Zora Meddahi-Larbi is a modern-day superhero. In addition to teaching French in GA’s Middle School, she is a protector of an ancient Berber language. Today she and others are working to preserve Taqbaylit, a Berber language spoken in Algeria.
Meddahi-Larbi was born in Lille, France, but her and her husband are both descendants of the Berber people. Berbers lived in mostly the Northern portion of Africa centuries ago, in current countries such as Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, and Egypt. Their land was settled and taken over by Roman, Vandal, Byzantine, and Arab rule. With each culture’s arrival, the Berbers lost more and more of their identity and language.
And so began the quest to keep a language, and a culture, alive. In order to fight for that, Meddahi-Larbi joined Twizi-USA whose mission is to do just that. Now serving as President of the organization, she has worked tirelessly with people around the world. Says Meddahi-Larbi, “We’ve been working together on this project for two years. There are three PhDs—one from France, one in Germany, and one in the US (that’s my husband!). Together we are attempting to create the first Taqbaylit/English and Taqbaylit/French learning language applications and in collaboration with the non-profit organization 7,000 languages, (www.7000.org), which is a source online where they seek to, “Create free online language-learning courses in partnership with Indigenous, minority, and refugee communities so they can keep their languages alive.”
Meddahi-Larbi knows from teaching French to Middle School students that the youth are the future leaders of the world. And just like learning French in the United States, the youth in U.S. and in France are being introduced to the Taqbaylit language from their grandparents and parents who now live there and getting a look into a centuries-old indigenous language. With the completion of the language tool on 7,000 Languages, people from around the world will also be able to learn of another culture.
“When we’re done with the app we’re going to have a huge celebration. It’s time consuming, it’s frustrating at times, but I have learned so much,” said Meddahi-Larbi. She added that "Open an honest line of communication with members of the team was the important element for a successful collaboration."