We worked together, and we did it! On October 18, 2019, the newly-renovated Escuela Oficial Urbana Mixta San Antonio in Sololá, Guatemala opened its doors. Thanks to generous donations from companies and individuals in the cloud computing industry and some very heavy lifting by the locals, 525 kids now have a better shot at a brighter future.
CloudFest CEO Soeren von Varchmin went to visit the school, located near beautiful Lago d’Atitlan in the Guatemalan highlands, for the official opening. He got to address the students, faculty, parents, and build team. Getting the students to promise not to skip out on their homework–after all, they could well be joining us in the cloud industry in a decade or so. (Soeren’s Spanish is still a work in progress, but it’s getting pretty good!)
After many months of fundraising and a challenging construction schedule, it was amazing to see the finished product, as it were—and to actually meet the students and teachers who will be using the school each day.
Building for the Future
“In our hearts, we’re all pretty much the same, but our histories and our circumstances have made our paths very different,” said von Varchmin at the opening ceremony. Compared to other Latin American countries, Guatemalans suffer from low-quality education due to a lack of teachers. Just 74.5% of the population age 15 and over is literate. Guatemala’s school system is severely crippled by overcrowded classrooms, broken infrastructure, and a lack of resources. Public spending for education in the region is inadequate, so school-age children aren’t getting the tools they need to reach their potential. Indigenous kids are even further disadvantaged: the cost of school supplies, uniforms, and transportation can price families out of even the government-funded schools.
Expanding the capacity of this school brings education within reach to these highly-motivated students. Soeren von Varchmin said,
The kids here are so smart and full of energy: it’s really easy to see them leading companies and meeting them at CloudFest in maybe ten or fifteen years.
“It was important to design the new classrooms with the students in mind. It´s not just about a safe learning environment, but also about a space where the teachers have the opportunity to provide their students with a quality education.” said school architect Luis Alberto Palacios. The newly-rebuilt Escuela Oficial Urbana Mixta San Antonio will now have 15 classrooms, a breakroom for teachers, and a kitchen.
The new construction will ensure smaller class sizes, as well as more space for the high-demand classes. In addition to the new construction, CloudFest presented four laptops to the two secondary schools to help the students in their computing and graphic design classes—new additions to the curriculum.
The Next Challenge
Besides building a school, the CloudFest School project also built our confidence in taking on the challenging task of leveling the playing field for creative, intelligent, and passionate students who don’t have the resources that we do. So, yes, we’re gonna do it again!
We’ll be building another school in Guatemala—more details will be coming soon. We hope we can count on your continued support: after all, look at we accomplished in less than a year!
Check out our Flickr profile for more amazing photos of the opening ceremony.