A RIPPLE EFFECT
From Dallas to Cameroon, West Africa
What sometimes seems like a drop in a bucket can create ripples of impact beyond what we could imagine. Such was the case when two of our alumni took on a project proposal assignment in their Literacy Megacourse here at Dallas Int’l. Our Literacy Megacourse is one of the best opportunities to put learning into action beyond the classroom for real-world impact. In this course, students learn the basics of designing literacy programs in developing contexts, especially where the people are pre-literate and have not learned to read in any language. Students are taught how to develop alphabets and basic literacy materials, write grants for potential literacy projects, and advocate for mother tongue literacy in minority language communities. These projects often go beyond the theoretical and become valuable tools in real communities.
For example, students in the past have created transitional writing systems for local, pre-literate refugee communities and even developed resources that are still in use among refugee communities in Texas. And recently, students in our Literacy Megacourse were tasked with producing a full proposal for a literacy project for a real-world minority language group that they selected and researched themselves. What happened next was something they would never have anticipated.
Their task was to create a minority language literacy project proposal that could be submitted to an outside funding organization, just as a real-life project might be. Their first step was to find a suitable people group for the project. After some research, they got in touch with two Dallas Int’l students who had already spent a few years working in Cameroon, West Africa. This couple had been working with a people group that fit the project criteria perfectly, and they were happy to answer questions and give background data so their project could apply to a real-world context. Little did our students know how real-world of a project this would become!
After submitting their project to the professor and sharing it with the consultants in the Cameroon project, our students learned that their project proposal had also been submitted to a literacy organization in Cameroon for consideration. In the future, this project, which our students initially completed as a class assignment, will likely lead to a full-fledged literacy program as part of the translation project in the village!
Opportunities like these continue to grow here at Dallas Int’l, and because of your prayers, we can make an impact not just in our classrooms, but beyond them in minority language communities around the world. Will you pray for this language project and ask for God’s wisdom and provision for the community it will impact? You can also pray for the students who developed it as they continue preparing for literacy work. We can’t wait to see the ripple effect of their work.
“It’s easy for a lot of the groups that I work with to feel defeated or inferior, so I’m glad when we can bring a new perspective.” For many minority language groups, similar feelings of defeat or inferiority can create challenges in literacy and language development, something Katie Craig knows all too well from her work in Myanmar. Katie graduated from Dallas International University in 2013 with her M.A. in Applied Linguistics and has been serving overseas for several years since.
Katie grew up in the Dallas area, experienced its diversity, and always wanted to work cross-culturally. She currently serves as an advisor to the Language and Social Development Organization (LSDO) in Myanmar, where she juggles a variety of tasks. Katie helps design materials and curriculum for mother tongue language classes, organizes communications and advocacy work for LSDO, collects word lists for the minority languages served, and advises on linguistic issues.
Doing language work in a cross-cultural setting can be a daunting task at times, and Katie finds that the classes where she learned about the power and politics of language, as well as language policy, were the most helpful. She feels that her training in multilingual education and language development and planning were particularly helpful because they are directly related to her work. Katie also points to the relationships built here and says, “I think they prepared me in ways that I couldn’t have known at the time, but they are things that I think back on at times for clarity and encouragement.”
Katie has learned to be a jack-of-all-trades since she moved to Myanmar. She explains, “I work with a new little NGO, so I feel like there are hundreds of things I have to do that I don’t know how to do. Somehow, though, we figure it out!” In the past few years during her work with LSDO in Myanmar, Katie has grown to love hearing from people she works with about how they are encouraged by the language development work because they finally begin to see that their language is valued.
As Katie continues her work, she would like to develop better avenues for communication and advocacy for her organization. She will also be involved in “a series of workshops that will serve as an initial foundation for mother tongue-based and multilingual education programs with five different groups,” as well as another that will facilitate the development of reading and literacy materials for three other groups. She asks that when we pray for her, we remember her team in their “slow progress of becoming a stable, efficient, and effective NGO.” Katie also asks for good connections for her organization and its partners for further growth in the future.
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