"When we speak of New Mayas, we speak of actively assuming our Destiny. We speak of a new way of interacting with all that surrounds us. We educate our children in order to raise a society of New Mayas. We forge a society based on justice, better prepared to face the challenges which the future will bring. In the School for New Mayas, we weave our spirituality into daily life. Our values evolve, but they never lose their power."
~ Jose Itzep Ixcotoyac
Located in the village of Xix, El Quiche, in the Guatemala highlands region known as the Ixil, the School for New Mayas offers young people, most from impoverished families, hope and opportunity. The academic program includes both Middle School and High School.
Of central importance are the additional vocational programs,
where students study carpentry, sewing, weaving, and agriculture/horticulture.
Young people from distant and remote villages live on campus, where they are provided with food, shelter and personal necessities. Just as if they lived at home, they have chores to do, starting daily at 6:30 a.m. on school days and stretching into the weekend.
In 2016 the New Mayas Society, honoring the decision of school staff, agreed to support 18 young women from distant villages, all boarding students. This year the administration made a concerted effort to encourage families to educate their daughters by providing more generous funding, In some earlier years, scholarships were awarded equally to males and females, while in others, almost all recipients have been young men. In all cases, the decision as to which students will receive financial support lies with the teachers and directors.
The majority of students are from Xix and nearby villages. In 2016, approximately a total of 90 students enrolled.
Members of the Civil Association APRODEFI (Association for the Development of the Families of the Ixil) decided to make the education of their children their top priority when they founded the school in 2002. Partnering with and supported by international organizations, especially Foundations for Education, APRODEFI aims to educate girls and young women along with their brothers. A dual purpose was intended: to prepare students to support themselves in the modern world while at the same time imbuing them with a deeper knowledge and appreciation for their Mayan heritage. Since 2009, the New Mayas Society has continued this tradition of support by raising funds for scholarships and locating other assistance in North America.
Presently, students can graduate either from a general studies program or with a specialty in pre-primary education, which certifies them to teach 4-6 year olds in rural, bi-lingual schools. Additional career preparation programs are being considered. All programs are certified by the Guatemala Department of Education.
Volunteers and visitors from around the globe enrich the program by coming to work at the school. They offer students rare and exciting glimpses into the lives of other peoples and other cultures.
A new hotel has been built to accommodate the many visitors.
The New Mayas Society’s logo, picturing a rising sun, shines from the side of one building, a reminder of the promise of each new day.
Students also have time for fun and games!
Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.
~ William Butler Yeats