Awamaki’s Spanish teacher cooperative has been up to awesome things! The Spanish classes taught by the women at the Awamaki office here in Ollantaytambo have been running smoothly. Recent volunteers and tourists have been enjoying their lessons, while the women are becoming adept teachers and earning a greater income to support their families. Many of the students have expressed satisfaction with the conversational-style classes. Yesterday, Sonya Beatriz, an Awamaki volunteer, made a Peruvian fusion pizza with her Spanish teacher, Jenny, giving her the chance to practice her newly learned conversational skills in a casual, real world setting!
A handful of women from the cooperative are also currently training to teach Quechua lessons. Not all of the women in our teaching cooperative know how to speak Quechua, but those that do have offered to teach classes to interested tourists and volunteers. Quechua is an eloquent indigenous language that, like indigenous languages across the world, is disappearing. While many of the communities that Awamaki works with still speak Quechua, they are converting more rapidly each year to speaking Spanish, so that they can communicate with a larger audience and have access to increased economic opportunities. By offering Quechua classes, Awamaki and the teachers cooperative hope to help keep the language alive and encourage speakers to place a higher value on speaking the language. Teaching foreign visitors the language helps preserve it and allows visitors to the Andes the opportunity to communicate at a basic level to the women of our cooperatives and other indigenous communities.
Quechua is a language that has only recently standardized its orthography, and therefore there are not sufficient teaching materials or teaching aids to assist teachers. Awamaki’s Community Education team, comprising of staff and volunteers, got together to create their own course structure, as well as other teaching supplements such as worksheets and homework handouts. The women who will be teaching Quechua have been spending time with other members of the Ollantaytambo community who teach language classes, collecting ideas on how to better formalize the course. Classes will aim to teach only the basics of the language. Awamaki is currently seeking funding to further develop the course and invest in the teachers’ skills. For now, the teachers will start with a trial run of the basic course so that any revisions and improvements can be made.
The opportunity to teach Quechua opens up new customer markets for the teachers, giving them the chance to to teach more hours each week and earn more money for themselves and their families. The women are also extremely excited about the chance to help preserve their native language! Through teaching Quechua, they will get to connect visitors to their heritage in a way that is meaningful and lasting.
Your support makes it possible for Awamaki to provide ongoing training to the teachers and connect them to greater global markets so that they can earn an income to support their families and transform their communities. Thank you for your generosity in supporting this project. The women of Awamaki’s Spanish teachers cooperative are extremely grateful of your donations. We look forward to keeping you updated on the progress of the Quechua classes.
Awamaki’s Capacity Building Project is full of exciting updates! The Global Giving fundraiser that we held in June to raise money to send our weavers on a visit to another women’s group in Puno was a huge success thanks to all of our generous donors. A large part of the women from the Patacancha cooperative will be going on the trip in a few months time thanks to the money earned from the fundraiser! Women in the Andes have very little opportunity to travel or build networks with other women in business. Examples of women leadership or economic success in their communities are rare. Even a short trip to a different region of the country will be instructive and inspiring.
The Patacancha weavers have been busy with a series of intercultural leadership workshops. The goal of the workshops is to cultivate leadership in the women so they have the confidence and skills to take over management of their cooperative business; next in the series are workshops on administrative skills and technical skills. These leadership workshops focus on connecting the women to their cultural identities through team building games and discussions about how to face challenges as a group of indigenous people. The women also had a chance to discuss the challenges and roles of being a woman in remote communities in the Andes today, and how some of these challenges can be effectively addressed. Awamaki has partnered with the Centro Bartolome de las Casas (CBC) to carry out the workshops. The CBC has over 40 years of experience promoting indigenous empowerment in the Cusco region.
Without the kind and generous support of our donors, Awamaki would not be able to organize capacity-building trips and workshops for our cooperatives. In order to continue to increase the success and autonomy of our cooperatives, we put tools and knowledge directly in the hands of the women artisans. By learning new ideas and rediscovering their own cultural identities, the women are empowered to make positive changes in their daily lives and in the running of the weaving cooperative, ensuring their future economic success and their ability to earn income and transform their communities. Thank you again for all of your support!
Since our last update, Awamaki’s women’s weaving cooperatives have been busy learning new design skills! Over the past few months, the women in the rural communities of Patacancha and Kelkanka have been learning about color theory and measurement. As Awamaki continues to organize training workshops for the women of our weaving cooperatives so that they can produce internationally marketable products, we in turn learn more about how and why the women design their textiles the way they do, with specific inconography and colors. This is a great example of the intercultural connections that Awamaki fosters.
During the recent color theory workshops in Patacancha, Awamaki’s most recent Resident Designer, Tara Gainer, taught the women about the color wheel, and organized hands-on activities with the women to explore their perceptions of different colors and color combinations. The women worked as a group to assign a Quechua name to each color on the color wheel, setting standard names that will now be used between Awamaki and the cooperative to better communicate special orders. This exercise also allowed Tara to teach the women basic descriptive Spanish words for the colors, such as bright and dull. By keeping all of the women on the same page with standard vocabulary, product consistency and quality control will be easier to implement.
Awamaki’s Quality Control Coordinator and Product Designer, Tessa Ranish-O’Donnell, has been in Kelkanka recently, teaching the women about measurement. At the beginning of the workshop, Tessa learned that most of the women didn’t even have their own tape measures, and they had been visually estimating the size of their textiles, which had been creating inconsistencies in size. Tessa reviewed basic counting and measuring skills with the women, and made each woman her own tape measure. Now, the women will continue to practice measuring their own textiles with the president of the cooperative. The president will then be checking the length and width of each textile before it is turned into Awamaki for sale, making sure that consistent sizes are being used.
Workshops and skill building exercises like the color theory and measurement workshop would not be possible without the continued support of Awamaki’s donors like you. By donating money to Awamaki for specific projects, our staff, volunteers, and the women of our cooperatives have the resources they need to continue improving their skills and expanding their markets. As the women gain new expertise, their products become ready for international sale, extending the economic opportunities for the women and giving them a chance to earn more money to support their families. Thank you for your continued support! Awamaki looks forward to keeping you updated on the progress of our cooperatives.