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  • I come from Egypt,

  • which is also called Umm al-Dunya, the Mother of the World.

  • It's a rich country filled with stories of rebellion,

  • stories of civilizational triumph and downfall

  • and the rich, religious,

  • ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity.

  • Growing up in such an environment,

  • I became a strong believer in the power of storytelling.

  • As I searched for the medium with which to tell my story,

  • I stumbled upon graphic design.

  • I would like to share with you a project

  • of how graphic design can bring the Arabic language to life.

  • But first, let me tell you why I want to do this.

  • I believe that graphic design can change the world.

  • At least in my very own city of Cairo,

  • it helped overthrow two separate dictators.

  • As you can see from those photos,

  • the power and potential of graphic design as a tool for positive change

  • is undeniably strong.

  • Egypt's 2011 revolution was also a grassroots design revolution.

  • Everyone became a creator.

  • People were the real designers

  • and, just overnight,

  • Cairo was flooded with posters,

  • signage, graffiti.

  • Visual communication

  • was the medium that spoke far louder than words

  • when the population of over 90 million voices were suppressed

  • for almost 30 years.

  • It was precisely this political and social suppression,

  • coupled with decades of colonialism

  • and miseducation

  • that slowly eroded the significance of the Arabic script in the region.

  • All of these countries once used Arabic.

  • Now it's just the green and the blue.

  • To put it simply,

  • the Arabic script is dying.

  • In postcolonial Arab countries functioning in an increasingly globalized world,

  • it is a growing alarm

  • that less and less people are using the Arabic script to communicate.

  • As I was studying my master's in Italy, I noticed myself missing Arabic.

  • I missed looking at the letters,

  • digesting their meaning.

  • So one day, I walked into one of the biggest libraries in Italy

  • in search of an Arabic book.

  • I was surprised to find that this is what they had

  • under the category of "Arabic/Middle Eastern books."

  • (Laughter)

  • Fear, terrorism and destruction.

  • One word: ISIS.

  • My heart ached

  • that this is how we are portrayed to the world,

  • even from a literary perspective.

  • I asked myself: Whatever happened to the world-renowned writers

  • like Naguib Mahfouz, Khalil Gibran,

  • iconic poets like Mutanabbi, Nizar Qabbani?

  • Think about this.

  • The cultural products of an entire region of the world,

  • as rich, as diverse,

  • have been deemed redundant,

  • if not ignored altogether.

  • The cultural products of an entire region of the world

  • have been barred from imparting any kind of real impact

  • on global media productions and contemporary social discourse.

  • And then I reminded myself of my number one belief:

  • design can change the world.

  • All you need is for someone to catch a glimpse of your work,

  • feel, connect.

  • And so I started.

  • I thought about how can I stop the world from seeing us as evil,

  • as terrorists of this planet,

  • and start perceiving us as equals,

  • fellow humans?

  • How can I save and honor the Arabic script

  • and share it with other people, other cultures?

  • And then it hit me:

  • What if I combined the two most significant symbols

  • of innocence and Arab identity?

  • Maybe then people could resonate.

  • What's more pure, innocent and fun as LEGO?

  • It's a universal child's toy.

  • You play with them, you build with them,

  • and with them, you imagine endless possibilities.

  • My eureka moment was to find a bilingual solution for Arabic education,

  • because effective communication and education

  • is the road to more tolerant communities.

  • However, the Arabic and Latin scripts do not only represent different worlds

  • but also create technical difficulties for both Eastern and Western communities

  • on a daily basis.

  • There are so many reasons why Arabic and Latin are different,

  • but here are some of the main ones.

  • Yes, both use upward and downward strokes,

  • but have completely different baselines.

  • Arabic tends to be more calligraphic

  • and connectivity is important to the Arabic language,

  • whose letters have to be mostly joined in order to articulate a given word.

  • It also uses an entirely different system of punctuation and diacritics.

  • But most importantly,

  • Arabic has no capital letters.

  • Instead it has four different letter forms:

  • initial, medial, isolated and final.

  • I want to introduce the Arabic language to young learners, foreign speakers,

  • but most importantly help refugees integrate to their host societies

  • through creating a bilingual learning system,

  • a two-way flow of communication.

  • And I called it "Let's Play."

  • The idea is to simply create a fun and engaging way of learning

  • Modern Standard Arabic through LEGO.

  • These are the two words. "Let's Play."

  • Every colored bar marks an Arabic letter.

  • As you can see, the letter is explained in form, sound

  • and examples of words in function,

  • in addition to the equivalent in Latin.

  • Together, they form a fun pocket book

  • with the 29 Arabic letters and the four different forms,

  • plus a 400-word dictionary.

  • So this is how the page looks like.

  • You have the letter, the transliteration in Latin

  • and the description underneath.

  • I'll take you through the process.

  • So first in my tiny studio in Florence,

  • I built the letters.

  • I photographed each letter separately,

  • and then I retouched every letter and chose the correct color background

  • and typefaces to use.

  • Ultimately, I created the full letter set,

  • which is 29 letters times four different forms.

  • That's 116 letters build just in one week.

  • I believe that information should and can be fun, portable.

  • This book is the final product,

  • which I would eventually like to publish

  • and translate into as many languages in the world,

  • so that Arabic teaching and learning becomes fun, easy and accessible globally.

  • With this book, I hope to save my nation's beautiful script.

  • (Applause)

  • Thank you.

  • Working on this project was a form of visual meditation,

  • like a Sufi dance,

  • a prayer to a better planet.

  • One set of building blocks made two languages.

  • LEGO is just a metaphor.

  • It's because we are all made of the same building unit,

  • is that I can see a future

  • where the barriers between people

  • all come tumbling down.

  • So no matter how ugly the world around us gets,

  • or how many discouraging books on ISIS, the terrorist group,

  • and not Isis, the ancient Egyptian goddess,

  • continue to be published,

  • I will keep building one colorful world.

  • Shukran, which means "thank you."

  • (Applause)

  • Thank you. Thank you so much.

  • Thank you.

I come from Egypt,

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【TED】Ghada Wali: How I'm using LEGO to teach Arabic (How I'm using LEGO to teach Arabic | Ghada Wali)

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    林宜悉 posted on 2018/10/04
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