El Instituto

Ian Zimmermann


November 9, 2009

“Touch your head…head…touch your ears…ears…now jump…” About 30 minutes ago, I finished teaching my first ever foreign language class. Sure, teaching English isn’t as impressive as some other language, but the class was exhilarating nonetheless.

School is on vacation this time of year in Guatemala, but “El Instituto” in Nebaj is the city’s first fully public (and free) escuela basico – high school (mas o menos). Ambitiously, though the school has existed for less than a year, the director decided to open up the doors during vacation to encourage further learning. This means 13, 14, 15 year olds that actually want to learn – to the point where they are willing to go to school when they aren’t required to. Whoa! I can’t help but think that if my high school had opened its doors for classes over the summer, you would have been able to hear a pin drop.

Anyway, for the next month, three days a week, I’ll be teaching an English class and Zuleika will be teaching theater. In reality, the kids won’t learn a whole lot of English in this amount of time, but if we can do anything to encourage these kids that already have an honest desire to learn to take the initiative to further their education, we will have succeeded greatly.

Ian Zimmermann