Eyamba Bokamba joined the University of Illinois Department of Linguistics 34 years ago, and since then he’s made it resound with the intonations of a continent.
Bokamba has grown the African languages program from one language to five and developed more than 35 African language courses, as well as more than half a dozen African linguistics ones. By the mid-1980s, the UI program in African languages had become the most comprehensive of its kind in the country.
As a child, poet Charles Simic played in the bombed-out buildings of his Belgrade neighborhood. His earliest memories include being thrown out of bed and across the room by the impact of a bomb, and seeing flames and dust and smoke so thick it was like nighttime at noon. Perhaps even more surreal were his experiences as a “displaced person” in France, where his family fled from Hitler’s forces.
Tall, slim, and perky, dressed in a turtleneck, tailored pants and sensible shoes, Betty Burch Mohlenbrock ‘62 ED, EDM ‘64, could be a woman who merely lunches with friends, entertains in her home and dotes on her grandchildren.
Except for the grandchildren part, the rest couldn’t be more wrong.
The first time Henry T. Sampson Jr., MS ‘65 ENG, PHD ‘67 ENG, lost himself in the microfiche room of the UCLA library, it was to blunt the trauma of his recent divorce. Little did he know that out of that misery would emerge his “passionate obsession,” a decades-long quest that would bring to the world the previously untold history of American blacks in film, television and radio.
As a young teacher in the 1960s, all Jonathan Kozol wanted to do was to share his passion for great literature with his students. So he read them poems. He read poems by William Butler Yeats, and he read poems by Robert Frost. The principal applauded him. But then Kozol read Langston Hughes poems to his students and he was fired.
Nothing much surprises Chris Crutcher, author of numerous young adult novels, including Ironman, Whale Talk, Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, and Stotan!. Having worked extensively as a therapist for those experiencing child abuse and neglect, Crutcher has seen the dark underbelly of life.
In the ancient Chinese philosophy of Taoism, followers strive to bring harmony to the universe through the balance of opposites.
So too has Ping Fu, MS ‘90 ENG, carefully negotiated a balancing act in the course of her life. Moving from the violence of China’s Cultural Revolution to the positivity of America’s entrepreneurial climate, Fu has counteracted despair with hope, chaos with order, and survival mode with serenity.
The day I meet her, Ollie Watts Davis MMUS ‘82 FAA, AMUSD’88 FAA, wears an ivory pants suit, rings on four of her fingers, piles of bracelets on each wrist, red nail polish and matching lipstick. There is just no other way to say this: she is gorgeous. She exudes a stunning positive energy as well, accompanied with a smile so bright that, as Frank Sinatra crooned, “she walks by and dims the sunlight’s gleam.”
For more than half a century, Nobel Prize-winner and concentration camp survivor Elie Wiesel (pronounced EH-lee vee-ZEL), has used his voice and his influence to make sure the world never forgets the atrocities committed by the Nazis during World War II.
“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest,” he said in his 1986 Nobel Prize acceptance speech.