Long Way Home, Inc.
c/o Mike Smith
227 W. Hersey St.
Ben Smith, Lars Battle, Genevieve Croker, Matthew Paneitz, Adam Howland, Sarah Mykkanen
Ross Mordini, Danny Paz, Aaron Colvin, Elizabeth Rose, Jon Fripp
Long Way Home is a non-profit organization that uses sustainable design and materials to construct self-sufficient schools that promote education, employment and environmental stewardship.
Tecnico Maya Vocational School Project
Start Date: January 2009
Main Contact: Tecnico Maya, Mateo Paneitz
Project Manager : Adam Howland
Current Status: Seeking Funding - Under Construction
The purpose of the Centro Educativo Tecnico Chixot is to provide the young people of Comalapa with marketable skills that will enable them to be responsible citizens and entrepreneurs. There is a severe lack of educational opportunities for youth in rural Guatemala, and this project will provide the tools needed to be competitive in the local job market. The Vocational School will educate the local people, create jobs, and combat environmental degradation in Guatemala.
In addition to the standard educational curriculum, the Vocational School will offer coursework in radically sustainable construction, carpentry, masonry, mechanics, electrical, welding, and horticulture, along with the business and technology aspects of alternative energy production. The project aims to foster a new group of Guatemalan students, environmentalist and entrepreneurs, uniquely equipped to innovate in the field of sustainability and construction. Long Way Home's role is to fundraise for the project, construct the school, and oversee the new curriculum's implementation.
In January 2012 we hosted our first class of elementary students. We currently have 64 students and 7 local teachers who are building the building the infrastructure to one day operate the school themselves. The projected opening of the whole school complex will be in January 2016. It will consist of a total of 17 buildings: four vocational workshops, a mechanic shop, an administrative office, a cafeteria/library/computer lab, eight classrooms, an art classroom, and a volunteer house.
While building our ecological park, LWH realized that other local schools endure persistent problems with obtaining sufficient funding, and dedicated staff and faculty sacrifice time and money to provide educational opportunities to Comalapa's children. Consequently, Long Way Home purchased a piece of land in December 2008 in Paxan, a village one mile from the center of Comalapa, to build an education center to help address these problems.
The Vocational School will provide a venue for young Comalapans to learn such trades as masonry, carpentry, bicycle repair, and sustainable construction. The workshops in the school will serve as hands-on classrooms, and will be viable businesses where the students will work as apprentices to professionals in each field. The income generated by the workshops will pay the teachers' salaries, helping the school near its goal of financial sustainability. The school will also include an area where students can learn alternative energy production. Once the school is successfully producing alternative fuels, the sale of fuel will provide additional funding for the institution.
Interns and volunteers from around the world who come to work at the Centro Educativo Tecnico Chixot will also contribute to the financial sustainability of the project. The fee that each volunteer pays will directly fund educational programs at the school and supplement teacher salaries.
Using environmentally friendly construction methods such as trash bottles, rammed earth, and earth bag, the school is a practical demonstration of how to reuse discarded materials. The locals who participate in the school's construction have hands-on experience with these money-saving construction techniques and will hopefully apply their new knowledge within the community.
Environmental education will be a main focus of the school's new curriculum. From organic permaculture to environmentally friendly construction methods, young Comalapans will be learning responsible stewardship of the Earth through their coursework.
The most immediate way that the construction of the vocational school will contribute to the economy of Comalapa is through providing jobs for teachers and local construction workers. Not only will the current Tecnico Chixot teachers have a more consistent source of income, but the newly added vocational curriculum will require the addition of several new teachers from within the community. The long-term economic effects of the vocational school will be felt when a group of skilled young Comalapans, uniquely trained to be environmental entrepreneurs, enter the Guatemalan job market.