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Meso Foundation

Explore Indigo: Our Emotional Intelligence Program

Kids laughing in bean bags

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8 min

Author

Meso Foundation

Publish Date

March 4, 2024

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Born in 2020, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, Indigo was conceived as a response to the emotional challenges faced by the community during the lockdown. Recognizing the profound impact of these challenges the founders of Meso envisioned a program that would provide essential tools to help children, parents, teachers, and the entire Meso community develop a growth mindset, learn self-awareness, and navigate their emotions effectively. Teacher with mask in front of a computer

As Raquel Salazar, co-founder of Indigo, describes, “Look at the history of medical science. It wasn’t very long ago that as humanity, when we contracted a small virus and had a fever, we were taught to believe it was a punishment from God, or attributed to magic or witches. Imagine the state of powerlessness and terror. Then, as scientists began exploring and understanding our biology, and the patterns and behaviors of common bugs, the information became known only to a few medical professionals. Our dependence on doctors became problematic; for any minor issue, we would rely completely on their expertise and authority. Then, we began to socialize the information and create everyday tools like thermometers and Tylenol, which, with proper instruction, we now use to treat and manage our most common challenges. With the socialization of information, we now have the power to understand, respond, and lean on professionals for more complex problems and challenges. Similarly, information and tools for mental health can empower us with what we need to be more independent and capable of navigating our life experiences.”

Project Indigo was launched to offer a comprehensive emotional intelligence curriculum dedicated to nurturing emotional and psychological well-being. It provides essential educational tools for understanding and managing emotions, physical and mental balance, healthy leadership, and building sustainable relationships. Teacher talking to kids sitting in bean bags listening to her. Indigo’s co-creator and psychologist, Céline Portello, explains “We were concerned when we realized the impact of the pandemic on everyone, both physically and mentally. Indigo gives people a better sense of who they are, what they can accomplish, and how to better cope with life’s difficulties”.

Where Indigo comes from…

The inspiration for creating Indigo stemmed from a deep commitment to breaking the cycle of poverty, drawing from the experiences of both Julio and Raquel Salazar. Julio Salazar, Meso’s founder, emphasized the need to address poverty beyond its financial aspects, recognizing the importance of providing physical, social, and psychological support. Meanwhile, Raquel Salazar, influenced by her father’s insights and her own experiences, pursued a different path. Living in the United States, she encountered individuals who had achieved financial success but realized that true freedom remained elusive due to psychological impoverishment. Motivated by their shared understanding and desire to alleviate unnecessary suffering, Raquel co-founded Project Indigo, sought to address the root causes of suffering by striking a balance between practical knowledge and truthful information. Together, Julio and Raquel’s perspectives and experiences laid the foundation for Indigo, embodying a commitment to addressing poverty in all its forms and empowering individuals to lead more fulfilling lives. Two adults laughing together

What makes Indigo different from other emotional programs?

Indigo provides the tools for individual to be empowered and to begin to take responsibility of their own psyche. It is a mix of many important sources of knowledge and disciplines. Indigo is a weaving of psychoanalytic and cognitive behavioral therapy, community psychology, philosophy, and leadership skill building.  Raquel explains that “we are integrating complex concepts into simple activities, and a program that can be easily understood by even a six-year-old.” Céline comments: “There are many small things that can be done for our mind, just as we do for our body. We are making all this information available to parents and children in general, not just to psychology professionals. We have one body and one mind and we need to know how they work.” The program has been successfully launched and received and is now an integral part of the school’s curriculum. With its very own dedicated classroom and teacher, students delve into its content and explore with a certified psychologist. Furthermore, both staff and teachers receive comprehensive training, ensuring they are well-prepared to appropriately respond and reinforce Indigo concepts and language. Additionally, Indigo extends its reach to parents through regular informative Parent Seminars.

Indigo ultimate goals…

1.  Healthy Relationships:

        • Teach effective leadership and collaboration skills.
        • Provide tools for resolving conflicts constructively.
        • Cultivate co-regulation for emotional well-being.

2.  Physical and Mental Balance:

        • Educate on neurochemistry and biology basics.
        • Introduce mindfulness and stress management.
        • Foster bilateral thinking.

3.  Understanding Input and Output:

        • Encourage reflection for processing experiences.
        • Guide integration of insights into daily life.
        • Equip with skills for purposeful action and growth.
Kids in a circle holding hands Indigo offers valuable tools for emotional regulation and coping strategies that are accessible to anyone in need. Whether you’re a parent, student, or caregiver, you can utilize these resources to navigate life’s challenges more effectively. Moreover, with Indigo, you can become a source of support and guidance for others in your community who will also benefit from these tools. Let’s empower each other and spread Indigo far and wide. Follow us on this journey to keep learning about Indigo and make a positive impact on your life and those around you.

