Sally Holmes is a recipient of the Academic Year 2019-2020 Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship. The award provides undergraduate, graduate, and professional school students with financial support to develop fluency in less commonly taught languages (LCTLs) and expertise in the regions in which these languages are spoken. Every year the Center for Global Studies awards between 12-15 fellowships to UW students. Click here to learn more.
I am currently pursuing a Master’s in Public Administration with an International Development concentration at the Evans School for Public Policy & Governance. Working in the international development sphere for the past six years, I have come to appreciate the importance of language as a demonstration of cultural respect. While serving as an agriculture Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Zambia, I learned a Bantu language called ChiTumbuka, and my other work in education and public health has centered on East and Southern Africa, offering me some experience in Kiswahili. After obtaining my MPA, I plan to focus my efforts on new business development for agriculture, food security, and nutrition programs in East Africa. A stronger Kiswahili foundation will allow me to partner with smaller, indigenous organizations and build trust within my professional teams. Local language competencies are critical to operating successfully at the grassroots level, which I believe is a necessity in tackling the pervasive, complex problems of poverty and hunger. The FLAS Fellowship allows me to build this competency in Kiswahili so that I can more effectively push for positive change.