June 21, 2022 | By Sayyida Jean-Charles
BDL Alumna Goes Overseas with Fulbright U.S. Student Program
Boston Debate League Alumna Falianne Forges is about to embark on a study abroad trip to Morocco through UMass Boston this summer. Once she returns from Morocco, she’ll get ready to leave for a ten-month Fulbright Fellowship as an English Teaching Assistant to collaborate with U.S. Department of State officials to curate teaching materials for students in Kenya. In partnership with more than 140 countries worldwide, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides opportunities for graduating college seniors, graduate students and young professionals from a variety of backgrounds to pursue graduate study, conduct research or teach English abroad.
Forges graduated this year from the University of Massachusetts Boston with a dual degree in English and Africana Studies and a minor in race and literature. The former debater is passionate about challenging how we approach teaching English language learners in the Black community. Forges debated all six years at Boston Latin Academy and served as her debate team captain.
“I want to be a better educator, even knowing I do not have all the answers, but I have the power to ask questions,”
– Falianne Forges
“Debate was critical to shaping how I laid out my thoughts.” Throughout her high school career, Forges went on to challenge policies that the school board planned to put in place. As a high school student, she testified at every BPS budget cuts hearing and spoke out against the school time changes. The exposure to debate planted the seeds for Forges’ interest in studying linguistics and English Language Learners. She used her experiences as a Haitian-American learner and her first summer internship in Tanzania and Kenya through the Next Generation Leaders program to create a socio-linguistic study at the end of her first year of undergraduate.
Forges credits debate with helping her find her career interest. “My own cases at the end of senior year, became my case studies in university and [they are now] becoming the basis for my graduate degree and research I want to do abroad”. She recognized that being a debater did not limit her possible career opportunities, but that she was able to transfer her skills to her focus in linguistics. She noticed that within the diasporic community that there was a shared experience of individuals feeling they were at a disadvantage if they did not know the dominant European language. In her post-graduate endeavors, Forges is utilizing her debate skills to assess the politics of how the English language has hegemony in linguistic spaces and ways to bring more recognition to the diversity of languages.