Limitless Horizons Ixil

Limitless Horizons Ixil's mission is to create opportunities for the indigenous youth, women, and families of Chajul, Guatemala, to develop the academic and professional skills needed to effect change in their lives and community.
Apr 24, 2015

Trailblazing a new lending system at the Saber Sin Limites (Limitless Knowledge) Community Library!

Ana and her favorite book
Ana and her favorite book

As the first and only one of its kind in Chajul, the community library is creating new precedents with its literacy initiatives and through the provision of crucial educational resources. Thanks to your continued support, we are piloting a new book lending system for Limitless Horizons Ixil scholars and their peers at San Gaspar middle school. 

Since the beginning of March, eligible library members have been able to borrow up to a book a week from our diverse collection of lending materials. Our librarians partnered with the teachers at San Gaspar to describe how the lending system works to their students. Book lending is a new concept in Chajul, and it was important to explain this exciting new opportunity to be able to bring books home. Our librarian David is excited about the new system and believes that this resource is important as it teaches the beneficiaries to be responsible for the book, to make sure it does not get damaged or lost. Moreover, it also creates a habit of reading outside of the library and in member’s homes. This trailblazing initiative is an important tenet of Limitless Horizons Ixil’s holistic model, which seeks to create community-wide change and develop a culture of literacy that will benefit not only individual library users but also their parents and siblings!

Ana, one of our interns at the library, has already borrowed three books thanks to the lending system. She thinks it is an excellent new project because she can now continue reading long books into the evenings (she particularly loves tales of adventure) and can read stories to her parents and siblings at home. This is an important resource for Ana’s family since her mother is illiterate, and she has three young siblings who are at a crucial stage of learning. She is very excited to be able to read even more and hopes the lending system will be fully implemented soon!

We hope that the lending system pilot will be a success so we can offer it to all the library's members. A number of library members have inquired about bringing books home and seem eager to continue reading outside of the library. Introducing a lending system requires patience as we develop an understanding of the responsibilities of borrowing and returning books among library members. Fostering an environment of reading outside of the walls of the library may take time and needs to overcome cultural perceptions around education and gender roles. As David explains, boys in the community, who spend most of their time working in the fields or playing outside, may consider reading to be a feminine activity.  

Thanks to your support we can count on the great work of our librarians to educate our library members and introduce excited and innovative ways to capture their interest! We hope all of the children in our library will be able to borrow books soon and read more!

Reading an enthralling book
Reading an enthralling book
Reading together is more fun!
Reading together is more fun!
Learning how to read with friends
Learning how to read with friends

Links:

Mar 24, 2015

Yo Soy Chajul (I am Chajul): Exploring Voice and Identity with our Scholars

Creative Collaboration!
Creative Collaboration!

Limitless Horizons Ixil is always looking for innovative and creative ways to facilitate learning, expression, and collaboration and we are often afforded fantastic opportunities thanks to supporters like you! Last week, we were fortunate to host a photography project with visiting high school students from Catlin Gabel and Oregon Episcopal School (OES) that engaged Limitless Horizons Ixil middle school scholars with questions of identity and voice. Photovoice or Fotovoz combines photography with community action by encouraging participants to explore themes, create a narrative, and express themselves through photos. Through the project, our scholars were able to frame their community and their culture through their own eyes. With some helpful photography tips, suggested themes and guidelines (including an image scavenger hunt), and the support of the high school students, our Youth Development Program (YDP) scholars were given free reign to photograph their community and capture what Chajul means to them.

Photovoice focuses on community consultation, creativity, and ownership. In a culture where illiteracy affects 39% of adults, and middle schoolers often struggle with expressing themselves in Spanish, images and photography offer youth a new medium of self-expression. Furthermore, it is a site of real cultural exchange, as both students from the US and Chajul quickly develop an understanding of their own lens: their experiences, biases, and backgrounds that color their interpretation of the world. Where the US youth saw poverty, our scholars saw their friends playing. Where they saw novelty, Limitless Horizons Ixil scholars saw the rhythm of daily life. Where the American high schoolers saw weathered but beautiful old women, our middle schoolers saw their grandmothers and neighbors. Through observing what their counterparts deemed worthy of photography, students from Catlin Gabel and OES gained unique insight into how Chajulenses define themselves.

