Pascuala

Pascuala Alicia Och Ixmata

Date of Birth: March 2, 1998

Year in School: Graduated!

Costs per Year: $1,000

Location: Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan, Guatemala

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ABOUT

​Although Alicia’s first name is Pascuala, and that is how she is known in her family, she prefers to be called Alicia, so that’s what we will call her!

The best way to tell you about Alicia is in the words of Anna, her sponsor from Colectivo Vida Digna:

“Alicia is a bright 16 year-old whose eyes sparkle as she speaks about her education. She is Maya K´iche and the fourth of seven siblings from Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan. She lives with her parents and four of her brothers and sisters. Her two older sisters work as live-in maids in nearby communities. Alicia´s community was displaced after the tropical storm Stan in 2006—a storm that devastated the Guatemalan Highlands and particularly the department of Sololá. Although only 8 years old at the time, Alicia remembers the move from the warm climate of “Antigua Santa Catarina” to the hostile cold weather of “Nueva Santa Catarina” (Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan is also referred to as “Alaska”, as harsh winds are common in the area). Alicia also remembers her father’s struggles as an agricultural worker trying to make the best for his children in what are infertile lands. Although her father Juan makes a modest living and the family suffers from severe economic constraints, he is very dedicated to his children´s education. This is not very common in a country with very little educational investment and in a school system with prominent discrimination against Mayan people. Alicia and her two younger sisters are currently attending middle school (Nivel Basico). This October (October 2014) Alicia will be the first of her family members to graduate from ninth grade. She very much enjoys physics and has even considered going on to college to focus on this area. Although, the economic situation at home is quite limited, as the average monthly income is about 2,500 quetzals (about $325 US), her father has agreed to allow her to continue studying if she can find a way to pay her way through school. We are recommending Alicia for a One New Education Scholarship because she is extremely dedicated to her studies and because we know that without a scholarship she most likely will have to work as a maid as her older sisters do. As her community does not offer decent high school education, Alicia is considering attending a boarding school in Quetzaltenango, a city about 1.5 hours from her house and a significantly less expensive option compared to daily travel. Her best option and final decision will be determined together with her and her family.”

Alicia’s letter (translated) to us says:

“I send you greetings with love and hope that you are successful in your work, and that you receive many blessings in your daily life. I want to study because studies are necessary, good and important for me as a person. My favorite course is physics. I want to accomplish a goal that I have. In this current year, I am going to graduate from “third basic” and I want to continue studying to accomplish my goal, which is to help my family move forward. Thank you for your attention.”

2021

March

Well, to start with, we have learned that now, Alicia wants to be known by her real first name: Pascuala. So we are now using the name she prefers. She has been doing very well, despite the pandemic and all the problems it has caused in her life and the lives of her community and country. She only used a portion of her scholarship from us, because the schools were closed and she was only able to take a computer class online. So she continues to study.

She sent us a couple of letters early this year, one to thank us and the donors for the help, and one to answer some questions that we gave her. She sent them to us via email, which is really exciting! She’s using her new skills and practicing. Here are the translations of her letters.

I thank the board of directors and those who are part of ONE enormously for the support given to me during 2020, for allowing me to learn new knowledge, I have managed to complete an intensive computer course, which for me is important to know and handle it for any activity or work.

With the classes, I have learned many important things regarding the use of the computer, its function, maintenance and the programs that are used in each task, job or other. For that I am very grateful, I have no way to repay you, nor how to return the support and for all the work you have done to give me the opportunity to continue learning, I always carry you in my heart and mind at all times.

Despite many difficulties that I faced during the learning process, I worked hard and did not give up until I managed to finish the course. I am very happy that they gave me my certificate. In relation to the other courses, which are K’iche, weaving, and English, I did not study them in 2020, because it was not possible to take these classes in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here in Guatemala the educational centers were closed and there was no transportation. There was no help in my community teaching how to prevent the spread of the pandemic disease and I participated by delivering food with some neighbors who were affected. With your permission, I hope to use the scholarship that was awarded to me in 2020 to achieve the goals that I set in my application. I want to continue studying k’iche and weaving this year.

Without more to say, I say goodbye to you, bless you and your family in everything you do. Hugs.

Pascuala Alicia Och Ixmatá

Here is her second letter answering our questions.

