Our language justice co-op is comprised of eight indigenous members who are between the ages of 19-27 years of age. Our mother tongues are Zapoteco, Mixteco, and Mam. We are the generation that migrated in our early teens to the U.S. and thus, were fortunate enough to retain our indigenous language while adopting the Spanish and English Languages.
While our members are from Oaxaca, Mexico and Guatemala, our members reside in Watsonville, Santa Maria, Santa Cruz, and Oakland, CA. Our members can be found at the UC Merced, UC Santa Cruz, the various Alameda community colleges, or working full time. We all received our training and certification from Indigenous Interpreters +, a 63-hour training program to credential interpreters of indigenous languages from Mexico and Central America.
Multilingual Indigenous Interpreters+ focuses on providing high quality interpreting services to monolingual indigenous communities. Our approach is multilayered; we aim to redefine the value of indigenous languages through our profession, we seek to close the language gap between service providers and the communities they serve, and we hope to preserve our critically endangered languages through inspiring the next generation to embrace and practice their indigenous languages. Our social enterprise will collaborate closely with various courts, hospitals, and social service institutions and schools to enable indigenous monolingual speakers to advocate for themselves and be heard.
All of our members share the experience of migrating to the U.S. not understanding Spanish or English and feeling alienated and discriminated against by everyone due to their indigenous identity. Often, we served as the first advocates and interpreters for our monolingual parents. For this reason, we were inspired by our lived experiences as indigenous people in the diaspora to create our social enterprise so that we can raise visibility towards the indigenous communities among us and uplift their needs in order to live a more prosperous life. The need to protect and preserve our indigenous languages is extremely important to us and is the main driving force behind our social enterprise.
The enterprise will create opportunities to better facilitate the communication between providers and indigenous speakers. It will allow indigenous communities to feel heard and represented and it will allow indigenous speakers going through the court system or receiving medical services to better advocate for themselves. Thus, we seek to close the language access gaps that currently exist between language speakers and service providers.
To begin with, people could help us spread the word about our market research survey so that we may be able to get more insight on the most immediate needs and barriers indigenous language speakers and their providers face when interacting with each other. They can also sponsor a trilingual indigenous interpreter to receive the proper certification and training. It cost about $1,500 to complete the certification alone. Lastly, we would really appreciate it if people spread the word about us, follow us on our social media platform, or hire us for their interpreters needs.