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Oventic Language School
Study Spanish or Tzotzil in Chiapas
El Centro de Español y Lenguas Mayas Rebelde Autónomo Zapatista (CELMRAZ) invites activists to study Spanish or Tzotzil in Oventic, located in the highlands of Chiapas, 45 minutes from San Cristobal de las Casas. Oventic is home to one of five Juntas of Good Government, established by Zapatista communities in August 2003 as an expression of autonomy and genuine democracy. Classes are offered most weeks with inscription on Monday mornings. Tuition is three days minimum wage in the country of origin (for US students about $185* for Spanish or 266* for tsotsil, depending on exchange rates) and includes food and lodging. Tuition supports the regional autonomous secondary school in Oventic where indigenous youth prepare to be education promoters.
APPLICATION PROCESS: Please complete the application attached here and send it to msn [at] mexicosolidarity [dot] org.
The application process requires email submission of a letter of support from your local solidarity group, collective or political project. Please ask your affiliated group to submit the letter via email at msn [at] mexicosolidarity [dot] org. Once the coordinators in Oventic approve your participation, we will provide you with a letter of accreditation which you will present to the language school upon your arrival.
APPLICATION SCHEDULE: Please submit your application at least three weeks before you intend to begin classes.
COST: US Students are asked to donate the rough equivalent of three days minimum wage for each week of Spanish classes, or $185. Tuition for a week of tsotsil classes is $266. Tuition is paid at the language school in Oventic in pesos upon your arrival. The tuition includes three meals a day during the week plus housing. Your tuition will help support the "Escuela Secundaria Rebelde Autonóma Zapatista Primero de Enero" (The First of January Autonomous Zapatista Secondary School in Rebellion), which provides education for Zapatista youth throughout the highland region.
LIVING CONDITIONS: Housing conditions are rustic, and you will need to bring your own sleeping bag and mattress pad. Drinking water, other beverages and toilet paper are available at minimal cost in Oventic. If you will be taking classes for more than one week, housing will be provided during the weekend, but not meals. Food is available at the local restaurant for about $1.50 per meal. Waterproof boots and rain gear are highly recommended. There is internet in Oventic, but the connection is slow and nonexistent when there's fog (which is often). When packing think of cool, rainy mountains with evening temperatures sometimes into the 40s.
TRAVEL: You are responsible for your own travel arrangements to Oventic. From the US, the quickest route is a flight to Mexico City, then a connecting flight to Tuxtla Gutierrez. If you travel to Tuxtla, you will have to arrange for ground transportation to San Cristobal. Taxis are available from the Tuxtla airport to San Cristobal for about US$60, and the trip is about an hour. Or you can take a taxi into downtown Tuxtla (about US$12) and catch a colectivo for about $3 to San Cristobal. From San Cristobal de las Casas, you can take a taxi to Oventic (prices must be negotiated with the taxi driver but usually run around US$12), or you can catch a colectivo at the market colectivo station for about US$1.50. The trip from San Cristobal to Oventic is about an hour and the roads are very winding. Consider taking some Dramamine if you get motion sickness.
This article from Roar Magazine gives a good socio-political description of where the school is located. The author has studied with CELMRAZ a few times over the years.
QUESTIONS: If you have any questions, please contact the Mexico Solidarity Network at 773-583-7728 or msn [at] mexicosolidarity [dot] org.