Our Projects

Luis Cardoza y Aragon Popular Culture Center

In 1994, we founded the Luis Cardoza y Aragon Popular Culture Center to provide classes in art, music, computer skills and English to children of Quetzaltenango from families with limited economic resources. Classes provided include art and music, creative writing, computer skills, and English. Classes take place in the building next to PLQ. Students participate in these after school classes during the academic year (January through October) and the Cultural Center also provides Vacation Classes in November.

Since 1999 ´Arte en el Campo,´ a program through the Cultural Center, benefits the children of the villages near La Escuela de la Montaña. Every Saturday children from the surrounding communities study guitar, drawing and marimba. Classes are free and allow the children to express their creativity, a human right long suppressed under the military regimes of this country. PLQ students are encouraged to volunteer on a short or long term basis at the Center or in the program.

Forest “Santuario del Pinabete”

In 2011, PLQ purchased a plot of land in the mountains in an area called Chujaquiej, in the municipality of Zunil. The land is called El Santuario Pinabete because it is forested by a pine tree called “pinabete” (abies guatemalensis), a species found only in Guatemala and in danger of extinction. Guatemala is presently losing its forests at a rate twice as fast as deforestation happening in the Brazilian Amazon. In Guatemala deforested land includes the jungles of Peten, which constitute one of the “lungs” of Central America and, indeed, the Western Hemisphere at large. The threats come from diverse sources, ranging from foreign petroleum companies clearing large swathes of land for exploration and drilling to the gradual but steady creep of subsistence maize farming up the hills of the highlands.

PLQ´s plan is to manage the pinabete forest on this land, build a greenhouse and cultivate pinabetes with which to plant in other areas that have been deforested, and create an environmental education program. We hope to work with local primary and secondary schools, as well as our Cultural Center, to develop an environmental education program that will instill consciousness about the need to preserve our forest. The program will have a classroom segment but will also include projects and work days at El Santuario Pinebete.

Community Library Otto René Castillo

La Escuela de la Montaña is proud to announce the completion of a new community library. La Escuela de la Montaña Community Library is an important resource for local people, especially children and youth, who want to continue their education beyond primary school. Through the community library, children and community members have access to books, a study area, and in the future, a computer lab.

Young Leaders Scholarship Program

Our scholarship program supports the studies of students from more than 10 neighboring communities around La Escuela de la Montaña by providing partial scholarships that cover school fees and expenses. The scholarship recipients commit to maintaining passing or higher grades and to demonstrating leadership through participation within their communities. Participation might include involvement with local youth groups, grassroots organizations, church youth groups or activities at La Escuela de la Montaña such as leadership training sessions or the Arte en el Campo courses in music and art.

The Otto René Castillo Institute
for Sustainable Education

This project comprises the establishment and daily operation of an educational institute thatwill grant bachelor’s degrees in sciences andletters with an accompanying certification in gastronomy and ecotourism. Targeted at youth in the municipalities of Colomba and San Martín Sacatepéquez, both in the department of Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, it is a project that places social and environmental education at the center of the curriculum. In this way, we empower our students to value their lives, families, communities, and environment, and to graduate with the skills needed to continue at university as well as to develop projects of their own design.

Kindergarden Arcoiris

Since 2007, within the Program of Cooperation and Solidarity, PLQ has supported the foundation of a preschool in the community of Nuevo Amanecer in the region of San Marcos. This community is made up of family who, due to the persecution and repression they suffered at the hands of military dictators, were forced to flee Guatemala in search of refuge in Mexico. After the signing of the peace accords in 1996, these families decided to return to Guatemala to begin constructing a new life, or, a “nuevo amanecer” (new dawn). The community founded a small preschool for children of pre-primary age. In this school the children participate in activities that help them develop their senses of self esteem and autonomy. They also learn to value and make use of the new skills and knowledge that their environment provides. They develop communication skills and learn to listen, integrating themselves in their social and natural environments and understanding and accepting the values and principles of communal life so that they can always assume values of respect, responsibility, justice, and tolerance.

The importance of this project in strengthening community life in Nuevo Amanecer is reason enough for PLQ to support the Kinder Garden, maintaining permanent support through financial contributions for teachers’ salaries and new classroom material necessary for the development of the educational program. As a counterpart, the community is responsible for maintaining the physical space of the school and contributing snacks for the children who attend.

Our Publications

La vida en el mecapal

La vida en el mecapalThis work presents a handful of short stories that seem to balance on the edge of reality and fiction, and weaves in a way almost inexplicable and paradoxical socially collective experiences, portraying the magic and absurdly of our complex reality. Each story provides a methodological guide to reading comprehension that aims to be a useful tool in the process of learning Spanish as a second language.

El Voseo

El-voseo2In Central American countries the VOSEO or the use of VOS has been gradually replacing- both naturally and progressively- the use of “tú”. Its use suggests two meanings that are very different and clearly contrasting (on one hand a FAMILIAR sense and on the other a sense of AUTHORITY). And indeed, beyond any attempt to interpret its use directly, its use in these countries has expanded to the realm of popular language; into the vivid and instinctive language of the people. Thus, this work aims to be a tool that facilitates the understanding and use of this pronoun form as a linguistic reality that expresses warmth, affection and solidarity.

Ventanas a la milpa

Ventanas a la milpaIn 2005 , PLQ published the book ´Ventanas a la Milpa, Testimonio de 4 mujeres´ (Info Español). Marleny Castillo Rodas, Spanish professor and  member of the Directorate of PLQ, devoted her time and energy to discover the truth behind the rebellious lives of the women who participated in Guatemala’s revolutionary struggle. After hours of interviews and transcriptions, this ambitious project materialized as Ventanas a la Milpa. It is the testimony of four women who were directly involved in the 36 years of Guatemala´s civil war (from 1960 to 1996).

The four women featured in the book fought on the part of the guerrilla movement, and their interviews shed light on the situation in the country at that time, their reasons for joining the movement, and the struggles they went through – all through the eyes of women. One of the testimonies was given by a PLQ teacher and an artist who teaches at the school created the artwork that each chapter. ‘Ventanas a la Milpa’ can be purchased at PLQ and the profits go towards PLQ´s donations fund that we disperse to local organizations.