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Interview with

Mathias Becerra Sanchez

HYPIA Scholar

Name: Mathias Adriel Becerra Sanchez
Nationality or Ethnicity: Peruvian, Indigenous Quechuan Heritage
Where do you live? Trujillo, Perú
Languages: Spanish, English, Southern Quechua, Ancash Quechua, French, Norwegian, Italian, Portuguese, Indonesian, Swedish, Aymara, Mandarin Chinese, Asháninka, and Ithkuil.
(Basics in other 13+ languages and dialects)

1. HYPIA Research revolves around three main, interrelated activities: a monthly study group (to discuss relevant articles/chapters and videos), an annual conference (to present your own ideas about them), and the publication of selected proceedings from that conference. Ideally, we would be interested in accepting applicants that are able and willing to participate in all 3. On a scale from 1 (most likely) to 10 (less likely), how likely are you committed to this endeavor?


2. What are your main areas of research interest? Please, rank the following from 1 (most interesting to you) to 5 (less interesting).

(1) Multilingualism

(2) Minoritized languages and/or language revitalization

(3) Sociolinguistics

(4)Language ideologies

(5) Formal linguistics

3. Which linguistic concepts/areas/discourses would you like to explore as part of HYPIA Research?

1) Jargon, Argot, Slang, and Idiomatic Expressions in indigenous languages - Documentation in the periphery.

2) Design of community-approved neologisms for scientific terminologies in minoritized languages.

3) Computational Linguistics - How to create enormous databases composed of complex grammatical structures to form new expressions in agglutinative languages.

4. What is unique about your language-related research?

My current research analyzes Quechua initiatives online as a means of activism, cultural heritage transmission, and preservation in collaboration with Harvard Professor Dr. Américo Mendoza Mori. Although this is my first experience working on academic research, I find it fascinating and as a preparation for the demanding academic workload I’ll receive at college. Hopefully, it will soon be published in Harvard's ReVista - Review of Latin America at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies.

5.  Please, let us know your related academic credentials, if and as applicable.

The NGO I founded, Yanapanchik, has been involved in small initiatives to revitalize minority languages, including publishing a magazine called Riqsisqa Willaykuna Runasimipi - Popular Quechua Tales - on social media. My responsibilities here included translating and interpreting popular stories and songs into Chanka Quechua, as well as designing ideas for posts and publications. Though time constraints caused the project to be halted, I really wanted to spread my passion for STEM and languages to more people. Therefore, browsing through Facebook, I found the IEEE Engineering in Medicine & Biology Society UNMSM Biomentoring Competition, where I was elected to participate.

There, I was paired with a small group of students interested in my passions. Working together, we won first place with our Trilingual STEM Bootcamp Project (Aymara, Quechua, and Spanish). Boding produced the idea to create our own organization: Uñstayiri Yatxatirinaka: Science in Aymara. However, finding proper schedules for the upcoming project was a challenge once again.

Nevertheless, more opportunities came along the way as I joined Kamaq Yachachiqkuna: Science in Quechua to learn more about how "Science Clubs in Quechua," hands-on workshops aimed to revitalize and use the various Quechua dialects in academic fields. As I began to engage, I was able to create my own research to design the Periodic Table of Elements in Southern Quechua, which was presented at the Peru con Ciencia Science Fair in 2021 through Kamaq Yachachiqkuna.

With great efforts, motivation, and dedication, I was able to co-organize the Science Club in Quechua, where I was able to hold numerous workshops in Quechua, help students with their scientific essays’ structures (which hopefully they can fully develop to become research papers and be submitted to prestigious scientific magazines) and meet multiple indigenous scientists. Unforgettable experience!

All these projects led me to revive an idea I had from school: Polyglot Science.

Reaching out to the Municipality of Lima's programs, I formed a team at their Academy of Citizenship and Youth Advocacy from the Soy Líder Program.

Aiming to develop projects/clubs/courses for the benefit of students interested in various languages and STEM, we established ourselves as an official NGO. Though we're starting by searching for interesting topics in our weekly publications, our future mission is to develop academic research in minority and indigenous languages in the near future.

Now that I've been accepted into a prestigious American college (though I'm still waiting for more results), I hope to bring Polyglot Science to its highest point, train teachers in indigenous languages, and develop university academic research in America's tribes and rural communities.

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