Simone Yuille is an alumna of the 2018 CLS Swahili program in Arusha, Tanzania. She’s currently a fourth year student at the University of Florida, where she’s studying International Studies with a concentration in Africa and a language focus in East Africa. She plans to use her Swahili to build global bridges with East Africa and the communities that she identifies with through international relations. She enjoys dancing, singing, and laughing, and describes herself as a natural cheerleader.
A Cheerful Nature
I am from Largo, FL which is a little city off the west coast of Florida. The region is known for its beaches and residential energy. I feel the calm and cool energy really describe me as a person.
Growing up I had my hands in everything, thanks to my parents introducing me to so many activities. Expressing myself through dance, singing, and laughing have been the simplest way I can describe how I have moved throughout the world until this point. Taking advantage of all of the joys life has to offer and appreciating them for everything they bring has been my aim. I am pretty sure I laugh more than I speak, and trust me that is not too much of an exaggeration.
Teaching Host and Home Communities
My time on the CLS Program allowed me to see how people see black Americans globally, and it was eye-opening. You are never aware of how impactful media is until you go abroad. And my language skills allowed me to go beyond, and really dig deep into people’s perspectives on the subject.
I taught many people about black American culture, and more so the roots of it. It is easy to use slang, but I found some people were using aspects of my culture in a not so great light. However, it was due to them not having access to anything but movies and music videos. It felt great to teach people about my culture.
I plan to use Swahili and Spanish in a job that allows me to travel extensively and connect with people interpersonally. I also plan to gain fluency in a couple more languages so that I can broaden my scope of practice.
Coming back, I was excited to share how different Eastern Africa was from the rest of the continent. Breaking the limited and generalized image that people have of Africa is exciting to me because then I get to piece it together in ways that facilitate true cultural exchange.
Making Mistakes in Tanzania
One time I mixed up how to greet an elder in Swahili and instead greeted them as though I was the elder. I remember this older lady giving me a strange look, and then I started laughing because I noticed it immediately. It was a good, shared laugh thankfully. Respecting elders is not a joke here, so I was in complete shock myself.
Connections through Language
Speaking Swahili, or Kiswahili, allows you to connect with a majority of Eastern Africa. It opens you up to worlds that you did not know existed. Swahili’s influences that incorporate Arabic and Portuguese are ways in which it displays the unique history that the language holds. The funny thing is most people know basic Swahili because of the Lion King! I just urge people to learn more.
CLS Alumni Ambassadors are recent CLS participants who take leadership roles as active and positive representatives of the CLS Program by engaging with CLS alumni and representing the program to various audiences. If you would like to get in touch with a CLS Alumni Ambassador, please contact email@example.com