I’m a proud first-year student in the Masters in Latin American and Caribbean Studies program, and I’ve been a part of ROC (Runasimi Outreach Committee) since I began the program. Every month, we host an event called a Quechua Night. Sometimes they are 20-people events in an NYU venue, and sometimes, as in the Queens Museum on the 30th of March, they are gigantic events. It was a grey and rainy Sunday, yet around two hundred people of all ages and origins showed up, ready to celebrate Quechua, Kichwa, indigeneity, and learning new things in a myriad of ways.
After Michael Abbott, our current president, began to address the crowd warmly and confidently in Quechua, much of the event became a blur to me, since I became intensely focused on teaching people how to embroider pre-Columbian iconographies onto wired ribbon bracelets. You see, textiles and handicrafts are one of my passions, and in ROC I’m able to share and impart this part of my life with others. There were many workshops that attendants could participate in: recording a podcast in Quechua with Christie Mladic-Janney, painting with Elva Navarro from New York Quechua Initiative, learning some Andean dance-moves, and more. Even after the workshops were officially over, people kept coming, eager to learn how to make a bracelet. A woman named Rosa simply wanted to embroider her name on a bracelet. At the end, she asked me if she could take some materials home to teach her sisters-in-law how to do it too. “Llévate no má,” I said, happy that the workshop was going to spread even beyond the borders of the event! And that’s really what it all felt like, the breaking of barriers and borders, and a raucous dance party to end it all.