Andy Marshall is an alumnus of the 2016 CLS Swahili program in Arusha, Tanzania. He is currently a second-year Ph.D. student at Georgetown University in the government (political science) program with a comparative government concentration. Andy grew up in Phillips, in the wonderful Northwoods of Wisconsin. He enjoys running, participating in his faith tradition’s activities, cooking, travelling, and snowshoe racing.

Why Swahili?

In addition to my time teaching in Tanzania, I also returned to do archival research for my MA thesis.  I knew that I wanted to return to East Africa to do field research for my dissertation and possibly to work in the future.  Improving my Swahili skills was an important preparatory step.  Also, I love the language and have so many positive memories associated with it. Swahili has such a rich and fascinating contested history and a large and wonderful literature. There are so many online and written resources available that it’s easy to keep it up, even when you’re in the U.S.  Tanzanians are proud of their national language and very welcoming to anyone who makes an effort to speak it with them. 

In a word…

One of my favorite Swahili words is “Hamnashida” (“there are no problems”).

Putting Yourself Out There

As an introvert, I find actively engaging in complex conversations in Swahili to be a challenge, as opposed to reading or passively listening.  One of my goals going into the program was to interview a Tanzanian political scientist.  Dr. Suma, outgoing president of MS-TCDC, which hosts the CLS Program in Tanzania, was a political scientist by training, and as the program wound down I finally made an appointment to meet with her to discuss Tanzanian and East African politics.  We spoke for more than an hour in a fascinating and wide-ranging conversation I would have struggled to follow just seven weeks earlier at the start of my program.  That conversation was a fantastic way to cap off my CLS experience, and it gave me great confidence in my Swahili skills and some new ideas for my own research.

Swahili’s Importance

Tanzania is a wonderful country with beautifully diverse cultures, histories, and regions.  Additionally, countries in the East African Community will continue to become more important economically and geopolitically and present an interesting case study for the promise and limits of regional integration.


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