Wayuunaiki para el Mundo (Wayuunaiki for the World) is an initiative created with the goal of learning and teaching Wayuunaiki, the language of the Wayuu people, online. Lessons are presented in a series of videos on a YouTube channel. They are hosted by Karmen Ramírez Boscán, who lives in Switzerland, and Ignacio Manuel Epinayu Pushaina (Nacho), based in Bogotá, Colombia. The two have become YouTubers who share their experience of speaking wayuunaiki and being wayuu with the world.
Reception and impact
This initiative of learning, teaching, and sharing the wayuu language and culture began to gain strength along the way. Its popularity became increasingly widespread and followers see in it a fun, pleasant, and potential tool for cultural, social, and individual recognition, as well as belonging, and now even a reference for teaching and learning the wayuunaiki language. Simultaneously, it is considered an invitation for participation to more indigenous people in the world, a space to share the wisdom and world view of other ways of being and living in the world for people who do not know but are interested in learning and having a good time with these two personalities.
The success of Wayuunaiki for the World first became known through the shares and subscribers that the channel began to have, in addition to its Facebook page's likes. For example, the initial lesson has 1448 views, 41 likes, and 17 comments. Their first lesson obtained 2425 views, 92 likes, and 11 comments. This video was published on June 5, 2015 and by then, the YouTube channel had 65 subscribers and 155 likes on its Facebook page. To date, the channel has 337 subscribers, 8973 views, 510 likes on its Facebook page and it continues to grow. The project's reception is also demonstrated through the comments, videos, and suggestions from their followers.
We believe there are many reasons for the proposal's success. First, the content is quite diverse, entertaining, and interactive. People are learning in a fun way. Another special point is that Wayuunaiki for the World is not thought of as an academic space or one of rigorous teaching. On the contrary, the objective is that anybody can approach the content and be motivated to learn. Lastly, having experience-based interactions and seeing this dynamic of teaching and learning makes people visualize this interplay between the advisor and the apprentice, presenting a class as a space of dialogue and constant reflection in the construction of knowledge, given that subscribers and followers have an important role within the project, they are part of it as shown in the dynamics and dialogues between peers.
Challenges and limitations
The time demanded of the actors cannot be presented in numbers; however, the planning, production, and sharing implies enough effort on the part of both Karmen and Nacho. They tell us that Nacho is in charge of recording, taking into account the script that they create together. He sends the videos to Karmen who, according to Ignacio, is the expert in editing and production programs, and she is in charge of assembly and production. The two also share the final versions on social networks and the project's fan page.
One of their future film projects is shooting chapters in the open field in La Guajira showing certain actions in people's everyday places: in the kitchen, in the cemetery, in their places of work, among others. This proposal involves the use of more specialized equipment than that which they have been using up until now.
Currently, Wayuunaiki for the World has several objectives. First is providing universal access to teaching wayuunaiki as a way of compressing its culture, since it attempts to also explain the cultural context; in turn, also aiming to support schools and children in the linguistic revitalization of wayuunaiki; additionally, promoting the use of ICTs in cultural interactions to bring about what they call cultural diversity of the Colombian nation; and finally, reaffirmation as a society with a strong culture, despite centuries and various forms of attempts at homogenization.
Long term goals
Throughout the development of this initiative, there were never any short-, medium-, or long-term goals. The interest was to teach and learn wayuunaiki. Now, Wayuunaiki for the World finds itself in a recession. The idea is to bring more content, together with the participation of others, and to continue guiding the project according to the goals and objectives that are going to be strengthened.
In the long run, although the future is uncertain, Wayuunaiki for the World is thought of as a linguistic and cultural revitalization tool, which also allows many wayuus to recognize who they are and what they think. It is also idealized as a space in which more citizens of the world will participate and share their knowledge, language, and culture with others. A space of exchange and interculturality where human rights are respected and promoted, allowing it to also be a tool for fighting for these things.
In the case of digital activism projects, taking into account the law of languages in Colombia and the legitimization of language use in all contexts and realities of their speakers, a law could be thought of to include this state and a regulating entity for it. Similarly, it would be interesting to involve both the State as well as other Institutions that promote and meet the financing necessities of projects like Wayuunaiki for the World.