Social Innovation Fellows: Fiora MacPherson '16

"I strive to change the face of languages in American education."


Meet Fiora

Hometown: York, England
Concentration: English
LinkedIn 

“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela

I believe that in a globalizing world it is essential that our education system reflects the challenges undergraduates will face. My education was based across three continents. It began in Scotland, where I was born, though I moved to England at a young age. I attended high school in Swaziland, a small kingdom in Southern Africa where only 1 million people speak Siswati. I came to America for college with a strong sense of how this multi-culturalism aided my personal development. Upon coming to Brown to study, I was convinced that it was necessary for colleges to prepare students to engage with a fluid and changing world.

The most tangible way to engage with a culture is through communication – language learning. However, only 5% of American students learn a foreign language. Of those that do, 95% learn a European language. This gives students a narrow definition of humanity and limited opportunity to leverage their skills in areas where European languages aren’t spoken, which are usually among the less wealthy regions. I joined the Student Language Exchange because I saw a lot of well-intentioned American students, aiming to instigate progress in the developing world, who were not equipped with the cultural fluency to do so. In expanding the Student Language Exchange, I have made it my purpose to bridge the gaps in the American education system. I aim for an education system in which every culture is valued equally, and students have the chance to communicate with all the world’s people.

Student Language Exchange

United States
Website - Facebook


The Student Language Exchange (SLE) aims to introduce American students to diverse world cultures. We facilitate weekly workshops in which native speakers of languages not formally offered by the university share their culture with their peers. We provide undergraduates the opportunity to engage with diverse world cultures, enhancing their global awareness and preparing them to work in an ever-expanding world. After having brought 17 new languages to two colleges, we are now expanding to work in institutions across America. I will use the fellowship to launch expansion efforts, sparking a nationwide change in language education.