Appreciating Safiya Jama

The African Studies Program would like to extend our gratitude to Safiya Jama. Safiya is an MA student in the Educational Policy Program who has supported the African Studies Program for a couple of years.

Safiya first came to UW-Madison, from Nairobi, Kenya, in 2017, when she served the African Cultural Studies Program as a Fulbright Student teaching assistant (FLTA) in Swahili studies. Safiya led the meza table, supporting both undergraduate and graduate Swahili learners’ conversational skills.

Safiya has also served as an Outreach Scholar on several occasions, beginning in her tenure as an FLTA and throughout her graduate studies. Safiya has offered students insight into Kenyan topics in language and culture, as well as shared her experience as a Kenyan Somali person in the United States. She also supported African Studies Program events, including A Day in Africa and World Appreciation Day. Additionally, she spoke at the November IRIS International Book Club meeting, where she engaged with Wisconsin K-12 teachers about Somali literature.

According to Lauren Parnell Marino, Undergrad Advisor and Outreach Project Assistant,

Safiya has been an Outreach Scholar for the last several years. She started during her tenure as an FLTA but continued to work with us once she returned for her graduate studies. Safiya always brings a generous helping of knowledge, passion, and warmth to the presentations that she gives to students. This year she has taken on numerous opportunities to speak with different communities, including students in Plymouth, Wisconsin, and at Madison East High School’s Africa Club. She also was the guest speaker for teachers who attend the IRIS International Book Club when they read the book When Stars are Scattered. I love working with Safiya and am grateful for all the beautiful energy she brings to her work.

Safiya’s academic interests are in refugee and immigrant education as well as gender equity in the field of education. She studies pedagogy and asks how teachers can creatively develop flexible modes for delivering information to allow for better efficacy amongst diverse student populations.

Safiya brings brilliant perspective to her talks and lectures with African Studies. We cannot thank her enough for her years of service.


By Carly Lucas