Maya Tech Learning Centers, Inc.
FAQ Frequently Asked Questions
Maya Tech Learning Centers, Inc. (MTLC)
- a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization based in Bellbrook, Ohio
Computer Center Swan Tinamit, Nahualá, Guatemala
- a public organization established under Guatemalan law with assistance of MTLC
What is the need for computers and technology in a rural Guatemalan town?
This need became evident out of the requests of rural Guatemalans who saw various forms of technology being used in
larger cities and asked about getting computers in their schools, businesses, and even their own homes. They wanted to
do more than type on typewriters.
When the Computer Center was founded in the rural town of Nahualá in 2004, students flocked to the keyboards. With the
implementation of formal classes, adult teachers were the first students on the rosters. With few textbooks available, high
school and tech school students now surf the internet for research and studies while teachers learn record-keeping for
grade books and document development to be used in their own classes. Business owners learn to use spreadsheets
for inventory and simple accounting. Instead of bearing the cost of travel to government capitals, necessary paperwork and
forms can be downloaded and completed conveniently on-line. News and information can be shared with loved ones in
the U.S. through email and instant messaging.
Since the end of the 36-year Guatemalan civil war in 1996, the country has made progress in its development. Too often,
though, the rural areas are forgotten in the government's economic plans. By working in these populated countryside
areas, a chance is created.
On another level, computers provide opportunities. Understanding the wiring and software, using the internet for
information-gathering, and creatively developing publications can spur many ways of thinking that lead to limitless
possibilities. This prompts breaking out of poverty, mere subsistence agriculture, and oppressive belief systems. Now, a
wide array of goals are attainable.
Where do students use the skills they've learned after completing computer courses?
In towns like Nahualá (the equivalent of a county-seat) commerce is accentuated by folks drawn from the surrounding
mountain villages where resources remain scant. Banks and small businesses have populated main street, a technical
school offers degrees in accounting, and there is less need to travel far to conduct daily business. A local radio station has
advanced its technology, the first full-time doctor's office has opened its doors. Teaching practical applications of
computers and technology aids in self-sufficiency. Students can gainfully find a place for skills learned in their hometown.
Why develop a Center instead of placing computers directly in public schools?
Before the development of Swan Tinamit and MTLC, founders privately tried to promote education by providing computers
to elementary schools. The result: teachers and administrators lacked the proper education or training to adequately use
the computers or teach their students. When there was a computer error, no one was available for repairs. From fear of
malfunction, teachers kept computers from the public, locked in classrooms or closets after the short school hours.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Education could not provide funds for internet access. Computers sat unused.
The establishment of a community center opens a new wave of computer access and education to the entire community –
youth and adults. The Center allows separate rooms for those who pay a minimal fee to use the computers at their
leisure, and the formal classes conducted from trained professionals. Lab monitors are available for questions and
assistance such as printing documents or setting up email accounts. A computer technician properly maintains the
Students enrolled in computer education courses receive a certificate at completion certified by the Guatemalan Ministry of
Education. This provides a regarded level of training for future employers.
What other community development projects are facilitated through the Center?
In fulfilling its mission of community development and promotion of projects honoring Guatemalan and Mayan heritage,
the Center facilitates programs ranging from sponsoring soccer teams and participation in the local Independence Day
parade, to coordinating with other NGOs in Guatemala. When Hurricane Stan spawned perilous mud slides in 2005 in the
area, the Center mobilized aid and reconstruction efforts. The Center works with Community Enterprise Solutions training
local volunteers to provide free eye exams and low-cost eyeglasses to those in need. In 2007, a joint project with
FONAPAZ organized a women's cooperative of local weavers to promote their art and train the younger generation to
continue creating and marketing traditional blouses. This women's co-op continues to grow under the leadership of Swan
Tinamit personnel. The center has also hosted leadership workshops and programs sponsored by the Rigaberta Menchú
Tum Foundation and other non-profit organizations in Guatemala.
As a leader in technology, the Center is an Internet Service Provider to local businesses, schools and private clients in
Nahualá and neighboring areas. Service is provided at a minimal rate, assuring sustainability for project costs while
sharing the once unattainable wealth of computer technology.
Does MTLC only work in Guatemala? What projects are accomplished in the U.S.?
MTLC was initially developed to work specifically in Guatemala due to a definitive familiarity to its needs, people and
culture. In the U.S., MTLC promotes social justice, intercultural understanding, and education through presentations and
cultural displays. Board members provide interactive sessions in schools, to student and church groups, and other
MTLC is a member organization of the Dayton International Festival, Inc., representing Guatemala annually at “A World
Fair” highlighting our culture through art, food, and music. MTLC is a member of the Greater Dayton Hispanic Chamber of
Commerce, and has been involved with Friends Through Guatemalan Adoptions – Dayton Chapter and the Society for
Hispanic Professional Engineers. MTLC continues direct project collaboration with the U.S. Peace Corps.
Other accomplishments include: Invited Participant in Dayton's 2007 CityFolk Festival; volunteer-created display featured at
the Dayton International Peace Museum.
Ready for Class
The Guatemalan Academic year
runs January-October. In 2006 the
Computer Center Swan Tinamit
offered a curriculum in computer
technology with 59 students
completing formal programming and
earning a certificate. Instruction is
taught in K'iche' by native speakers.
Men, women and youth - including
teachers, students and local
business persons - have registered.
The Center's formal education
program is accredited by the
Guatemalan Ministry of Education
enabling students to receive an
approved certificate upon program
The development of
MTLC's fourth goal - to
- includes the
establishment of the
Center within the
doors in Nahualá. A
equipped with books,
provides a supervised
library setting for
younger children to
learn. Materials have
been donated from
the United States.