Critical Language Scholarship Program | Andy Marshall
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Andy Marshall

Andy Mar­shall is an alum­nus of the 2016 CLS Swahili pro­gram in Arusha, Tan­za­nia. He is cur­rent­ly a sec­ond-year Ph.D. stu­dent at George­town Uni­ver­si­ty in the gov­ern­ment (polit­i­cal sci­ence) pro­gram with a com­par­a­tive gov­ern­ment con­cen­tra­tion. Andy grew up in Phillips, in the won­der­ful North­woods of Wis­con­sin. He enjoys run­ning, par­tic­i­pat­ing in his faith tradition’s activ­i­ties, cook­ing, trav­el­ling, and snow­shoe racing. 

Why Swahili?

In addi­tion to my time teach­ing in Tan­za­nia, I also returned to do archival research for my MA the­sis. I knew that I want­ed to return to East Africa to do field research for my dis­ser­ta­tion and pos­si­bly to work in the future. Improv­ing my Swahili skills was an impor­tant prepara­to­ry step. Also, I love the lan­guage and have so many pos­i­tive mem­o­ries asso­ci­at­ed with it. Swahili has such a rich and fas­ci­nat­ing con­test­ed his­to­ry and a large and won­der­ful lit­er­a­ture. There are so many online and writ­ten resources avail­able that it’s easy to keep it up, even when you’re in the U.S. Tan­za­ni­ans are proud of their nation­al lan­guage and very wel­com­ing to any­one who makes an effort to speak it with them. 

In a word…

One of my favorite Swahili words is Ham­nashi­da” (“there are no problems”). 

Putting Your­self Out There

As an intro­vert, I find active­ly engag­ing in com­plex con­ver­sa­tions in Swahili to be a chal­lenge, as opposed to read­ing or pas­sive­ly lis­ten­ing. One of my goals going into the pro­gram was to inter­view a Tan­zan­ian polit­i­cal sci­en­tist. Dr. Suma, out­go­ing pres­i­dent of MS-TCDC, which hosts the CLS Pro­gram in Tan­za­nia, was a polit­i­cal sci­en­tist by train­ing, and as the pro­gram wound down I final­ly made an appoint­ment to meet with her to dis­cuss Tan­zan­ian and East African pol­i­tics. We spoke for more than an hour in a fas­ci­nat­ing and wide-rang­ing con­ver­sa­tion I would have strug­gled to fol­low just sev­en weeks ear­li­er at the start of my pro­gram. That con­ver­sa­tion was a fan­tas­tic way to cap off my CLS expe­ri­ence, and it gave me great con­fi­dence in my Swahili skills and some new ideas for my own research. 

Swahili’s Impor­tance

Tan­za­nia is a won­der­ful coun­try with beau­ti­ful­ly diverse cul­tures, his­to­ries, and regions. Addi­tion­al­ly, coun­tries in the East African Com­mu­ni­ty will con­tin­ue to become more impor­tant eco­nom­i­cal­ly and geopo­lit­i­cal­ly and present an inter­est­ing case study for the promise and lim­its of region­al integration. 


Alumni Profiles

Andy Marshall
Andy Marshall
Swahili 2016
Arusha, Tanzania

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Posted Date

March 28, 2017