New home, new students, and a new school year. April 30, 2018 No Comments

In the previous blog post I talked about the Cooperativa Spanish School‘s latest ‘Kamoon’ home building project. I’m happy to announce that the home is finished! The Quem Martin family moved into their beautiful new home in January; here’s a video about the construction and celebration:

This was the 5th Kamoon Project home to be completed; you can see videos of all of them by clicking HERE.

We have 11 new Beca Project students this year! In December our advisors – the directors of the Cooperativa Spanish School – hosted the annual orientation meeting, then in January the kids registered, were measured for uniforms, went shopping for supplies, and headed back to school.

I’ve placed a few photos below and you can view the whole set by clicking HERE.

Emmanuel José Alforzo Rocché Mendez with his mother and brothers
Emmanuel José Alforzo Rocché Mendez 3

Rosalia Aracely Larios Pop
Rosalia Aracely Larios Pop 2

Elena Teresa Puac Ixmatá and family
Elena Teresa Puac Ixmatá 3

Orientation meeting
Beca meeting 2

School Registration


Manuel Rufina Pichilla Ixmatá

Alison Michel Gonzelez Gonzalez

I can hardly wait to meet the new students and visit the Quem Martin family in their new home when I head back to San Pedro La Laguna in July. Happy trails!

August visit to San Pedro October 4, 2017 No Comments

I headed back to San Pedro La Laguna sola in August. This time a special highlight was helping with the first day of construction on the Cooperativa Spanish School‘s Kamoon Home Building Project’s 5th home, this one for very sweet Quem Martín family. More than 2 dozen volunteers including students and staff from the Cooperativa School worked alongside the family to remove the existing structure and haul rebar, cement blocks, and other materials from the nearest road to the home site.






Mynor and I visited the homes of the new Beca Project students we hadn’t visited in April.

Alison Michel Gonzelez Gonzalez and her family

In the home of Rosaria Chavajay


Sharing photos with Drancy Lineth Gonzales Chavajay and her parents

We also took dozens of Beca students shopping for clothes and shoes and Beca parents shopping for food and household supplies. It is really a challenge and a bit chaotic but also an absolute joy.


Mayra Elena Gonzalez Coche

Maria Guadalupe Tuch Mendez




In addition to interactions with our beloved Beca Project students and their families, additional joys were sharing time with Mynor and his family, studying at the Cooperativa School, shopping in the market, preparing simple, fresh meals, and enjoying our comfortable Ti Wachooch (‘little home’ in Tz’utujil Maya) and the scenic beauty of San Pedro.

Heading out for dinner

Parachute toys!

The Cooperativa Spanish School (lots of flowers = lots of butterflies)


The market




Ti Wachooch

Sunrise from the rooftop terrace

I’m already looking forward to a return trip! You can view the complete album of photos from the Kamoon construction project and my Beca Project encounters, visits, and shopping by clicking HERE. Click HERE to see all 3 photo albums from my August 2017 trip. HAPPY TRAILS!

April 2017 visit to San Pedro June 7, 2017 No Comments

Mike and I spent much of April in San Pedro La Laguna and – as always – our interactions with Beca Project students and their families were highlights of our visit. Walking the streets and trails of the town and shopping in the market, we often run into current and graduated Beca Project students; here are a few examples.

José Antonio González Pichillá (‘Tono’) on the job

Ana Judith González with her church group during Semana Santa

Rosa Maria Chavajay Quiacain (2nd from right) carrying an anda during a Semana Santa parade

Rosa Maria Navichoc selling tortillas in the market with her mother

During our first 5 years I was able to visit all of the Beca Project student in their homes every year. Since then we’ve grown to the point it is no longer realistic to do so. When other sponsors are visiting I enjoy the opportunity to join them for family visits and at the very least, Mynor and I visit the families of each of the new students every year. In April I was able to visit a few of the new students and will visit the rest when I return in August.

