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Guarayu Community Event from Gizac Project

Today on the ELAR Blog, Swintha Danielsen shares on a community event she hosted at a local school during her fieldwork in Bolivia. To learn more about Swintha’s work, visit her deposit on the ELAR catalogue.

In Urubichá, Guarayos, Bolivia, Swintha Danielsen hosted a contest at the local school for the best story writers in the Guarayu language. On July 16th the stories were handed in, and on July 21st, the prize was handed out: the laptop computer formerly used by the GIZAC project. The winners are the two girls Litzy Ayala Dorado and Rosa Linda Uraezaña.

Litzy Ayala Dorado, the story of why women shouldn’t sit on the tacú (mortar).

What was the motivation behind holding this event in the first place?

The motivation of this contest was on the one hand to find the appropriate place where to leave the project computer in the village, and on the other hand, it was to inspire children of a young age (13-14) to produce more texts in the Guarayu language. With this computer we hope to be able to support this productivity or creativity and additionally offer the possibility to learn to use a computer during the last 3-4 years of school.

From left to right: José Luis Cuñapiri, Director Freddy Quispe, Swintha Danielsen, Rosa Linda Uraezaña, Litzy Ayala, Ernesto Urarepia

If the event has already taken place, can you tell us a bit about how it happened and who attended?

The event was organized by Swintha Danielsen and the teacher Ernesto Urarepia, together with the support of the director of the school José Cors in Urubichá. At the prize award ceremony, the school children of various courses participated, as well as the teacher of the school and the director. The teacher José Luis Cuñapiri was invited to interpret the stories in Guarayu and talk a bit more about the backgrounds and meanings. The local radio station broadcasted live.

Can you share any insights from the attendees/community collaborators?

The event was used by the speakers to make a plea in order to let the children know once again how important it is to produce texts in the Guarayu language and to continue using the language wherever and whenever possible. This call reached the children, and in fact, almost 100% understand the language, while a bit less speak it on a regular basis. We have very much hope with the upcoming generations.

Talking to the school children about the use of the Guarayu language

Why is this important? Can you give our readers some insight into why this event/project is so special/worthwhile?

It is always important to emphasize how much in danger the small indigenous languages of Bolivia are. Even though Guarayu is spoken actively by almost all the population in the village of Urubichá, this is not true for the whole region of Guarayos. And leaving Guarayos, there are many other languages. If the Guarayu do not use their language and do not produce materials, such as novels, news in Guarayu, legal texts, etc., the language will be silenced and soon disappear. With the new software, the Guarayu are able to write their language with all special symbols, such as ɨ and ɨ̈, namely with the Guarayu keyboard installation for computers, and the Teclado Sudamericano for smart phones (Android).

José Luis Cuñapiri explaining the stories in Guarayu

Were there any event outputs?

We are still planning the publication of the stories, for which we are collecting illustrations now.

Anything else you would like to share?

Publicity of event was made on the Guarayu website on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GwarayuNeesa/?ref=bookmarks

The handing out of the prize: the laptop computer

Blog Post & Photos by Swintha Danielsen and assistants

ELAR will be taking a brief break from posting during the rest of December and will return to regular posting after the start of 2019. Happy Holidays and a very happy New Year to all our readers.

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