargabi

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. 

Raphael Khalid

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!

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.

Sharmila Parmanand

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. 

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.

Past Fellows

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!

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!

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