You guys, the Scholarship & Youth Development Program is THE BEST. We know we say this a lot, but giving a student the opportunity to join this program is doing so much more than simply paying for their tuition. Allow us to elaborate…

Staff member Katie Camillus spends a lot of time in Guatemala working with the Scholarship & Youth Development Program. Here is her story from a recent trip (spoiler alert: it’s super heart-warming):

I was floored to witness that community being created, and how mature and supportive our young students are.

At the beginning of every monthly workshop, students do a “trust partner” conversation where they talk about the character strengths they’re working on and what successes and challenges they’ve had recently. To close the activity, the whole group gathers together to do a “community meeting” where each student takes a turn saying how they’re feeling that day and answering another question related to the theme of the workshop (e.g. in the interpersonal relationships workshop it was, “One of my qualities/habits that helps me have good relationships with my classmates is…”).
Scholarship Students Gathered 2015Whenever a student mentions that they’re not feeling well that day—maybe they’re tired, worried, or sad—the local facilitator asks them if they would be willing to share more about what’s going on to see if the group might be able to offer some support. It’s so inspiring to see the students offering words of advice and encouragement to each other when someone is worried because exams are coming up or frustrated with a situation at home.

In this particular workshop, one of the 7th graders expressed her sadness. She burst into tears as she explained, “I miss my mom, because I haven’t seen her for a very long time.” Heydi, the staff facilitator, explained how the girl’s mother had gone to work in Guatemala City, several hours away, and as a result she hadn’t seen her mom in months.


Deisy has benefitted from the support of older students and in turn she’s ushering new students through some of the same struggles she had.

Immediately, Deisy, who is in 9th grade, piped up and shared how she related to such a challenge. Deisy encouraged her to remember how much her mom loves her and cares, and to remember that her love is why she’s working so hard to provide for her. Being mature beyond her years by the harshness of life in Guatemala, Deisy then offered, “I know we don’t know each other well yet, but if you ever need someone to talk about this with, or a shoulder to cry on, I’m here for you.

I was floored to witness that community being created, and how mature and supportive our young students are. It’s this support, not only from our generous donors and dedicated staff, but from the other students as well, that makes all the difference in whether these students give up or keep struggling forward when the going gets tough.

Thank YOU for making the Scholarship & Youth Development Program the bright spot in so many children’s lives. Click below to view the photos and bios of more students hoping to join this amazing community next year.