Maria E.

"When you learn a new language, you learn a new way in which to see the world."

Major(s) and Certificate(s): African Cultural Studies and Global Health

Language(s): Swahili

Graduation Year: 2018

Current Location: Utila, Honduras

What have you done since graduating from UW-Madison?

Accepted into Master’s of Public Health program but deferring for a year

What motivated you to study this/these languages?

An advisor suggested it to me as I was registering for Freshman year and since I had done so well in Spanish and enjoyed the experience of learning a language, I went for it.

How have these languages enriched your life?

It has brought so many different opportunities and experiences I wouldn’t have had without it. Studying Swahili opened my eyes to what direction I really wanted to take my education, career, and ultimately my life.

What do you remember about your UW language classes? How were they different from other classes you took?

My UW language class was more than just learning the ins and out of the language. While learning words and grammar rules are fundamental to using the language, the cultural aspects intertwined within it are necessary for understanding the language. That is what makes the difference; I was taught not only how to use the language but even more importantly, how to understand it.

How valuable were your out-of-classroom experiences?

My experiences have been invaluable. Our view of the world is dependent on how we’ve experienced it and literally by what we’ve seen. We inherently put ourselves in places of familiarity and comfort, often never stepping outside of this. Swahili pushed me to exist outside the boundaries of familiar. And because of this, I saw the world in a new way and consequently saw myself in a new way.

How have you maintained or improved your language(s) since graduation?

I currently work with an NGO based in a country where Swahili is the national language. I serve as the main point of contact since I speak the language.

What advice do you have for current language students?

When you learn a new language, you learn a new way in which to see the world.