1. Tell us what you studied during the 2020 school year.
I took a computer course (management and support of computer systems) at the Technical Training and Productivity Institute (INTECAP) located in Quetzaltenango.

a) What classes did you take?
—Making operating system configurations
—Managing basic Microsoft Office applications
—Managing applications for the design and management of information in Microsoft Office
—Managing collaborative web tools
—Performing maintenance and basic support of computer equipment

b) What did you learn from the classes you took?
—Making operating system configurations, such as creating a virtual computer on another physical computer. However I only received one class of the module; due to the COVID-19 pandemic, educational institutions were closed.
—Managing the basic office applications of Microsoft Office, which are Word, Excel, PowerPoint, as they are used to create any document, presentation, and data of any activity that one performs in any area.
—Managing the applications for the design and management of information in Microsoft Office, which are Publisher and Access. I was not able to take do any of these modules, since I was absent for more than a month.
—Managing the collaborative tools of the web. In this class or module we worked through internet access, where I learned to work with Office 365 to create, access, and share Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents, and also with Google Docs via email.
—Carrying out the maintenance and basic support of computer equipment. I learned the names of the internal parts of a computer and how to disassemble, clean, and assemble computer equipment.

In each of the classes I did not learn one hundred percent; I feel that in some of them I need to strengthen my knowledge.

2. What were the challenges you faced in your classes during this school year?
It was very difficult for me to receive virtual classes. I was frustrated that I could not access some of the websites, pages, and accounts. Also the video recording of the homework sent took a long time to download and watch. In some classes I was not present for the reasons mentioned above. Because of the situation, I no longer wanted to continue with the course. I felt bad about the knowledge that I lost, but I reflected on the opportunity you all gave me, to continue developing academically and how important it is for me to learn and use computing in any place or space of job.

a) What was the easiest for you in terms of classes?
In the last module I learned a little more about the maintenance and basic support of computer equipment. This was the easiest thing for me because I received virtual classes, and I practiced face-to-face at INTECAP while I already knew the names of the internal and external parts of computer, and also how to disassemble, clean, and assemble it.

b) What did you enjoy the most about your classes?
That everything that was taught are important and widely used topics, and the last face-to-face classes that we received where I was able to answer all my questions. Also the teaching showing us how to carry out the correct disassembly, cleaning, and assembly of a computer. I also enjoyed the mutual support of colleagues to perform each job well, even if it is from a distance.

3. Do you feel that your ideas about what you would like to do in your professional career have changed, if they have become clearer or even less clear? Please explain this.
My plan that I wrote in the application has not changed, I always like to experience new challenges to meet my stated goals. I fulfilled my goal of taking the computer course and obtaining new knowledge to use in my work and community. In relation to the weaving and K’iche courses in this current year, I am going to study them in order to acquire the necessary knowledge to use  them anywhere and teach other people how important it is to know them. No matter the situation and problems I face, I will achieve this.

We are so very proud of Pascuala. Despite a global pandemic and circumstances that make it hard to study even under normal conditions, she is moving forward, and is clearly dedicated to finishing her studies. Felicidades y buena suerte, Pascuala!

2020

February

Alicia spent the last two years working to help put her younger siblings through high school. It’s now her turn to continue on with her future, and we are very happy to announce that we will be supporting her for the coming year as she pursues her dreams. Alicia will be taking four classes that will help her with her plans to work with indigenous weavers to help them sell and maintain their work, and to maintain their culture. She will be taking computing, English, weaving techniques, and K’iche, which is her native language. Although she grew up speaking K’iche, she recognizes that to really work with people who speak nothing else, she must learn it even better. She’s been speaking Spanish in all her school and work, and wants to be able to speak K’iche perfectly.

Here are the answers she gave us in her application for post-secondary aid.

Describe a quality that distinguishes you or makes you special:
I’m a fighter and responsible. Despite all the difficulties that I have faced, I have never given up easily. I look for ways to better things to achieve my goals and dreams until I can achieve my purpose.

What is a challenge you’ve faced and how have you overcome it?
My biggest challenge I’ve faced is the travel (from my home). I have risked to travel to various places just to accomplish my dreams and my obligations. I leave early from the house and return at night. I have suffered from cold, rain, heat, but in spite of that, I have overcome my fear of traveling. I continue to travel more often, with my desire to overcome, my will, and my courage.

