Empower Maya Youth in a Post-Genocide Community

by Limitless Horizons Ixil
Vetted
Scholars researching their assigned career degrees
Scholars researching their assigned career degrees

In this update, we’d like to share about the progress of our third-year middle school scholars who will be starting high school next January, as the preparations are starting now! Thanks to your generous contributions, we are able to provide scholars with substantial support to prepare for this transition!

In Guatemala, students entering high school choose a “career” to study and receive a specialized technical degree. To help them with this big, important decision, we recently hosted a two-part workshop series on choosing a career. The first workshop was very hands on, involving the scholars researching the different degrees they were interested in. They were able to reflect on what kind of people they are and how their personalities would fit with the types of careers they are interested in. Scholars with similar interests worked together in a group to research a kind of degree. They looked up the different schools that offered that degree, where the schools were located, and the type of personalities that fit well with the career. A highlight included youth discovering their interests in careers as nurses, electricians, and bilingual secretaries!

To provide another level of information to support their decision-making, the second part of the series was a career panel, which included people from the community who have the degrees scholars are interested in pursuing. These included accounting, medicine, computer science, bilingual secretary, physical education, electrician, and literature and sciences, which is a general college-prep degree. Our scholars had many important questions for our terrific group of panelists, such as how long it would take to complete each degree and the cost of tuition and scholarship options. Panelists shared their personal experiences including the reasons they chose their specific degree, what they liked about it, and what job opportunities exist in the Chajul area and around Guatemala for people with that degree.

We also had a special guest speaker who studied primary education in high school but decided to pursue a university degree in agricultural engineering. This was to make sure our scholars know that it’s okay if they end up changing their minds and choosing a different educational and/or career path different from their technical degree. The panelists offered very helpful advice and insight which was inspiring for scholars. One panelist offered the following wise suggestion, “Don’t choose a degree that all of your friends are choosing just so you can all study together, but rather choose one that you really enjoy and make that decision with your heart.” We know that our scholars will take to heart the advice and information provided by our terrific panelists, as well as the other knowledge they’ve gained throughout their middle school years with Limitless Horizons Ixil, to confidently make the best decisions for their next step into high school!

We are thankful for the continued support you give Limitless Horizons Ixil so that we can provide meaningful supports like these to our youth as they make important, life-changing decisions and pursue higher levels of education to achieve their professional goals. Supporters like you make their dreams into reality. Thank you.

Scholars presenting on a career in medicine
Scholars presenting on a career in medicine
Our eight career panelists
Our eight career panelists
Scholars taking notes on the various careers
Scholars taking notes on the various careers
Panelists answering scholars
Panelists answering scholars' questions
Antonio leading English tutoring hours
Antonio leading English tutoring hours

A new school year has recently started in Chajul and our scholars are busy studying, thanks to your support of our work! To support our scholars with their academic needs, Limitless Horizons Ixil offers tutoring classes every Saturday. In prior years, we had one tutor who taught about several of the subjects. The tutor led a lecture-style enrichment class using her own curriculum and mostly focused on reading comprehension in Spanish. Student evaluations conducted at the end of last year taught us that our scholars could benefit even more from tutoring that’s more specifically related to what they are learning in school. Our youth also expressed a desire for more lively interaction with additional time for questions. Specifically, our scholars wanted more support with their Spanish language grammar and writing skills, math in general, and their English classes.

Based on this thoughtful and helpful feedback from our scholars, the Limitless Horizons Ixil team decided to create an alternating schedule throughout the month with each Saturday’s tutoring session focusing on one of these subjects. We have a specific tutor for each subject and we are working closely with the teachers of our partner middle school Colegio San Gaspar to ensure that we are supporting our scholars with the specifics of what they are learning in each subject. The last Saturday of every month is for general academic support and homework help and our Program Manager Edilma, who is trained as a teacher, supports with this session.

