Imagine working in Nigeria, then Zimbabwe and then…DUBAI?? Read on to learn about Bilqis’ journey and all the awesome things she’s accomplished as a multilingual.

BGLL: Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. Tell us about yourself.

Bee: My name is Bilqis Dawodu, but many call me “Bee” for short. I am Nigerian-American from Houston, TX. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Arabic with a minor in International Studies from Dartmouth College. I previously worked in Education, Marketing/Sales and Cybersecurity, but currently am an Entrepreneur. I am the CEO and founder of Sheba Source: an online hair consulting service and boutique. Sheba Source helps clients find hairstyles that fit their personal style and budget. We provide quality ready-made styles available on our e-Boutique and custom-ordered styles through our consulting service.

I also am the Founder of Young Black Bilinguals: Young Black Bilinguals sheds light on multilinguals, language learners, and language enthusiasts within the black community.  We also share vocabulary, tips, and resources for learning various languages. Young Black Bilinguals hopes to inspire more individuals, specifically the youth, to develop a love for languages.


BGLL: What are the languages that you speak? How did you learn them?

Bee: In addition to English, I speak and I’m continually learning Yoruba, Arabic, and Spanish. I learned Yoruba at home, from my Nigerian community, and through watching Nollywood films. My family is Nigerian; hence I sometimes speak Yoruba with my family and friends. I was enrolled in Spanish classes in High School but primarily learned Spanish abroad. I also studied Arabic as it was one of my majors and for religious purposes. I use Arabic when I want to practice speaking with other language learners or native speakers. I’m always open to learning any language especially if I’m exposed to its respective culture.

BGLL: What was it like the first time you tried speaking a foreign language?

Bee: My first time out of the U.S. was in Costa Rica during a study abroad program. Although I had taken almost 2 years of Spanish at that time, I hardly understood nor spoke any Spanish. I lived with a host family in a small town. My host family spoke some English, but in order to get around town and communicate with most people, I had to learn Spanish quickly. Initially, people rarely understood what I was saying as it was a mixture of mainly English and a few words in Spanish. After some time, it became the opposite. In fact, when I first got back to the U.S., I would interchange between Spanish and English without realizing. I’ve had similar experiences with other languages. Overall, I’ve found most of my experiences have been positive. I would say people are sometimes surprised when they hear me switch from English to another language.

BGLL: What opportunities were you able to take advantage of because of your languages?

Bee: I worked in the Arabic Language Department as an Apprentice Teacher at Dartmouth. During undergrad, I also volunteered in Nigeria and interned in Zimbabwe. After graduating, I worked in Dubai for a year.

BGLL: Which language is your favorite and why?

Bee: Yoruba as it’s my family’s native language. It allows me to form a better connection with our culture and traditions even while living in America.

BGLL: What are some tips you believe would help someone learning another language?

Bee: I’d say choose to learn a language you’re passionate about or interested in. If you love what you’re studying, you’ll enjoy it more. Another thing, if you have the opportunity to travel or study abroad, then go for it! If not, in addition to learning the language, also familiarize yourself with the respective culture of the language you’re studying. I personally enjoy watching films/videos and listening to music in the language I’m studying. I highly recommend it as it helps me better understand how certain words/phrases are spoken and used.


BGLL: How can we keep up with you on social?

Bee: My personal Instagram is @bilyjeans. The language page’s Instagram is @youngblackbilinguals. My business page is @shebasource.

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