Spring 2017 Newsletter
Vicki and I returned a couple weeks ago from six more weeks in Guatemala. While there we visited the project 5 times, hosted a delegation of donors, met with our Guatemalan advisory team (two retired administrators of a premiere high school in the capital and a US PhD who has been training educators in Guatemala for more than three decades) as well as meeting with the local Bishop.
As always it was an uplifting experience. Carmen, our director, continues to administer the program under-budget year after year and to foster a high-level of commitment and collaboration among the teachers. Their skill level continues to improve thanks to their dedication and the workshops Steve Barrett (our US advisor) is providing. He will conduct 6 more weeklong observation and advisory sessions during the current school year. Also, the Bishop spent a couple hours in his office with Carmen, Miguel and me getting to know us our goals and methods more fully and promised to visit the project soon.
The delegation was a highlight of the trip. Donors were housed with a teacher or student, joined in a Dia del Carino (Valentine’s Day) picnic and enjoyed a dinner hosted by the teachers. It was especially gratifying that Marcial, one of our teachers, had the opportunity to personally thank Phil and Mary Stich, long time donors, for the support they had given to him and his sisters. Marcial, who is married to a program alumna, now has two children of his own in primary school and has started teaching this year at the local extension of San Carlos, the national university. In fact, Carmen, our director, has enrolled in his math course there! Two of his sisters are teachers in the San Andres area and the third administers an education program in the provincial capital. The delegation also visited Anunciata, the boarding school where 7 of our scholarship recipients are enrolled and met Hermana Estefana, another graduate of our program, who is now the lead administrator at that school.
The most moving part of the trip for me, I think, was getting to know Miguel, our newest teacher. I had been impressed by his enthusiasm for volunteer assignments, including accompanying two nearly-blind neighbors down the mountain to their appointment with a visiting optometrist and meeting with the Bishop where he spoke eloquently about the program and where I learned that he is also a leader in the social services ministry in the parish. I’ve also been impressed with his commitment to his profession despite the many demands of his personal life. He is the oldest of 3 children, helping to pay for his 2 sisters’ education and supporting his mother as his father abandoned the family many years ago. And he is awaiting test results hoping to enroll in San Carlos for additional teacher training.
Vicki and I continue to be moved by the good outcomes your support is making possible. The program has matured to the point that we probably won’t visit again until next year- so no more letters for awhile. The Board is busy planning for a long future.