Johnny Walker earned his Certificate in Applied Linguistics in 2007. Ellen graduated with her MA in Language Development in 2009. Since then, Johnny and Ellen have been extensively involved in SIL’s Mara Cluster Project, applying the skills they learned at DIU (then GIAL) to ten related Tanzanian languages. Ellen lends her expertise to literacy development, and Johnny contributes his linguistic skills to language development tasks such as orthography and dictionary formation. They are grateful for the ways that DIU prepared them for this work.
Ellen shares that the entire Language Development program equipped her to understand the speech communities of the Mara cluster and their unique situations. “It gave me the ability to ask questions that others weren’t necessarily thinking about,” she says. The Literacy Megacourse, in particular—one of her favorite courses—provided practical, hands-on experience for the literacy work she is doing.
Johnny adds that DIU introduced him to the methodologies (and computer software!) he has used extensively to study the Mara languages and cultures. DIU even gave him the opportunity to visit a Tanzanian church for a class project, giving him a head start on
understanding the country that would become his new home.
DIU also holds a special place in the Walkers’ hearts as the place where they met. Johnny shares that their time together at school challenged and deepened their friendship, preparing them to hear God’s voice when he led them into marriage in Tanzania a few years later. They lived, learned, and worked with various people during their studies, giving them valuable practice for working with their diverse team in Tanzania. Their DIU education in and out of the classroom has proved foundational to their work.
The Walkers are thankful to be seeing fruit from their steady and consistent efforts. This March, Johnny and Ellen attended the Kabwa and Ikoma New Testament dedications, delighted to celebrate with the communities they have labored with for so long. They listened with joy as community members read adeptly from the Scripture. Such public readings would not have been possible a decade ago before literacy took root through the efforts of workers like Ellen. The Kabwa community also eagerly anticipates receiving their first dictionary this summer. Johnny has been instrumental in producing this valuable and honorable resource for their community, and he is excited that they will be able to use it at last.
The Walkers now live in Rwanda, where they continue to work remotely with the Mara Cluster and contribute to other projects locally.
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DIU offers a variety of programs to prepare you for the kinds of work that the Walkers have been involved in. Our Certificate in Applied Linguistics and MA in Applied Linguistics provide linguistic theory and practice for field work. Our MA in Translation Advising prepares graduates to contribute to translation teams with multicultural dynamics. Our MA in Language and Culture Studies can lead toward work in literacy and Scripture engagement. See all of our programs here.