MAIA: Empowering Young Adults with Interpersonal Skills
MAIA is the first secondary girls’ school in Central America led by indigenous women. It is redefining education in Guatemala through a unique empowerment model. It integrates educational quality with social/emotional accompaniment, encouraging adolescent women’s talent in order to create a generation of female leaders who will impact their families, their communities, the nation and the world.
Its vision is to empower women through innovation and opportunity. For more than twelve years it has been working in 42 Mayan Kaqchikel communities in rural areas of Solola Department. This organization wants to stimulate the potential of vulnerable adolescent women, strongly committing itself to the idea that “if she can see it, she can be it”. It is one of few organizations in Guatemala implemented and lead by indigenous women for adolescent indigenous women in Guatemala’s rural communities–resulting in local empowerment.
Since it opened its doors in 2017 MAIA’s commitment to offering opportunities and access have been essential. Its curriculum utilizes the essential elements designed and contextualized to facilitate maximum skills development among the Young Pioneers, as MAIA’s students are called. This year the Colegio Impacto opened its doors to the first student class offering a rigorous six year long educational program.
In this way the Young Pioneers receive a holistic education guided by local educators who are professionally trained to develop and strengthen their knowledge of techniques in the classroom through adaptation of teaching tools and pedagogic techniques aimed at developing a variety of areas in curricula and innovative educational models.
The socio-emotional companionship program is crucial in the formation process of Young Pioneers. During familial accompaniment and mentorship it conducts a series of individual and group sessions. Home visits and schooling for parents are developed in their first language, Kaqchikel, so as to allow for better relations with the families and to sustain the model.
MAIA sets four goals for the Young Pioneers and their families:
- Financial Autonomy: Young Pioneers are to achieve economic independence through finding employment in the formal economy with an income equal to or more than the minimum in Guatemala.
- Continual Learning: Young Pioneers tend to be the first in completing secondary education in their families. The goal for graduates is to have an average of 15 years of continuous formal education.
- Personal Choice: It is hoped that the MAIA graduates will make their own decisions, that graduates are, on average, 25 years old before marriage or starting a family.
- Empowered in order to Empower: Guatemala has the lowest number of women participating in politics in the hemisphere. MAIA is working to contribute to changing this situation through increasing leadership by women at all levels of society.
In order to achieve these goals the Young Pioneers are guided by seven competencies which are part of every aspect of Colegio Impacto learning: critical thinking skills, critical actions, excellence, independent thinking, intellectual activity, initiative and innovation, networking for intercultural support and collaboration, strategic networking, resilience and tenacity, developing a strong voice, having influence and making an impact, ability to negotiate. These 21st century interpersonal skills are the basis for success for each student.
MAIA has been an incubator for innovation during the pandemic with new start-up programs like “MAIA’s voice to the World”, a space for Young Pioneers to raise their voices through podcasts and “tzijonem”, roundtables, via FaceBook on local channels and radio programs, with themes such as girls’ and women’s rights and inclusion. In alliance with “She’s the First”, MAIA also uses a model designed to zero in on the voices and experiences of Young Pioneers. Their voices are brought together through focus groups which effectively strengthen programs by bringing girls into the programs intentionally.
MAIA strongly believes that education is the only way to transform lives, education that shines a light on and supports the capabilities of each Young Pioneer to become a leader in her community based on the slogan: “I am not the problem; I am the solution.” MAIA looks towards new frontiers and its allies are the foundational bridges between talent and the world of work of each young woman and her infinite impact.
MAIA has impacted me and my family. I have discovered my capabilities in many areas such as art, writing, and reading. I’ve lost my fear when expressing my thoughts, ideas and feelings to others.” from on of MAIA’s Young Pioneers
Link to see a video of our mission:
Link to view video of our Young Pioneers’ dreams: http://bit.ly/39X5MLG
Web page: www.maiagt.org.
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