MACIE Student Lyndah Naswa Wasike Green, to publish memoire

Beautiful Scars: Searching for my Smile

Febrary 2021

By Sarah Mehler

Lyndah Naswa Wasike Green graduated from Bowling Green State University (BGSU) from the Master of Arts in Cross-Cultural and International Education (MACIE) program in May 2020. During her time at MACIE, she chose to write a thesis as her culminating capstone. For this student-led major research project, she traveled home to Kenya and conducted qualitative research about women’s education in Western Kenya. This work can be found on OhioLink under the title, Actual Progress or Stagnation? Exploring the State of Women's Education in Western Kenya. While getting her master’s degree, she also earned a graduate certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at BGSU.

Lyndah in Maasai clothes with BGSU President Rodney

After graduating she was accepted to several doctoral programs, including the Curriculum and Instruction PhD program at Louisiana State University, as well as the Higher Education and Student Affairs PhD program at Ohio State University. Due to the pandemic, she found her plans to pursue further education in the fall of 2020 deferred. Always thinking positively, she took this opportunity to focus on writing projects and spend quality time with her husband and their new daughter, who they welcomed in September 2020. In the future, she hopes to continue her studies in international education, African cultures and languages with a hope of becoming a Swahili professor in the US.

The MACIE Program

Lyndah was initially attracted to the interdisciplinary nature of the MACIE program, which allowed her to pursue her passion for languages and multicultural education in a diverse environment. After turning down a fully funded scholarship opportunity to get her masters in China, she joined the MACIE program in fall of 2018.

According to Lyndah, her favorite things about the MACIE program were the diversity of the cohorts, the support of the professors and the wide, interdisciplinary scope of the classes. “The exposure that MACIE gives students is priceless”, she reported. She particularly enjoyed studying cross-cultural psychology with Dr. Bang. This class made her think critically about her assumptions and beliefs about society. Since Kenyan society is more collectivist and the US is much more individualistic, she had some trouble adjusting at first to the new educational and social context, but by using Hofstede’s (2011) cultural dimensions framework, she gained insight into intercultural communication and came to the conclusion that Americans were not being rude when they communicated differently than Kenyans, they just thought differently.

Current MACIE Grad Students 2018 2019

Lyndah’s advice for current MACIE students is that “your time at BGSU is a golden opportunity, use your time well”. As she reflected back on her second year in MACIE, when she worked on her thesis every day at the library, she said that making a plan with deadlines and sticking to them really helped her stay on track and not get behind. She recommended that if students plan to pursue a doctoral degree after MACIE, they should choose their research topic wisely based on what field they want to study in the future, since having this correlation will allow them to put their best foot forward. She concluded that MACIE is a great program for international students and people interested in cross-cultural experiences and education.  Students receive a well-rounded exposure to relevant theories, participate in practical cross-cultural discussions and projects, so they are well prepared to contribute to the world as global citizens, continue their studies or pursue professional opportunities.

Lyndah’s Background

Lyndah holds a bachelor’s degree in education, with a focus on English language and literature from Kenyatta University in Kenya. She has a vast experience with foreign languages and their corresponding cultures, in addition to speaking her local language, Luhya, and Swahili, she also speaks English, Chinese, Japanese and a little Spanish. Before coming to the US, Lyndah taught international students at the ACK language and Orientation School in Nairobi. Having learned Chinese, she worked as a part-time translator of Chinese-related documents, a teacher, and a tour guide. Lyndah served as a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) during the 2017-2018 academic year, as the main Swahili instructor and cultural ambassador at Brown University. During her time as a Fulbright FTLA, she was also invited to help the Townson University Department of Foreign Languages, and developed a syllabus for them to teach Swahili. While in MACIE, she presented some of her thesis research on Kenyan women's education at the Kenyan Scholars and Studies Association Conference in Atlanta, in September 2019. Also, during her time at MACIE, she collaborated with a Chinese professor in Nairobi who teaches at the Confucius Institute, University of Nairobi and co-authored a Swahili-Chinese-English language book.

