Search by Topic
LIKE Us on Facebook!
See Us Social
Norma writes for Selvedge Magazine Issue #109 -- Rise Up, November 2022
Norma Writes for Selvedge Latin Issue #89
What is a Study Tour: Our programs are designed as learning experiences, and as such we talk with weavers about how and why they create, what is meaningful to them in their designs, the ancient history of patterning and design, use of color, tradition and innovation, values and cultural continuity, and the social context within which they work. First and foremost, we are educators. Norma worked in top US universities for over 35 years and Eric founded the education department at Oaxaca’s textile museum. Our interest is in creating connection and artisan economic development.
Why We Left, Expat Anthology: Norma’s Personal Essay
Norma Contributes Two Chapters!
- Norma Schafer and Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC has offered programs in Mexico since 2006. We have over 30 years of university program development experience. See my resume.
Study Toursd are personally curated and introduce you to Mexico's greatest artisans. They are off-the-beaten path, internationally recognized. We give you access to where people live and work. Yes, it is safe and secure to travel. Groups are limited in size for the most personal experience.
Programs can be scheduled to meet your travel plans. Send us your available dates.
Designers, retailers, wholesalers, universities and other organizations come to us to develop weaving relationships, customized itineraries, study abroad programs, meetings and conferences. It's our pleasure to make arrangements.
Select Clients *Selvedge Magazine-London, UK *Esprit Travel and Tours *Penland School of Crafts *North Carolina State University *WARP Weave a Real Peace *Methodist University *MINNA-Goods *Smockingbird Kids
Tell us how we can put a program together for you! Send an email firstname.lastname@example.org
- WEAVE Podcast: Oaxaca Coast Textiles & Tour
- NY Times, Weavers Embrace Natural Dye Alternatives
- NY Times, Open Thread–Style News
- NY Times, 36-Hours: Oaxaca, Mexico
- Cooking Classes–El Sabor Zapoteco
- Currency Converter
- Fe y Lola Rugs by Chavez Santiago Family
- Friends of Oaxaca Folk Art
- Hoofing It In Oaxaca Hikes
- Living Textiles of Mexico
- Mexican Indigenous Textiles Project
- Museo Textil de Oaxaca
- Oaxaca Lending Library
- Oaxaca Weather
- Taller Teñido a Mano Natural Dyes
Documentary Film: Zapotec in Oaxaca, Mexico, Dizhsa Nabani, A Living Language
All ten, five-minute episodes of the documentary film, Dizhasa Nabani/Lengua Viva/Living Language, premiered last night in San Jeronimo Tlacachahuaya. This is an ancient and important village in the Tlacolula Valley, center of the Catholic diocese. The film is in Zapotec, with Spanish and English subtitles. Just wonderful!
Yet, the risk of indigenous Zapotec language loss is powerful here, and in other Zapotec-speaking villages throughout Oaxaca State.
The documentary, produced by Haverford College, Pennsylvania, in collaboration with Moises Garcia Guzman and Dr. Brook Danielle Lillehaugen, professor of linguistics, tells the story about the essential link between language and cultural identity. It features the farming village of Tlacochahuaya where Moises and his family have lived for generations.
I met Moises many years ago in West Los Angeles. We found each other through Facebook. He was living there and working as a Spanish-language customer service translator with Verizon. His mom was in Tlacochahuaya growing garlic on the family farm, while his dad was repatriating after working in L.A., too. We became friends.
Moises, me and his wife Lois
When Moises moved back to Oaxaca he started teaching Zapotec to young people and hosting Brook’s university students who were studying linguistics.
Both Moises and Brook hosted the showing of the documentary last night at the Tlacochahuaya cultural center. Townspeople, leaders and Haverford students were there. I brought my young charge, 14- year old Lupita, who had never been to this village, though it is only ten minutes from Teotitlan del Valle.
The Zapotec dialect spoken in Tlacochahuaya is different than that spoken in Teotitlan del Valle. This is a common theme among Zapotec villages. Though they are in close proximity, they have remained isolated from each other, resulting in enough language variation that results in minimal mutual understanding.
My friend Janet Chavez Santiago, who also works with Brook, tells me that many villages have incorporated more Spanish words into the Zapotec language and the original words are lost. As an oral language, Brook, Janet and others have worked together to create a standardized written transliteration and an oral dictionary that is online.
There are sixteen different indigenous languages spoken in the State of Oaxaca, and within each of those language groups there are variations that are significant enough that few are able to understand each other.
I think the key take-away questions for me are: Does language define us? How do we define ourselves? Is language preservation necessary for cultural identity? And, then to ask the ultimate questions: Who am I? Where do I belong? These are the great existential questions of life, continuity and community.
Well worth your time, each five-minute segment takes you into a Zapotec village to meet the people, hear the language spoken, and understand traditional life and the challenges of contemporary cultural pressures.
Episode 5: Dizhsa Nabani–Tlacolula Market
Episode 6: Dizhsa Nabani–The Musician
Episode 7: Dizhsa Nabani–Dance of the Conquest
Episode 8: Dizhsa Nabani–Chocolate
Episode 9: Dizhsa Nabani–Gabriela’s Workshop
Episode 10: Dizhsa Nabani–Zapotec People
Posted in Cultural Commentary, Photography, Travel & Tourism
Tagged Brook Danielle Lillehaugen, Dizhsa Nabani, Documentary film, Haverford College, language, Moises Garcia Guzman, San Jeronimo Tlacochahuaya, Zapotec