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MW in Cairo


October 2, 1999: This message was distributed by Papyrus News, a free e-mail distribution list on the global impact of information technology on language, literacy, and education. Feel free to forward this message to others, but please include this introductory paragraph. For information on subscribing or unsubscribing to Papyrus News see


Since there are few people on this list who know what I do, or even what continent I live on, I thought I would take a few moments to introduce myself. My background is in applied linguistics (PhD, Second Language Acquisition, University of Hawai'i). My current research addresses broad, interdisciplinary issues related to the impact of technology and language, literacy, and education.

Currently, I am living and working in Cairo, Egypt, where I direct the educational technology component of a $52 million U.S. development project in Egypt called the Integrated English Language Project (IELP). I am employed by one of the main contractors on the project, AMIDEAST (America-Mideast Education & Training Services). (The other contractor is the Academy for Educational Development, AED). The overall goal of IELP is to assist Egypt's economic development by improving English language teaching and otherwise strengtening the educational system. We are working with a number of partner institutions here including the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Higher Education, and educational organizations in the private sector.

My own work involves coordinating with these partner institutions to plan, design, implement, and evaluate effective and culturally-appropriate uses of information technology for education and teacher development. Technologies that we work with include interactive videoconferencing, interactive radio instruction, digital satellite television, computer multimedia, and the Internet.

Egypt is without a doubt one of the most fascinating countries I've ever been in, filled with contradictions between the ancient and the modern. I will just share one brief anecdote that captures Egypt nicely. When I first arrived in Cairo, I took a walk along the Nile, and I was confronted with an amazing view. One the other side of the river stood the glittering World Trade Center, one of the tallest and most modern buildings in Cairo, filled with offices, stores, and bars catering to the Egyptian elite. Yet, also in view, on my side of the river just a few dozen meters away, was an impoverished family of 8 living on three tiny canoes off the bank of the Nile, with all their positions stuffed onto a couple of square meters of space. However -- and here comes the interesting part -- as I looked more closely at the canoe I saw a glare coming up from it. It took me a few seconds to believe my eyes, but this poor family had a small TV set on their canoe! Where they got power for it I still don't know -- but somehow this family in the canoe had found a way to tap into modern media. That to me captured an important aspect of Egypt today -- great discrepancies between rich and poor, but a common desire among all to be be part of the worldwide information revolution.

I will occasionally share more about my experiences in Egypt as it relates to global issues of technology, language, literacy, and education.

Finally, one more personal point. Why do I use a Hawai'i email address if I'm in Egypt? I do have a work e-mail address ( but since I am swamped there by e-mail related to my Egyptian projects, I prefer to keep other e-mail separate. I maintain my Hawai'i account because of a University of Hawai'i co-sponsored journal that I edit (Language Learning & Technology, and I find it most convenient to use the Hawai'i address ( for my general professional and personal correspondence. I also have a University of Hawai'i Web site where I make available copies of many of my professional publications ( (And why do I sometimes write Hawai'i with an apostrophe? Because that's how it's written in Hawaiian, though the apostrophe is actually a single quotation mark called an 'okina, and it indicates a glottal stop.)

Mark Warschauer


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Last updated: October 6, 1999