I’d like to introduce you to two people that are very near and dear to my heart – Pedro and Catalina Lucas. They are an incredible couple who are the founders of the Centro Maya Xela School in Quezaltenango, Guatemala.
The Lucas’ conceived the idea of the school in 1993, and actually opened the school doors for the study of Spanish and Mayan languages in 1994. A year later, they created the College Scholarship Program at Centro Maya Xela. The program offers indigenous Mayan women full scholarships to obtain degrees in such fields as law, medicine, social work, and more. Upon graduation, these young women return to their impoverished communities where they are able to make huge contributions to the advancement of those communities.
It is my hope that after viewing Pedro and Catalina’s video, and reading the in depth description of the scholarship program on the school’s website centromayaxela.org/scholarship, you will join me in making a donation to this most important program.
I thank you in advance for your generosity!
about the school
In Guatemala, there still exists discrimination against indigenous people, but for Mayan women, the discrimination is not only ethnic-based, but gender-based as well. The Centro Maya Xela program offers these women full tuition, 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 order to select women for this program, Centro Maya distributes application forms to all secondary institutions in Maya areas. The requirements include 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. They each have the opportunity to critically analyze 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.
The students who study language at Centro Maya come from many countries around the world. While attending the school, they have the opportunity to meet and interact with these young women on a daily basis, and on specified Wednesdays they visit the university residence of the scholarship recipients. During this time, the scholarship recipients organize informal conferences to share stories of their lives and studies to the language students who learn a great deal about the lives of indigenous women in Guatemala during these gatherings. 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 indigenous women who have aspirations of making a difference in our country for generations to come. Some of the scholarship participants are now physicians, attorneys, social workers and community leaders who have returned to their communities and made tremendous contributions to local development.
Please consider donating to our scholarship program. You can make an immediate difference in the lives of many, for generations to come, because education is the path out of poverty.