A Joyful First Graduation!

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Our first graduation!  What better way to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Adopt-a-Village?

Only the country’s violent October tropical storms threatened the schedule.  Three days before the ceremony, president Alvaro Colom issued a plea for people not to travel the flooded highways—many of them destroyed by landslides, and mountainsides still collapsing with the heavy rains.  “Travel only in an emergency,” was the edict.  AAV’s director, Frances Dixon, determined that attending the first graduation of the Mayan Center for Education definitely required travel, and after 3 ½ arduous days of re-routing and skirting blocked highways, she reached the isolated mountain school, drenched and muddy.

Strains of the marimba music lifted spirits (although not the rain) and signaled that the festivities were about to begin. The school’s colors, green for the mountains and gold for the jaguar that lives nearby, festooned the hall; students proudly presented themselves in their forest-hued shirts and gold satin cummerbunds; and all proudly posed for keepsake photos garbed in a traditional cap and gown.

The ceremony climaxed with smiles and tears as parents rose and stepped forward to embrace their children.  What were they thinking?  Long-held dreams were coming true for them in those joyful moments.  Education had been denied parents in their youth when they found themselves trapped in refuge for years in Mexico during the Guatemala civil war, but in these moments they could rejoice, watching their first children graduate.

Two years of dusk-to-dawn days spent by staff and students living and studying in a remote rainforest mountain campus had paid life-size dividends.   New doors were opening—some students were continuing on to university, others were taking jobs or preparing to begin small businesses, and a top student had won a teaching internship at the Center.

Best of all, students would be sharing their knowledge in their home villages.  Indeed, they had already introduced sustainable organic gardening skills to their families and neighbors, and seven nearby communities had benefited from the students’ instruction during school service projects.  “Train a student, transform a village”—this school motto had born fruit with the first graduation!  Their education had empowered them to create a powerful surge of change in their communities—a change ensuring nutritious food for a people suffering from one of the world’s highest rates of chronic child malnutrition.

Please share these joyful times with us.  You can assure the continuation of a better future for the Maya by giving a scholarship to a deserving student for the 2012 school year.

(Insert the link to the “Give” page.)

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