Launching the Tsimane’ Linguistic Universe Project

Rising Voices Amazonia Grantee Update

Participants and facilitators of the project Tsimane' Linguistic Universe. Photo by Eddie Avila and used with permission.

Participants and facilitators of the project Tsimane’ Linguistic Universe. Photo by Eddie Avila and used with permission.

With the participation and the coordination from Rising Voices and the Bolivian Center for Research and Integral Social Development (CBDISI for its initials in Spanish), the first workshop of the Tsimane’ Linguistic Universe Project took place on December 5-6 in San Borja, Bolivia.

The workshop's goal was to begin the project through use of computers and social media, which will be of much use during the project's development. The skills learned will serve for communication and to help share the information gathered related to the Tsimane’ language and culture.

On the first day of the workshop, the schedule included:

  • Project presentation
  • Discussion about the importance of revitalizing the Tsimane’ language and the opportunities provided by the Internet
  • Presentation of other Latin American projects using the internet to revitalize indigenous languages.
  • Challenges and strategies for using the Tsimane’ language on the web
  • Hands-on introductory workshop on the use of the Internet
  • Creation of working groups in different areas: Twitter, Facebook, blogs, audio, and video

Second day:

  • Review of the previous day's lessons
  • Collaborative creation of blog
  • Practice: content creation
  • Commitments for the future

Even though in the original proposal by Sandy Ritchie, the topics were much more broad, it was decided to shorten then due to the needs of the participants and the limitations of time.

For the development of the project, Eddie Avila, Director of Rising Voices and Mr. Tomas Huanca from CBIDSI took part in the workshops. Mr. Avila was the facilitator of the social media workshops and Mr. Huanca acted as coordinator and workshop facilitator.

The workshop activities took place in the offices of CBIDSI and members of the the following Tsimane’ groups took part:

  • Two members from the Tsimane’ Grand Council
  • Two members of the Tsimane’ Education Council
  • Three members for the Tsimane’ Linguistic Universe Project
  • Three bilingual teachers

The workshop introducing social media took place as a way to connect them to others, their friends, and their family primarily through the Internet. Currently people use these tools to share and discuss social issues, and share written documents, photos, and videos to inform others. In addition, other social media was shared, such as:

  • Facebook that allows one to share openly among friends and other groups, and it is an important way to become involved in a new social network.
  • YouTube, which allows the user to upload short videos.
Social media workshop. Photo by Eddie Avila and used with permission.

Social media workshop. Photo by Eddie Avila and used with permission.

During the workshop, social media discussed allowed for interest in learning and under the direction of the coordinators, small groups were formed to put into practice, especially using audio and video. The initial works are now available on the project's Facebook Page and on YouTube.

Despite having much enthusiasm from the participants and the availability of computers, video cameras, cameras, we must recognize that there still are technological limitations, especially regarding the speed of the internet. It was not possible to work simultaneously on the four computers, and we did not have the speed that allowed for navigation and communication.

Overall it was a very interesting workshop and the attendees left with expectations. There was a commitment from the participants to produce small documents each month as a way to use what was learned during the workshop.

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