Having Indigenous languages at universities is a way to say: we are here, we have a value. This message goes to everyone, including the indigenous languages speakers whom for a long time were told that their languages shouldn’t exist. Language is linked to culture and knowledge. By building up language prestige – in this case with Quechua – we are also making a statement: This language has a value; therefore, their people do, too.
Therefore, Quechua courses at Penn work on developing language skills and cultural awareness on Indigenous Cultures.
How is the teaching approach for Quechua in recent years?
Nobody questions the cultural value of English, Spanish or French. It is clear for us that there’s a (contemporary) cultural value of these languages. With Quechua, and other indigenous cultures, people might hesitate.
Some universities in the Andean Region and the United States are trying to change the narrative: They are giving Quechua and other languages a more suitable space.
At UPenn, we organize diverse Quechua cultural activities: talks on Andean topics, dancing workshops, film screenings, game nights, etc. Check the events calendar here. At this platform, we are raising questions regarding the importance of incorporating indigenous languages into the Latin American studies curricula, while at the same time trying to respect and honor Andean culture.
[Excerpt from Remezcla’s article: “This Quechua Professor Wants to Dispel the Myth That Indigenous Languages Are a Thing of the Past“]