Africa in Our Lives: Latifa Barti

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“Even though I didn’t even know how to say hello in Hausa last September, I feel extremely confident in my language abilities and I already feel conformable speaking it with family and friends that speak Hausa.” – Barti (Photo courtesy of Latifa Barti)

Undergraduate student Latifa Barti shares her love of West African culture and her family’s connection to the region. She hopes to integrate her study of Hausa at UW-Madison with a future career in public health.

Field of Study: Neurobiology, certificate in African Studies
Hometown: Oshkosh, WI

Why did you choose the University of Wisconsin-Madison?

I chose to go to UW-Madison because I fell in love with the campus and people the first time I visited.

What inspired you to study Hausa?

I would like to work in West African and it is a common language in West Africa. I have also always enjoy learning new languages and Hausa was definitely different.    My parents are from West Africa. My mother is from Burkina Faso and Niger and my father is from Niger. I was interested in taking Hausa at first because I would like to work in West Africa tackling health disparities and Hausa is widely spoken in the countries I would like to work in. My parents do not speak Hausa at home; they speak French at home with each other, which is the official language of Niger and Burkina Faso. My parents do both speak Hausa because it is a common language in Niger. They are not of Hausa descent though; we are Fulani (Fula). Due to Fula and Hausa people living close together in Niger, our cultures have many similarities, which also further intrigued me to take the class.

Tell us a little bit about your experience with Hausa at UW-Madison:

I love the Hausa class I am currently taking. I feel extremely blessed to have Malama Ruth as my teacher. Even though I didn’t even know how to say hello in Hausa last September, I feel extremely confident in my language abilities and I already feel conformable speaking it with family and friends that speak Hausa. This is a feeling I don’t have with Spanish, a language that I have taken for over 8 years. The structure of learning an African language is very different compared to the Spanish and French classes I have taken in college. I can’t believe have much my Hausa has improved over these past few months (the small two student classroom size might be the reason). If anyone has questions about Hausa feel free to send them my way! Hausa is my favorite class and I would love to talk about it.

What is your favorite Hausa phrase?

Su na na- My name is…

What do you enjoy most about attending UW-Madison?

I enjoy the beauty of campus and going to the Terrace.

What was the most surprising part about college?

I was surprised by how much I have changed and learned in one year.

How do you see your Hausa skills being useful I your future career aspirations?

I plan on working in West Africa and being able to speak Hausa will be extremely helpful.

What is your dream job?

My dream job is to work as a Director for the World Health Organization focusing on West Africa.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years, I see myself in Medical school getting a Master’s in Public Health degree and a Medical degree.

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