Lorenzo Xiquin Quiacain (right)

Lucía Paola Chipir Chavajay (yellow shirt)

Juanita Ester Mendez Esquina (right)

Because I can’t visit each student’s home, I plan group celebrations in order to connect with as many students as possible. Here are a few photos of the ice cream parties Mike and I held on the rooftop terrace of our Ti Wachooch – 6 in 1 week!




You can view the complete album of our Beca Project encounters, visits, and parties by clicking HERE. Click HERE to see all of the photo albums from our April 2017 trip.

Happy trails!

New Beca Students for 2017! June 6, 2017 No Comments

I am happy and proud to present our new students for 2017. You can view additional photos of these students by clicking HERE.

Alison Michel Gonzelez Gonzalez with her mother
Alison Michel Gonzelez Gonzalez y madre

Juan Felipe Baram Quieju
Juan Felipe Baram Quieju

Catalina Leticia Machic Quiacain
Catalina Leticia Machic Quiacain 1

Maria Mendez Chavajay
Maria Mendez Chavajay

Lorenzo Xiquin Quiacain
Lorenzo Xiquin Quiacain

Juanita Ester Mendez Esquina and her family
Juanita Ester Mendez Esquina y familia

Rosaria Chavajay
Rosaria Chavajay

Rosita Maria Morales Rodeno
Rosita Maria Morales Rodeno

Juan Rafael Xeche with his mother and sponsors
Juan Rafael Xeche y madre con patrocinadores

Lucía Paola Chipir Chavajay
Lucía Paola Chipir Chavajay

María del Cármen C. Yojcom Ixtetelá
María del Cármen C. Yojcom Ixtetelá 2

Drancy Lineth Gonzales Chavajay and family
Drancy Lineth Gonzales Chavajay y familia (1)

New Beca Students for 2016! January 15, 2016 No Comments

We are so happy and proud to welcome 9 bright-eyed new students to Beca Project for the 2016 school year. I’ve pasted a few photos below and you can view the whole set by clicking

Miriam Josefa Ajcac Bay and family
Miriam Josefa Ajcac Bay y familia

Vilma Rosario Tuch Mendoza
Vilma Rosario Tuch Mendoza

Ashley Maria Ajcac Pop and family
Ashley Maria Ajcac Pop y familia 1

Katarina Cruz Cruz
Katarina Cruz Cruz

Rosa Fatima Coche Cholotio and her mother
Rosa Fatima Coche Cholotio y madre

Maria Concepción Cortez Quiacain
Maria Concepción Cortez Quiacain

Plácido Baltazar Sanchez Rodriguez and her mother
Plácido Baltazar Sanchez Rodriguez y madre

Juan Pablo Raxic Chavajay
Juan Pablo Raxic Chavajay

Dorly Maximina Tuch Puac and her parents
Dorly Maximina Tuch Puac y padres

In preparation for the new school year, Beca Project students and their families attended an orientation meeting at the Cooperativa Spanish School, registered for school, were measured for school uniforms, and shopped for school supplies.

Mtg 5

Mtg 16

Shopping 2

Ana Judith

The complete set of the school prep photos is HERE.

Here’s to a successful year for 75 deserving Beca Project students in San Pedro la Laguna!

More to celebrate in San Pedro: local festivities and social projects November 20, 2015 No Comments

Mike joined me for my last week in San Pedro. We enjoyed bumping into Beca students and families around town



and visited the successful chocolate business that Beca Project university student Dorcas started with her sister and another friend.



We also took many of the Beca students and their families shopping for needed items thanks to additional donations from their sponsors. Here are a few highlights and there’s a full set of photos HERE.




We helped distribute cool soccer gear to deserving young athletes, an ongoing and growing project started by a Beca sponsor who visits San Pedro every year with her family



and shared in Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations with Mynor and his family.


If you’re interested, there’s a set of Día de los Muertos photos HERE.

I’m also pleased to share with you an update on the Kamoon home building project which was started by our friends at the Cooperativa Spanish School. We visited the beautiful most recently completed home owned by our friend Maria


and assisted with a video for the next family in line, the very sweet and deserving Quem Martin family.

