Starting in 1993 with the founding of our school, we began a full college scholarship program for young indigenous women from various Maya linguistic groups. Our program offers these women full tuition and room and board in a residence, as well as full coverage of all other education-related expenses. The young women live together in an atmosphere of mutual support which enables them to continue strengthening their Maya identities. In Guatemala, there still exists discrimination against indigenous people, but for Mayan women, the discrimination is not only ethic-based, but gender- based as well.
In order to select women for this program, Centro Maya distributes application forms to all secondary institutions in Maya areas. The requirements are the following: Applicants must demonstrate a strong dedication to continued studies at the University level and maintain a good academic standing. Likewise, they must be women from indigenous communities who speak an indigenous language. Finally, they must express a desire to return to their communities upon completing their studies with the goal of using their education to contribute directly to local development. In the fall of each year, Centro Maya conducts a workshop with the applicants, in an effort to get to know them better and thus select those who best meet the requirements of the program. All applicants, however, benefit from the workshop, which serves to strengthen their identities and self-esteem. They each have the opportunity to analyze critically their role as women in small indigenous communities, and likewise seek ways to improve their status and assume leadership roles, breaking down age-old stereotypes while maintaining Maya identities.
Students who study at Centro Maya have the opportunity to meet and interact with these young women on a daily basis, and especially on certain Wednesdays when we make a trip to the university residence. During this time, the scholarship recipients organize an informal conference to relate something of their lives and studies to students. Students have the opportunity to learn a great deal about the lives of indigenous women in Guatemala during these gatherings, as well as details about the specific organization of the scholarship recipients’ residence. Students and visitors to Centro Maya have routinely described these encounters as tremendously valuable and enlightening.
The scholarship program at Centro Maya Xela represents the hopes and dreams of several indigenous women who have aspirations of making a difference in our country for generations to come. One of the requirements for the university scholarship participants is that these women return to their poor local communities and work after graduating. Some of the scholarship participants are now physicians, attorneys, social workers and community leaders. Through their education they are making a huge difference in their small and poor communities. By studying Spanish with Centro Maya you are not just learning a language, but you are helping make the dreams of these young indigenous women come true.
Socorro is from Sololá, and she belongs to the Kaqchikel linguistic group. Socorro began her studies in Medicine in 2000 and graduated in 2007
Asusselly is from Xela, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala and she belongs to the Q ́anjob ́al linguistic group. Asusselly joined our scholarship program in 2014. She is studying to be an auditora and will be graduating in 2019
Jazmin is from Santa Eulalia, Huehuetenango, Guatemala and she belongs to the Q ́anjob ́al linguistic group. Jazmín joined our scholarship program in 2017. She is studying to be an ingeniera industrial and will be graduating in 2021
Susana is from Nebaj, Quiché Guatemala and she belongs to the Ixil linguistic group. Susana entered our scholarship program in 2006 and recently received her bachelors degree in physiotherapy. She is now working on her apprenticeship and is working towards for her masters degree and should be graduating in 2013 and plans on opening her own clinic.
Martina is from Santa Eulalia, Huehuetenango, Guatemala and she belongs to the Q ́anjob ́ linguistic group. Martina was a participant in our scholarship program for 2000 until 2008. She graduated in 2011 from law school and is currently working on her apprenticeship at the Instituto de la Defensa Pública Penal and Martina will be receiving her license to practice law in 2012.
Griselda is from San Pedro La Laguna, Sololá, Guatemala she belongs to the Kiché linguistic group. She graduated from law school 2005 and is now a practicing attorney in her home town.
Carolina is from Santa Catarina Ixtahuacán, Sololá Guatemala and she belongs to the Kiché linguistic group. Carolina entered into our scholarship program in 2006 and graduated in March 2012. She received her bachelors degree in psychology.
Leticia is from Concepción Tutuapa, San Marcos, Guatemala and she belongs to the Mam linguistic group. She is studied to be a nurse and graduated on November 18th, 2016.
Gladys is from Santa Catarina Ixtahuacán, Sololá she belongs to the Kiché linguistic group. Gladys joined our scholarship program in 2007 and graduated in 2009 as a nurse practitioner in 2009. She is now studying to be a nurse and will graduate in 2013.
Ingrid is from Nebaj, Quiché, Guatemala and she belongs to the Itil linguistic group. She is studying to be a doctor and joined our scholarship program in medicine in 2012. After graduating in 2018, Ingrid plans on returning to her small, rural community to practice medicine.
Beatriz is from Concepción Tutuapa, San Marcos, Guatemala and she belongs to the Mam linguistic group. Beatriz joined our scholarship program in 2007 and graduated as a nurse technician. in the rural communities of San Miguel . She is currently working in in the rural communities of Ixtahuacán, San Marcos, Guatemala.
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I have studied with Pedro at Centro Maya Xela for two years -- a month in Guatemala and the remainder of the time online with weekly lessons. As a Spanish teacher, it is very important that I maintain strong skills in Spanish. Pedro makes Spanish fun and relevant to the real world. He also demands the best from me and makes sure that I meet his expectations. I will study with Pedro again in Guatemala this summer, and I look forward to many years of lessons with him.
Christine M. Spanish Teacher Pennsylvania
Centro Maya Xela is much more than a language school; it is a cultural education, a family, and a fiesta! I have had so much fun on field trips (practicing very practical Spanish), and making lasting friendships with the teacher, the host families, and with the young women who are supported by the school. I also appreciate the flexibility to volunteer in the community at the same time. The best way to learn Spanish!
Dianne, Seattle WA
Centro Maya provided exactly what I needed -- intensive language study, continual conversational practice and wonderful field trips. The teachers are wonderful cultural guides as well as dedicated educators, and the opportunity to live with a local family allowed me to get to know Guatemala in authentic ways that honestly changed my world view. Thanks to Centro Maya, I also had the unique opportunity to study Q'anjob'al Maya before I went to work in a rural Q'anjob'al community. Centro Maya can work with students at any level, and I would recommend this school to any foreign traveler visiting the Xela area. --
Charity Thompson, Portland, Oregon
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