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Education - Meso Foundation

Explore the Power of Indigo an Emotional Intelligence Program

Kids laughing in bean bags

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.

A Girl with Altruistic Vocation

Fatima Principal

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.

2022: A Year of Overcoming Challenges

Docente hablándole a un público

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.