CYFEMAT is the collective story of dozens of individuals coming together for the greater good. In that sense, it embodies Michael Novak's definition of social justice as "the capacity to organize with others to accomplish ends that benefit the whole community."
In late June 2021, the group met to select a name and define its mission. The name CYFEMAT was suggested as an amalgamation of the Spanish words Círculos, Y, Festivales, and Matemáticos, given that the group wanted to advance the math circle and math festival models of teaching in the Spanish-speaking world. Nevertheless, demand for CYFEMAT's services quickly revealed the need to incorporate English and Portuguese.
CYFEMAT grew out of outreach efforts in Latin America during Hector Rosario's tenure as Director of Outreach and Festivals for the Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival (2018-2021). His idea to create an interactive webinar series for an international audience of students and teachers in March 2020, in response to the pandemic, was well-received around the world, and particularly in Latin America. After a year of collaboration, the group coalesced around an event held in April 2021: Crucero Matemático. That event, which drew close to 500 participants during the span of four hours, made it clear that the group needed an autonomous organization to chart its own course.
On Thursday, July 1, 2021, we announced CYFEMAT's existence at the RELME 34 conference, hosted by the Centro Universitario de Occidente (CUNOC) in Guatemala. The moderator of the session, Ashly Quemé, was so inspired by our message that she took it upon herself to recruit volunteers to join our ranks. With growing enthusiasm, in August 2021, we participated at X COME, a conference organized by the Universidad Pedagógica Nacional Francisco Morazán in Honduras. In four separate events during that gathering, we attracted more than 1,000 teachers. One of them, Feria de Juegos, drew over 500 participants simultaneously, surpassing our attendance at Crucero Matemático! In fact, during our first year months, we directly reached more than 7,000 teachers and students.