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I don't often publish obituaries, but I wanted to share my sadness at the passing away of a good friend and colleague, Fawn Whittaker. I just learned today that Fawn died in January after a long bout with cancer.
Fawn was Director of the Language Center at Brigham Young University Hawai'i. She was an early enthusiast for integrating computers and technology into her teaching and was tireless in her efforts on behalf of her students. I can remember more than one occasion when I visited her university early in the morning and she had been up all night preparing lessons for her students.
Fawn's students were from all over the Pacific, and she cared deeply about allowing her students to express themselves in their own language and to take part in educational activities that reflected their cultures. She was a pioneer in having language students create Websites that about their personal and cultural background. She also worked with BYU-H students and staff to create a wealth of resources on the Web for learning and practicing a wide array of Pacific languages.
Fawn's professional commitment was matched by her personal qualities. She exuded enthusiasm and warmth and she went to great ends to be of assistance to people. I can remember the many times that she would drive half-way around the island of Oahu and back to be a guide for visitors to Hawai'i whom she hardly knew. She also traveled frequently to other Pacific Island countries to assist with teacher education programs.
Fawn and I once co-authored a short article for TESL Reporter (later republished in Internet TESL Journal at http://www.aitech.ac.jp/~iteslj/Articles/Warschauer-Internet.html). It was a very brief, very practical piece about integrating the Internet into language teaching and reflected Fawn's strong interest in sharing what she learned from her own teaching with other educators. In the same spirit, Fawn continued to travel to conferences to make presentations even when she was weak with cancer and wheelchair-bound.
It has been said that no student will come back after many years and thank a computer for changing his or her life. But I know that many students have come back to Fawn from Asian and Pacific Island nations to thank her for how she's changed their lives. I am deeply saddened that I can no longer go back to Fawn to thank her for her love and commitment and for everything she's done for her colleagues, for her students, and for me. So I instead thank and recognize her here. Goodbye, Fawn! May you rest in peace.
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