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Saturday, Feb 16, 2019

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Pictured (from left) are Peter Mwangi, Brianna Ash, Cassidy Cleland, Manuella Ongoro, Magdalyne Oguti and Sierra Faris during last year's Swahili STARTALK program.

Pictured (from left) are Peter Mwangi, Brianna Ash, Cassidy Cleland, Manuella Ongoro, Magdalyne Oguti and Sierra Faris during last year's Swahili STARTALK program.

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Tuition-free summer Swahili STARTALK program returning to the Athens Campus

Applications due by May 22; program begins June 26


The tuition-free Swahili STARTALK program is returning for a second year this summer for all local college and high school students.

This summer, Ohio University’s Center for International Studies will be hosting an intensive elementary Swahili program over the course of four weeks beginning on June 26. New for this summer, an intensive intermediate Swahili course will also be offered. The courses are a great learning opportunity in a fun environment, and they are being offered tuition-free.

The program began accepting applications March 10 and the deadline was extended to May 22. Undergraduates at any institution as well as high school students from the surrounding school districts are encouraged to apply. In addition to learning Swahili, students who enroll will learn about African economics and culture and take part in out-of-class events, including a trip to Columbus.

OHIO faculty and staff members Bose Maposa, Catherine Cutcher and Peter Mwangi received grant funding for the program from STARTALK, a program of the National Foreign Language Center at the University of Maryland. The support from STARTALK will cover in-state tuition and fees for up to 20 students who will attend this summer’s program, along with the costs for books, meals and all excursions.

Mwangi, who recently received his doctorate by writing a dissertation on the STARTALK model titled “The impact of the STARTALK language program on the internationalization of higher education in the United States,” will serve as the primary instructor of the program. He will have support from Maposa, assistant director for the African Studies Program at the Center for International Studies, and several teaching assistants and cultural consultants.

Students who complete the elementary summer program will earn four hours of college credit for Elementary Swahili I, SWAH 1110. Students who complete the intermediate course will receive four hours of credit for Intermediate Swahili I, SWAH 2110. In order to take the Intermediate Swahili I intensive course, students must have taken SWAH 1110 and 1120 previously.

Swahili is the official language of the East African Community, the regional intergovernmental organization of the Republics of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. Swahili is also spoken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique and Somalia. Currently, there are approximately 100 million people around the world who speak Swahili. For anyone interested in traveling to eastern or central Africa, knowing Swahili would be invaluable. 

Students accepted in the Swahili STARTALK summer program will attend class Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with scheduled snack breaks in the mornings and a lunch break. Students will learn Swahili vocabulary and grammar, learn about African people, society, economics, and culture among other things. The lunch hour is designed to be a conversation hour, where students will spend time with the program staff and converse with them in Swahili.

The program will be as interactive as possible and all activities are meant to reduce anxiety about speaking Swahili, Mwangi explained.

“We want them to have a community of learners learning from each other,” Mwangi said.

The instructors will be taking students on trips to the Columbus Zoo and a visit to the Somali and Swahili-speaking communities in Columbus as part of the course. Additionally, the instructors will simulate a typical East African open air market.

For more information on the types of activities students will be participating in during the course, read about the activities and hear from last year’s students here.  

The Swahili program will take place from June 26 to July 26 and applications are due May 22. For more information on the program and to apply, click here

STARTALK, whose slogan is “start talking,” is an organization that seeks to increase the number of U.S. citizens learning, speaking and teaching critical need foreign languages.