Supérate, an Enactus group, successfully launched a nine-month English language program in Campur, a community eight hours away from the capital city, in the mountains of Guatemala. z
Children in Campur learn their indigenous language, Q’eqchi’, in the home, and learn Spanish in elementary and middle school.
Joe Walenciak, dean of college of Soderquist College of Business, has been an active participant in the program since it started.
Walenciak supported fundraising efforts by bringing hancrafted items from Guatemala for sale, organizing art expos and advising the team.
Walenciak said that the Campur youth are hungry for educational opportunities but are limited in options.
“You have kids that come out of the mountains every day and walk two to three hours just to get to school,” Walenciak said. “If it’s raining, they walk in the rain to get there. They want their education so badly.”
The Supérate program provides Guatemalan students with the language tools necessary to pursue educational and work opportunities away from home.
“We want Supérate to give them hope and to let them know that there are people thinking about them and give them the tools that they can use to accomplish their dreams,” Heydi Cucul, Supérate project manager, said.
When Cucul arrived in the U.S. in 2014 at John Brown University, she became acutely aware of the importance of speaking the English language.
When in middle school, Cucul earned a scholarship which allowed her to continue her education beyond middle school. She travelled to the closest city, Coban, where she took English classes.
Cucul realized how rare it is for people from Campur to have an education in English.
“I realized, ‘huh, I don’t want to be the only one to have these opportunities, to have the scholarship.’ I started to think about how to help my community, but I didn’t have an idea and I didn’t know how to start,” Cucul said.
When Cucul shared her concern with her friends, they encouraged her to join Enactus.
Enactus is an entrepreneurial organization at JBU with the mission statement of changing lives around the world through education and service that equips people, builds communities and inspires hearts.
Cucul pitched her idea and quickly a team was assembled that called themselves “Supérate” which translates to “make your life better.”
Supérate launched the pilot phase of their program in the summer of 2016 in Campur. At that time the Enactus team travelled to Campur for the opening of classes.
Initially, the program was set for three months of daily English classes taught by an English speaking professor using curriculum written by the Enactus team.
Since that time, the team brainstormed
improvements for the program and launched the second phase on Monday March 6.
Now, the program has 30 students, divided into two separate classes for an hour each day. The students are both male and female and range from 14 to 18 years old.
The team composed an application for the Campur youth to complete in order to be selected and applicants also took an exam over Spanish and English to test their language proficiency.
For Cucul, the objective is to indoctrinate the English program into the local middle school to take the English program over.
“Our goal is to establish the program and we want to give that program to the community,” Cucul said.
To do this, Cucul has conversed with elders in the Campur community and the director of the middle school. Cucul said it is a matter of sustaining the program through fundraising, which is one of the hardest parts of the project.
Pate Hubbard, junior management major and co-leader of Supérate, is excited with the progress of the program and the opportunity to serve the Guatemalan people. He looks forward to visiting Campur again.
“The most rewarding aspect was getting to go to Guatemala and to see the launch of the pilot program,” Hubbard. “That might be eclipsed by getting to go a second time and seeing our second, larger program.”
Cucul said the implementation of the program is a blessing and dream.
“It’s the beginning of a dream I have and just seeing the dream coming true,” Cucul said. “I’m just amazed how God is using my time here at JBU to bring an English program in my community.”