DIU prepares students to exercise global leadership as humble partners, seeking to cooperate with other leaders of local communities. Alumna Elizabeth Marti (’03), the director of SIL International’s office in the Central African Republic, exemplifies this partnering spirit. “We in SIL are often like a match that sets a whole community on fire by showing that it’s possible to have God’s Word in their own language,” she says. But once the spark has caught, she and her SIL colleagues want the community to be the driving force that makes it happen.

Global leadership, for Elizabeth, means connecting with local communities, inspiring them to action, and supporting their initiative.

Initiative

An important part of Elizabeth’s job is maintaining good relations and communication between two Bible translation organizations: her own SIL Central African Republic (SIL CAR) and the Central African Association for Bible Translation and Literacy (ACATBA). This local organization outnumbers SIL CAR staff five to one, managing all 18 of the active Bible Translation projects in the Central African Republic. Elizabeth and her team joyfully support ACATBA’s initiatives however possible.

For example, SIL CAR provides translation consultants, linguists, and technical support that ACATBA requests for their projects. Elizabeth herself supported projects as a translation consultant for many years. Kaley did the same by facilitating a phonology workshop.

But, Elizabeth shares, supporting ACATBA also means “mentoring and training others in the same skill sets.” This way, “our impact will reach farther than ourselves.”

Inspiration

Elizabeth’s teammates at SIL CAR also spark communities’ excitement about their native languages. Kaley Delaney, who graduated from DIU in 2022, helped facilitate a phonology workshop to explore the Bhofi language with native speakers. The workshop’s goal was to establish a writing system in Bhofi for the first time.

At one point, Kaley asked the Bhofi participants about a verb pattern they had discovered. After a few more examples and some discussion in Bhofi, the participants started laughing. “We are just so proud of our language,” they explained. Such pride inspires communities to take initiative in developing their languages through projects like alphabet development and Bible translation.

Connection

Elizabeth shares that she felt well equipped to partner with communities because DIU first prepared her to connect with those communities.

At DIU, courses like Phonology, Grammar, and Second Language and Culture Acquisition enabled her to learn effectively from her partners’ languages and cultures. This experience allowed her to build solid relationships with her local partners once she reached her field assignment.

Elizabeth wishes everyone working outside their home culture had such an education. “What a benefit it would be to their abilities to learn and interact with our host communities!” she exclaimed. Because of her DIU training, Elizabeth can confidently interact with local communities and lead her colleagues to do the same.

Follow in Elizabeth’s footsteps and check out our Linguistics and Cultural Studies programs here