SANTIAGO ATITLAN, GUATEMALA (FOX19) - In Santiago's main plaza, just outside Iglesia Parrodial Santiago Apostal (The church of St. James the Apostle) the Cooperative for Education tour group (Co Ed) met up with one of the women who's been most impacted by the educational opportunities funded through this NGO.
Maria has just started university and hopes to have a career in tourism.
She and her 8-year-old sister greeted the group, which had gathered on the steps of the church (which had been built in 1641). Santiago Atitlan is near Lake Atitlan.
"She is very proud to be studying tourism right now," said Rick Schroeder, a member of the Co Ed tour who has been on several trips before.
Schroeder went on to say that Maria had at one point considered quitting school because of hardships at home and peer pressure. Schroeder explained that Maria finished her schooling in part because of the sponsorship she received from Co Ed.
Through an interpreter, Maria spoke with the group about the town of Santiago Atitlan. She explained traditional Mayan dress and culture, and talked about the future for her hometown.
"My hope for this town is that people here rise up and improve," Maria said. "I hope more people like you all will come here and help our town with education and that the future, more people like you can see what this city has to offer."
In all, Maria's talk lasted about 15 minutes. Afterward, she and her sister accompanied the group inside the church for a guided tour.