Everyone has a secret talent; the important thing is how we choose to use our abilities.
Senior Airman Njukia Kiuri, 32nd Intelligence Squadron signals intelligence analyst, has a particularly uncommon talent he uses regularly to help others.
Kiuri was born in Lubbock, Texas, but moved back to his family’s home country of Kenya when he was less than a year old. Today, he is a fluent Swahili speaker, a language commonly spoken in East and South-East Africa.
“I have spoken Swahili and English my entire life. After moving back to the United States by myself when I was 17, I found that Swahili kept me feeling connected to my family and Kenyan heritage,” Kiuri said. “Being able to bring part of my culture to my Air Force family and career has bridged a gap and been rewarding in allowing me to grow as a person and Airman.”
Kiuri currently interns for the U.S. State Department, teaching a course for those slated to deploy, which covers customs and courtesies and overcoming the language barriers of East Africa.
“When a U.S. government official is assigned to Africa and will likely come into contact with people who speak Swahili, I have the opportunity to sit with them and get them familiarized with the local language in an informal environment,” Kiuri said. “The customs in Tanzania, Kenya and other East Africa countries are so different from this nation; I provide basics of how to communicate respectfully and how to find out what is important to locals to enable officials to do their jobs in these foreign countries.”
Kiuri facilitates courses beyond the constraints of his primary duties as a 707th Force Support Squadron augmentee.
“It is inconceivable how much Njukia accomplishes on a daily basis, balancing his work and personal life,” said Capt. Anita Labenski, 707th FSS section commander. “He performs exceedingly well at everything he does, and does so with a smile and incredible attention to detail. He is an absolute pleasure to be around and we feel extremely fortunate to have him on our FSS team. It will be a bittersweet day when he leaves our squadron and returns to his home in the 32nd IS.”
Kiuri pushes himself to continue helping others whenever possible. He was awarded senior airman below-the-zone and is now an active member of the Alpha Four Group, an organization for E-1 through E-4 service members, and the facilitator of “Outside the Wire,” an initiative that brings training to Airmen and helps them transition seamlessly into duty sections.
“Being an intel Airman assigned to an FSS as my first unit in the Air Force has taught me a lot about life and how to be an Airman; and balancing my personal and professional goals has also helped me realize my passion for helping others,” Kiuri said. “Additionally, my leadership empowering me to be a part of professional organizations has increased my overall development.”
Never waiting to be “voluntold,” Kiuri exemplifies what it means to be an Airman.
“Nobody ever asked me to help, but if I know I have the ability and skills to do so I will jump at the opportunity,” Kiuri said. “I believe I have a lot to offer and that there is a reason I was called here to serve.”