Receiving a FLAS award to study Mixtec in Oaxaca, Mexico was such a unique opportunity to challenge myself by learning a new language and making deeper connections with people in Oaxaca. Mixtec has many variants, but people who spoke other variants were excited that people outside of the area were interested in learning the language and culture. Many times, people would open up more knowing I at least tried. I started meeting people who spoke other indigenous languages that would be excited to hear I was trying to learn Mixtec, that they would teach me a word or two of their language. The program also helped me think more about the direction I may want to take my dissertation.
The program with San Diego State University had an excellent professor, Juan Julián Caballero, a native speaker of Mixtec. His valuable insight to the culture and the discussions surrounding keeping the Mixtec language and culture alive were invaluable. I am grateful to have had this experience.