Learning Kaqchikel


posted by Miranda Greiner

The language field school Kab’lajuj Ey created a unique opportunity on returning to Guatemala. An exceptional group of teachers and students gathered for the classes. Language immersion, the availability of brilliant teachers, and intensive grammar lessons created the daily structure of the course. The grammar lessons (Kemchi’) were taught by the knowledgeable Filiberto Majzul—the author of the OKMA Kaqchikel dictionary,“Rusoltzij ri Kaqchikel”. As one of the few Spanish to Kaqchikel dictionaries, this text has become a new companion while here. More importantly, many of the teachers have become companions. Kab’lajuj Ey provided an experience unlike so many by creating friendships within the Kaqchikel community and with other students maintaining similar interests.

Coinciding with our classes, WK members dedicated all efforts to disaster relief. Observing these efforts emphasized my understanding to the necessity of providing health care and education in the primary language, Kaqchikel. Amidst the closing of the course, Peter saw patients at the clinic in Santiago Sacatepéquez. Finalizing the afternoon, he discussed the importance of providing health care in Kaqchikel emphasizing the pertinence to the immersion courses. Language immersion allowed the exposure of many dialectical variations including Chiq’a’l, Iximche’, Katal Po, and Patzún.

Following Kab’lajuj Ey, I have another wonderful opportunity within the language field school through the University of Tulane, Oxlajuj Aj. Two of the same teachers from KE are part of a grand group of teachers that work with the students each day. Each day is quite amazing, as the day is packed full of conversing and learning Kaqchikel.

A previous weekend, I was able to work with Anita and Magda in the Comalapa ACOTCHI clinic. Magda and Anita carried out surveys with many of the diabetic patients. That day included hours of listening to Kaqchikel and observing Magda and Anita’s excellent efforts. Many of the WK members are working towards coordinating educational classes concerning diabetes. As my field project for Oxlajuj Aj, I hope to collaborate with the other members working with the diabetic patients and create an informative pamphlet of information that is culturally appropriate. Much of this information will stem from the surveys and the efforts of the WK members.

It’s been a month and a half of exposure to Kaqchikel, new friendships, and observing the committed and hard-working Wuqu’ Kawoq members. Every person within Wuqu’ Kawoq maintains such integrity and passion towards their work. WK is comprised of remarkable people and I am truly excited to contribute this year, and I hope the years following. This year has begun with so many important companionships within WK and within the Kaqchikel community. Claire and I as interns are looking forward to contributing towards child malnutrition, diabetes, and collaborations with the midwives. There is much to come and build upon within just these beginning months in Guatemala.