Support literacy and learning for 1,900 Maya youth

by Limitless Horizons Ixil
Vetted
Library members reading
Library members reading

This year has been a fun and exciting one at Saber Sin Límites community library, thanks to supporters like you! With Today, we wanted to share the results of our recent focus groups with you.

The purpose of our focus groups is to evaluate our programs and services, and most importantly to see how we can improve. We asked 31 library members between the ages of 5 and 13 what activities they enjoy participating in and how satisfied they are with library services. The results were extremely positive!

The activities enjoyed most by members we met with were reading, drawing, playing games, homework help, and tutoring sessions in math, English, and science. They also said they are all very satisfied with library activities, homework help, and tutoring sessions. They commented how kind the library staff are and how quick they are in providing homework help and research, and had no negative feedback about our librarians and library interns at all. We were thrilled to hear this, as it demonstrates how hard our library team works to keep members satisfied with quality services and support.

We asked library members, “If you were director of the library, what would you change?” The most common responses were more space for activities for younger members and more space for homework/study areas. In addition, they asked for additional books for drawing, stories, poems, Ixil language, English, science, social studies, and math. As our library continues to grow and become an increasingly popular space for learning and fun, our members are wanting and needing more resources, space, and materials for them to engage in the many services we provide.

Without supporters like you, we wouldn’t be able to provide such a wide variety of activities at the library to teach children how to read and create an environment of fun and learning for the community. Thank you for your continued support. As we wrap up the year with our annual Reading Adventures vacation programming now that children are on their break from school, we plan to finish 2016 strong while preparing for the new year. Sending you warm wishes and much gratitude from Chajul!

Children having fun during our library party
Children having fun during our library party
Head Librarian David leading story hour
Head Librarian David leading story hour
Librarian Marina helping with story hour crafts
Librarian Marina helping with story hour crafts
Library users playing with a new tablet
Library users playing with a new tablet

In this update we would like to share changes we’ve made at the Saber Sin Límites (Limitless Knowledge) Community Library over the last few months. We are very grateful to supporters like you who continue to help us improve operations and services at our library.

Last year the community library launched a book-lending program for Limitless Horizons Ixil Youth Development Program scholars. With the success of this program, we decided to expand lending services to our library members in good standing who visit most frequently. Our intention is to strengthen our holistic work in creating community-wide change by developing a culture of literacy—and the ability to borrow books and bring them home to enjoy with family and friends is an important component. We are excited to report that many of our library members are taking advantage of and thoroughly enjoying this new book-borrowing opportunity!

The library team continues to offer popular homework help hours 3 times a week, covering science, math, and English. Our Operations Intern Antonio is tutoring English (which he learned in high school) and this is one of the library members’ favorite subjects! Our math tutor is doing a great job helping those who need the support and our librarian David is tutoring science, including chemistry and physics.

Earlier this year, our library staff began adding barcode information into the library database, to better manage inventory and the lending system. Now these books can be scanned and easily located in the database, vastly improving and streamlining the check-out process compared to the previous manual input system!

Because many of our library members need a computer and/or internet to complete their homework assignments, we installed RACHEL, an open-source, offline database. This program does not need internet access and therefore is vital in assisting community members with their homework and research assignments. Our librarians have also recently gotten extra training on how to best assist library members who are using RACHEL.

Librarians David and Marina recently attended a Librarians Without Borders workshop to learn new activities and ways of teaching children to read. We were also thrilled to have a visit this summer from the Owen Project, which works with One Laptop per Child. They donated 4 tablets, which library members are eagerly using to learn through interactive activities!

We are extremely grateful to supporters like you who help make this progress possible at our community library. Your continued support gives our library team the resources needed to provide the attention and services our library members deserve. You are enabling us to promote the value of learning and literacy within the community of Chajul. Thank you!

One of our frequent library members
One of our frequent library members
Antonio giving an English lesson
Antonio giving an English lesson
One of our book club sessions
One of our book club sessions
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
Marina leading story hour
Marina leading story hour

This update we’d like to share about our library team, which has been able to grow and develop in recent months thanks to your generous contributions and support. At Limitless Horizons Ixil, having a great team and investing in our staff and interns’ professional growth and development is an important part of our work—not only building our ability to serve the community through meaningful library services, but also developing our team’s own capacity and skills as young professionals as they grow into Chajul’s next generation of leaders and professionals. Your support for our community library helps not only the young library members who visit on a daily basis, but also our library team’s professional development, and we’re very grateful for your important contributions to our work.

