Posts Tagged ‘GRIT’

Katie’s Field Reports: Jose Luis using school to overcome heartache

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013
Becados Seres medio ambiente 100

Too cool for school or top performing student?

If you had the chance to meet high school scholarship student Jose Luis, at first glance you might think he was too cool for school. Or maybe after a few minutes observing his lighthearted comical demeanor you’d label him as the class clown.

I bet you wouldn’t guess that his older brother was murdered when Luis was in the 5th grade.  Or that he’s dropped out of school multiple times and keeps returning because he’s determined to reach graduation.

Luis had to drop out of school for years at a time in elementary school for financial reasons and again following his brother’s death.  However when he went back to school, he had a renewed determination and earned straight As (an almost unheard of accomplishment in Guatemala schools).  His hard work paid off, and he was selected as a CoEd scholarship student.

So although he’s the youngest in a big family, he’s the first to continue past primary school and definitely the first to graduate from middle school and start high school (he’s just finishing his first year of high school to become an accountant).  Luis is brilliant, charming, and incredibly hardworking. It breaks my heart to think how many others like him didn’t have the same opportunity to reach their potential.  Please consider sponsoring a scholarship student today!

Wishing you could meet these students too,


Katie’s Field Report #3: Jose Luis has GRIT

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

You may remember us talking about grit earlier this year.  It’s a fascinating topic and I’m reading a great book by Paul Tough called “How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character.” It cites research revealing the importance of character, even more than cognitive skills, in leading to happy fulfilling lives. That’s exactly what our scholarship students develop in the Youth Development Program: optimism, grit, social intelligence, gratitude…and the effectiveness is demonstrated in the program graduates.

Jose Luis grit

Jose Luis, for example, couldn’t find a job in his field as a mechanic right after he graduated, because no one wanted to hire someone without experience. While many would have given up and gone back to working the fields, he persisted – convincing a shop to let him work for free for a year (they just covered his transportation costs) so that he could get the necessary experience. Now he’s been working in a paid position for two years in the field he loves. Now that’s what I call grit.

Signing off from Guatemala,



Is Grit the Key to Breaking out of Poverty?

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Have you heard about this idea of ‘grit’? The idea that your success is determined by your passion, perseverance, will, and “stick-to-it-ness” to reach the long-term goal before you?  Recently introduced to grit through Angela Duckworth’s TED talk, we’re fascinated by the idea.

Refresh the page if the video isn’t showing properly or go to the to view Angela Duckworth’s TED talk.

And so it makes us wonder—is grit the key to breaking out of poverty? After witnessing countless displays of grit from student after student after student in Guatemala, we here at CoEd enthusiastically say, “YES!”  Just look at Ivonne, who is determined to finish high school even though she was orphaned at age seven, forced to leave school to work as a housekeeper, and is now one of the oldest students in her class. Or Roberto, who works all morning in the field before heading to school. Or Abner, who resolved to return to school after dropping out.

Every time we visit Guatemala with volunteers, we return with new stories of the nearly 132,700 students helped by CoEd supporters; schoolchildren who face seemingly insurmountable odds, yet continue to reach for a high school diploma. When talking with these students, they share their grit-filled stories with a startling pragmatism that belies the challenges they’ve faced—as if they never considered the idea that life could be any different.

And so our work continues.

Each time school gets cancelled by teacher strikes, mudslides block the roadways, or a new law negatively impacts the way we provide services, we remember the grit embodied by the students in Guatemala.  Their determination inspires our own. Earlier this month, Malala Day gave international attention to the plight of girls lacking access to education. It reminded us how much work we still have to do to reach the Millennium Development Goals in education.

For all the progress we’ve made to educate students in Guatemala, we still have a very long way to go. As Malala so eloquently put it, “I speak not for myself but so those without a  voice can be heard.” So we—the parents, teachers, students, staff, and donors—will take a cue from Malala and the students of Guatemala. We will dig in, show some grit, and carry on.

What do you think of  grit? Is it the key to breaking the cycle of poverty?