In addition, inspired by the popularity and success of the tutoring classes we offer our Youth Development Program scholars, we decided to implement tutoring hours at our Saber Sin Límites (Limitless Knowledge) community library to support all students visiting the library with weekly homework help. Our librarian David helps with physics and chemistry one day each week, and our Saturday math tutor, Santos, supports with math tutoring hours on another day. There’s also English homework help led by Antonio, one of our Youth Development Program graduates and current Operations Intern. We’re thrilled to be able to offer these tutoring hours to everyone in the community!

All of these new tutoring opportunities began in February and we are excited to see the impact they have on students over the course of this year! Thank you for your incredible support of Limitless Horizons Ixil’s work and for helping us to continue improving programs for our youth.

Our scholars during math tutoring
Our scholars during math tutoring
Math tutor Santos explaining a math problem
Math tutor Santos explaining a math problem
Two of our scholars working on homework
Two of our scholars working on homework
A scholar reviewing her notes
A scholar reviewing her notes
2015 Graduates
2015 Graduates

During this holiday season, the Limitless Horizons Ixil community is celebrating another successful year! Thank you, you have played a vital role in the change occurring in Chajul!

This year has been full of exceptional growth as we have expanded our programs to include new initiatives to even better serve our scholars.

We want to share with you a summary of the successes we’ve seen in the Youth Development Program during 2015 – these would not have been possible without your support.

Youth Development Program Alumni

  • We hosted our first Limitless Horizons Ixil alumni reunion early this year and another one was held a few weeks ago.
  • LHI alumni are now known as Triunfadores sin Límites (Limitless Achievers) and will be creating their own executive board in January.
  • We launched our Internship and Training Internship and hired 4 interns. We have 2 working in the community library, one in our Artisan Program, and another working on program support and administration.
  • One of the interns got a full-time job while she was participating in our program!
  • 70% of graduates from last year are working, studying, or doing both.

Youth Development Program Current Scholars

  • We had 10 high school graduates and all of them intend to pursue university degrees.
  • 2 of our graduates were awarded university scholarships for 2016 and many others are currently applying to college.
  • We had 8 middle school graduates and all, but one will be continuing with high school.
  • Our middle school scholars scored higher grade point averages than their peers who are not participating in our program.
  • For 2016, we have selected 15 new highly motivated scholars who will be starting middle school!

Youth Development Program Activities

  • We currently have 26 scholars participating in our Work to (L)earn work-study program.
  • For the first time this year we offered Intensive Spanish II, a two-week course for all scholars to attend to improve their Spanish – and all of the participants passed!
  • We provided 14 workshops to youth and their parents on a wide range of topics including gender equality, teamwork, decision-making, positive communication, bullying, substance abuse, dating, and hygiene.
  • Our scholars benefitted from 80 hours of computer classes, 60 hours of tutoring, and 80 hours of intensive Spanish language classes.

Our successes in 2015 are thanks to our comprehensive approach that helps our youth and their families receive the support they need to persevere and achieve their educational and life goals. Your support has allowed us to continue to improve and deepen our programs to set up scholars for success. Thank you.

We send you gratitude and warm wishes from Chajul! Happy Holidays from all of at Limitless Horizons Ixil!

Our new scholars during Intensive Spanish class
Our new scholars during Intensive Spanish class
Scholars helping with the Artisan Program
Scholars helping with the Artisan Program
Triunfadores sin Limites, our alumni group!
Triunfadores sin Limites, our alumni group!
Greta conducting a workshop with the parents
Greta conducting a workshop with the parents

We are excited to report on the great progress being made in Chajul, through the life-skills workshops component of our Youth Development Program, offered not only to our 60 scholars but also to their parents and families.Thanks to your support, Limitless Horizons Ixil is continuing to deepen the program’s impact in Chajul!

Our Peace Corps volunteer Greta and Program Assistant Cecilia have recently developed a number of workshops for the scholars, with themes including positive communication, bullying prevention, and gender equality. Greta noted that the youth were particularly engaged in the gender equality workshop and afterwards were able to identify concrete actions they would take to reduce gender inequality in their community! She also observed that the girls have become more confident in speaking up and participating in activities over the course of the year, which is a valuable sign of the workshops’ and the program’s success.

