Notes from the Horizon: Cultural Story Hour & more

Posted on Aug 5, 2013

Story time in the library

 

Cultural Story Hour: Learning Local Lore from Chajul Elders

Every week, in the Saber Sin Límites Community Library, the librarians read books to the children during Story Hour. The books are usually in Spanish, though the librarians also translate into Ixil as they read. Needless to say, these stories usually represent cultures very foreign to the children of Chajul.

We believe that exposure to new ideas and the Spanish language is beneficial for children. However, we also recognize the increasing loss of cultural knowledge and traditions in Chajul and the great potential to create a space in the library where children learn stories, history, and values from their own rich Ixil Maya culture. Thus Cultural Story Hour was born.

Once a month, the Saber Sin Límites Community Library invites a village elder to come speak to the children on themes like the Maya diaspora, Chajul’s legendary mountain hermit, and Ixil spirituality. Just as with many cultures that share oral traditions, stories diverge. In our last Cultural Story Hour, the village elder explained to the children the difference between the legend of Chajul’s founding, and the more factual history of Chajul’s founding — from the migration of the Maya people in Huehuetenango to settle in the Ixil region, to the construction of the Catholic church and the town square by the Spaniard settlers.

The children are not only gaining knowledge, they are learning to respect their elders, think critically about fact and fiction, and value their roots. The stories and cultural knowledge can help foster a stronger sense of identity, bind communities together, and prepare the children to be proud citizens and leaders of Chajul.

 

Student Spotlight: Maty Floridalma
Maty FloridalmaMaty, who at 14 years old is in her first year of middle school, dreams of going to university in the second-largest city in Guatemala, Quetzaltenango. Maty visits us daily in the LHI Community Center, taking advantage of the opportunity to chat with our mentors, do homework on our computers, and earn money through the Work to (L)earn program.

Maty loves to tell the story of how she connected with LHI — how Verónica and Edilma from the LHI team encouraged her to apply for the LHI program, how two staff members came to her house and interviewed her, and how excited she was to be accepted.

She knew that her parents alone would not be able to support her education, even though they run a small business of weaving the corte, the traditional women’s skirt. When Maty is not at school or in the LHI Community Center, she is often in her family’s store practicing her business skills.

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