Sacbajá Family: “The secret is to dream big”

Family next to a Christmas tree

Reading time

5 min


Meso Foundation

Publish Date

June 2, 2023

Share through:

A post

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

2022: A Year of Overcoming Challenges

Docente hablándole a un público

Reading time

7 min


Meso Foundation

Publish Date

December 21, 2022

Share through:

A post

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


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


Meso Foundation

Publish Date

July 25, 2022

Share through:

A post

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.