October – February

East African Debate League

“Debate opened up a whole new world for me. It surprises me what I can do with my voice right now. I’m changing the future, I’m changing society, slowly, bit by bit.”

Maryam, Anne Sullivan Communication Center

Building on the foundation of our Spanish Debate Initiative, we took our existing debate model and put it in the hands of interested students and coaches who adapted it to fit topics that reflected community conversations.

In 2015, with the help of community and on-campus partners, we hosted the Somali Debate Initiative Tournament – the first program of its kind in the nation. This tournament has grown into regular spring programming serving more than 100 students per year. In 2019, we rebranded the program to the East African Debate League, expanding our focus to include more students in these discussions about essential issues affecting the East African community.

From May-June, East African students debate a critical topic chosen by the community. Students have the opportunity to debate at three tournaments, leading to our special championship/community celebration event.

The East African Debate League provides far more than an opportunity for students to debate, including:

  • Community-Building: These debates are open to a community audience of parents, friends, and elders, empowering students to become educators and increasing the collective understanding of East African community-centered topics. Previous topics have included charter versus public schools, rent control, remittances, and more.
  • Empowerment to Take Action & Make Change: Students generate ideas in debate, creating their own equitable solutions to issues and are empowered to apply that knowledge in their own communities.
  • Skills for School, Higher Education, and Beyond: Debaters in all programs improve their critical thinking skills, master the power of persuasion, grow civic engagement, build resilience, gain the intrinsic motivation to become lifelong learners – and much more.

East African Debate Judges Wanted

Judges watch debate rounds and then evaluate teams on argumentation, logic, and public speaking skills. No prior experience is necessary to volunteer. Judges receive a short training and all necessary materials prior to the start of tournaments. Note: East African Debate is currently held in English. Please email for more information.

Sign up to Volunteer