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Returning to Xela

My visit to Xela:

It is hard to believe that only ten months have passed since I first met Shirley in a small café in Xela. It was in the El Cuartito café that Shirley and I discussed her dream of opening a Montessori primary school in Xela where children from different socio-economic backgrounds would come together in one classroom– a situation that is rare in Guatemala.

This past week I had the opportunity to return to Xela where I was able to observe how the project has progressed. The trip was a whirlwind of experiences; bus trips across the city, visits to the carpenter and interviews with families involved in the Mi Casita project– all packed into six short days!

Shirley and I unpacking the materials donated by Pacific Crest Montessori

The Classroom:

When I first arrived at the school I was amazed by how much progress had been made since I last visited. The classroom is beautiful, bright and spacious and best of all it was nearly finished! Only the bathrooms and windows remained. Once these projects have been completed Shirley, with the help of friends, will begin to wash and paint the walls and shine the floors.

Below are several pictures of the classroom from various angles. The pictures do a poor job of capturing the warmth of the classroom, however they do capture the size of the room and the natural beauty of the garden that surrounds the classroom.

The entrance to the classroom and the windows that look out onto the garden

The final touches on the roof


The childrens bathroom with a child-sized sink and toilet

Shirley and the carpenter discussing the construction of the shelves

The chairs!

Home visits

The most exciting and interesting part of my trip was the day Shirley and I spent visiting the four families that have decided to enroll their children in the first class of Mi Casita Montessori. Video camera in hand, Shirley and I set off to interview each family about their opinions on the educational system in Guatemala and their reasons for choosing Mi Casita Montessori. Our intent was to capture a glimpse of what life in Xela is like, both for the children who will be attending the school and for their parents or guardians. We’ll be posting these videos soon so check back for updates!

Emilio is one of the children who will enroll in Mi Casita Montessori in January

Thoughts upon leaving Xela

It is hard to articulate the joy that I felt when Shirley led me into the classroom my first morning in Xela. I could tell from the moment I stepped through the door that the classroom had been constructed with care and attention to detail. The sink in the child’s bathroom was just the right size and the windows are low so that children can look out into the garden. These are details often overlooked in many schools, yet they are evidence of the amount of time and thought that has gone into this project since its initiation.

Since I returned from Xela several people have asked me how the project is being received by the families in the community. After speaking to four of the families who are interested in enrolling their children in the school I can attest to the anticipation and excitement that the parents feel. They are eager, as are we, to see the finished classroom and to explore the opportunities that Mi Casita Montessori has to offer.


Stay tuned  for more updates to come!


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