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Scholarship Program

the story of our school

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Since 2002, I have had dozens of college students and delegation members ranging from age ten through retirees study at the Centro Maya, with excellent results.  The school offers a supportive immersion environment, quality individualized or group language instruction, and a variety of cultural enrichment activities.  Centro Maya provides support for indigenous women to obtain university degrees and the staff possesses a genuine commitment to fostering social justice and equality in Guatemala.  If you are looking for an authentic cultural immersion experience and want to really improve your Spanish language proficiency or study several of the Mayan languages spoken in Guatemala, I highly recommend the Centro Maya.
Dr. Henry Thurston-Griswold, Professor of Spanish, Juniata College (thurston@juniata.edu)

I first went to Centro Maya to study Q'anjob'al in 2001 while I was a graduate student.I've gone back to Centro Maya almost every year since 2001, sometimes for language study, and other times just to visit. It's very different from the big, impersonal language schools you find in some places; if you study at Centro Maya you are definitely treated like family. I have maintained friendships not only with my teachers and host family, but also with some of the Mayan women scholarship recipients and some of the other foreign students who have studied there. When I became a faculty member, I brought my own college students there to study. I particularly recommend Centro Maya to anyone who is serious about learning Mayan languages or wants to do research on Mayan culture as the owners are all Maya.
Mary Holbrook Indiana USA

Centro Maya Xela is much more than a language school; it is a cultural education, a family, and a fiesta!  I have had so much fun on field trips (practicing very practical Spanish), and making lasting friendships with the teacher, the host families, and with the young women who are supported by the school.  I also appreciate the flexibility to volunteer in the community at the same time.  The best way to learn Spanish!
Dianne, Seattle WA

Centro Maya provided exactly what I needed -- intensive language study, continual conversational practice and wonderful field trips. The teachers are wonderful cultural guides as well as dedicated educators, and the opportunity to live with a local family allowed me to get to know Guatemala in authentic ways that honestly changed my world view. Thanks to Centro Maya, I also had the unique opportunity to study Q'anjob'al Maya before I went to work in a rural Q'anjob'al community. Centro Maya can work with students at any level, and I would recommend this school to any foreign traveler visiting the Xela area. --
Charity Thompson, Portland, Oregon

I'm 14 years old and I started studying with Pedro online a year ago. My dad is taking me to Xela this year to study with him there. He is a great teacher and I can't wait to meet him in person. Thanks Pedro!.
Kelly C. Clancy, Montana

Our College Scholarship Program At Centro Maya Xela.

Starting in 1993 with the founding of our school, we began a full college scholarship program for young indigenous women from various Maya linguistic groups. Our program offers these women full tuition and room and board in a residence, as well as full coverage of all other education-related expenses. The young women live together in an atmosphere of mutual support which enables them to continue strengthening their Maya identities. In Guatemala, there still exists discrimination against indigenous people, but for Mayan women, the discrimination is not only ethic-based, but gender-based as well.

In order to select women for this program, Centro Maya distributes application forms to all secondary institutions in Maya areas.  The requirements are the following:  Applicants must demonstrate a strong dedication to continued studies at the University level and maintain a good academic standing.  Likewise, they must be women from indigenous communities who speak an indigenous language.  Finally, they must express a desire to return to their communities upon completing their studies with the goal of using their education to contribute directly to local development.  In the fall of each year, Centro Maya conducts a workshop with the applicants, in an effort to get to know them better and thus select those who best meet the requirements of the program.  All applicants, however, benefit from the workshop, which serves to strengthen their identities and self-esteem.  They each have the opportunity to analyze critically their role as women in small indigenous communities, and likewise seek ways to improve their status and assume leadership roles, breaking down age-old stereotypes while maintaining Maya identities.

Students who study at Centro Maya have the opportunity to meet and interact with these young women on a daily basis, and especially on certain Wednesdays when we make a trip to the university residence.   During this time, the scholarship recipients organize an informal conference to relate something of their lives and studies to students.  Students have the opportunity to learn a great deal about the lives of indigenous women in Guatemala during these gatherings, as well as details about the specific organization of the scholarship recipients’ residence.  Students and visitors to Centro Maya have routinely described these encounters as tremendously valuable and enlightening.