Un año desde que nos desconectamos para conectarnos en la vida real

Fueron casi tres años de estar en línea. El Covid-19 fue una amenaza implacable que no distinguió género, edad ni raza, pero aún así, se enfrentó de maneras muy distintas, en diferentes lugares… El 13 de marzo de 2020 se registró el primer caso de Covid-19 en Guatemala. El país cerró sus fronteras muy eficazmente y de un momento a otro, hubo un encierro total. 

Desde que fue declarada emergencia a causa del Covid-19, la Organización Mundial para la Salud apoyó al Ministerio de Salud Pública y Asistencia Social en Guatemala, participando en capacitaciones a funcionarios de servicios de salud sobre medidas de prevención, toma de muestras, protocolos de atención, diagnósticos y pruebas, manejo de emergencia, insumos, etc.

Se instauró un riguroso toque de queda y casi todas las familias adoptaron medidas higiénicas extremas, nunca antes vistas y para las que estábamos muy poco preparados. Aún así, hicimos todo lo que estuvo en nuestras manos para continuar con nuestra vida, sin arriesgar nuestra salud ni la de nuestros seres queridos.

Impacto del Covid-19 en la niñez y la juventud

Estar en casa generó emociones encontradas, pero sobre todo en los más pequeños de la familia. En contraste con los espaciosos parques infantiles que se pueden encontrar en EE.UU., desafortunadamente, Guatemala cuenta con espacios muy limitados, especialmente en las ciudades. Existen muy pocos parques públicos recreativos y, los que existen, en algunos casos, han sido invadidos por las pandillas o por personas adictas, quienes ponen en riesgo la convivencia de los niños.

Por ende, lo único que quedaba era el confinamiento y la convivencia forzada con la familia. Para algunos, fue beneficioso pasar tiempo con sus hijos, pero esto no fue así, para aquellos que enfrentaban retos de violencia intrafamiliar, hacinamiento, escasez de recursos y otras circunstancias difíciles de mencionar. 

En el Meso conviven estudiantes de diversos orígenes económicos. Así como hay estudiantes que cuentan con amplios patios en sus casas, la mayoría no goza de estos espacios. En especial nuestros estudiantes becados, quienes muchas veces viven en hogares muy pequeños, que deben compartir con sus hermanos, padres y a veces, con otros miembros de su familia como tíos, primos, abuelos y a veces incluso mascotas. 

Adaptarse a las clases virtuales fue un gran reto para todos, pero especialmente para ellos, que además de superar el reto del espacio, también tuvieron que buscar acceso a dispositivos digitales que sobrepasaba el presupuesto de sus padres. Por último, pero no menos importante, acceder a una red de Internet estable fue lo más difícil. Algunas empresas que proveían este servicio, no tenían cobertura en algunas aldeas y caseríos, por lo que muchos se atrasaron en el desarrollo de sus estudios, en lo que lograban contratar una empresa que llevara el Internet de manera eficiente, hasta sus casas…

A pesar de estos retos, tanto padres de familia como estudiantes, se unieron al rato y encontraron soluciones a todos los problemas. Desde chicos cuyos padres sacaron alguna tablet o laptop por medio de “Visacuotas”, hasta chicos que estudiaban todos los días por medio de un teléfono celular (cada uno en diferente grado).

Fue allí donde para el Meso, se volvió evidente que se necesitaba también darle solución a todos los problemas de conectividad, no solo virtual, sino también emocional, y fue así como nació nuestro programa de inteligencia emocional “Indigo”.

Meso unió sus fuerzas

 

A pesar de las evidentes dificultades, toda la comunidad Meso se puso manos a la obra. El personal administrativo, los docentes, los padres de familia y los estudiantes aceptaron el reto y tres días después del cierre, todos se habían subido al tren del “Homeschool”.

Las clases virtuales empezaron y lograron funcionar gracias a la creación de grupos en Facebook y la determinación de toda la comunidad educativa. Docentes y estudiantes compartieron retos científicos, artísticos, y de otras índoles para no perder el contacto entre ellos. 

Nuestro regreso del Covid-19

Como todo en la vida, nada es para siempre y nuestros estudiantes regresaron 100% a clases presenciales en enero del 2023. La emoción se sentía en el aire, los reencuentros fueron muy emocionantes y llenos de abrazos y cariños. Los chicos se sentían muy emocionados de volver a compartir momentos inolvidables con sus amigos. El regreso también supuso un shock, ahora para volver a acostumbrarse a la rutina y el ambiente. Pero como siempre, la comunidad Meso aceptó el reto con gracia y siempre dispuestos a encontrar soluciones efectivas. 

