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Oventic Language School

Study Spanish or Tsotsil in Chiapas, Mexico with Zapatista educators from the CELMRAZ language school

Study Spanish or Tzotzil in Chiapas

El Centro de Español y Lenguas Mayas Rebelde Autónomo Zapatista (CELMRAZ) invites activists to study Spanish or Tzotzil in Oventic, located in the highlands of Chiapas, an hour from San Cristobal de las Casas. Oventic is home to one of five Juntas of Good Government, established by Zapatista communities in August 2003 as an expression of autonomy and genuine democracy. Classes are offered most weeks with inscription on Monday mornings. Tuition is three days minimum wage in the country of origin (for US students, about $185/week* for Spanish or $266/week* for tsotsil) and includes food and lodging. Tuition supports the regional autonomous secondary school in Oventic where indigenous youth prepare to be education promoters.

APPLICATION PROCESS: Please complete this fillable .pdf application and send it to studyabroad@ausm.community

The application process requires email submission of a letter of support from your local collective, political group or solidarity committee. Please ask your affiliated group to submit the letter via email at programs@ausm.community
Note: CELMRAZ requires a letter from a political collective or organization in which you are currently active. By submitting such a letter with your application, it allows for you to be held accountable to a group and for sharing what you learn with that group upon return.

Once the coordinators in Oventic approve your participation, we will provide you with a letter of accreditation which you will present to the language school upon your arrival.

APPLICATION SCHEDULE: Please submit your application at least three weeks before you intend to begin classes.

LIVING CONDITIONS: Housing conditions are rustic.  You will need to bring your own sleeping bag and mattress pad. Drinking water, other beverages and toilet paper are available at minimal cost in Oventic. If you will be taking classes for more than one week, housing will be provided during the weekend, but not meals. Food is available at the local restaurant for about US$1.50 per meal. Waterproof boots and rain gear are highly recommended. Rarely is there internet in Oventic.  US cell phones equipped with a Mexico plan will sometimes be able to make calls from the basketball court or the top of the hill.  When packing think of cool, rainy mountains with evening temperatures sometimes into the low 40s, especially from November to April.

TRAVEL: You are responsible for your own travel arrangements to Oventic. From the US, the quickest route is a flight to Mexico City, then a connecting flight to Tuxtla Gutierrez. Ground transportation from the Tuxtla airport to San Cristobal costs about US$20 via bus (about five buses run per day). Taxis are available from the Tuxtla airport to San Cristobal for about US$60, and the trip is about an hour. Or you can take a taxi into downtown Tuxtla (about US$12) and catch a colectivo for about $3 to San Cristobal. From San Cristobal de las Casas, you can take a taxi to Oventic (prices must be negotiated with the taxi driver but usually run around US$12), or you can catch a colectivo at the market colectivo station for about US$1.50. The trip from San Cristobal to Oventic is about an hour and the roads are very winding. Consider taking some Dramamine if you get motion sickness.

This article from Roar Magazine gives a good socio-political description of where the school is located. The author has studied with CELMRAZ a few times over the years.

QUESTIONS: If you have any questions, please contact the Autonomous University of Social Movements at 773-583-7728 or studyabroad@ausm.community

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