Our Community: Indigenous & International

San Marcos La Laguna lies on the shores of Lake Atitlán with an inspiring view of three volcanoes.

This small pueblo of about 3.000 people is located in the western highlands of Guatemala – a region predominantly inhabited by indigenous Maya for thousands of years. It is also one of the poorest regions in Guatemala, with 80% living in poverty and 25% living in extreme poverty.

Within the past twenty years, a significant number of internationals and non-indigenous Guatemalans have relocated to the area around the lake. Many of these newcomers now have children and are discovering a sense of solidarity with indigenous people and their vital need for quality education. This is no slight dilemma in a country still recovering from a 36 yearlong civil war where hundreds of schools were burned and many educational workers “disappeared.”

Though interest in education is increasing, public schools are in no way equipped to handle the need due to overcrowded classrooms, absent teachers, chronic mismanagement of resources, and school climates that exhibit residual tones of oppression and often violence. Education statistics have improved in the past several years, but even still only 62% of Guatemalan children make it to the sixth grade (UNICEF). An intense development of educational efforts is required if San Marcos and the other growing villages around the lake are to meet the many environmental, social, and economic challenges that lie ahead. What is needed is not just more education, but a different kind of education.

Our Role: A Waldorf–lnspired Alternative

Escuela Caracol seeks to offer a solution to the dilemma of education for both indigenous and international families around Lake Atitlán. Our holistic mode of learning promotes the development of well-rounded and freethinking individuals who possess creative capacities useful in all realms of life.

In Waldorf education, the artistic impulse imbues every lesson, including traditional academic subjects. The curriculum introduces academics in a gradual and age-appropriate manner that promotes a lifelong love of learning and helps to prevent premature burnout. We believe this approach is ideally suited to a community comprised of traditionally agrarian and artisan families on the one hand and Western-educated and alternative-minded families on the other. The distinct focus on creative expression, practical work, and the natural environment also affords an exceptional basis for a unique cultural interchange.