Al vernos todos los días, logramos identificar la necesidad de nuestros estudiantes de adoptar un estilo de vida más saludable y resiliente, para lo cual, desarrollamos varios programas y adaptamos nuevas medidas en nuestro colegio, tales como:

  • Desarrollamos un programa disciplinario para que los estudiantes comprendan y respeten los límites.
  • Renovamos la cafetería escolar e instauramos Meso Eats, con comida saludable que busca mejorar su calidad de vida y contribuir con su proceso cognitivo. 
  • Gracias a Meso Eats, eliminamos del menú comidas chatarra, sodas, “chucherías” y todo alimento procesado que no contribuye de manera positiva a sus cuerpos.
  • Aunque Indigo fue desarrollado durante la pandemia, hasta este 2023 abrimos una clase donde los estudiantes tienen un período a la semana en el cual adquieren herramientas para desarrollar una mentalidad de crecimiento, tomar conciencia de sí mismos y autodirigirse y regular sus emociones.

También identificamos la necesidad de nuestros estudiantes de socializar y crear nuevas conexiones entre ellos, por lo cual también organizamos:

  • Copa Meso y Torneo de Baloncesto, en los que estudiantes de distintos cursos jugaron al fútbol y al baloncesto.
  • Trabajamos en nuestro Huerto, donde los estudiantes aprendieron a cultivar vegetales y descubrieron la importancia de la conservación del suelo, entendiendo también el por qué el Meso también forma parte del movimiento Salvemos el Suelo (Save Soil).
  • Nuestros chicos, con mucha emoción y talento, participaron en nuestros concursos “Meso’s Got Talent” y “Spelling Bee”.
  • Por primera vez, 20 de nuestros estudiantes, entre las edades de 14 y 17 años, viajaron a EE.UU. para representar a Guatemala en el UNESCO Center For Peace Summer Camp (Campamento de verano del Centro UNESCO para la Paz). Allá, los chicos compartieron con estudiantes de otras culturas, aprendieron nuevas habilidades y tuvieron una experiencia que les cambió su perspectiva de la vida. 
  • Inauguramos nuestra clase Montessori para estudiantes de Prekinder y Kinder, para facilitar el desarrollo de nuevas habilidades en el marco de este modelo educacional.
  • ¡Celebramos 25 años de educación! Nos reunimos y celebramos a nuestro querido Meso y cómo ha evolucionado durante todos estos años.

¡Hemos logrado tanto, pero aún queda mucho por hacer! Pero por ahora, estamos agradecidos por todo lo que hemos logrado,  del tiempo que permanecimos encerrados y todas las lecciones que esto nos dejó pues, sin este dolor, no hubiéramos tenido la oportunidad de crecer, tanto los chicos como estudiantes, como los maestros y el personal administrativo. Todavía queremos crecer y seguramente se nos presentarán más retos y oportunidades este 2024.

Jumping Back Into Real-life Experiences

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10 min

Author

Meso Foundation

Publish Date

December 16, 2023

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We were online for almost three years. COVID-19 was a relentless threat that did not distinguish gender, age, or race, yet different places dealt with it in their own distinctive ways. On March 13th, 2020, the first case of COVID-19 was registered in Guatemala. The country effectively closed its borders, and suddenly, there was a total lockdown. A rigorous curfew was imposed, and almost all families adopted extreme hygiene measures, never seen before and for which we were very unprepared. Nevertheless, we did everything in our power to continue with our lives without jeopardizing our health or that of our loved ones.

COVID-19 impact on Children and Youth

Being at home generated mixed emotions, especially for the youngest members of the family. In contrast to the spacious playgrounds found in the U.S. Unfortunately, Guatemala has very limited spaces. There are very few public recreational parks, and those that exist have been invaded by gangs or addicts, putting children’s coexistence at risk. Therefore, confinement and forced coexistence with the family were the only options. For some, it was beneficial to spend time with their children, but this was not the case for those facing domestic violence, overcrowding, resource scarcity, and other difficult circumstances. At Meso, students from various economic backgrounds usually coexist in our campus. While some students have spacious yards at their homes, most don’t enjoy these kinds of spaces. Especially our scholarship students, who often live in very small homes, sharing them with siblings, parents, and sometimes other family members such as uncles, cousins, grandparents, and even pets. Adapting to virtual classes was a great challenge for everyone, but especially for them, who, in addition to overcoming space challenges, also had to seek access to digital devices that exceeded their parents’ budget. Last but not least, accessing a stable internet connection was the most difficult part of the challenge. Some companies providing this service did not have coverage in some villages, so many fell behind in their studies while trying to hire a company to bring efficient Internet to their homes… Despite these challenges, both parents and students found solutions to all the problems. From children whose parents bought a tablet or laptop through payment plans, to those siblings who studied every day through a cell phone.

