In addition to 11 Beca student graduating from Basico – similar to middle school in the US – we had 6 students graduate from Diversificado programs this fall. Diversificado programs are like a combination of high school and trade school; 4 of our students graduated from a Business Administration school, 1 as a Bilingual Secretary, and 1 as an Accountant.

I was absolutely bursting at the seams with pride for these kids and with gratitude to the sponsors and our advisors in Guatemala who make helping them possible. Here are some highlights!

For the students graduating with Business Administration degrees, graduation took place upstairs in the municipal building in San Pedro La Laguna. Space was limited but Mynor and I were in the front row. Photography was a challenge – dark room and ultra-bright stage lights plus we weren’t allowed to budge from our seats to get family portraits. I hope you can at least get a hint of the excitement and pride in the room from these photos.

Mynor and I prepare to enjoy the show.

The graduates prepare to enter.

Andrea Guadalupe approaching the stage; Andrea was our very 1st Beca Project student – before the project even had a name! – so you can imagine what this meant to me and far beyond that to Andrea and her family.

Each student signs the register after receiving their diploma.

Rosemary Magdalena

Juan Carlos

María Cecilia

After posing with the school and country flags, each student is greeted by family members and photos are taken.

Andrea Guadalupe

María Cecilia

Juan Carlos

Rosemary Magdalena

Andrea’s diploma

Opening presents from sponsors

4 new graduates with Mynor

And with me. The huipil – blouse – I’m wearing is the traditional huipil for San Pedro, a gift from another Beca student.

I rode side saddle on the back of Mynor’s motorbike to Juan Carlos’ home for a celebration dinner.

The rest of the celebrants arrived in pickups and tuktuks (golf cart taxis).

The food is delicious – usually tamales or paches with bread and coffee – and the families are very generous; good manners dictate that what we can’t eat right then we take with us; Mike and I ate for more than a week on the leftovers.

Juan Carlos and his proud family

Next we celebrated at the home of Andrea Guadalupe.

And a few days later, at a party for Maria Cecilia.

3 of our Beca Project advisors: Luis, Griselda, and Mynor.

Rosa Yanira has always loved math; she attended school a school in the neighboring village of San Juan to become an accountant. The school has a great music program, too – wonderful entertainment as we waited for the graduates to enter.

Rosa, her niece (who I 1st met as a newborn), her grandmother, and I shared a tuktuk from San Juan to her home in San Pedro.

The gigantic blue pot is for coffee.

The last graduation for this year was Josefa Angelina’s graduation as a bilingual secretary. Note that the 2 languages are Spanish and English which means Josefa is trilingual – in San Pedro the local Maya language is Tz’utujil. The setting was a beautiful venue we’ve used for Beca celebrations in the past, down the finca road along the lake.

That’s Josefa Angelina in the middle, pictured with me and with 2 sisters and a nephew; there are no parents in Josefa’s family.

The gowns arrived!

Josefa and her sisters asked if I would walk her to the stage – such an honor!

Have I mentioned that the graduations generally last 3-4 hours? With just 21 graduates I thought this one might take less time, but the Evangelical preacher who spoke made up the difference.

Younger schoolmates with top grades receive the honor of carrying the flags; that’s Beca Project student Juana Micaela on the right.

A lovely picnic was served under the stars. How lucky am I to be able to celebrate with these bright, determined students and their families? Very, very lucky. HAPPY TRAILS!

You can find the complete photo collection for this trip HERE.