Life Lessons Inside and Outside the Classroom

Education has the power to transform lives. Teachers can have a profound influence on their students through their instruction, and the lessons learned within the bounds of a classroom are critical. Yet, we also recognize that the teachers of life’s important lessons are found outside the classroom as well. Our staff is made up of indigenous Mayan women who demonstrate the capability and expertise of local leadership. They work hard to educate and empower MAIA Girl Pioneers, bolstered by the belief that when you invest in young indigenous women, they have the power to change Guatemala.

Photo by Yihemba Yikona

Photo by Yihemba Yikona

Girls are best able to become women with confidence and the audacity to dream of a better tomorrow when supported and encouraged through the mentorship of others. We asked our staff who has played a key role in their life as teacher and mentor, shaping them into the women they are today. Here’s what they shared:

Jerónima, Kaqchikel Educator
“I am able to overcome challenges, and I use my voice to share my opinions at work as well as in my family and community. My MAIA mentors supported me to be strong and intelligent when I was a Girl Pioneer. I continue learning through the opportunities that MAIA has given me, such as participating in workshops and professional development so that I can use new techniques in my classroom that will help the girls to practice critical thinking and learn successfully. I don’t get tired of thanking MAIA and my mentors for their unconditional support.”

Andrea, Director of Programs
“In elementary school, my language arts teacher helped me form the habit of reading. She gave me books to read and was the first teacher to praise me about my accomplishments in school. Much later, when I studied to be a teacher, I also had good role models. I had a teacher who encouraged us to think critically about the country’s social problems. That is where my love for social causes came from, in addition to being from a family of women working in community development.”

Norma, Guatemala Executive Director
“There are many women from whom I have learned a lot. If I could visualize it, I would have tattoos all over my body with the specific attributes that each of them taught me. I have learned that when you fight, you can achieve your dreams. You are going to fall, but you have to get up. You are going to cry, but you have to dry your tears. No one can be successful without obstacles. You will probably have to make difficult decisions, but they are worth making.”

Vilma, Director of the Impact School and Science Educator
“I have learned from my father, Cristobal; my mother, Paulina; my grandparents, Norma Baján, my coworkers, and my 4th-grade teacher. All of these people have contributed to my development as a woman, professional, and student. They have taught me values, principles, to read and write, and to always challenge myself so that I can achieve great success in my life.”

Chonita, Social Studies Educator
“First and foremost, I have learned from my mother, especially since she has supported me throughout my educational career. I have also learned from Norma and two of my former teachers, Lucía and Alba.”

Celestina, Math Educator
“My mom is my #1 mentor because she has taught me important values. She is my support and counselor. When I was in school, each of my teachers taught me a little bit so that I would learn to fight for my future and become a professional.”

Roselia, Program Coordinator
“I have learned a lot from many people. However, above all, I’ve learned from my father. He did not have the opportunity to study for a degree, but even after he got married, he looked for ways to keep learning. He eventually became a community health promoter. The charisma, support, and dedication that he exhibits when he attends those who are sick teaches me the importance of caring for others and teaching with love, dedication, and passion.”

Photo by Mary O’Connor

Photo by Mary O’Connor

Who has taught you important life lessons? We invite you to take a moment today to reflect on the role of teaching and mentorship in your own personal development.