Kazungu’s bubbly personality attracts students

Junior Emily Kazungu teaches an Elementary Swahili class of two students. “I love telling them about my culture because I think it’s important for them to know about Nairobi, Kenya, and Africa as a whole,” Kazungu said.

By Associate Life Editor Monday Sanderson

“I think most people only know of the negative side of Kenya, so any opportunity I get to spread a different kind of message, I’ll use it.”

Junior Emily Kazungu is from Nairobi, Kenya, and teaches Swahili as a critical language partner. She began teaching spring 2014 as a sophomore.

Kazungu said the previous Swahili teacher, Nickson Onchao, recommended her for the job.

“I didn’t even know he was going to do it,” she said. “Ms. Joy Kelly sent me an email asking if I wanted to teach Swahili, and I said, ‘Sure.’”

She said despite the unexpected offer, she is glad she started teaching.

“I love teaching people my language,” she said. “I love telling them about my culture because I think it’s important for them to know about Nairobi, Kenya, and Africa as a whole.”

She is a wonderful teacher, said freshman Katelyn Walton.

“(Her teaching style) is very diverse and covers a wide range of material,” she said. “Ms. Kazungu is very good at making Swahili easy and understandable.”

Walton said Kazungu’s personality is one of the reasons she decided to take Swahili 102.

“Ms. Kazungu is very bubbly and has a happy personality,” she said. “She keeps class very lively and fun.”

Kazungu has a happy demeanor, said Coordinator for International Student Success Cala Flippo in an email.

“Emily is always smiling, which is contagious, and loves to have a fun time,” she said. “If I post on our board that I need help with things, Emily always replies quickly and will volunteer to help if she can.”

Kazungu said she is also a UNA Navigator.

“Navigators are ambassadors for UNA, especially to internationals,” Flippo said. “Their goal is to be a connector and friend for our international students as they come to UNA to study.”

Flippo said Kazungu has done well as a Navigator.

“This is Emily’s second year as a Navigator, and she has focused on helping with photography and media this year,” she said. “She is faithful, hard working, friendly, fun and dedicated. She has been a valuable part of the team.”

Kazungu said she did not plan to come to UNA, but a family friend informed her aunt about the option.

“My auntie one day just called me up out of the blue and asked me if I wanted to study in America,” she said. “I started the entire process and the rest, as they say, is history.”

Kazungu said the appearance of Florence surprised her.

“I expected tall buildings, skyscrapers and public modes of transport,” she said. “I didn’t do any research or Google where Florence is or how it looked, because I wanted to be surprised, and I was surprised. I was used to the America they show on TV and movies, and most of the time they showed the larger cities like New York or Los Angeles.”

She said despite this culture shock, she has found the city enjoyable.

“Whether people being nice is genuine or not, it didn’t matter because it helped me settle in when I first moved here,” she said. “I was pretty scared, but when I saw people smile at me or say ‘hi’ I just thought about how they were so nice.”

Other than participating in activities related to school, Kazungu said she likes to dance.

“I wish I was in a group that danced, but I just freestyle in my room,” she said.

She said when she does not dance, she spends time with her friends, but school and work fill the rest of her week.

Editor’s Note: Emily Kazungu is the online editor of The Flor-Ala.