Major: Social Work
School: Universidad de San Carlos, Coban
Originally From: Tactic, Guatemala
Heydi is the eldest of seven children. While she was growing up, her mother supported the family by weaving shawls, an art form practiced by many indigenous women in Guatemala. The family lived in poverty in a one-room house in the small town of Tactic. Heydi was in the eighth grade and an anonymous donor was paying her $2.00 per month tuition at a school with very poor resources, when GSSG chose her to join their program because of her great leadership and academic potential.
As one of GSSGs first sponsored students, Heydi came to the USA in 2003 to receive a better education and be immersion into English. She attended high school and lived with a host family in North Carolina. After graduation from high school, she returned to Guatemala to continue her studies at a teaching college.
When Heydi finished the teaching classes, she found a job as a secretary at her town’s City Hall. However, she found her salary was not enough to cover her living expenses and help her brothers with their school tuition. So, she took an additional job in a government program where she taught English to children and youth on the weekends. For a year-and-a-half Heydi worked from Monday to Friday at City Hall, and Saturday and Sunday at the school with the children. However, she hungered for more learning, and to be able to work in a field that would impact her community in a positive way. So in 2013, while still working full-time, Heydi began studying for a degree in social work. She wrote about her demanding schedule and her goals in one of her letters to GSSG:
“I work during the day and then in the afternoon leave my job, travel by bus to Coban for my courses daily from 5 pm to 9 pm. I return to Tactic at 10 pm and do homework until midnight. Luckily, I seem to have a lot of energy because I have little time to relax before starting the new day. I am a little tired but I like college and I am learning a lot and that encourages me to go ahead and finish school.
“I will study for a social-work degree, because the objective is . . . to promote the development of communities that require a response to the problems of poverty that affect large sectors of the population . . . I will then research the diagnosis of social problems and then design, implement, manage, and evaluate social action projects that tend to raise the level of welfare of individuals, families, groups and communities. . . I want to be part of the group of people who improve the welfare and progress of my beloved Guatemala.
It is difficult to imagine this hard-working and altruistic young lady taking on anything else. Recently, however, Heydi wrote to her sponsors about beginning to learn yet another language, even though she is already fluent in Pocamchí, Spanish, and English:
“I also want to tell you that I have begun to study the Mayan language, Q’eqchi on Sundays. It is the Mayan language of the majority of the population of Coban and Carcha. However, I was born and raised in Tactic and my Mayan language is Poqomchi’. But because there are more Q’eqchi in my department (state) of Alta Verapaz, I think it is important to learn this language. It is this population with whom I will be working. It helps to know the language to establish a good communication with them.”