Tell us about yourself.

My name is Maye. I am originally from Chile, but I have lived in Oakland for nearly half of my life. I have a business as a personal trainer and I am also working towards a business administration degree with a focus on social justice.

My interest in the cooperative model dates back to 5 years ago when I was searching for a preschool for my son. I had the experience of working with 12 families in search of quality education based on values of equality and cultural diversity. Today this is what inspires me to follow the cooperative route and it is how I arrived at Prospera where I have had the privilege of being selected for the fellowship in the Cooperative Leadership Program.

What does your fellowship in Prospera consist of?

Prospera’s Fellowship program consists of one year of training where you receive the tools necessary in order to create your own curriculum, allowing you to specialize in areas where you have a greater interest in exploring and developing. At the moment I am learning about the cooperative business model, specializing in communication and conflict resolution. During the program, we have the opportunity to participate and collaborate in workshops and courses offered by Prospera and other organizations. We attend conferences both in and outside the country, we visit local cooperatives, take online courses, and volunteer at different events and campaigns organized by Prospera. Overall, there are many opportunities for learning and growth.

How was your experience in the Zapatista movement? At the convening? How did you get involved with the Zapatista movement?

This past May 8th, I had the privilege of attending the First International Conference of Women who Fight; organized by the Zapatista women in Chiapas, Mexico. When I first decided to go, my main motive for attending was to observe the collective method of the Zapatistas; a revolutionary movement formed by indigenous farmworkers in that region who have accomplished the autonomy from the Mexican government for 30 years since its rising. Yet, the experience of being in a conference with 8,000 women from all over the world was more enriching than I could have ever imagined. There, the Zapatista community humbly demonstrated the effectiveness of its organization, its discipline, its work, its resilience and its resistance.
I lived what the Zapatistas call Lekil Kuklejal; that in Tzeltal means harmony, integration, equity and the construction of a connected path with earth’s energy. This was an awakening to the possibility that a better/more just world can be created for everyone.

What impact has this trip had on your fellowship and how is it applicable to your future and of the women that work with you?

The impact of this trip has been transformative. Not only did I have the opportunity to live with the Zapatista women, but I also had the revealing experience to fight for a just world for women and for future generations. I had the honor of teaching a workshop on auto-massage to support relaxation in tense areas; more than 80 women attending, the majority of them indigenous women. At the same time, I assisted various talks and workshops on politics, fitness, artist, and culture where the platform was the fight against the capitalist patriarchy as well as the prejudice system towards women.

My objective is to collaborate with indigenous and Latina women in forming a cooperative business as this conference has been the key to open the door to the indigenous community and it is where I have projected my contribution to the fight against poverty and suffering from the women in my community. In June I will be presenting a workshop called the Seven Zapatista Principles, for good government, where I will be planting these principles to be adapted to the business cooperative model.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I see myself advising indigenous women and migrants in the planning and formation of cooperative business models both in the United States and in Latin America. As an indigenous descendant, I believe that it is possible to prosper in businesses without having to compromise our culture and customs. In the cooperative model, sustainability is opened where the basic principle is to make a balance with the environment and that implies accepting and respecting original cultures. Lekil Kuklejal.

If you are interested in learning more about Zapatistas and Cooperativism, please Save the Date for the Charla (talk) “7 Zapatista Principles” that Maye will be sharing on Tuesday, June 5 from 6pm to 8.30pm at Prospera. The event will be conducted in Spanish with translation available upon request. Join us!