Over the course of 50 weeks in 2019, Global Voices plans to host 50 Latin American language activists on its @ActLenguas Twitter handle. This Twitter campaign began in mid-January and is now in full swing.
According to their site, “Global Voices is an international and multilingual community of bloggers, journalists, translators, academics, and human rights activists.” They aim to leverage the internet to defend free speech, empower storytellers, and elevate voices outside the mainstream.
The @ActLenguas Twitter campaign is part of a Global Voices’ project called Rising Voices. For the past five years, this project has provided microgrants for regional language projects, as well as facilitated gatherings and workshops across Latin America. In fact, many of the people on the @ActLenguas roster have participated in gatherings and workshops put on by Rising Voices.
So far, @ActLenguas has hosted Mixe linguist Yásnaya Elena Aguilar Gil, Aymaya cyber-activist Ruben Hilari Quispe, Quechua poet Irma Alvarez Ccoscco, Tenék-speaking educator Luis Flores, Tu’un Savi–speaking technologist Onésimo Cruz Mejía, and Triqui speaker Misael Hernández Mendoza.
In their week-long tenures, these activists have shared what their languages mean to them and their communities in succinct tweets, often accompanied by infographics such as maps showing where their languages are spoken and photos of their community members participating in their traditions.
The tweets are primarily in Spanish and the tweeter’s specific native language. Common themes expressed by the tweeters include the role of the internet in revitalizing Indigenous languages, the risks Indigenous languages face as their native speakers’ numbers dwindle with age, and the importance of integrating Indigenous languages with overarching government.
Most importantly, tweeters have shared their hopes for their languages’ futures.
In his interview on the Rising Voices site, Luis Flores wrote, “I dream of spaces where the language can be used freely, I dream that the authorities attend to us in our languages, of fewer deaths in hospitals and clinics because they do not understand us when we speak the language, of not imprisoning more people because they cannot defend themselves by not talking Spanish, in schools where our own language is taught before languages from abroad, in which parents continue to transmit the language of our grandparents.”
Flores finished his interview: “I dream that my language lives.”
In the context of 2019, which is the International Year of Indigenous Languages, Global Voices’ @ActLenguas campaign is particularly resonant.
Readers interested in participating in it are encouraged by Global Voices to follow along and retweet on Twitter.