Why Did Two Tourists Visit A School In Guatemala and How Did It Turn Into A Highlight of Their Trip?

School Luis Mena shares a wall with Casa Santo Domingo, Antigua’s top-rated tourist attraction, shares a wall with school Luis Mena but the beautiful monastery-turned-tourist-hotel is a world apart from the everyday life of this school. We loved monastery Santo Domingo, but school Luis Mena turned into the highlight of our trip.

We were just leaving monastery Santo Domingo when we heard the commotion of school dismissal so we quickened our pace, turned the corner and saw the children leaving school, running and jumping and playing around the way children do, many with family waiting to take them home.

School isn’t for all the children, like these children sitting on the curb.
I asked this girl why she didn’t go to school but she said she had to work to help her family survive.
Staff members leave already mounted on their scooters

We asked a staff member if we could enter to speak to the school administrator and she led us to teacher Luisa Fernanda. We explained to Luisa Fernanda that we would love to see the school so she asked the school administrator and got permission to give us a tour the following morning at 9 am!

We spent the rest of the afternoon buying school supplies, asking stationery supply stores what teachers needed most.

Luisa Fernanda met us at the front gate promptly at 9 am and lead us directly to her classroom. The students were in the English class so we had time to talk and learn all about the challenges she faced as a teacher.

Luisa Fernanda’s class of 40 6th graders was overcrowded and, worse, the government couldn’t provide enough books for all of the children in the class. Homework was very difficult to assign since the children didn’t have books to bring home.

Teacher Luisa Fernanda in her classroom

The school day was from 9 am to 2 pm, at which time another school used the space for different students. Luisa Fernanda told us that she locked up the supplies, many that she bought with her own money, but sometimes she would find the lock broken and the supplies missing in the morning.

Some mornings, Luisa finds the lock on the big closet broken

It was now time to pick up the children from their English class and bring them to the computer room. The children were so full of energy and were very excited to meet us. We walked together to the computer room.

The computer room was pretty modern, thanks to donations from Santo Domingo Monastery Hotel.

Now we toured the school and had the chance to meet the bright-faced children from all the grades.

The student cafeteria
The school auditorium
Gym class
Staff parking

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Published by Aixa

I was born and raised in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela. I traveled extensively throughout Venezuela before ever thinking of leaving my country. Visit me on Instagram!

19 thoughts on “Why Did Two Tourists Visit A School In Guatemala and How Did It Turn Into A Highlight of Their Trip?

    1. You can see the sadness in their faces that they’re not in school like the other children. My mother wasn’t sent to school but in the house where she worked, the teacher who worked with the children there taught her, and she developed a love of reading 💕 📚

      1. No, they don’t and it’s very sad. My mother had to find the opportunity herself. She was a servant in that house. The teacher ended up adopting her and then raising me and my sisters

    1. These young children were so full of energy and happiness. We visited another school out in the countryside but we only met a few children. My husband and I have thought about moving there and volunteering at one of the schools. Thanks for reading, Julie

  1. Thank for sharing this touching story! Good to get an insight into the life children have in another part of the world. It’s very sad to hear the girl can’t go to school but has to support her family. It brought back the memory of the hard time I had when I was a teen.

    1. It must have been a difficult but rewarding experience for you. I can see how this situation brought the memories back for you. Thank you for visiting and sharing that with me.

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