Meso joined forces

Despite the obvious difficulties, the entire Meso community got to work. The administrative staff, teachers, parents, and students accepted the challenge, and three days after the closure, everyone had jumped on the “Homeschool train”. Virtual classes began and continued with the support of Facebook groups where everybody shared important information, and bolstered by the determination of the entire community. Teachers and students shared scientific, artistic, and other challenges to maintain contact with each other.

Our comeback from COVID-19

Como todo en la vida, nada es para siempre y nuestros estudiantes regresaron 100% a clases presenciales en enero del 2023. La emoción se sentía en el aire, los reencuentros fueron muy emocionantes y llenos de abrazos y cariños. Los chicos se sentían muy emocionados de volver a compartir momentos inolvidables con sus amigos. El regreso también supuso un shock, ahora para volver a acostumbrarse a la rutina y el ambiente. Pero como siempre, la comunidad Meso aceptó el reto con gracia y siempre dispuestos a encontrar soluciones efectivas.  Al vernos todos los días, logramos identificar la necesidad de nuestros estudiantes de adoptar un estilo de vida más saludable y resiliente, para lo cual, desarrollamos varios programas y adaptamos nuevas medidas en nuestro colegio, tales como:
  • We developed a disciplinary program for students to understand and respect boundaries.
  • We renovated the school cafeteria and established Meso Eats, offering healthy food to improve their life quality and contribute to their cognitive process.
  • With Meso Eats, we removed junk food, sodas, and processed foods from the menu, that did not positively contribute to their bodies and minds. 
  • Although Indigo, our emotional intelligence program, was developed during the pandemic, it was until 2023 that we opened a class where students have a period each week to acquire tools to develop a growth mindset, become self-aware and learn to self navigate.
  • We organized Copa Meso and Basketball Tournament, where students from different grades played soccer and basketball.
  • We worked in our garden, where students learned to cultivate vegetables and discovered the importance of soil conservation, also understanding why Meso is part of the Save Soil movement.
  • Our kids participated in our “Meso’s Got Talent” and “Spelling Bee” contests.
  • For the first time, 20 of our students, aged 14 to 17, traveled to the U.S. to represent Guatemala at the UNESCO Center For Peace Summer Camp. We opened our Montessori class for Prekinder and Kinder students to facilitate the development of new skills within this educational model.
  • We celebrated 25 years of education! We celebrated our beloved Meso and how it has evolved over all these years.
We have achieved so much, but there is still much to do! But for now, we are grateful for everything we have achieved, the time we spent locked up, and all the lessons that the lockdown taught. Without that pain, we would not have had the opportunity to grow, not only the students, but also the teachers and administrative staff as well. We still want to grow, and surely more challenges and opportunities will come our way in 2024.

A Girl with Altruistic Vocation

Fatima Principal

Reading time

5 min

Author

Meso Foundation

Publish Date

July 28, 2023

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Fátima Paxán, a 14-year-old girl, began her journey at Meso four years ago when she joined as a second-grade student, following her time at Santa Teresita Public School. After the loss of Fátima’s father, she and her mother faced a shift in their lives, and they were left to navigate life’s challenges together. Fátima has witnessed up close the effort her mother made to provide for her as she works diligently at a miscellaneous goods stall in the local market.   A girl and her mom With each passing day, Fátima became more aware of her mother’s enduring battle against arthritis. Inspired by her mother’s resilience, Fátima’s own passion took shape, driving her towards a future in nursing and, eventually, medicine. “My dream is to be able to help others, I love it. Especially older people or people with disabilities. The nurse at the school has inspired me, and I have been guided by my mother because I am concerned when I hear her complain about her pain. That’s why I have set myself the goal of becoming a nurse because when I grow up, I will take care of my mother and other people who need it. I feel that I will give them strength to keep living,” explains Fátima enthusiastically. A girl in her graduation It was thanks to a friend of her mother, who informed her about the opportunity of a scholarship, that Fátima’s life changed when she entered Meso. “It feels great to have the opportunity to be a scholarship student because I know that others do not have the same chance as me. I am grateful that the school gives me this opportunity, and I know that I must fulfill all my goals because of it.” explains the student.  A girl and her friend Alongside her sincere understanding of others’ adversities, Fátima possesses an enchanting artistic sensibility, and she tells us that she has two other dreams to fulfill: to be a singer and a painter. To no surprise, her favorite classes are art and music.  A girl and her telescope In Fátima Paxán, we witness a young girl driven by empathy, resilience, and a desire to make a positive impact in the lives of others. With the support of her mother, her school, and her own unwavering determination, Fátima sets forth on a remarkable journey towards realizing her dreams and becoming a beacon of hope for those she cares for.

