The 2022 school year comes to a close and will go down in the history of Meso as a year of transcendental changes. After almost two years of isolation and full virtuality, the students of Colegio Mesoamericano wanted to attend school more than ever. Meso had to wait until the Guatemalan government dictated the security measures that would set the tone for the gradual return to school.
At Meso, the classrooms remained empty at the beginning of the year. Empty desks and great silence were all there was. Although quietness reigned in Meso’s facilities, the desire to learn never stopped. Students and teachers shared time and content from home to continue learning.
The assistant principal of Colegio Mesoamericano, Miss Ingrid, highlights that “If there is something we must thank and applaud the teachers for, it is the level of motivation they maintained during these difficult times. They took care of the student’s education and mental health at the same time. They achieved this with the support of Indigo, our emotional intelligence program. Thanks to Indigo, we are aware of our emotions and have learned to validate our feelings. That’s what our teachers did and I admire them for doing that.”
The teachers were able to stay motivated due to the communication and support between them and the school authorities. Teamwork was the key to overcoming that hard season of extended work days. They first had to educate themselves in new technologies and then teach them to the students so that they could learn.
Ready to Return
Following government instructions, classes at the school began in June, in a hybrid system. There were long pauses due to quarantines, as the virus was still lurking. But everyone proved to be incredibly flexible in adapting to these changes.
It was not until August that we were able to return completely to face-to-face classes. Little by little, those empty spaces were filled with the joy of the kids who were so happy to see each other again. One thing became evident almost immediately: the social space provided by the school was much needed. They need it to develop their social skills and foster friendships.
It was clear that the priority was to get back to studying, but the teachers had to make room for communication between students, who longed to catch up with their friends. “How have you been?”, ”How are your parents?”, ”You look different!”, and “How much you’ve grown!” These were just some of the phrases that were heard frequently in this reunion.
Parallel to these spontaneous moments of catchup amongst students, Meso also organized educational and recreational activities to promote coexistence among students. These included the Spelling Bee, the Meso’s Got Talent contest, and the Summer Day summer activity. All activities were carried out taking into account the health recommendations and precautions issued by the Guatemalan Government.
When everything seemed to be getting better and there was already a sense of stability, the unimaginable happened. Our founder, the mastermind behind the Meso Foundation and the most important pillar of Colegio Mesoamericano, Engineer Julio René Salazar Morán, became seriously ill and passed away on Tuesday, October 11, 2022.
It has been a difficult reality to accept. However, his knowledge, kindness, and passion for helping others are still present. Miss Ingrid assures that “The legacy continues, our commitment to his vision for the school remains strong and we will work to ensure that it is not lost”. It is a fact that both teachers, as well as collaborators of the Meso Foundation and friends, will keep Don Julio’s mission alive: to fight for a happier, healthier, and more prosperous Guatemala.
The Renuevo (Renew) Concert was dedicated to Mr. Julio Salazar. An emotional video with pictures and memories of his family was the opening of the event. After that, the show began with several songs chosen by students and music teachers. There was a marimba, and ukulele, as well as other instruments and musical styles.
In a year as challenging as 2022, finally celebrating the goal of graduation was a very emotional moment, much more so than usual. Although no gowns were worn this year, celebrating it face-to-face elicited a lot of emotions, both in the kids and their parents.
“The parents were very excited because after going through so many difficulties during the pandemic, it felt like it was a very difficult goal to achieve. However, we were able to celebrate the four graduations: pre-school, elementary, middle school, and high school. This year we all started a new stage where we demonstrated that we can achieve our goals, regardless of the circumstances”. Ingrid de Rojas.
During the ceremony, five students were highlighted as they began studying at Meso from pre-K through high school. 13 wonderful years of growth at Meso.
Looking Ahead to 2023
In addition to catching up on the knowledge backlog, the challenge will be to fully achieve the personalization of education. Miss Ingrid highlights that “This is not something new but it is something we need to reinforce. The pandemic taught us that we must do things differently and one way is to know each of our students and teach them according to their levels. There can be no “one size fits all” in education. There are sizes XS, S, M, L, XL, and XXL and we cannot force our kids. As teachers, we must re-educate ourselves and address this need”.
The Meso English Academy provided vital support so that the students did not fall behind in their English learning. The students who wish to go to Snow College must take the TOEFL and although this year no one was sent due to the pandemic, the children are motivated to continue learning to achieve this goal in 2023.