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SUNNY OSMENT (BA ’19)     

This summer, I was lucky enough to be accepted to a program called the Mexican Solidarity Network (MSN), which has articulated and sought the integral connection between schooling and activism on a global level—especially in solidarity with justice movements that are interconnected with forms of resistance in the US. The MSN study abroad program is unique in the way it seems to combine university classrooms with social justice and organizing efforts while working directly to deconstruct the dangerous disconnect between academic elites who study the oppressed and people directly, actively, uncompromisingly dismantling oppression. It was more specifically important to me because, since learning about the Zaptista Movement in Chiapas, I had been looking for ways to learn more extensively from its political resistance that spans local, national, and global spheres. The theoretical and ideological foundations the Zapatista movement has articulated through a feminist, anti-global-neo-liberalism, and socialist lens provides a framework that seems necessary for every social justice movement to connect with and adopt.

When I got to the Mexican Solidarity Network’s house in San Cristobal, Chiapas, I had no idea what to expect. In Oventik, we began the two-fold program, where for five hours a day in the Oventik caracol we would study Mexican Politics, Zapatista histories of resistance, and political economics from a Marxist perspective. We also would take classes from the ‘promotors of education’ in Tzotzil, the Mayan language spoken predominately in this part of Chiapas, or in Castellano. One of the most impactful parts of my experience was a connection I built with one of the promotores, Natalio, who shared with me often of his journey as a Zapatista and how, because of the Zapatistas foundation in Mayan-indigenous cultures, their political philosophy is their every-day philosophy. The revolutionary, political, moral agenda of the Zapatistas is entirely rooted in an understanding of a responsibility to and connection with the other subjects of this earth and treating them as such.

Since getting back to the United States, I’ve really struggled to articulate and communicate all of the lessons I learned and ways that my understanding of activism has shifted as truths are forcing themselves out through events filled of pure, epitomizing representations of systemic oppression. I believe that the action it demands cannot afford to be reactionary but action has to reveal the anger and pain’s sources. The action we demand for revolution and liberation is deeply rooted in our human purpose, our human cause and connectedness. The Zapatistas in the Oventik caracol have shaped my understanding that in order for us to human and liberated, we must be coming from a place of deep value of the world’s other subjects’ presences, and the human understanding each one should be free.