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PROJECTS BLOG 11/07/2023

Nuestro Puente al Mundo Virtual (Our Bridge to the Virtual World): 2022 Community Microgrant Winner Update

Located in Zinacantán, Chiapas, Mexico, the Yo’onik Learning Center serves a community where 99% of the residents are Tzotzil Maya, an indigenous group deeply rooted in rich Mayan linguistic and cultural traditions. They are celebrated for their Artisans who create original textiles and designs through the tradition of backstrap weaving. Every year, many students drop out of school after the sixth grade because their families cannot afford to continue their education. Yo’onik identifies extraordinary students and helps them offset the additional expenses of studying beyond primary school. 

The Yo’onik project Nuestro Puente al Mundo Virtual translates to “Our Bridge to the Virtual World.”

From our Grantee: 

In 2020, due to the pandemic, everything became digital, and we quickly realized the need to have access to a computer or, at least, a cell phone with solid internet. It was a difficult time when we missed many things. The children had homework they couldn’t do because they didn’t have access to cell phones or laptops. In truth, even if they had these things, they wouldn’t have known how to use them. The Artisans were no longer making sales because of the drop in travel, and we could not leverage the opportunities of an Internet market for our handcrafted textiles. 

Our goal with this microgrant was to be able to connect with the rest of the world through the creation of videos and podcasts in Tzotzil by students, the creation of marketing products by the artisans, and the digitization and creation of original embroidery and textile designs as part of our strategy of preserving our cultural heritage. We estimate that over 100 students and artisans have gained access to digital learning through this program. 

We created a space where students and people from the community can gather to learn and share with each other about computer and digital skills for personal, professional, organizational, and community benefit. 

Program highlights: 

The children are learning to use office suites to do homework and can transfer that skill when they go to high school or college to strengthen their creativity with technology. They are connecting with the world and learning about social networks. By becoming digital creators, they can create content in our mother tongue, Tzotzil.

For the Artisans, it has been about participating more deeply in our community while learning different ways of marketing our craft products. We can now access the world of the market through digital and social networks. We are learning about marketing and how to promote on social networks to sell our products; this helps us by creating economic stability. 

We look forward to creating a digital museum and digitizing our designs to share with the world. Overall, our participation in this program contributes to ongoing education, leading to a professional life that will support our children to continue to improve in school. Being comfortable with technology helps us in the world outside of Zinacantán.

You can learn more about Yo’nik and their partner organization Natik by visiting For those we may be interested, volunteer opportunities exist.  


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