Support literacy and learning for 1,900 Maya youth

by Limitless Horizons Ixil
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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
Participating in art activities
Participating in art activities

In September, we had the great opportunity to host Brandie and Elizabeth, two librarians from Librarians Without Borders who came to visit from Portland, Maine! We were so thrilled to learn from them, share ideas and experiences and show them our Saber Sín Límites Community Library!

Librarians Without Borders is another non-profit organization, with a mission to "build sustainable libraries and support their custodians and advocates—librarians." They have been long-time supporters of Limitless Horizons Ixil, and have sent visitors multiple times to support the work we’re implementing for our Chajulense library members.

Elizabeth and Brandie were immediately impressed by their first day at the library with our two librarians Marilú and David, and our two library interns Ana and Cecilia Jacinta. The visitors noted that it is a great space with a wide range of books, and that our librarians are doing a terrific job! "They don't even need our help, they are experts and great librarians!" even joked Brandie. But of course that isn’t true, and throughout the week, Brandie and Elizabeth met with the library staff to offer their wisdom, insights, and experience.

Everyone got together to discuss some of the challenges our library in Chajul faces, and Elizabeth and Brandie shared ideas for engaging activities and how to best support the library members and the development of literacy for Chajul’s youth. Our visitors also participated in activities with the library members including story hour, reading club, and art activities and saw first-hand how exciting and fun library activities are for our members!

We were so thrilled to have two professional librarians offer their guidance to our library in Chajul, and to have their support for the work already underway—which has only been possible thanks to your contributions. Our Saber Sin Límites Community Library would not be where it is today, with such successful programs and opportunities to host international visitors, without YOU. Our amazing library space, books and art materials, and strong library staff have been made possible by you and your fellow Limitless Horizons Ixil supporters. Thanks to your continued support, we will be able to even further develop our library with increased partnerships with organizations like Librarians Without Borders and additional resources to support literacy in Chajul!

Participating in the story hour
Participating in the story hour
Playing Legos
Playing Legos
Cecilia Jacinta at work
Cecilia Jacinta at work

“I started working in the Saber Sin Límites community library in March. Thanks to Limitless Horizons Ixil, I have the opportunity to work with the children and learn from the librarians. My experience has been so great so far! I learned about how to sort books—I did not know about that or how to do it before. For instance, each book has a different tag and they are classified in alphabetical order. I am very grateful to the librarians for teaching me so well and supporting me as I learn.

The library is great space for children and youth of Chajul. We have members from different ages and different schools, and they all come to the library for different reasons. The library is separated in three different areas—the children's area is dedicated to the members who are less than six years old, the research area is where older members can do research for their homework, and the study area is where students of all ages can study or read in a quiet space. I have learned that the library has specific rules and a way of functioning. The members greet the librarians when they come in, and they must be polite and respectful of other children and the books. The library members also wear color-coded tags to help them focus and respect the guidelines of the different library spaces and activities. They wear a green tag if they are going to the research area, a blue tag if they are going to read, and a red tag if they are going to draw—and this helps me and the others who work in the library to best support them in their chosen activity as well!

What I like the most about my internship at the library is that I have the opportunity to help children learn how to read and support them throughout their education. It is a great feeling to meet children who do not know how to read when they first come in the library and then to support and to see their reading skills progress thanks to our support and help.”

This is a first-hand account from one of the four Limitless Horizons Ixil high school graduates now participating in our pilot Internship and Training Initiative, translated by Léa Valenti, International Coordinator. Cecilia Jacinta is one of the two Saber Sin Límites library interns who are providing crucial support to the children and youth who rely on the library’s services, while she also gains professional mentorship and skill development for herself provided by Limitless Horizons Ixil staff. We are so proud to see how far Cecilia Jacinta has come since she first started as a middle school student with Limitless Horizons Ixil seven years ago, and to see how great a role model she is for the children and youth of Chajul!

Helping younger members how to read
Helping younger members how to read
Reading a book to a library member
Reading a book to a library member
 

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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
$26,589 raised of $40,000 goal
 
 
209 donations
$13,411 to go
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