More than a Hashtag: Daystar U.S.’s #WeeklySwahili Fosters Cultural Understanding

Jambo! By now, you may be familiar with our social media posts highlighting a Swahili word, coupled with the hashtag #WeeklySwahili. You may not know, however, that our #WeeklySwahili is about much more than hashtags, vibrant pictures and vocabulary. In fact, #WeeklySwahili is our way of embracing cultural understanding and promoting it to our followers, donors, friends, and family here in the U.S. that might not know about the diverse culture on which Kenya—and Daystar—is built.

Kwaheri  is Swahili for Goodbye.

One of Daystar University’s music instructors, Hellen Mtawali, said in an interview with Salon Business Solutions magazine, “there’s no icebreaker like language; it does wonders” (2010). Her approach to using language in relationship building across cultures is a valuable example. When we take time to learn about another’s culture, including their customs, values and norms, in addition to language, we build a relationship that is significant and durable. Language is the key tool for breaking down boundaries that exist between people groups that would otherwise keep them separated.

We challenge you to make intentional strides in experiencing a bit of new culture in your own community. America is, after all, a huge “melting pot” with so many cultures to explore. Here are some ways to get started in cultural understanding:

  • Eat at a local, authentic restaurant and learn about the culture by talking with the employees, owners and chefs.
  • Learn common greetings in a language spoken by people in your community and use those new phrases to engage with those people. Whether you’re on a walk, at the store, or picking up kids from school, people are delighted to have others engage with them in their own language.
  • Be vocal about your positive experiences with other cultures. This is very significant for breaking down cultural assumptions that exist in your community.

We would love to hear about the adventures you take to build friendships across cultures. Please share them with us!

You can see more #WeeklySwahili posts by liking our Facebook page!


This post was originally posted on January 12, 2016.