I am Evan Abelina Tzi Pacham and I live in the village of Se Muy Lote 14 of El Estor, Izabal. When I was a child I liked to play with my cousins; they were our neighbors. We played selling bags of sweets, hiding games and others. My friends at school criticized me for being such a loner and quiet around others; I did not like hanging out with other girls.  They believed that I was very conceited. I carried my notebooks in bags–my mother always kept the bags from sugar and rice, and I used the bags to store my crayons and pencils. The other children used backpacks. When I passed the sixth grade I was the only one who wore a skirt and blouse because my father did not buy me a güipil and corte [the traditional indigenous women’s clothing] on that graduation day. I really felt dissatisfied; that moment was so painful because my classmates wore expensive clothes. My father did not have enough financial resources to support the household nor for studies because my two brothers were studying at the basico [middle school] level in the town, so that made it very difficult for him with money. Thank God everything went well.

When I grew bigger and passed the third year of basico in my village, I thought I would be someone in life, and continue my studies. In 2017 I began to study in Izabal for a bachillerato [high school diploma] of Science and Letters with a computer orientation. I rented a room and bought food. Thanks to the help of GSSG and my parents and also because of my own efforts, it went well. I graduated and continued studying.

I am currently studying at the University of San Carlos, with a major in profesorado [two-year degree] of secondary education in natural sciences with an environmental orientation. I chose this career so that one day I can teach classes with good lessons to our future citizens, and change and improve my community in order to have an environment full of nature. I am grateful for the support of my family and my brothers, for the love they have given me and for their good advice. God willing, I will fulfill my goals this year of graduating with the profesorado of secondary education.

Education System Glossary

Since the Guatemalan government only funds education to the end of elementary school, it is not all that common, especially in the rural areas, for someone to graduate from middle school. Thus, these students are awarded an actual degree, called the Basico, which carries some weight when looking for a job, etc.

High school comes in a variety of flavors in Guatemala. All of course are private, and there are seemingly as many curriculums as there are schools. Some high schools focus on particular careers, such as teaching, accounting, surveying, etc. Usually, it takes 3-4 years to complete, and they are awarded with a certificate of competency at the end. In teaching, the certificate entitles one to teach at the elementary school level only. More academically-oriented high schools have a curriculum similar to US schools, which includes language arts, math, science, history, etc. These typically require 4-5 years to complete, and graduates are awarded the Diversificado degree, which is required if the student wishes to continue their education at the University level. This is the degree that most GSSG-supported high school students are pursuing.

The University system in Guatemala is like the high school system, in that there are many degrees, and many ways to get a degree. There is only one public university, the University of San Carlos, and about a dozen private universities. Like high school, students can decide early to specialize in a particular field, and after 2-3 years, graduate with a “tecnico” degree. In education, this degree awards them the title of “Profesor”, and qualifies them to teach all the way through high school. For those wishing to go further in Education or other fields, there is the “Licenciatura” degree, which is awarded after four years of study in one’s major plus an additional year researching and writing a thesis that addresses some national problem in Guatemala. So far, three GSSG students have been awarded their Licenciatura degree, with several more hoping to have theirs by next year.

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