Introducing Angelina: Enrichment Program Coordinator

My name is Angelina Quiacain Sajvin. I am 27 years old, born on May 16 1990 in Barrio 1, San Marcos La Laguna, Guatemala. I am one of six siblings.

In 2000 I entered first grade at the local primary school, and I have many memories of the great times spent with my classmates and friends; I remember much laughter and doing things that I thought were naughty at the time but now I think are just normal kid behaviors. In 2006 I entered middle school, where I studied for three years and that experience really showed me the difference in upper level studies compared to just finishing primary school.

Then, in 2009 I enrolled in the Escuela Nacional Bilingue in Santiago, which is all the way across the lake from San Marcos and was a really big commitment for me, especially as a woman it is hard to travel and complete one’s studies when life is full of daily challenges. I managed to graduate from High School in 2011 with a degree in Early Childhood Education with a focus on Bilingual and Intercultural studies.

My Job History…

Then, in 2012 I began a job in the town of San Pedro La Laguna, a town located between San Marcos and Santiago. I was working for MANC La Laguna, an organization that focuses on educational programs based on recycling of waste around the Lake Atitlan region. It was during that job that my companions and I realized that our home, Lake Atitlan, produces a great deal of garbage, and our efforts focused running informational workshops with local women on topics like waste recycling, separation of organic and inorganic garbage; not only did we host groups of indigenous women in these talks, we also visited various schools in the area to provide information and activities in the area of environmental protection. I was fortunate because this work also led me to join the National Committee of Literacy (CONALFA), an experience that allowed me to impart literacy classes to women who had not learned to read or write, with the goal of opening doors for those women through helping them develop literacy skills. It was there that I began to observe the participation of those women and their desire to overcome obstacles in their lives, and I witnessed their efforts to help their families each and everyday, in part by improving their own skills and abilities.

In the year 2014 I began working in the Escuela Caracol in my hometown of San Marcos La Laguna. This school is the first Waldorf institute in the country of Guatemala, and I was very happy to have a job as a Teacher’s Assistant in the Kindergarten class over the course of three years. This experience was wonderful for me as I was able to learn about the Waldorf pedagogy and methodology, a really interesting way to look at education that focuses on helping children learn through developing their artistic and manual abilities starting at a young age. The main objective at the Escuela Caracol is to stimulate the potential of children with the help of adult guides.

What I most enjoyed of that experience was learning from the children, as they helped me gain confidence, to feel love, as for them I think I was like a second mother because they always confided in me about personal problems they were facing. I think the job of a Teachers Assistant is to help a child with their mental and emotional state, because sometimes children can be impatient and it’s necessary to educate with love. The parent’s trusted in me and for that I’m grateful to them, and to my co-workers with whom I shared experiences, respect and humility, and to them as well I will always be grateful.

Joining Konojel Community Center

Then, in May of this year (2018) I received an invitation to interview for a position at the Konojel Community Center. I remember the first time I entered their facility, Andrew (Executive Director) and Maria (Director of Programs) were very welcoming to me and made me feel at home in their space. They set a tone of respect and humility, and I’ve deeply thankful to them for allowing me to be a part of the Konojel team. I’m really happy with my new position as Enrichment Program Coordinator, and more than anything I’m excited to have a chance to practice my professional skills with a new group of children in an environment very different from my previous work experiences.

The Enrichment Program at Konojel focuses on reinforcing skills that local children need to finish their studies and have opportunities as they grow. These days in San Marcos there are many obstacles that children face in receiving a quality education, in part because of large class sizes and a lack of resources available to public school teachers. The work that Laura (Site Coordinator) and I do at Konojel is reinforce the instruction they receive in school through cooperative games and other activity that I hope enrich their lives and experiences beyond what they receive at home. In particular, Laura and I focus our time with them on literacy development in Spanish, Mathematics, and arts and crafts, as Konojel is fortunate to have many educational resources available for us thanks to international donors who support our work. These materials are extremely helpful as a tool for us to help them strengthen their skills as students, and as individuals.

More than anything I love doing arts and crafts with the children of the Konojel Enrichment Program. I spend a lot of time and energy planning the activities from Monday through Friday, and I can see that the children enjoy my effort; every day the first thing they ask me is “what are we going to do today, what will you teach us today?” and this to me is beautiful because it motivates me to push ahead and better myself in my work as an educator. Our goal at Konojel is educate the young people of San Marcos to have good values and to help them develop a desire to continue learning and to take on challenges that will make them better neighbors and citizens.