Berber language an integral part of Moroccan cultural heritage

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Tue Aug 16 13:35:35 UTC 2005

>>From the Chicago Flame
Issue: 8/15/05

Three UIC graduate students research abroad with national security
By UIC News Bureau

Three University of Illinois at Chicago graduate students have received
National Security Education Program David L. Boren Graduate Fellowships.
English doctoral candidate Mohammed Errihani, public health graduate
student Matthew Magee, and history doctoral candidate William Malone will
conduct research abroad during the 2005-06 academic year.

Inspired by the Moroccan government's 2001 recognition of the Berber
language as an integral part of Moroccan cultural heritage, Errihani plans
to use his $12,000 grant to research the status of Berber language
implementation into Moroccan language policy. Teaching of the Berber
language, which has not had a writing system for ages, has been a

"Berber has been viewed as a language of ignorance and backwardness," says
Errihani, a native of Morocco. "Elevating a language, considered by many
as a dialect only, to the status of Arabic and French is a difficult task,
and changing people's practices in the linguistic field might not yield
any results before a change in their beliefs and prejudices with regard to
Berber takes place."

Errihani's research will include analysis of the historical evolution of
the Berber language and cultural movement since Morocco's independence in
1956, and will include interviews with parents, educators, language policy
makers and government officials.

"For Morocco to finally recognize this language and culture is a huge step
for the acknowledgment of minority rights and linguistic rights," said
Errihani. "This is a unique case, not only in North Africa, but around the

A resident of Romeoville, Ill. Errihani earned a bachelor's degree and a
graduate degree in English language and literature from Mohamed Ben
Abdellah University in Fez, Morocco. He received a master of arts degree
in applied linguistics from UIC, where he currently teaches ESL classes in
the Intensive English Program. Errihani also trains and supervises future
teachers in the TESOL/Applied Linguistics master's program.

Magee will use a Boren grant of $21,000 to continue his epidemiological
research of high-risk populations in New Delhi, India. His eight-month
study will examine the prevalence of drug resistant TB among injection
drug users, HIV and TB infected patients, migrant workers and other urban

"TB is a growing problem globally because it's the number one cause of
death among those infected with HIV," says Magee. He notes that India has
the second most HIV cases in the world.

Working with the All India Institute of Medical Science and SHARAN, a
volunteer health clinic serving the poor, Magee will conduct surveys,
collect samples and administer tests measuring patients' sensitivity to
the main anti-bacterial medications used in India.

"Testing for drug resistant TB is not commonly practiced in resource-poor
settings because of the cost," says Magee. "In these areas, patients
frequently acquire resistance by not finishing their medication or lacking
access to all the necessary drugs."

Magee, a native of Chagrin Falls, Ohio and current resident of Chicago's
West Town neighborhood, is a project director of Community Outreach
Intervention Projects in the UIC School of Public Health. He earned
bachelor of arts degrees in sociology and Spanish from Grinnell College in

Malone will use his $23,700 award to continue researching Rural Catholic
Action in Guatemala. His study covers peasant and popular organizations,
with specific interest in the Committee for Peasant Unity or Comit de
Unidad Campesina (CUC), a social and economic organization for Guatemalan

Malone, who is already working in Guatemala under a Fulbright grant, is
comparing the events prior to the 1954 coup, the ensuing repression of
peasant organizing, and the reestablishment of peasant organizations in
the 1960's and 1970's.

"The Boren [grant] will allow me to continue to track the important
relationship of individual Catholic leaders, priests, religious and
laypersons to the formation and growth of the CUC, which became such a
critical organization in the late 1970's as it sought reform in
Guatemala," Malone says.

A resident of Cary, Ill. Malone is on leave from teaching Spanish at
Manley Career Academy in Chicago during his Fulbright study. He earned a
bachelor's degree in Spanish language and literature from Loyola
University, Chicago. He holds a master of divinity degree from Mundelein
Seminary of the University of St. Mary of the Lake. In addition, he earned
a master of arts degree in Latin American studies from the University of
Chicago and a master of education degree in secondary education from
DePaul University.

The National Security Education Program David L. Boren Graduate
Fellowships enable U.S. graduate students to pursue specialization in area
and language study or to add an international dimension to their
education. Boren fellowships support the study of languages and cultures
currently underrepresented in graduate study and critical to U.S. national
security, particularly in countries outside of Western Europe, Canada,
Australia and New Zealand.

The program aims to cultivate a group of experts whose enriched
educational and professional experiences will enable them to provide
leadership and direction in the NSEP's national commitment to economic
growth, international peace and security, and the promotion of democracy
abroad. In accepting the fellowships, recipients enter into a service
agreement upon graduation that requires them to seek employment at a
governmental agency or an office involved in national security affairs.


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