Who has influenced you most in your life and why?
My parents, because they are the ones who have given me advice and moral support to be someone in life and not repeat what they could not achieve. I have always been told that although there are problems and difficulties on my way or at home not to stop. I have to follow the path to achieve my dreams. No matter how difficult it is, you have to have courage and hope in everything and fight for what you want. My dad tells us that we have to work in order to live, take advantage of our studies for a decent future.

How has your education contributed to who you are?
It has helped me a lot to obtain my Proficiency in Business Administration, I have planned and organized activities with young people of the IX KAME program when I worked for a time with Colectivo Vida Digna. I participated in meetings outside the country of Guatemala, in Mexico to present the work, knowledge and art of weaving of my Mayan tradition. I have also given support to people at various times, such as writing a document, a letter of application, or for someone who doesn’t understand what the document they have received contains.

Why do you want to study and which career do you plan to study?
I want to study to acquire new experiences and knowledge, I plan to study the K’iche language, computing, weaving techniques, and English. I have knowledge in each one of them, what I want is to manage them perfectly and use what I have learned. I think that English and K’iche are important because what I want is for people to feel my support in any situation. The computer study will help me manage any program, such as Excel, which is the basic that is requested for any job. In weaving I have nine years of experience. What I want is to know more and see new designs from other places to promote the importance of my weaving and culture inside and outside my community.

Why are you interested in this profession?
I am interested in strengthening my knowledge with new experiences. In the case of the K’iche language, what I want is to be a translator. To achieve that I have to speak K’iche well and make people understand well and not confuse them. I am interested in weaving because it is the basis of our culture, the art it carries, knowing new designs, knowing how to understand the meanings of each piece and not lose that culture and knowledge. I look forward to using my knowledge in any workplace, in the community, or with the person who needs it.

Describe your goals for your future. How would this course of study help you?
– Obtain the necessary knowledge to be able to use them at any time or situation.
– Teach what they have learned to the people they can serve.

How could you use this profession to help your community?
Provide my knowledge to people who need it in meeting, events, visit of other people to the community. To feel mutual support at any time.

What types of challenges could occur for you during your university studies (for example:
homework, exams, your personal life, your family, your health, etc.)
– Time
– Homework at school

Describe how you could respond to these challenges so you can continue studying.
Time. To answer this I have to make a work plan, establishing a schedule for each activity to be carried out, in order to complete each of the courses. I have to respect the work plan and be strict with myself. This way I can enjoy my classes and the travel I will make to attend (classes). I hope then not to get frustrated in some upcoming activity and to achieve my purpose.

Homework. To answer this I have to organize myself well, be organized with each task or subject, start with the first and then move on with the next. To be more organized and do things well, without thinking of finishing something a few minutes before it is due, but to do it well before it’s due without having to hurry. I will start with the most difficult and end with the easiest to take less time and have it before it is due.

Describe your goals and where do you imagine being in life in the next three, five and ten years.
In three years: Finish the courses mentioned above. Get a permanent job and make use of my knowledge learned in these courses to make people understand well.

In five years: Provide my services to parents, children, and young people in the community, in an organization, school or other place, serve as I can, to help them understand well.

In ten years: I want to build my own house. I want to expand our business or start my own business using the knowledge I have gained.

How would you use your education and your profession to help other girls and women with their education?
Provide learning spaces by giving workshops for the courses learned so that they can also obtain the knowledge to make use of them at home or in other spaces or with other people.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing your community? How could you help your community overcome this challenge?
The biggest challenge my community has faced is the conflict in my community over land boundaries between the two municipalities Santa Catarina Ixtahuacán and Nahuala, both of the Sololá department, has affected the community a lot because of the problem. Another challenge facing my community is discrimination. My community is Maya K’iche. They are discriminated against because of their clothing and mother tongue. Fluently managing English, Spanish, and K’iche I will be able to translate for people. The knowledge of weaving will help so that more people from outside and from other communities value their weaving and clothing.

Why do you think you should receive this scholarship? Tell us about yourself, not about the economic circumstances of your family.
Well first, I want to thank you for the work and educational support you give to girls, young women in different countries, doing what you can to give them the opportunity to continue studying and be someone in life, to achieve their goals and dreams. I really admire what you do for each one. Again I thank you for giving me a chance and considering me for a scholarship for university studies. The reason I want to get the scholarship is to continue learning, acquire new experiences and knowledge to improve myself more. I know what I have learned through my studies in Proficiency in Business Administration has helped me a lot today and always. What I want is to get more experiences to strengthen my knowledge and make better use of it in any job. I will face obstacles, fears, big and difficult challenges to overcome during my classes, but I will never give up. I will fight to achieve my goals and dreams. With my will and courage I know it will come true. If I get the scholarship, I will face all the challenges that I have along the way at any cost so that I can acquire the necessary knowledge to make the best use of it in my home, community, work, school or organization or to those who need it.