Los inicios del Colegio Mesoamericano en voz de sus fundadores

Rogelia Principal

Las primeras semillas de la Fundación Meso comenzaron con Rogelia Morán, madre de Julio Salazar, fundador de la Fundación Meso y del Colegio Mesoamericano.

Conozcamos a Rogelia, la inspiración y motivación de Julio.

Durante su infancia, doña Rogelia junto a sus hermanos, gozaron del acompañamiento de un padre amoroso y una madre condescendiente. La comunicación familiar fue la clave del éxito en su familia y en la adopción de los valores que después le darían forma a una vida de compasión, educación y deseo de mejorar las vidas de los demás.

“Aunque vivíamos en áreas rurales, lejanas a las escuelas, en nuestra casa nunca faltaron los libros. Esa fue una gran luz que nos dio mi padre para iluminar nuestras vidas, él siempre se enfocó en enseñarnos muchas cosas desde pequeños. Cuando entré a primer grado, yo ya sabía leer y escribir porque mi papá me había enseñado. Al sol de hoy, lo que rodea mi cama son más de 100 libros y siempre estoy leyendo”, describe doña Rogelia Morán.

Mujer con su familia.

De blusa blanca, aparece doña Rogelia Morán junto a su hija María, su papá don Mario; su mamá María Consuelo Burgos y otros integrantes de su familia.

El amor de Rogelia por la lectura se convirtió en un deseo de seguir aprendiendo y poner en práctica nuevas habilidades. Eventualmente, se dio cuenta de que quería transmitir este conocimiento para ayudar a los menos afortunados.

“Desde muy jovencita comencé a trabajar como maestra de educación rural. Tuve la oportunidad de estudiar Avances Comunitarios y aprendí a criar animales y a cultivar plantas. Estudié también un curso de Salud Pública, logré ser directora de un programa de bienestar social y enseñábamos a las madres tareas básicas que ellas aplicaban en sus hogares. En la Universidad San Carlos de Guatemala, llevé un curso de Administración Hospitalaria. Gracias a ello aprendí a equipar y remodelar hospitales, y así ayudar ampliamente a los demás, en especial a los niños, a través del hospital Elisa Martínez, en Puerto Barrios, Izabal”, recuerda doña Rogelia, quien administró ese hospital por varios años.

Dos mujeres sentadas juntas

A la izquierda, doña Rogelia Morán con una amiga de trabajo.

A lo largo de su trayectoria, educó a grupos de campesinos para que aprendieran a administrar mejor sus tierras y sus producciones animales y agrícolas. También logró educar a madres de familia acerca de la importancia de una alimentación balanceada durante la lactancia y a desmentir mitos dañinos para la seguridad alimentaria de las madres y sus hijos. Además, en el transcurso de su vida, Rogelia tomó bajo su protección a muchos niños e incluso adoptó informalmente a algunos de ellos.

“He sido consultora de hogares. He visitado a hermanos en situaciones difíciles y también de alegría y siempre he encontrado la oportunidad para aprender y enseñar algo. He tenido la buena suerte de que mis hijos siempre me consultan cosas. Hasta la fecha, vibra en mí el deseo de enseñar y organizar, porque me da lástima ver todos los recursos que se desperdician en cualquier lugar, cuando las personas no tienen esa noción”, explica doña Rogelia a sus 90 años.

Mujer enseñando agricultura a jovencitas

Doña Rogelia enseña agricultura a chicas de una escuela.

Todo este ejemplo de enseñanza y ayuda al prójimo no cayó en vaso vacío. Su hijo, Julio, siempre estuvo detrás de ella, escuchando y aprendiendo de su ejemplo.

Cuando Julio apenas cumplía los 6 años, Rogelia reconoció que Julio había captado la idea de ayudar a los demás. Más de una vez, Rogelia lo sorprendió “robando” algunos huevos para compartir con un amigo que siempre mencionaba no haber podido desayunar. “Eran las acciones de un hijo, viendo a su madre que incansablemente ayudaba a los demás. Ese deseo persiste en mí hasta hoy, no me he cansado de ayudar a los demás, tal y como mi madre me ha enseñado. Los niños aprenden más por el ejemplo que por cualquier palabra que les digamos. Mi madre me ha enseñado con el ejemplo, que el camino es ayudar”, finaliza el ingeniero Salazar, conmovido hasta las lágrimas al tener a su madre al lado, su ejemplo de vida.

