Yesterday, I met Jorge Chojolan, founder of the Miguel Angel Asturias Academy in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. Jorge was in the office with my friend Ryan, a fellow BVS volunteer from unit #277 serving at The Academy. Jorge grew up as a poor, indigenous Mayan in Guatemala, scraped together an unlikely education, fled to Mexico to escape political persecution for his participation in student movements demanding education reform, encountered the works of Pauolo Friere, and returned to Guatemala to found a one-of-a-kind school.
The Academy is the only non-profit school in Guatemala, a country whose educational system was ranked last in Latin America by a 2004 UNESCO report. Teachers participate in weekly pedagogical workshops, students have opportunities to participate in technical training as well as fundamental academics, and the school is receiving applications from students who live four hours away from campus.
I'm a sucker for education. Even if it isn't the silver bullet or a cure for all the world's ills, it does shift our perspectives and teach us to pay attention. Listening to Jorge and Ryan talk about their work got me excited again about those possibilities. Check it out. (And look at these beautiful photos.)