With nothing more to say, I thank you for considering me and my request. Hugs.

Sincerely, Pascuala Alicia Och Ixmatá.

We are so excited for Alicia and her vision for her future, and we can’t wait to see where she goes with all of her studies!

2017

November

On November 20, 2017, Pascuala Alicia Och Ixmata officially graduated from high school, becoming the first person in her family to achieve this! Christa and Leslie went to Guatemala to attend the graduation, and it couldn’t have been a more wonderful visit.

Alicia comes from a large family of indigenous Maya Q’iche speakers. Many of her older siblings, especially the women, do not speak Spanish. Alicia had to start learning about 8 years ago. Her father, Don Manuel and her brother, Marvin both speak Spanish because they are out in the community working. The women usually stay at home or just do domestic chores, so they don’t learn Spanish. So it was a source of great pride and a lot of utter bewilderment to her mother, Dona Manuela, that her daughter graduated from high school. They are a lovely family, and we had a lot of fun traveling with them to Lake Atitlan, and attending the graduation and post graduation lunch.

Alicia will look for work in her field for the next couple of years. She wants to continue on to the university, and hopes to work with creating a business in the future. She will be attending a three-day seminar/workshop on local and sustainable business management in December, so she will be getting a good start.

We couldn’t be more excited for Alicia, nor more proud of her hard work and efforts. She is a delightful young woman: determined, funny, intelligent, and beautiful. And we are so happy to be able to include her in our rapidly growing group of graduates! CONGRATULATIONS, ALICIA!

January

Alicia will enter her last year of school in February. She’s very excited to be in school, and she seems to really enjoy all that she is learning. We are hoping to attend her graduation in November! Here is her year-end letter to us, translated.

Name: Pascuala Alicia Och Ixmata
School: Pre-University San Cristobal
Location: Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan, Solola
Date: December 13, 2016

1) What did you enjoy the most about this school year?
What I enjoyed the most was that they taught me how to make a salary schedule and also how a purchase order and an accounting slip are made.

2) What was the most difficult for you this year?
The most difficult thing for me this year was my course in statistics because we did an individual research project. It was really hard to do all the research and I had to turn in a 100-page report.

3) What is something that was a challenge for you?
To spend a lot on the Internet to type the report that we did in statistics because I don’t have a computer.

4) Tell us which of the goals from your previous letter you were able to achieve.
Turn in all my homework
Help at home with the work

5) How did you do it?
With a lot of effort, dedication and with the help of my family

6) How did it make you feel that you could accomplish your goals?
Happy, and grateful with all of you and with my family for the help that you all have bestowed on me.

7) Describe five goals that you would like to accomplish at school or in your life during the next year.
• To learn and understand how a seminar is done.
• Learn to work the computer well, and to type quickly without looking at the keyboard.
• To speak in public without being afraid.
• To help at home when I have free time.
• To turn in all my homework in all my classes

8) Describe how you could use your studies and what you have learned to help a friend or a family member.
To teach someone who doesn’t know how to read or write well so they can have a good future.

9) Tell us what you would like to do to help that person and how you would do it.
Teach them how to pronounce each word and how the words are correctly written so that the person can have better handwriting and spelling.

2016

September

Alicia is doing well in school and enjoying herself. She received an 80% average at the middle of the year, which is really great. She sent us a wonderful letter answering some questions we sent her, which we have translated here:

Name: Pascuala Alicia Och Ixmata
School: Pre-University San Cristobal

Date: July 29, 2016

Describe what you are learning in your classes:
What I’m learning is how each word must be written correctly, because the spelling of certain words confuses me; how to read; and how to write an essay.

Pick at least one class and explain what interests you the most about that class and what you are learning:
In my computer class, the thing that interests me the most is how to work with the computer and work with all the programs that I have to learn for my career, and how to make a ledger account on the computer. I also want to type rapidly on the computer without looking at the keyboard. And what I’m learning is to type rapidly doing word exercises in Word without looking at the keyboard, but I’m a little slow and it’s hard to work the keyboard, but I’m giving it all I have.

