Aymara Course in Chicago, Summer 2009

For anyone interested in learning Aymara, it will be taught by Miguel Huanca (a native speaker from Bolivia) at the University of Chicago in summer 2009.  You can find more information about the course here, and there is funding available through FLAS.

I took Prof. Huanca’s course and later worked with him a little on his textbook.  In addition to being the only course on Aymara offered the United States, I would also add that Prof. Huanca is a wonderful teacher, and this is the best Aymara course I have encountered anywhere.  His textbook is designed to teach Aymara to those with no experience with the language — a rarity, since it is often assumed that those who wish to improve their Aymara skills already speak it at least a little.  While Spanish would be helpful (not only for this class, but for traveling in Bolivia generally) it is not necessary.

In the past, this course has attracted not only those who wish to learn Aymara for fieldwork (largely graduate students) but also a few who wish to study a non-Indoeuropean language for other reasons.  In either case, I would highly recommend this course and its professor.

Want to learn K’iche’ Maya?

The University of Chicago Center for Latin American Studies, in partnership with Vanderbilt University’s Center for Latin American and Iberian Studies, will offer a new summer intensive immersion language program in K’iche’ Maya on site in Nahualá, Guatemala. The program will be offered from June 23-August 1, 2008. This is a FLAS-approved summer language program. Full program details and application instructions may be found at http://clas.uchicago.edu/kiche_summer.shtml.

Want to learn Garifuna?

In the interest of promoting the learning of indigenous languages (especially those rarely taught in the United States), I’m posting this (non-Bolivia-related) information:

The University of Florida Center for Latin American Studies will offer a new summer intensive immersion language program in Garifuna from June 30-August 8, 2008. The program will be conducted at the University of Florida campus from June 30-July 26 and then on site in Honduras and Belize from July 27-August 8. This is a FLAS-approved summer language program. Full program details and applications instructions will be posted shortly on the Internet.

Learn (or practice) Aymara online

Prof. Hardman’s webpage for learning Aymara has been updated and can be viewed in either English or Spanish. While there’s no substitute for taking a class with a native speaker (my own training from Miguel Huanca was invaluable), this online resource will be wonderful for those who are unable to take a course in person, or want to brush up on their Aymara language skills.

Qullasuy markan runakapa

Friend & fellow Bolivian blogger, Eddie Avila has been busy w/ his Global Voices project in Bolivia. One of these is the first Aymara-language blog, a new expansion on the new Voces Bolivianas project. For news from this, and other “Rising Voices” projects, see this post.

The Daily Show with President Morales: a commentary

Congratulations to both President Morales and Jon Stewart for their interview on the daily show. One news report commented that “Morales did not seem at first to understand some of Stewart’s jokes, delivering serious responses.” It’s true that President Morales treated the interview seriously, as well he should as an acting head of state.

While there might have been some minor miscommunication at the beginning, this was quickly overcome. Stewart’s first question — asked in a admiring way — was, “How does a farmer, a poor farmer, without high school education, become the first indigenous President of Bolivia? It’s an amazing journey.” Most U.S. listeners would hear a clear subtext: how did you overcome the structural inequalities and discrimination you faced? How did you beat the system? Americans are impressed by rags-to-riches stories, tales of people who rise to achieve far more that those in power would expect. President Morales is a perfect example of the kind of successful individual we admire.

President Morales’ answer suggested that he felt his ability to be president might be in question because of his background, a prejudice he has, unfortunately, no doubt faced. “No solamente profesionales, intelectuales pueden ser presidentes. Gente que conoce su realidad, su viviencia, desde abajo tambien, pueden ser presidentes. Por tanto, un indigena tambien ser presidente.”

Stewart quickly interjected, “In Bolivia. In America, it’s a little rigged.”

President Morales won the crowd with a smile and the reply: “Si esta arreglado, hay que cambiar eso.”

I think congratulations are also in order for the unnamed translator, who did a wonderful job at simultaneous translation under difficult circumstances (a live audience, multiple people speaking at once).