The Waldorf School “Caracol” in San Marcos La Laguna, located 4 hours away from the capital, is on its way to become an elementary school with six grades. The students come from families belonging to the Maya tradition, as well as immigrant families mainly from the United States. According to their individual financial situation, the Maya children can attend the school cost free, whereas the rest of the families have to contribute a school fee.
Many centuries ago (between 300 and 900 A.D.), the Maya used to rule in what is today Guatemala. Temple complexes, step pyramids and many buildings, which have yet to be discovered, represent the dignified and antique witnesses of this advanced civilization. After several different foundations of empires in Guatemala, the Spanish arrived at the coast of South America in 1511, thus starting the period of colonial rule. After the declaration of independence in 1821, several dictatorships followed, until a civil war hit the country between 1960 and 1996. It was especially the indigenous population who suffered for decades. In September 1982 alone, 9.000 Maya descendants were murdered.
Yelena Corinna and Joshua Wilson, originally coming from the USA, were looking for a school for their children in San Marcos and eventually decided to found a new school, a Waldorf school. Since the end of civil war, the region, which used to be almost exclusively inhabited by Maya descendants, has been a place of constant change. Lately more and more people coming from the United States settled in San Marcos. All the more it was important to bring a school into being, with an integrated impulse to consolidate the Maya children with the children of the immigrants. Therefore Spanish is the language of instruction – according to the national language – but the Maya language as well as English, are more and more integrated into the school curriculum.
The Name of the school “Escuela Caracol” (transl. snail shell) refers to the school’s vision. In Latin America and especially in the Mayan culture the snail shell has an important meaning: The spiralled shell symbolizes the connecting of all the different aspect of life to an entirety.
Financially, the money obtained through school fees is not sufficient, as the school is still in the process of development and thus does not have enough capacity. Therefore it is an important concern to the Friends of Waldorf Education that this impulse eventually overcomes the challenges of its pioneer stage and turns their vision into a reality over the course of time.
Click here for the fairy tale The Great Jacote Tree, which is told at the Escuela Caracol.