There’s a complete set of these social project and visit photos HERE.

Recently, Beca Project student Rosalinda Magdalena Ixtetelá Gonzalez who is in her final year of a Business Administration Diversificado program was selected to represent her school in the competition for Queen of San Pedro. If you have a Facebook account you can view videos of her speech and the final event on the Beca Project Facebook page.

For those of you who don’t, here’s a screen shot from the video:
Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 1.49.28 PM

Rosalinda didn’t win the competition but she represented her family, her school, and Beca Project in a fabulous manner – I am so proud of her! The young woman who was selected to represent the town of San Pedro went on to win at the national level and will represent all indigenous women through a busy coming year.

Graduations 2015 November 15, 2015 No Comments

Another highlight of my Fall 2015 visit was watching Beca Students graduate from both Basico (similar to 9th grade in the US) and Diversificado (sort of combined high school/trade school) programs. The schools really celebrate their graduates and the pride of the parents shines like the sun. Some of the parents put on parties for their kids – also festive, proud times with delicious food. A complete set of photos of graduation festivities can be found HERE.








Fall 2015 visit to San Pedro la Laguna – Ice Cream Socials October 30, 2015 No Comments

In October and November 2015 I visited San Pedro again. Mynor and I decided to host a series of ice cream socials on the rooftop terrace at Ti Wachooch for Beca Project students and family members. We started by visiting every home in one day to pass out invitations, then hosted 5 socials, Monday through Friday of my 1st week there, 13-14 families per evening.

It was an amazing opportunity to meet with each student, interact with their families, talk about their future plans, and enjoy ice cream and the beautiful views. After dark we moved inside. I had a ‘photo booth’ activity set up and it was a blast watching the students and their families pose together for photos.

I’ve posted a few favorite photos below and you can view the entire set by clicking HERE.






Mynor visits Oregon! May 20, 2015 No Comments

2015 has been a wonderful year for Beca Project, and one highlight for us was Mynor’s visit to Oregon in mid May. He stayed with us less than a week but Mike and I enjoyed sharing our home and the varied climates and landscapes within an hour or so of our house with him and our son Carlos joined in on some of the adventures. Here are a few photos; you can check out a blog post with more information and photos HERE.

Near Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood

Hiking near the John Day River in Cottonwood Canyon State Park

Eagle Creek Falls trail in the Columbia River Gorge

Posing with old growth trees

Making s’mores in our backyard

Beca Family Visits – Spring 2015 May 19, 2015 1 Comment

My husband Mike and I spent 3 wonderful weeks in Guatemala in March and April to celebrate Semana Santa in San Pedrano fashion, study Spanish at the Cooperativa Spanish School, further explore the area on foot and in kayaks, settle in to Ti Wachooch, our little home away from home there, spend time with our friends Mynor and Josefa and their boys, and visit with the families of this year’s new Beca Project students. Success on all counts!

I’ve selected 7 family visit photos to post here followed by 4 random shots of Beca students around town and on the job; you can view a set of more than 100 Beca photos on my Flickr site by clicking HERE.

If you’d like to view photos of some of our other adventures, click HERE for the main page for this trip; there’s a link for travel blog posts, too.

With Ingrid (left) and Telma Canajay

With the family of Ana Maria Ujpan Gonzalez (center)

The family of Juan Navichoc Cortez (left)

With the family of Vicenta Clarita Puac Peneleu (2nd from left)

With Domingo Sacach Chavajay and his mother and then enjoying rice and mama kitty in their kitchen


With Bryan Oliver Gonon (right) and family

Rosa Yanira and her sister-in-law making tortillas

Maria Chavajay Yaxon with her father and siblings

Maria Elena Criado Quiacaín in her new job as the bilingual secretary of LIFE International School in Panajachel

Andrea Guadelupe Navichoc Pacay and Josefa Angelina González Velásquez participating in a Semana Santa (Easter) procession