We recently welcomed Marina, a former Limitless Horizons Ixil scholar, to the library team. She spent her first few weeks learning about the library and how it functions, with the guidance of our head librarian David. As we have implemented new services such as tutoring hours, Marina has played a vital role in the library’s success. Every Tuesday we host tutoring for English, Wednesday is for math, and Thursday is for science. Marina is focused and attentive, which has helped the library better support its members. David noted that “the experience she gained in prior jobs helps her to relate well to library members and employees.” Marina enjoys her new position and shared that “I believe this job is important because we’re helping children learn how to read, and really making an impact”.

We also welcomed a new librarian intern, Elisa, through our Internship and Training Initiative. She is responsible and confident in all her work. To support the library’s overall goal of better organization, Elisa is working diligently to reorganize our many books. She is working with our other intern, Rosa, throughout the week to support the librarians and daily operations, all the while gaining skills and experience that will be crucial for her own future professional success. David shared that “Marina and Elisa have been quickly accepted into the library community and have gained the children’s trust.”

These new faces are contributing immensely to the community library’s overall goals of promoting learning and literacy within the community. Each team member brings something special to the library dynamic—David with his willingness to help and always with a bright smile on his face; Marina with her observant manner and patience; Rosa with her creativity and determination to see her work all the way through; and Elisa with her confidence and well-collected demeanor. The library team supports one another and they are working together to improve the services that Limitless Horizons Ixil offers to library members. Their energy and passion is reflected in the work they do every day for the library and community of Chajul. We are so excited to have them as such a fantastic part of the team!

And we are so grateful to you for your ongoing support that makes it possible for Limitless Horizons Ixil to hire, train, and support such a dynamic group of Chajul’s young leaders and enable them to give back to their community through the library. We couldn’t do it without you.

Elisa assisting with an art activity
Elisa assisting with an art activity
David taking a new member
David taking a new member's photo for his card
Rosa reading a story to library members
Rosa reading a story to library members
Marina helping a library member complete homework
Marina helping a library member complete homework
One of our members during Reading Adventures
One of our members during Reading Adventures

2015 was a fantastic year for our Saber Sin Límites library, thanks in great part to your support! We are busy throughout the year with various activities for the Chajul community and want to use this opportunity to share with you highlights and stats from the past year. In total, the library now has 1,893 users with 467 newly registered in 2015 and is currently home to 4,057 different book titles, 773 which are new this year! The library received about 100 visits per month, most commonly for academic support, reading club, story hour, and art. Here are some highlights about a range of facets in our library programming!

New Lending Services: As we reported earlier in 2015, we decided to initiate a lending program this year, currently open to participants in our Youth Development Program. We had 31 registered members taking advantage of the program this past year, and we hope to expand the lending program to the entire community in the near future.

Reading Adventures Vacation Programming: The Guatemalan school year ends in October, so we recently hosted our annual vacation programming with engaging daily activities, including story hours, book-creation activities, dance classes, and recorder lasses. The library members enjoyed themselves and were excited to learn new things in a fun, engaging environment. Librarians, interns, and library members hosted a concluding celebration and invited Chajul community members to see performances and participate in games.

Fiestas de Carnets (Library Card Celebrations): We held two of these events in 2015 to promote a special we offered for library cards—2 for the price of 1 (at approximately $1 a card, the nominal fee charged that encourages responsibility and buy-in). The celebrations included almost 100 people, with activities including face painting, musical chairs, create-a-book, LEGO building, jump roping, hopscotch, and Frisbee.

Cultural Story Hours: We held a total of 22 cultural story hours in 2015, held in two sessions on one day a month. For these events, an elder of the community comes to share a story from the Ixil culture as a way for children and teens to learn the history of their community thus helping to preserve Ixil culture.

Story Hours: This year we hosted 76 story hours (twice a day on Wednesdays) with each including an activity such as art, games, or skits with the goal of strengthening children’s imaginations and helping them expand their vocabularies! A total of 1,556 people attended story hours in 2015, mostly younger children between the ages of 5 and 12.

Reading Clubs: We hosted 98 hours of reading club with a total of 840 participants in 2015! The youth have been working on improving their reading comprehension, writing, and reading abilities.

Without supporters like you, our work and successes would not be possible. Thank you for your continued support. As 2016 begins, we hope to expand our programs and continue to implement new activities. We send you gratitude and warm wishes from Chajul!

Two members reading at the library
Two members reading at the library
Our librarian David leading story hour
Our librarian David leading story hour
One of our younger members reading a book
One of our younger members reading a book
Members waiting for an activity to start
Members waiting for an activity to start
 

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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
Chajul, Quiche Guatemala
$30,164 raised of $40,000 goal
 
217 donations
$9,836 to go
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