An American on Arabian Sand

Anna Gianneschi also enjoys writing poetry.

Anna Gianneschi, a 21-year-old trilingual student, finds herself in the UAE out of sheer luck.

By Noel Ceriani

Anna Gianneschi has lived in Georgia in the United States her entire life until she moved to New York State to attend Colgate University. She is majoring in Peace and Conflict Studies, also known as International Relations. 

From a young age she has been exposed to various cultures that are different from hers, the main one being the black culture in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Gianneschi says that growing up in a multicultural place has shaped her as a person, from her music taste to personal beliefs. This lifestyle has allowed her to make friends who look different from her and have different principles.

 “Atlanta is really important for black culture so it has shaped my taste in music and brought me a lot of awareness about social issues in the United States,” she said. 

She noticed this when attending Colgate University, which is a PWI, predominately white institution. 

“Hearing people’s perspectives about black people was so shocking,” she said.

It gave her an appreciation for her hometown and raised her awareness on how misinformed people can be.

“Living in Atlanta normalized things for me that aren’t normalized at Colgate,” she added. 

Spanish and Arabic

Gianneschi started learning Spanish in middle school like most children in the U.S.

“I really enjoyed it a lot, I struggled with science and math but I loved learning Spanish,” Gianneschi said.

“It sounds cheesy but it opened up a whole other world for me. I can listen, watch and read stuff that I didn’t have access to before.”

Aside from understanding Spanish in a classroom, learning the language has given her the green light to communicate with Hispanics and immerse herself in the Latin American culture. 

She now watches football on television every once in a while as well as Spanish TV shows, and listens to more Latin American music. 

She has also traveled to Hispanic countries like Panama, twice to Spain, and practiced speaking to the local people in Spanish fluently for the first time. 

“Panama was really transformative. As an American it’s easy to glamorize Europe but that limits you to Spanish in Spain,” she said.

“There’s the perception that Latin America is dirty, but it’s not like that at all. In fact, it has pushed me out of my comfort zone with the language.”

She has been learning Spanish for eight years and plans to continue. The language has opened her up to a new world, in addition to raising her cultural awareness of social issues and history knowledge of Latin American countries. 

When in college, she wanted to continue her Spanish but also learn another language that didn’t use the Latin alphabet. Therefore, she signed up for Russian and Arabic and was placed in Arabic. 

She always had an interest in foreign tongues and felt that she has a natural ability to learn languages, besides finding them exiting, fun and challenging. 

Gianneschi is also a competitive person at times, so she views learning languages as a new challenge to overcome. Thus, when she was placed in an Arabic class, she found that it was really difficult yet simultaneously humbling. 

“In my freshman year in university I was in a high level in Spanish, but to be so defenseless in a language like Arabic was really hard,” says Gianneschi. 

Her Arabic professors are all from Egypt so they bonded over the fact that they both left their families behind. They would have Egyptian dinners, Arabic movie nights and Arabian cooking classes to immerse the students in the Egyptian culture. 

So far, Gianneschi has been learning Arabic for three years and continues to learn during her student exchange semester at the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. 

Interests, Activities and Hobbies

To keep her health in check and relieve stress, Gianneschi joined her university’s track team in her freshman year and throws the javelin. She also does yoga from time to time.

For her artistic side she listens to various types of music, watches movies often and writes poetry in her free time. 

“I listen to all kinds of music. Right now I’ve been listening to lots of reggaeton, alternative and indie music. Ollie P. is another artist I’ve been jamming to recently. He just released his first single on Spotify so that’s exciting,” she says.

One of her most liked films is “Black Swan.”

Gianneschi says, “it’s dark for sure, but it made me think about my relationship with myself.”

A unique hobby of hers is writing, particularly poetry.

“I’ve been doing it for a long time. I try to keep a journal, but it can get exhausting trying to recount my days in detail. Instead I began putting my feelings into a more concise format that is poetry,” she says.

It forces her to think about and represent her days differently, especially since she uses the haiku format that is very strict with only 17 syllables in the whole poem, “which is good for a perfectionist like me,” adds Gianneschi. 

“I write what fits within the structure, and it’s very difficult to make changes. I love it. Also, I don’t just write poems about my days, it can be very therapeutic for other feelings I encounter. I’ve let very few people read my poems because some of them are quite vulnerable, and I prefer to keep them private.”