Mujer y sus hijos

Doña Rogelia se acompaña de sus hijos: 1. María, 2. Mario, 3. Julio, 4. Boris y 5. Juana.

“Al observar a mi madre, se me prendió la chispa de que valía la pena hacer cosas por los demás. En casa siempre había personas a las cuales mi madre ayudaba. Verla siempre en acción, fue formando en mí una inquietud a lo largo de los años. Primero, por hacer el bien y segundo, por cultivarme y sembrar en las nuevas generaciones, la misma semilla que ella sembró en mí. Quería llevar a la acción algo que fuera importante y significativo para la gente”, recuerda el ingeniero Julio Salazar, conmovido por los recuerdos. 

A Julio se le dio la oportunidad de ir a la universidad en Estados Unidos, se graduó como Ingeniero Industrial y consiguió un trabajo en Compaq Computer Corporation. Sin embargo, nunca perdió la pasión por hacer algo significativo por su país. Dos veces renunció a su trabajo e intentó hacer un proyecto en Guatemala, y dos veces fracasó y tuvo que regresar a Estados Unidos y reagruparse. No fue hasta la tercera vez que él y sus antiguos amigos obtuvieron el capital inicial para comenzar un proyecto. Para entonces, él y sus amigos habían analizado muchos proyectos potenciales para ayudar a Guatemala. Discutieron proyectos basados en atención médica, medio ambiente, negocios sociales y muchos más hasta que se decidieron por la educación.

Hombre en su graduación

Graduación de Julio Salazar en Brigham Young University, BYU en 1982.

En 1997, Julio y sus antiguos amigos dieron vida a la Fundación Rose, ahora conocida como Fundación Meso. “Primero definí una meta: la educación era lo que queríamos lograr; de ahí nació la misión y la visión de la Fundación. Nos enfocamos en las habilidades y capacidades que las futuras generaciones necesitan para tener éxito en la vida y comenzamos desde ahí”, explica nuestro fundador. La misión de la Fundación Meso hoy en día es “Empoderar a las personas nativas de Guatemala con oportunidades” y su visión es una “Guatemala más feliz, saludable y próspera.”

Desde el principio, la Fundación Meso se ha esforzado por abrir caminos para las nuevas generaciones y proporcionarles herramientas para emprender el viaje hacia el éxito. La defensa de Rogelia fue clave en esta creación. Su dedicación a los demás y su instinto protector como madre impactaron la vida de muchas personas, incluso más allá de su propia familia. Rogelia continúa siendo testigo del legado que transmitió a Julio a lo largo del crecimiento y éxito del Colegio Mesoamericano.

Hombre hablando con su mamá

Durante las visitas a su mamá, Julio platicaba y disfrutaba de relajarse en las hamacas que doña Rogelia tiene en su casa.

Esperamos que este legado de amabilidad y conocimiento continúe durante muchos años más, para que el espíritu altruista y las ideas educativas revolucionarias de Julio sigan viviendo.

Sacbajá Family: “The secret is to dream big”

