Anita Smart has been the Executive Director of Natik since 2010. In her blog, she writes about the latest developments in the Santiago Scholarship Program.
The exciting news for the Santiago Scholarship Program is that in 2016, our scholarship students were invited to be partners of Unlocking Silent Histories. USH teaches youth to look critically at the media coverage of indigenous, and trains them in the art of video filming and editing so they can interpret their own reality to the non-indigenous world. Soon to come: student-created videos!
Additionally, we are thrilled that the micro enterprise Ruk’ux Language and Cultural Immersion Program (Ruk’ux means “heart” in Tzu’tujil Maya) uses the skills of the recent graduates to create local jobs and create income opportunities for Santiago families.
Both USH (as in swoosh) and Ruk’ux (also as in swoosh!) offer the possibility of greatly increasing exposure of the scholarship program through the student-produced videos, and has the potential of contributing to local job creation and additional income for families in Santiago. All of the students are working on both the Ruk’ux project and the USH video project.
The university students understand that we are all working toward them being able to be paid for their work through Ruk’ux Language and Cultural Immersion Project. The goal is to create jobs so they can earn money, and thereby finance their own studies at the university level. A percentage of the profit from Ruk’ux will go toward the scholarship fund for younger students.
In 2015, we initiated the requirement that every scholarship student must write a short essay each month. At the beginning, it was as though we were punishing them, since writing is not taught in the Guatemalan schools, and the students didn’t understand why they had to write at all.
In the spring of 2015, the scholarship team (Dolores and Candelaria, with some strategic support from Amanda) successfully wrote a proposal for an Entremundos Foundation grant, which provided funds for kindles for all the students. Thereafter, for two Sundays a month, the students met to read and talk about the books they were reading.
Much to everyone’s surprise, learning to love to read had a wonderful benefit: it greatly improved their interest in, and capacity for expression, through writing! Everyone so enjoyed the reading circle that they all enthusiastically expressed the desire to continue reading books together, despite the additional commitments of USH and Ruk’ux during the 2016 academic cycle!
To find out more about the scholarship program, see the video, or donate, go here.