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Debi Lyn Esquivel

Debi Lyn Esquivel with Estrella, the Guatemalan child she sponsors

Teaching Peer-Tutoring

Staff Member Launches New Program in Guatemalan Village

July 16, 2007

By Mimi Ko Cruz

Debi Lyn Esquivel, assistant director of the University Learning Center and part-time lecturer in English, is launching a peer-tutoring program for children in a remote Guatemalan village.

She is in San Martin Chiquito, a Mayan village near Quetzaltenango where the native Mam language is spoken.

“In this indigenous village, the children speak Mam at home with their parents but, they are taught in Spanish at school,” Esquivel said. “So, a lot of the children have difficulty learning the Spanish language because it is not their native tongue.”
The program she is launching, she said, “takes high school students from the village and matches them with primary school children to work as tutors in reading, writing and math.”

She will return from her current three-week stay in Guatemala on July 23 and then go back in January to check on the program’s progress.

As part of her project, which is funded by a $4,900 grant from the Staff Development and Training Program, Esquivel is piloting the University Learning Center’s peer tutoring model for bilingual education and analyzing its global application and effectiveness. Her findings will inform multilanguage and cultural diversity instructional design training for campus tutors.

Esquivel, who has worked at the university for 13 years, started visiting Guatemala as a volunteer through Xela Aid, a nonprofit humanitarian organization that provides healthcare and other assistance to economically disadvantaged communities in Guatemala. She first sponsored a child, Estrella, four years ago through the organization.

She continues to sponsor the girl, who now is 14, so that she can attend school.

“For me, it’s sort of a mission to help, give back,” Esquivel said. “I was looking for a way that I could reach out to the global community and this has been hugely rewarding. We take so much for granted here, and helping someone who has absolutely nothing is so fantastic.”

She said that the peer-tutoring program is being set up as “a sustainable program that can continue after we leave.


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