We are a humble and happy family made up of nine siblings, but this year (2021) in July my brother Elfido passed away. My father dedicated himself to planting cornfields and beans, my mother dedicated herself to washing clothes in other people’s houses to help buy food. My brothers and I attended public schools, and two of my older brothers went out to sell things.

I chose to study for a bachelor of legal and social sciences (Lawyer and Notary) because I’d like to know about the laws that govern my country in order to support poor people when their rights are violated; also in order to have a better life for my family by having a better job. I am currently working on my thesis on the agrarian conflict that exists in my town.

Some of my next goals are  to graduate from the bachelor’s degree to become a lawyer and notary, then I would like to pursue a master’s degree in a specific branch of law, and have my own legal office. I would like to be part of an organization to support my community that has been affected, along with the rights that are due to them, because of injustices. In the future I also want to support my parents because at their age they are no longer able to work.

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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