Dr Leonel Alvarado –
Sharing and comparing experiences of colonialism, indigenous language revitalisation and art will be the focus for a group of New Zealand and Colombian students and academics, thanks to a Prime Minister’s Scholarship.
A group of Massey University students will forge links with indigenous students of Colombia later this year when they showcase innovative Te Reo Maori language learning methods as well as knowledge about the Treaty of Waitangi and its role in New Zealand’s history.
The $54,000 scholarship was one of two group and 12 individual scholarships to Latin America announced last month.
A group of 12 students, yet to be selected, will attend a university in the Colombian city of Medellin, in a new partnership that reflects the increasing cultural, linguistic and economic ties between New Zealand and Colombia.
The Massey project, funded by the scholarship and titled ‘LatinoAotearoa: Spreading the Word Across the Pacific,’ will see four students each from Spanish language, Maori Studies (Te Reo Maori) and Maori Visual Arts programmes travelling in October to the Universidad de Antioquia.
They will first do a Special Topic in Semester Two, exploring cross-cultural links between Spanish, English and Maori languages and cultures as well indigenous languages and cultures of Latin America.
Indigenous people, or pueblos indigenas, of Colombia comprise 3.4% of the country’s 46 million population and belong to more than 87 tribes.
Massey University Te Aho Paerewa Programme (Postgraduate Diploma of Teaching and Learning in Māori Medium) Hone Morris and I will present to Colombian indigenous students and teachers their inventive language teaching methods in both Spanish and Te Reo Maori, which they have developed at Massey University.
The Spanish language programme is also taught in Australia.
As well as learning about language teaching approaches, the Colombian students will be interested to learn about aspects of New Zealand’s indigenous cultural life, including the role of the Treaty of Waitangi, the revitalisation of Te Reo Maori, the existence of a Maori political party and television channel. These things just don’t exist in Latin American indigenous cultures.
As part of the project, Maori visual arts students will design and create an artwork to be installed at the Colombian university’s campus.
It is hoped the project will become a biennial study tour with students and staff from Universidad de Antioquia coming to Massey in alternating years.
For New Zealand students, it will be a chance to be cultural ambassadors as well as an invaluable opportunity to work and interact with their Colombian peers and develop collaborative projects that foster cultural understanding, connections and lifelong friendships.
Both countries share many commonalities, including a complex colonial history, a rich indigenous culture, vibrant and socially engaged art, a concern for environmental issues and an interest in developing local, national and global citizenship opportunities, he says.
Universidad de Antioquia in Medellín, Colombia
Dr Leonel Alvarado is the Head of Massey University Spanish Language Programme in the School of Humanities. He led the scholarship application process. He will team up with Mr Morris, and Israel Birch, Lecturer in Toioho ki Āpiti (Bachelor of Māori Visual Arts) under the College of Creative Arts in bringing the project to fruition. Tim Croft, International Manager at Massey’s College of Creative Arts in Wellington.