Family next to a Christmas tree

Reading time

5 min

Author

Meso Foundation

Publish Date

June 2, 2023

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Leonel Sacbajá and Mercedes Guantá shared a common vision for their children: to provide them with the wings to soar toward a brighter future. For them, education was the clear path to fulfilling this great dream.  Couple holding hands The Sacbajá family is made up of Dr. Leonel Sacbajá, the father, and Mrs. Mercedes Guantá, the mother of the five children who studied at Colegio Mesoamericano: Jebel Mercedes María, Ajbe Leonel Antonio, Noyari Alejandra María, and the twins Kaslem María José and Nimcaj Adriana María. Family of eight “In 1999 and 2000, we were looking for a school that would provide our children with comprehensive education. We have been fortunate to have been born in Tecpán, Chimaltenango, but we have realized that many people have never left the municipality. We wanted to open up the whole world to our children. So we found that Colegio Mesoamericano had a futuristic vision and also opened the door to our own ideas,” recalls Mr. Sacbajá. By entrusting their children’s education to Meso, the Sacbajá family became a “pioneer family” in the words of Julio Salazar, founder of Colegio Mesoamericano. Four adults laughing The Sacbajá children put all their effort into ensuring that their parents’ efforts were not in vain. For them, maintaining the education of five children was “a miracle every day.” “If you ask us, we didn’t have an unlimited bank account. However, the secret has been to dream big. We come from very poor families, and little by little, we have changed history with hard work and education,” emphasizes Mr. Leonel. Family eating pizza Getting to school was a challenge in itself for the Sacbajá siblings. Every day, they had to travel for more than 40 minutes to reach Colegio Mesoamericano, a distance of approximately 33 km. Therefore, every morning, Mrs. Mercedes would wake them up very early and prepare them for a long day, including packing their lunches. However, the subsequent successes that ensued compensated for the early mornings with tired eyes and constant yawns. As they neared their high school years, the Sacbajá children became aware of an opportunity presented to them by Mesoamericano School: the chance to study in the United States. Alejandra was the first one to leave. At first, she had a hard time deciding to take the risk, but when presented with all the possible opportunities that could arise from attending Snow College, she became encouraged. “I am a bit shy, so it was a bit difficult for me to be here at first. You don’t know anything, not even what’s going on, but there are many people willing to help you, and eventually, you don’t feel so alone. I have met people from other countries who are going through the same thing, and I have been able to connect with them. It has been a good experience,” expresses the student. Snow College was a dream come true for the Sacbajá family. Alejandra, the eldest sibling, is now setting her sights on even greater achievements as she pursues a specialization in biomedicine at a university in Missouri. Alongside her, Yoselyn Hernandez, another Mesoamericano alumna, has also played a pioneering role in facilitating student transfers out of Utah, opening doors to opportunities for future students. Two girls graduating  Following in Alejandra’s footsteps, her twin sisters, Maria and Adriana, are currently enrolled at Snow College, working towards their Associate Degrees. Their ultimate goal is to pursue studies in business and medicine. Three girls next to a Christmas tree “The success of our children is also our success, and we are very proud of how far they have come. We invite parents to think big. Don’t be intimidated by economic issues because if you project it, you can achieve it. Dreams can come true, and only by taking the plunge can they be achieved,” conclude the Sacbajá family parents. Family making a toast

The beginnings of Meso Foundation

Rogelia Principal

Reading time

8 min

Author

Meso Foundation

Publish Date

March 22, 2023

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The seeds of Meso Foundation began with Rogelia Moran, mother of Julio Salazar, founder of Meso Foundation and Colegio Mesoamericano.

Let’s meet Rogelia, Julio’s inspiration, and motivation.

Growing up with loving parents, Rogelia believed that communication was the key to her family’s success, it helped her develop values that would later shape her life full of education, compassion, and a desire to improve the lives of others. “Even though we lived in rural areas, far from schools, there were always books in our home. That was a great light that my father gave us to illuminate our lives. He always focused on teaching us many things from a young age. When I entered first grade, I already knew how to read and write because my father had taught me. To this day, what surrounds my bed are more than 100 books, and I am always reading”, said Rogelia.
Woman with her family, parents and kids

In a white blouse, Doña Rogelia Morán appears with her daughter María, her father don Mario, her mother María Consuelo Burgos and other members of her family.

Rogelia’s love of reading transformed into a desire to continue learning and put new skills into practice. Eventually, she realized she wanted to pass on this knowledge to help others less fortunate. “At a very young age, I started working as a rural teacher. I had the opportunity to study Community Advancement and learned how to raise animals and grow plants. I also took a course in Public Health. I became the director of a social welfare program and we taught mothers about basic tasks that could be applied in their homes. At San Carlos University of Guatemala, I took a course in Hospital Administration. Thanks to this, I learned how to equip and remodel hospitals, and thus help others, especially children in the Elisa Martinez Hospital in Puerto Barrios, Izabal”, recalls Rogelia, who for seven years was the Administrator of that hospital.
Two women sitting together

On the left, Mrs. Rogelia Morán with a work friend.

Throughout her career, Rogelia educated groups of farmers so that they could learn to better manage their land, animals, and crops. She also educated mothers about the importance of balanced nutrition during breastfeeding and dispelled harmful myths to improve the food security of mothers and their children. Furthermore, Rogelia in the course of her life took many children under her wing, and even informally adopted some of them. “I’ve been a household consultant. I have visited people in difficult and joyful situations and have always found the opportunity to learn something from them. To this day, the desire to teach and organize is still in me. It makes me sad to see resources wasted everywhere when people don’t have a vision”, explains Rogelia.
Woman teaching agriculture to girls

Doña Rogelia teaches agriculture to girls in a school.

