Africa in Our Lives: Beatrice Mkenda

“Students and teachers want to know more about education, social life, foods etc. in my country. It is always nice to have an idea about what goes on in other cultures in relation to your own experience.” – Beatrice Mkenda (Photo by Catherine A. Reiland/UW-Madison)
“Students and teachers want to know more about education, social life, foods etc. in my country. It is always nice to have an idea about what goes on in other cultures in relation to your own experience.” – Beatrice Mkenda (Photo by Catherine A. Reiland/UW-Madison)

From her graduate studies to participating as an African Studies Outreach Scholar, a love for teaching continually motivates graduate student Beatrice Mkenda.

Field of study: African Languages and Literature
From: Tanzania

What brought you to the University of Wisconsin-Madison?

I was first placed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a Fulbright scholar Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA). My experience as a Fulbright inspired me to apply for graduate studies. I am a teacher and I love teaching, so I wanted to develop my career as a language teacher, which is why I applied for graduate studies in the Department of African Languages and Literature at UW-Madison, focusing on foreign language teaching.

How did you become interested in your area of study?

I became interested in my area of study from the courses I studied in the Department of African Languages and Literature and other departments on campus. My teaching experience as a graduate teaching assistant, too, has played part in my research areas of interest.

What are you currently working on for your dissertation?

I am currently working on the role of literary texts in teaching foreign language for my dissertation.

What do you enjoy most about Madison?

There are very nice and friendly people in Madison. When I visit schools in Madison, for example, teachers and their students are so friendly and welcoming!

What inspired you to participate in the African Studies Outreach Scholars program?

I think my teaching profession inspired me! I enjoy visiting schools and doing things with students like storytelling, singing, dancing etc. I enjoy listening to their questions the most, which show their curiosity in knowing about other countries. Being a teacher, I have always enjoyed spending my time with students.

What was one of the highlights?

Having questions and giving answers after my presentation has always been wonderful. Students and teachers want to know more about education, social life, foods etc. in my country. It is always nice to have an idea about what goes on in other cultures in relation to your own experience.

What have you learned about yourself or about Tanzania from teaching to an American audience?

I have learned that when I teach Swahili to American audience, they are so happy to learn a new culture and to speak a new language. Students come to the classroom so enthusiastic, and I always love to see them beginning to say short sentences in Swahili and later holding conversations! I learned that there is a difference between teaching a language for communication here in United States and teaching English in Tanzania, which is primarily for academic purposes.

Do you have a favorite Swahili word of phrase?

‘SANTE’ which means THANK YOU.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I hope to be perusing my career as a language instructor,

What is your dream job?

A language professor!

 

Profile produced by Meagan Doll.

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