The scholarship program at Centro Maya Xela represents the hopes and dreams of several indigenous women who have aspirations of making a difference in our country for generations to come. One of the requirements for the university scholarship participants is that these women return to their poor local communities and work after graduating. Some of the scholarship participants are now physicians, attorneys, social workers and community leaders. Through their education they are making a huge difference in their small and poor communities. By studying Spanish with Centro Maya you are not just learning a language, but you are helping make the dreams of these young indigenous women come true.

Meet some or our scholarship participants:

Maria Susana






Ingrid CMX


Beatriz CMX


Success Stories.

Ingrid is from Nebaj, Quiché, Guatemala and she belongs to the Itil linguistic group. She is studying to be a doctor and joined our scholarship program in medicine in 2012. After graduating in 2018, Ingrid plans on returning to her small, rural community to practice medicine. 

Susana is from Nebaj, Quiché Guatemala and she belongs to the Ixil linguistic group. Susana entered our scholarship program in 2006 and recently received her bachelors degree in physiotherapy. She is now working on her apprenticeship and is working towards for her masters degree and should be graduating in 2013 and plans on opening her own clinic.

Carolina is from Santa Catarina Ixtahuacán, Sololá Guatemala and she belongs to the Kiché linguistic group. Carolina entered into our scholarship program in 2006 and graduated in March 2012. She received her bachelors degree in psychology.

Gladys is from Santa Catarina Ixtahuacán, Sololá she belongs to the Kiché linguistic group. Gladys joined our scholarship program in 2007 and graduated in 2009 as a nurse practitioner in 2009. She is now studying to be a nurse and will graduate in 2013.

Martina is from Santa Eulalia, Huehuetenango, Guatemala and she belongs to the Q´anjob´ linguistic group. Martina was a participant in our scholarship program for 2000 until 2008. She graduated in 2011 from law school and is currently working on her apprenticeship  at the Instituto de la Defensa Pública Penal and Martina will be receiving her license to practice law in 2012.

Leticia is from Concepción Tutuapa, San Marcos, Guatemala and she belongs to the Mam linguistic group. Leticia joined our scholarship program in 2012. She is studying to be a psychologist and will be graduating in 2019.

Griselda is from San Pedro La Laguna, Sololá, Guatemala she belongs to the Kiché linguistic group. She graduated from law school 2005 and is now a practicing attorney in her home town.

Beatriz is from Concepción Tutuapa, San Marcos, Guatemala and she belongs to the Mam linguistic group. Beatriz joined our scholarship program in 2007 and graduated as a nurse technician. in the rural communities of San Miguel . She is currently working in  in the rural communities of Ixtahuacán, San Marcos, Guatemala.

Florentina Bonifacia Par García is from Argueta, Sololá, and she belongs to the K’iche’ linguistic group.  She participated in the scholarship program from 1995 to 2000.  Currently, she is a Social Worker.

Elsa Hernández Méndez is from San Sebastián, Huehuetenango, and she belongs to the Mam linguistic group.  She also participated in the scholarship program from 1995 to 2000 and is currently a Social Worker.

Olga Marina Cumatz Vásquez is from Aldea Pixabaj, Sololá, and she belongs to  the Kaqchikel linguistic group.  She began her studies in Economics in 1999 and graduated  in 2003.

Keyla Cesilia Méndez Tuch from San Pedro La Laguna, Sololá.  Belongs to the Tz’utujil linguistic group.  She began her studies in Law in 2002 and graduated in 2006 in Guatemala City.

Ana María Castañeda Diego is from Santa Eulalia, Huehuetenango, and she belongs to  the Q’anjob’al linguistic group. Ana Maria began her studies in Agricultural Engineering in 2000 and graduated in 2005.

Maura Salanic Cortez is from Aldea Pachaj, Cantel, Quetzaltenango, and she belongs to the K’iche’ linguistic group.  Maura began her studies in Medicine in Cuba in 2000 and graduated in 2005.



In memory of Herbert Bolz


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All rights reserved Centro Maya Xela - Guatemala 2012