Learning new tricks

We have all heard and experienced the challenges of learning new things, especially when we are already established in old ways. In the last year or so, we have all been learning lots of new ways to work and function and it has not all been easy or fun. But, I really think that some of it has been a real gift, to open new doors and reach more people with the Good News!

Being part of iDELTA francophone, an undergraduate-level training program (in French) for Bible translation, literacy, Scripture engagment, media and language program management workers in West and Central Africa, is a highlight for me each year. Normally, we would have eight weeks together in Yaounde to learn and grow together in this holistic formation. Having delayed the training last year, we couldn’t delay anymore and so we went online. I especially found that the first online session has been an amazing way to grow and reach more people, who can go out and pass on their learning to even more people.

We started with three days of orientation so that everyone would be able to use the learning platform, Moodle, as well as Zoom, and also work out any issues with connectivity. Then, we jumped into an intensive three weeks of a full-time synchronous online Sociolinguistics course. For this first session, there were over 50 of us online from 15 countries! All in all, it was a huge success. There were definitely some electricity and internet struggles and lots of muddling through Moodle, but everyone grew in many ways and learned a lot, including the staff!

A few of the students in the DRC traveled for the first time to a big city, Kinshasa, where they used a computer for the first time. It is hard to put into words all that they accomplished and learned in less than a month, but they presented a final research project about language use in their community using Powerpoint on Zoom!

Singing, dancing, exercicing, praying, and sharing together, even at a distance, makes iDELTA really special. Each of the students has an amazing story of God’s care for them and being able to learn and grow together is a gift to me. As the registrar for the course, I get to handle the logistics as well as interact with the students and their supervisors throughout the three years of training. I love the mutual learning that happens as we share parts of our lives and invite others in. It is a privilege and joy to be able to invest in others, but even more so to be able to learn new things from them and their life experiences.

The last day, we did a mentimeter poll. Here is the translation in English:
What is one word that you would use to describe your experience of iDELTA these last three weeks? (The largest word is GREAT!)

Graduate School Surprises

The past year or so has been nothing like what anyone expected. Of course, this includes my plans for graduate school. I had originally planned to do the first year of MA studies in Linguistics at Wayne State in 2019-2020 and then I would defer the second year until 2024, when we might be back in the USA for a longer period of time again. The first surprise was moving online. Another very welcome surprise was that I was able to continue my studies for this entire year despite being on the other side of the world. So, it has been a wonderful surpise that I was able to complete all of the coursework for my graduate studies in two years, while being able to continue doing other work as well. I have also been pleasantly surprised by how much I have enjoyed going back to school. The relationships that I have developped with other students and with my professors have been an extra special treat.

It has also been surprising how well received the work of SIL has been in the very secular and public academic world. I have been humbled and surprised as I have been deepening my knowledge and skills at the way that the work I have the privilege to be part of in Cameroon has been highlighted. One example is found in this article at the Wayne State Linguistics Program :