Fulbright Scholar teaching Swahili at Bennett College
On any given day, Anna Mbise can be found in a Bennett College classroom either teaching or taking notes.
A Fulbright Scholar, Mbise hails from Tanzania, a nation in East Africa. Selected to teach Swahili at an American institution, she is also required to take four classes at the host college within a 10 month period. Besides teaching two classes this semester, Mbise is also taking a social work course and elementary French.
With a passion for linguistics, Mbise hopes to learn as many languages as possible. She is currently fluent in English, Swahili and a few local languages of her native country, which is home to hundreds of tribal languages.
“The late president (Tanzanian) JK Nyerere, who was also called Baba wa Taifa (Father of the Nation), did something that was so good. He said we are going to use Swahili as the language that will unify all of us Tanzanians. Language has the power to do that, the power to unify us all,” she said.
Even after these short months, Mbise feels like a member of the Bennett family.
“People are just so nice on this campus. I have very good professors and very welcoming students. Also, the global studies area has been so good about taking care of me and my needs,” she added.
For students like Justine Ryan, Bennett’s newest course was welcome with open arms.
[pullquote]“People are just so nice on this campus. I have very good professors and very welcoming students. Also, the global studies area has been so good about taking care of me and my needs,” she added.[/pullquote]“I’m really glad that Swahili was made available because it offers a new perspective of learning. Since it’s not a commonly taught language, it makes me feel unique and like I stand out from the crowd of other language learners,” she said. “Overall, it’s been a really good experience. [Ms. Mbise] is very knowledgeable and makes, what I thought would be a difficult language, easy to learn.”
Even though being a good instructor is high on the priority list for Mbise, she realizes there has to be an even balance in the life of a teacher and a student.
“I have to be sure I get good grades in my classes while also giving time to be there for my students. A Fulbright Scholar is a Fulbright Scholar for the rest of time. I must do well to represent the program and myself,” she said.
Before coming to Bennett, Mbise was required to attend a one-week summer orientation that introduced how to teach in United States colleges. This December, all of the international Fulbright instructors will meet at a conference in Washington, DC.
Mbise holds her bachelors in political science and language studies from the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. She is currently working on her masters in development management. She aspires to complete her doctorate in gender studies.