The book cover for Lyndah's co-authored Swahili-Chinese-English language book

Lyndah’s Memoire:

Lyndah, says that for her “writing is addictive”. When she is in the zone, she is deaf to the world, totally immersed in the ideas and feelings of the text. After graduating from BGSU, she finally had time to write her memoir Beautiful Scars: Searching for my Smile. She wants her story to inspire and encourage other young people to work hard and follow their dreams. She hopes that by sharing how she faced hardships and how “the ups and downs of life taught me that when one works hard and believes in one’s self, one can accomplish anything”.

Life was not easy, but it made her who she is today. After her mother passed away in 2003, Lyndah’s father had done his best to be both mother and father to his seven children and impressed on them the value of a good education. So, he was very proud when she graduated high school in 2009, as the first female to get high scores on the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) in her village in Kakamega County. She became bit of a local celebrity and was invited to speak at local and national schools to encourage female students to work hard at their academics. Unfortunately, her father also passed away in 2014, but she feels that her father’s teaching and sacrifices live on in her and her siblings. In in May 2018, her life story attracted more publicity when the daily newspaper, Nation, published an article on her: Dad Stories: My father was the best mother I could ever ask for. On for Father’s Day in June 2018 she was also featured in the article Daddy’s girls tell it all and was invited for an interview on a national TV program to talk about her life and honor her father. Then, in September of 2018, she was chosen as one of The 40 Inspiring, Remarkable, and Motivating Kenyan Women in America Diaspora in Eyes of Kenyans for the African Warrior Magazine.

Lyndah presenting at a Kenyan school

Later, as she traveled to different schools to conduct her research, in the summer of 2019, she also told students about her life and studies in the US. When Kenyan students asked her how she had achieved her successes in the face of adversity, she always explained that with the help of family and friends, she was able to persevere and remain determined in the face of struggles. This was when she realized the inspirational impact that sharing her life experiences could have on Kenyan youth. She understood then that she needed to write a more tangible account that could continue to motivate and encourage people even when she wasn’t there to give presentations.

Lyndah poses with students after presenting at a Kenyan school

In her book, Beautiful Scars: Searching for my Smile, she narrates her own story to communicate life lessons and inspire her readers not to give up on life when things get tough. Using an informal tone, she aims to make the reader feel as if she is a friend who is talking directly to them. She hopes that the reader is able to visualize what she was going through and be encouraged by hearing how she overcame her challenges and struggles, such as losing her parents and moving to another country to pursue higher education. In the end, she found that this process of emptying her heart and allowing her story to take shape on the page was very cathartic and she realized that writing this book was a source of healing for her as well.

Currently the book is with the editor, but Lyndah hopes to publish it as an e-book very soon.

Future Plans

Besides publishing her memoire, Lyndah is also taking advantage of her small sabbatical from higher education to work on a few other writing projects. She plans to write a journal article which draws from her thesis and submit it to various relevant journals. She is currently working on writing a chapter for a book, in collaboration with several other Kenyan scholars, which will present various experiences of Kenyan migrants around the US and address the current racial climate. Her chapter is titled “African Immigrants and the American Dream”. It tells the story of her relentless pursuit of learning and how she overcame challenges at home and in the US as an international student, emphasizing her conviction that hard work and education would liberate her from poverty. Additionally, she plans to create a Swahili language resource book that can be used in American universities. During her time teaching Swahili as a Fulbright FTLA, she noticed the lack of Swahili language curriculum. Since the teaching methods here in the US tend to be different than in Kenya, she wants to use the skills and student-centered pedagogy that she learned in her MACIE and linguistics classes at BGSU and incorporate hands-on learning strategies and culturally relevant curriculum for teaching and learning Swahili in the US.

lyndah 1

References:

Hofstede, G. (2011). Dimensionalizing cultures: The Hofstede model in context. Online Readings in Psychology and Culture2(1), 2307-0919.