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This project, organized entirely at the initiative of students in the UW’s 2005, 2006, and 2007 Exploration Seminars and Study Abroad trips to Guatemala, aims to support primary and secondary education in Guatemala’s coffee-growing communities through a sustained commitment to youth empowerment. Designed in conjunction with the NGO Movimiento de Trabajadores Campesinos (MTC) in San Marcos, Guatemala, the project adopts an innovative, integral approach to education, recognizing that poor educational outcomes are not only a reflection of scarce funds for tuition, but also the frequent lack of community-based support for students. This project has involved two phases of support. The first phase involved empowering young leaders from 6 coffee-growing municipalities by engaging them in a regional support network and encouraging small-scale development projects of their own design. We supported these leaders through 14 youth scholarships. The second phase began in 2008, in which the UWGEP supported the MTC's vocational training programs for youth in the San Marcos region.
In the wake of Hurricane Stan, which devastated this region of Guatemala in 2005, there has been a dramatic increase in emigration by teenagers and even younger children, who head north towards the United States to face an uncertain future. This project has sought to provide support for youth from the area to stay home and invest in their communities’ futures through education and leadership training. It also has provided important engaged-learning opportunities for UW students interested in development and NGO work. At every stage of the project's organization, it has been run by UW students, working in close consultation with Prof. Godoy and the MTC in Guatemala. In the later phases of the project, Prof. Godoy has continued to communicate with the MTC regarding administration of funding for its youth education and vocational training programs.