What interests you the most and why?
To continue studying and also to continue learning new things that I don’t know that concern my career. Because I want to learn more and understand the things that they explain to me in each class, so that I can understand each course without any doubt or problem. And so I can get good grades in each class. For this reason, I want to do things well and do well in my practical in November and December.

Describe five goals that you would like to accomplish during the rest of the year:
Turn in all my homework
Pass all my classes
Study in my free time
Help at home with the office work
Learn to work the computer well

2015

January

When Anna went to Alicia’s family’s house to sign the agreements with her in January, her father Don Juan signed for the family, and seemed very proud, Anna said. She also said Alicia is very excited about being in school!

At the end of January, Alicia and Maria attended a conference hosted by Vida Digna and KIND on women and education. Sounds right up our alley! We’re very glad that there is such support for them there. Without local support, and more than just someone who handles money, many of these girls can’t see their way to a different future. Vida Digna and KIND are making sure that doesn’t happen. Not only do they have support from the directors, but they meet other girls who can provide a community of support among themselves.

June

Our contact sent us news that Alicia is doing well in school. She attended a workshop with Vida Digna, and Anna was able to take some photos of her at the workshop and working on her letter to us. We are very happy to hear that she is enjoying school and doing well.

TRANSLATION
Name: Pascuala Alicia Och Ixmata
School: Pre-University San Cristobal
Date: June 8, 2015

Describe what you are learning in your classes:
I am learning accounting class, like how to make an inventory and how to explain when there is a presentation, and also I am learning how to speak in Spanish more.

Choose at least one class and explain what most interests you about it and what you are learning:
I like accounting class because they explain when we don’t understand something and what interests me the most is the daily inventory journal that they are teaching us to learn more, it’s important for having a career.

What most interests you and why:
What interests me the most is to continue learning in my classes which are the most important for my career, like accounting, math and statistics and to have a good understanding of them to have work and help my family.

Describe five goals that you would like to accomplish during the rest of the year:
– to continue learning
– get good grades for the third quarter
– look for how to travel in the rainy season
– help my family with things around the house
– help my sisters with their homework

December

Alicia is doing really well. She is in a vocational school learning administration, accounting, and secretarial skills. She has a couple years left to go, but thus far, she is getting good grades and trying really hard. During a Skype conversation with Alicia, she talked about how much she enjoys math and what she is learning. Her recent letter to us is very detailed and impressive:

TRANSLATION
Name: Pascuala Alicia Och Ixmata
Date: December 9, 2015
School: Pre-University San Cristobal
Place: Santa Catarina, Ixtahuacan, Solola

What was something you most enjoyed this year at school?
What I liked the most was to learn accounting and math. In accounting, such as learning the four books of accounting, like how to do an inventory, daily books, final books and balancing the business’ merchandise. And in math, I learned how to do the five methods such as multiplication, substitution, subtraction, determinants and graphs. I really enjoyed learning how to do each one of those methods.

What was the most difficult for you this year? Statistics cost me a lot.

What was most challenging for you? Traveling two hours to get to school.

Which of the five goals from your earlier letter did you accomplish?
Continue learning
Figure out how to travel in the rainy season
Help my family with the house duties

How did you accomplish them?
I made an effort (to continue learning)
With the help of my family (to travel in the rainy season)
Getting up early to help with house duties

How did it make you feel to accomplish these goals? Happy

Describe five goals that you would like to accomplish in school or in your life for the upcoming year.
1) To learn how to work the computer well and type quickly
2) To continue learning to read and understand what it says
3) Put my administration studies into practice
4) Learn how to direct people when I am going to give my practical this year
5) Learn to speak Spanish better and to speak in public.

Describe how you could use your studies or what you have learned to help a friend or someone in your family.
I can help my younger brother so he learns how to read and understand what each word says, and to write well.

Tell us what you would like to do to help that person and how you would do it.
Sit with him every day and teach him how to pronounce every word

2014

November 2014

In mid-November, Colectivo Vida Digna held a youth retreat for young people and their families who have been affected by immigration. The retreat was designed specifically for youth who had migrated to the U.S. and been deported, and their brothers and sisters. Alicia, whose brother Marvin was deported from the United States, attended.