All these examples of teaching and helping others did not fall on deaf ears. Her son, Julio was always behind her, listening and learning from her example. Rogelia recognized that at the early age of 6 years, little Julio had caught on to the idea of helping others. More than once, Rogelia caught him “stealing” some eggs to share with a friend, who always mentioned not having been able to have breakfast. “Those were the actions of a son, seeing his mother who tirelessly helped others. That desire persists in me to this day, I am not tired of helping others, just as my mother taught me. Children learn more by example than by any words we say to them. My mother has taught with her example, about the importance of helping others”, concludes Julio, moved to tears at having his mother by his side.
Woman and her children

Doña Rogelia is accompanied by her children: 1. María, 2. Mario, 3. Julio, 4. Boris y 5. Juana.

“By watching my mother, I figured it was worthwhile to do things for others. At home, there were always people my mother helped. Seeing her always in action formed a restlessness in me over the years. First, to do good, and second to cultivate in me and in the new generations the same seed that she sowed in me. I wanted to do something important and meaningful for the people”, recalls Julio, moved by the memories. Julio was given the opportunity to go to college in the States, graduated as an Industrial Engineer, and proceeded to get a job at Compaq Computer Corporation.  However, he never lost the passion to do something meaningful for his country. Two times he quit his job and tried to do a project in Guatemala, and two times he failed and had to go back to the States and regroup. It wasn’t until the third time that he and his former friends got the seed money to start a project. Bye then he and his friends had thought through many potential projects to help Guatemala. They discussed projects based on health care, the environment, social businesses, and many more until they landed on education.
Man at graduation

Julio Salazar graduated from Brigham Young University, BYU in 1982.

In 1997 Julio and his former friends gave life to the Rose Foundation, now known as Meso Foundation. “First I defined a goal: education was what we wanted to achieve; thus the mission and vision of the Foundation were born. We focused on the skills and abilities that future generations need to succeed in life and we started from there”, explains our founder. Meso Foundation’s mission today is “Empowering the native people of Guatemala with opportunities” and its vision of a “ happier, healthier, more prosperous Guatemala.” Since the beginning, Meso Foundation has sought to pave paths for the new generations and to provide tools for them to take the journey to success. Rogelia’s advocacy was key in this creation. Her dedication to others and her protective instinct as a mother impacted the lives of many people even outside her own family. Rogelia continues to witness the legacy that she passed on to Julio throughout the growth and success of Colegio Mesoamericano.
Rogelia continues to witness the legacy that she passed on to Julio throughout the growth and success of Colegio Mesoamericano.

During visits to his mother, Julio would chat and enjoy relaxing in the hammocks that Doña Rogelia has in her house.

We hope that this legacy of kindness and knowledge continues through many years to come so that Julio’s altruistic spirit and revolutionary educational ideas continue to live on.

2022: A Year of Overcoming Challenges

Docente hablándole a un público

Reading time

7 min

Author

Meso Foundation

Publish Date

December 21, 2022

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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.

Four children showing their art work

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.

 Teacher working out

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.

Students learning outdoors

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.

Something Unexpected

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.

Man showing children soil

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.

Children playing violin

Graduations

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.

Children holding diplomas

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.

Back to School 2022

Reading time

3 min

Author

Meso Foundation

Publish Date

July 25, 2022

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An Emotional Reunion After Two Years Away

After two years of uncertainty and isolation, we’re happy to announce that Meso students are officially back on campus for the 2022 school year. We’ve created a hybrid model where our students can learn both online and in-person while adhering to the COVID-19 precautions mandated by the ministry of education in Guatemala.  Students are currently learning on campus four days per week and remotely one day per week. While our students and teachers are excited to be back, it’s a huge adjustment from the completely virtual learning everyone’s grown accustomed to over the past two years.  So far, the return to in-person learning has been equally heartwarming and heartbreaking for our students. Meso is like a second home to them, and coming back after so long without access to our campus and staff has been incredibly emotional. Our teachers were given strict instructions from government mandates that they were not to hug or have any close contact. However, as children poured into the school, many failed to contain their emotions, crying and hugging their beloved teachers after what seemed like a lifetime apart.  Our teachers reported many joyful reunions and many moments of extreme anxiety as we carefully returned to school. To many, our beautiful campus had become a faded ideal, a long-lost dream of the past. Preparing our abandoned campus for the moment of reunion took an incredible amount of thoughtful planning and hard work as well. Putting the systems, processes, and structure in place that we needed for this transition with the pressure of the ministry of education and the anxiety of parents and staff, was a huge accomplishment orchestrated by our superstar admin team and executed beautifully by our amazing teachers and staff. We’re very happy to report that we’ll continue resuming in-person classes little by little as we’re given the green light from the government. We’re grateful for your support and contribution in this time of growth and challenge. Together, one person at a time, one moment at a time, we build a better future for Guatemala and the world.