My name is Carlos Coc Xol, I was born in El Estor, a town that is located about 8 hours northeast of Guatemala City, on the shore of the largest lake in Guatemala, Lake Izabal. I am the fifth child out of ten. I grew up speaking Q’eqchi’, a Mayan language spoken in the region. I grew up helping around my parents’ and grandparents’ homes, collecting firewood for cooking. My grandpa, Mateo, used to collect firewood and sell it to our neighbors or to restaurants downtown. I attended a public school about 10 minutes away from home. Every day we used to go to school from 7 am to 12 pm, and after we got home we rested a little bit, then we used to head out to collect wood with my friends. That was one of the daily activities we did back then.
In 2008, when I was in 8th grade, one of my Spanish teachers gave us a notice about a scholarship. We had to take an exam at another school in town, and other students from other schools also participated. I was very happy because I was one of the students who got selected by GSSG for a full scholarship. Then a man named John Bodoh, along with Jorge Paque, came to El Estor and visited each one of the selected students with their families. In 2009, we traveled to the United States and we had to learn a certain amount of English before attending high school that same year. In spring of 2013 I graduated from McDonell Central High School in Chippewa Falls, WI, and then in August I went to attend Wake Tech Community College in North Carolina for two semesters.
In 2016, I started a technical degree (P.E.M.) High School Teacher Program based on natural science and environmental resources, in the University of San Carlos of Guatemala. This degree allowed me to pursue a teaching job. I first worked for a small private school in El Estor, then in 2018 I went to teach weekly in a remote village almost a three hour ride away. Before getting a job, I volunteered to help teach English in a remote village two hours away from home, at a primary school from first to sixth grade. Teaching is one of the things that I like the most, that is why I chose to study this field.
In the present day, GSSG has again given me the opportunity to continue my studies. I returned to the university to study for a Licenciatura (bachelor’s degree) in Natural Science and Environmental Education at San Carlos University. I hope to get more knowledge in order to teach better in this area. I also want to know more about the environmental laws in Guatemala, because there are many Mayan communities that have been trying to keep the environment safe from large international companies and have been forced to leave the areas. The large companies just take advantage of them and exploit all the natural resources, leaving a lot of communities in poverty and in bad living conditions. I hope someday I could help in this type of situation, because it is not easy to see how indigenous people are treated sometimes, especially if they don’t have someone that could help them.