I grew up in a poor and humble family; my parents are farmers and we worked in the fields together. We had a house made of straw and wood. I remember very well that when it rained at night we would get wet when we slept. At that time we did not have a private lot, since there was no spare land; everything was occupied by the bosses–large farms that made my grandparents work forced labor without paying a penny.  

At present I am studying legal sciences and rights. I chose this career because I like justice; I want to give people a social right in the community, through a law regarding the violation of the rights of women and children. In Guatemala there is an abundance of cases of machismo, corruption, the violation of rights and racial discrimination against indigenous peoples. 

My greatest dream is to prepare my indigenous people to demand their rights, without any discrimination, as well as to fulfill their citizens’ obligations. I want to help young people develop the mentality to want to continue to study. In Guatemala we have good students, what we do not have is free institutes, high schools and universities; not all of us have the same resources and opportunities to attend a university. GSSG has shown me the way, through that, we can lead the youth to follow their dreams. 

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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