Tequio, Guelaguetza and Tasojkamatik: Sounds of the millenarian word that evokes fraternity

Good afternoon dear colleagues of Teach for All, and friends!

My name is Saúl Miranda Ramos, I am proudly Mexican and a tutor in Teach for México. It’s a real pleasure to be with you in this amazing Conference which gathers people all over the world who love and vibrate with the same topic I do: Education. When we are work of Education we are in front of another topic I am interested in: Context. For the Mexican case, its all about the knowledge about indigenous people, their culture, language and traditions, as well as differences in the literal meanings of some words from “Nahuatl” and Zapotec language (two of the more than sixty indigenous and pre-Hispanic cultures that are in México). These understandings allow me to know roots of how reality is constructed in indigenous communities. Today I want to present to you three of them: Tequio[1] , Guelaguetza and Tasojkamatik.

At first, Tequio is a word in Náhuatl that means “work” but it is not whatever kind of work. In the Nahuatl sense it means reciprocity, solidarity and mutual support. Furthermore, it implies if you help me I have the moral responsibility to co-respond and help you when you need me with any other interest better than just help. As illustrations, In Nahuas communities there are committees for the managing of water and it calls all people to work in order to have clean water at homes everyday; money doesn´t have space here. Another example is when someone seeds his land there is a another person who comes to help. When that person needs help planting, the other person will help him. There is no money involved in this exchange. It is the same for funerals, everybody support the family who is in grief, with bread, coffee, sugar, candles, money, doing the tasks the family has to do in these moments such as digging the grave. Everybody helps everybody!  

Second, Guelaguetza is a word in Zapotec and means “Share”, and implies the understanding of gift or give offering of work in a collective way with a specific objective. It could be benefit a community or a person; is an act based on fraternity or sorority.

Finally, Tasojkamatik is another word in Náhuatl and means “I love what you provide to me”. In a translation to English it could be Thank you, but actually you are saying more than that “I love what you provide to me” or “I appreciate what you gave me”.

All in all, Tequio, Guelaguetza and Tasojkamatik are three potent words to explain what we have been doing this past three days. We have been doing Tequio, because we have been working and building together with a common mission and helping each other. We have been brought Guelaguetza because each of us has brought experiences, learnings, reflections from your own countries and contexts to share them here. Finally, now that the conference is about to come to a close, don´t forget to say Thank you. But much better if you actually say “Tasojkamatik”, because that implies loving what Teach for All, and each of the people in this room, has given you.


[1] In this case, we understand Tequio as its current meaning is used in Mexico nowadays.

This text was read in the Global Conference of Teach for All 2014 in Puebla, México.


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