To see our youth become empowered leaders for Chajul, we believe it is crucial to involve their parents. In this community that suffered greatly from civil war, that lacks of economic and educational opportunities, and where many families live in trauma and poverty, parents often find it difficult to support their children not only economically but personally and emotionally as well. Because supporting youth and families personally, economically, and academically is important to Limitless Horizons Ixil’s approach, the selection process for scholars each year includes conversations with parents to ensure that the family is in support of their children’s education and open to being involved with our programs and workshops.

Recently, Greta and Program Manager Edilma have been conducting workshops with all the parents on positive communication and being a supportive parent. Through activities, role-playing games, and stories, the parents have explored aggressive communication, violence, and positive ways of interacting with their children. They were all very eager to participate and engaged in the activities, enjoying the dramatization of several situations such as with angry parents, with overprotective parents, and with supportive parents. We received positive, encouraging feedback from many of the parents who noted that they learned various ways to support their children’s personal and educational success. Other parent workshops include topics such as decision-making and domestic violence.

We have only been able to provide these recent workshops through your generous contributions and support. Limitless Horizons Ixil’s holistic work in building life skills among our scholars and their families is truly crucial to our mission and the success of Chajul’s budding leaders, and we are very grateful that you are a meaningful part of this work. Thanks to your continued support, we will be able to offer more valuable workshops to youth and families over the months to come!

A mother participating
A mother participating
Marlena
Marlena

Thanks to your terrific support, we were able to welcome 18 new scholars at the start of the Guatemalan school year in January. And Francisco, Esperanza, and Marlena are three we’d like to highlight! Starting their first year of middle school at the San Gaspar Middle School has been a big change in the lives of the three adolescents, and they would like to thank you and share their impressions on this experience.


Marlena is 14 years old and started school when she was 8. Despite this delayed beginning in her elementary years, Marlena finished her primary studies with exceptional grades and never had to repeat a school year—which is especially notable in Chajul. She enjoys mathematics, and speaks three languages—Ixil, Quiché, and Spanish. Her Spanish literacy and writing skills have considerably improved since participating in our intensive Spanish course a few months ago, and she is very eager to learn. She says that her experience with Limitless Horizons Ixil so far is "great and I feel more comfortable in speaking Spanish. We receive a lot of support for our education and I am very grateful and happy. Without Limitless Horizons Ixil, I could have never gone to middle school. When I am older, I would like to be a secretary because I love to read and write."


Francisco is 13 and started school when he was 7 years old. Unlike many students in Chajul, he also never had to repeat a year of school. This is a testament to his dedication to his studies and the value his family places on education. He says he is very proud to be a Limitless Horizons Ixil scholar and so happy to be able to continue studying into middle school. He also feels lucky to have the support of his family. Francisco would like to be a music teacher, and has already started learning how to play the trumpet in his school band.


Esperanza is 12 years old and started school when she was 6. She is a very bright student. When asked about her experience as a Limitless Horizons Ixil scholar she says: "I really like being a scholar at Limitless Horizons Ixil because I love going to school, studying, and learning new things and I wouldn’t be able to do those things without this opportunity. I would like to be a teacher in Chajul so I can help the community."


These three bright youth have big aspirations for their futures and we could not be happier to have such enthusiastic students who so avidly participate in the weekly activities of our Youth Development Program. These opportunities include computer, Spanish, and tutoring classes, as well as workshops on themes like positive communication, bullying, and teamwork. Because most of the parents of our scholars do not speak or write Spanish, and have never been to school, getting support for their studies can be very challenging for the youth of Chajul outside of what our programs provide.


Community members in Chajul have great hope for their young generations to become positive role models and leaders, and our ability to support this community development is only possible thanks to generous donors like you. We at Limitless Horizons Ixil and the community of Chajul are so grateful for your support!


Thank you!

Esperanza
Esperanza
Francisco
Francisco
 

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Organization Information

Limitless Horizons Ixil

Location: San Gaspar Chajul, El Quiche - Guatemala
Website: http:/​/​www.limitlesshorizonsixil.org
Project Leader:
Marissa Loterina
San Gaspar Chajul, El Quiche Guatemala
$21,101 raised of $25,000 goal
 
209 donations
$3,899 to go
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