Enhancing Education in Guatemala

My name is Maia Chao and I am a junior concentrating in Sociocultural Anthropology. With the support of the Smoke Fellowship I will be living in Guatemala for 10 weeks working with the organization, Semillero Mi Angel Guardian. Similar to the Summerbridge program that I worked for in the states, this is a small project that works with the impoverished kids of Santa Ana, Guatemala to improve literacy and inspire creativity. Semillero strives to keep kids off the streets and away from the temptations of crime and Guatemalan gangs called "maras." I will be tutoring and mentoring the kids while also helping the director of the program to find and fund new housing for the program in this difficult transition. In order to do this I'm going to assist them with their website and internet outreach, while also creating a small documentary video on Semillero to publish on the web and hopefully solicit sponsors and volunteers to aid this organization's relocation and stability. Questions and comments welcome-- stories, pictures, and videos to come!

 

Location

Santa Ana
Guatemala
  • Maia Chao | August 25th, 2011
      Goodbyes Last Saturday I said goodbye to the children of Semillero, my homestay, and the friends I met traveling through Guatemala this summer. I was eager to see family back home and definitely exhausted by the obstacles of navigating a...
  • Maia Chao | August 15th, 2011
    Update 1: Last week we screened the Semillero Video for the kids of Semillero themselves. They loved seeing their classmates and teachers on TV and each time someone new came on the screen they turned to giggle to each other. Here's a photo of them...
  • Maia Chao | August 10th, 2011
    On Saturday we made a successful trip to a children's music festival sponsored by the Guatemalan NGO Casasito in the Spanish Embassy of Antigua. This being my last week, it was nice to interact with the students outside the small confines of...
  • Maia Chao | August 3rd, 2011
    After a 4 hour ride being jostled around in multiple chicken buses through the winding mountains of the country side, Daniel and I arrived in Xela (also known as Quetzaltenango) to explore the second largest city in Guatemala and utilize our weekend...
  • Watch this video
    Maia Chao | July 30th, 2011
    After 8 weeks of collecting and editing footage and interviews while simultaneously tutoring at Semillero, the video for their website is complete! As the director sends out newsletters to solicit donations to purchase a new house before their...
  • Maia Chao | July 21st, 2011
    I successfully transitioned back to the routine of tutoring after a brief hiatus to film an introductory film about Semillero for their website (which is coming along very well now! I have a rough cut but still need to add subtitles, which will...
  • Maia Chao | July 13th, 2011
    I've wrapped up my interviews and now am on to editing! However, the weekdays have been pretty busy so I will probably do most my editing this weekend. I anticipate the introductory movie will be about 4-5 minutes long. Though I'm fearful to work...
  • Watch this video
    Maia Chao | July 5th, 2011
    At the end of last week I began interviewing the students and filming the daily activities at Semillero for their web video. From piñatas to songs to drawing to sports I think the film footage will give a comprehensive glimpse at the creative...
  • Maia Chao | June 28th, 2011
    If there's one thing I've learned from my years of babysitting it is that candy has the supernatural power of engaging any child. And today, that was definitely the case as all 23 kids present at Semillero today clambered their way to the piñata...
  • Watch this video
    Maia Chao | June 20th, 2011
    Here's a video, bloopers included, of Laisa and Luis' first class as they learn to speak and read English. They were really fun to work with and kept a very light hearted approach, as you can tell! Today I walked to Semillero and was greeted by the...
  • Maia Chao | June 20th, 2011
    I celebrated the weekend on one of the many crowded chicken buses honking their way through the city, visiting a local carnival and a trip to Monterrico beach with a friend of our host mom here in Antigua. Here is a video from my bumper car-- I...
  • Maia Chao | June 16th, 2011
    Yesterday Esther and I met with the teacher of Semillero, Jorge, to plan private classes and a "guest tutor" position for my 2 months remaining. To be able to work more frequently with each kid, we decided to arrange the kids into pairs or groups of...
  • Maia Chao | June 14th, 2011
      After a week or so of volunteering I now have a better grasp on how Semillero works. Marta, the director and founder, is the boss. She isn't always working directly with the kids, but doing administrative things, lining up volunteers, and...
  • Maia Chao | June 10th, 2011
    It's been an exhausting and unexpected past few days because my friend Esther, who is travelling with me and taking Spanish classes in Antigua, fell victim to the notorious traveller's sickness. We think that it was from a glass of water she drank...
  • Maia Chao | June 10th, 2011
    After multiple restless nights of waking to buzzing mosquitoes and itchy picaduras I finally decided to make a wonderful investment in a mosquito net. It has solved my sleeping problems and restored my spirit, which was gradually being sucked out of...
  • Maia Chao | June 8th, 2011
    There's no way I would continue to be a volunteer tutor and babysitter year after year if I didn't enjoy kids. But of course I am used to reminding them to say their please's and thank you's. However, the kids of Semillero proved to be an exception...
  • Maia Chao | June 6th, 2011
    ¡Por fin, he llegado en Guatemala! After a very early departure from the states at 4 am this past Saturday, I have now settled in to my homestay in Antigua and explored the town for the past few days. I've seen some museums and tourist sites nearby...