The Determination of Sanae Kiunsi

@Roberto Arribas

Sanae is from Tanzania, which is located on the eastern coast of central Africa. She arrived in Segovia about two years ago. Exciting opportunities awaited her: studying in southern Europe, learning a new language, and adapting to a culture much different from her own.

Sanae Kiunsi arrived in Segovia about two years ago. Exciting opportunities awaited her: studying in southern Europe, learning a new language, and adapting to a culture much different from her own. Due to her strong sense of determination, these challenges didn’t scare her off, but instead motivated her.

After only a year, this IE University student can already say that her acclimation to Spain is complete. She’s as at home in Segovia as a fish in water; she feels like any other Segovian.  In addition to learning fluent Spanish in record time, Sanae also speaks Swahili (her native language), English, and French. Currently, she’s a second-year International Relations student at IE University, an institute of higher education with students from over 130 different countries.

Sanae is from Tanzania, which is located on the eastern coast of central Africa. The country is world-famous for the Serengeti National Park, Lake Victoria—the largest lake on the continent and the second-largest freshwater lake in the world—and Mount Kilimanjaro, which is the highest peak in Africa. In Tanzania, there are 120 different ethnic groups and tribes. This is a point of pride for Tanzanians, rather than a source of tension. The most well-known groups are the Masai, the Iraqw, the Chagga, and the Hadzabe. Sanae proudly informs me that she belongs to the Nyiramba ethnic group, and that some of her ancestors played an important role in this tribe. Sanae is humble and does not dwell on this, so I ask her about her home.

She says that she’s from Mbeya, a city far away from tourist circuits. It’s located in southern Tanzania, in the plains. Mbeya has been a major economic capital since a gold rush that occurred there in the early 20th century.

“IE stands out from other universities for its academic uniqueness: All of its programs blend business and the humanities”

Why did you decide to come to Spain? I ask with curiosity. “I attended high school in Wales, at UWC Atlantic College, and had a Spanish teacher who was from Seville. Perhaps that was what first inspired my curiosity about your country,” she says. However, Sanae adds, “I also considered coming to Spain because IE stands out from other universities for its academic uniqueness: all of its programs blend business and the humanities. Also, IE University offers a degree in International Relations.”

Sanae feels at home in Segovia. She loves to walk around the city, interact with the locals, and discover beautiful spots far from typical tourist routes. She doesn’t hide her passion for Spanish cuisine, either. Specifically, she’s a fan of tapas, which she usually enjoys with her friends in some of the city’s most iconic bars. “Segovia is ideal for enjoying the fresh air. It’s easy to disconnect and relax by walking through places like the Alameda del Parral,” she says with a knowing smile.

Reporter in Namibia

One of Sanae’s latest professional experiences took place this summer. Through a friend, she found work as a journalist at Confidénte, a Namibian newspaper. She spent two intense months there, giving free rein to her love of writing. Some mistakenly believe that all African countries are similar in their customs and languages. Nothing could be further from the truth. Tanzania and Namibia have just as much in common as Spain and Germany: not much at all. Thus, Sanae had to adapt to a new country and culture in only a few days. Again, this challenge was easily overcome. Her training in International Relations proved to be highly relevant to writing articles for Confidénte, and helped her better understand and analyze Namibia, a country located more than 3,500 kilometers from her own.

Sanae says that the article she’s most proud of was about housing and land distribution issues in an area north of Windhoek, the Namibian capital. She researched the topic, spoke with residents and local authorities, and wrote a revealing story describing pressing issues in this area of informal settlements. The article is available on the newspaper’s website, and is titled “Why Windhoek’s Informal Settlements Remain Informal.”

“I’m interested in researching development policies, especially those in place in African countries”

“I’m interested in researching development policies, especially those in place in African countries,” says Sanae. In Namibia, she wrote about development and the environment. Now, in Segovia, she’s attending a class that addresses these same topics. “I believe that international relations should be used to promote progress,” she says. “I want to stay in this field and, if possible, use what I’ve learned to contribute to development in different African states,” she explains.

Sanae just started her second year at IEU, and will continue to practice journalism while in school. She is one of the incoming editors of the “The Stork,” IEU’s student-run newspaper. With participants from a variety of degree programs, the online publication is an authentic representation of the varying opinions and thoughts of students who come from four different continents. Sanae will have the opportunity to continue to work on what she’s passionate about: how to improve development and help Africa.