10 August 2016

My Name Is Yesterday

Jina langu ni Jana. When people in Arusha ask for my name, I tell them it's Gianna (pronounced phonetically in Swahili as "Jana"), and then I tell them, "kama jana, leo, na kesho" (like yesterday, today, and tomorrow). That usually elicits a laugh or two--in the Swahili language, my name is "yesterday."

I'm a fourth-year student at Northeastern studying Electrical and Computer Engineering, and I'm currently doing my second co-op. I've been in Arusha, Tanzania since July 6th. Until the end of December, I'll be working at Sikubora, Ltd. as a solar technician, though this job title is loose. One of my favorite parts about Sikubora--which means "a better day" in Swahili--is that it's a startup, so there are many tasks to be done and it seems that I can get involved with a variety of projects that I might take an interest in. Currently, I'm working on developing an android app that will function as a tool to help the solar technicians make calculations and save information from customer site evaluations. This task is difficult since it's my first time building a mobile app, but I welcome the challenge and am having fun with it, and I attribute this learning opportunity to Sikubora's small size. As a result of having a ~15-employee company, everyone can get his or her hands on something new. Another plus about working in Africa is the astounding beauty that surrounds me every day. Here's the view outside our office door.

I like to run at work during lunch. Here's the view when I jog up that hill you can see from outside our office door.

This past weekend and previous week has been exciting for Sikubora. From August 1st to August 9th, our employees rotated working shifts at Nane Nane, a huge fair in celebration of the holiday Nane Nane. It translates literally to "eight eight," an appropriate name for the holiday that occurs on August 8th. The festival surrounding it is largely an agricultural celebration, but at the fairground one finds a variety of merchants and companies showcasing their goods and services. Sikubora's tent was staffed by everyone at the office at varying points in time, in order to introduce potential customers to our solar home systems. Welcome to "a better day!"

(Image courtesy of Bornlucky Mmari)

I was excited to practice my Swahili greetings on passersby, "Mambo" as a casual "Hello," "Karibuni" to welcome a group of people, "Niaje" to say a sort of "what's up" slang to the cool kids, and "Shikamoo" for the elders. Check out the excitement from my perspective.

Nane Nane was fun, but we're a little tired after all the activity. If I use the pronoun "we" ambiguously in my posts, the other person involved is likely my coworker and roommate. Jina lake ni Sanae. She's also a Northeastern engineering student on co-op at Sikubora. On another note, I halfheartedly apologize for random Swahili insertions. I'm working now on learning the language and am completely engrossed. It's a simple and beautiful language, and my goal is to be proficient before I leave at the end of the year. (My secondary goal is apparently to push the language on whoever happens to be reading my blog posts).

Asante sana--thanks very much--for your attention! More to come on my adventures in Arusha and beyond.


  1. Fascinating! Can't wait to read more!

  2. Asante sana! A very interesting read!

  3. So due to my current insomnia I stayed up and read all your blogs and I love them. Your quite a fast leaner. Una kiswahili kizuri mno, unaelezea vizuri I can practically imagine every scene you describe. Great write!