Kaia DeMatteo started learning Swahili while pursuing her master’s in cultural studies at Ohio University. Now a PhD student in the UMass Boston School for Global Inclusion and Social Development, DeMatteo won a Fulbright-Hays fellowship to study in Tanzania from June to August 2015.
DeMatteo participated in the Kiswahili Group Projects Abroad program, funded by the U.S. Department of Education under the Fulbright-Hays International Education Programs Service. The program is also funded by Michigan State University and Ohio University, and is sponsored by the Association of African Studies Programs and the African Language Teachers Association.
Fellows in the program studied intensive Kiswahili in Tanzania. Swahili language training took place at the MS Training Center for Development Cooperation in Arusha, Tanzania.
In addition to their language study, fellows stayed with host families and participated in educational and cultural excursions. They visited an organic coffee farm, a women’s cooperative, a traditional Maasai and an Iraqw village, as well as Bagamoyo and Dar es Salaam. They also traveled to Zanzibar to tour a spice farm, and went on a safari in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
“This program gave me the opportunity to live with an East African family and to feel at home with improving Swahili,” said DeMatteo. “I’ve been immersed in the local community, while also sharing components of my culture.”
DeMatteo continued, “The most memorable part of each week included taking local transportation--the daladala--and visiting the markets. These were valuable lessons beyond classroom instruction to develop my language skills with local residents while deepening my understanding of the cultural aspects of rural and urban life in Tanzania.”
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