After two fruitful and fun sessions of exploring the community and snapping shots, the groups gathered to discuss the photos and present a slideshow. Students spoke of the rich paradoxes of Ixil daily life (natural versus artificial, modernity versus tradition, old and young) and discussed what images and symbols represented their community (corn, friends, traditional dress,daily rituals of washing and weaving). The students from Oregon observed that their counterparts were drawn to deeply familiar images and scenes. We learned how our YDP scholars conceptualize their experiences and see their culture. Some images were deeply personal—Gaspar described the bond he shared with his grandfather, and Juana showed us a beautiful shot of her kind and generous neighbor.

Political issues were explored as well; we reflected on the problems of irresponsible and exploitative photography, and Francisco explained the perception that visitors’ photos were a way of stealing a part of Ixil culture through selling images of Chajul to tourists and in the US. Always themselves being objects of photos and gaze from visitors, handing the cameras to our students gives them the power to dictate how their community and its inhabitants are presented and perceived.

We are confident that the themes of the project will last in all the students’ minds, along with the shared experience of two different cultures on different sides of a border. Limitless Horizons Ixil is so thankful to our supporters for making exciting and engaging experiences like Photovoice possible for our scholars!

Culture and Chajul
Culture and Chajul
Market Maize
Market Maize
The Cemetery
The Cemetery
A View from the Bridge
A View from the Bridge
Daily Life in Chajul
Daily Life in Chajul

Links:

Jan 26, 2015

Spotlight on Sonia: One of our littlest library advocates!

Meet Sonia!
Meet Sonia!

When you walk into the Saber Sin Límites (Limitless Knowledge) Community Library in Chajul, there is a very good chance you’ll see Sonia. From playing board games and learning how to play the flute, to singing songs and reading, Sonia can usually be found in the thick of the action!

At 7 years old, Sonia is young for her grade, having just started her 3rd year of elementary school. She comes to the library, she tells us, because she feels at home there. She first stopped by because her mother encouraged her to become a library member. She soon found her own reasons to stay.

The Limitless Horizons Ixil librarians are very fond of Sonia as she's one of library’s most engaged and helpful members. Librarians David and Marilú value her sweet nature, good behavior, and participation in all their activities. During the school year, she comes once a day in the afternoon, because she has class in the mornings. Over school vacation from October to December, Sonia happily came twice each day, taking advantage of all the exciting activities of our Reading Adventures vacation literacy program.

Sonia's favorite activity during Reading Adventures was learning how to play the flute. She was enthralled by the sounds she learned to produce and was excited to perform in the talent show that the library members hosted at the end of the school break.

Sonia is a voracious reader. She takes full advantage of our 7,000 book collection and tries to read as often as possible, averaging 3-4 books per month! Her favorite books are from the series El Sembrador (The Planter), a compilation of stories that each teach an important lesson. Sonia also benefits from the reading support provided by our two librarians. She says her reading has greatly improved from the extra help and she is always excited to see her fellow library members learning to read or improving their reading skills.

For such a dedicated young library member, it's initially surprising that Sonia is the only one in her family with five children to take advantage of this community resource. But she is the second youngest and her older siblings are all busy working around the house or looking for work to support the family. Sonia is working on getting her younger brother to come to the library with her too.

Sonia says she used to have friends that came to the library with her, but they have stopped coming as frequently because of their responsibilities at home. She often encourages them to come and even spoke to their mothers about it recently.

We are so inspired to have such a young advocate for our community library, and thankful to you, our generous supporters, who make this all possible for Sonia and her fellow readers! 

A musical prodigy
A musical prodigy
Welcome to
Welcome to 'Limitless Knowledge'
Letters and Learning
Letters and Learning
Our library advocate!
Our library advocate!

Links:

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