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New club aims to highlight overlooked culture

Ameríco Mendoza-Mori teaches a new UM club about Quechua and Andean culture and helps students understand the intricate language. Charlotte Cushing // Contributing Photographer 

Students now have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the Quechua culture and language, the most widely spoken indigenous language of the Andes.

The new Quechua and Andean Culture Club celebrates the traditions of the indigenous groups that inhabit regions of Andean South America.

Americo Mendoza-Mori, a graduate student and Spanish professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Literature, founded the club to introduce the UM community to the culture’s history.

Mendoza-Mori identifies with the Andean people and hopes to highlight a culture frequently overseen when considering the Hispanic population. He believes the club will enrich the diversity of the campus and introduce students to the culture.

“This language is alive, and it is spoken by 10 million people,” Mendoza-Mori said.

Freshman Sydney Sussman also thinks the club adds to the campus’ focus on diversity.

“It’s cool that this group of people is still around,” she said. “This club will be great for people who like to explore other cultures. Our campus is so diverse, and this is just another thing that will expand students’ knowledge.”

Each semester, the club will host two cultural nights featuring traditional Quechua games and storytellers. Attendees will have the opportunity to listen to traditional music and learn cultural phrases in the Quechua tongue. The language, which is a dialect of an ancestral language that dates back to the Incan empire, is still spoken by 10 million people.

The club’s presence will extend beyond campus – it will function as a connection between the Andean community in Miami-Dade County and the university campus through community-oriented events.

UM’s Directed Independent Language Study (DILS) program also offers Quechua courses. The program allows students to practice and master foreign languages otherwise unavailable.

Additionally, the new study abroad program UCusco allows students to spend the spring semester in Peru. Participants will be able to take an introductory course in Quechua and electives such as a Latin-American studies course on Andean civilizations.

The Quechua and Andean Culture Club will hold its next meeting at 6 p.m. Monday in the Modern Languages Library in the Merrick Building. No previous knowledge of Quechua is necessary. For more information, contact Mendoza-Mori at a.mendozamori@umiami.edu or visit the group’s Facebook page at facebook.com/quechuamiami.

September 30, 2012

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Danielle Reid


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