Colegio Luz y Vida is a K-8th school in Salquil Grande providing a bilingual education (Ixil & Spanish) rooted in Christian principles, respect for Ixil culture, and community engagement. The school seeks to change students’ lives through Biblically based education so they will live in service to Christ and their communities.

Current Activities

Colegio Luz y Vida (Light and Life School) was formed in response to the need for bilingual (Ixil & Spanish) instruction in Salquil Grande. From Kinder to 3rd grade, students are taught completely in Ixil, one of the major Mayan language spoken in the region. In 4th grade, Spanish is introduced and continued through graduation. Class sizes are intentionally kept small, around 20 students, in order to maximize student and teacher interaction.

Education does not just happen inside the classroom. Parents are invited to be involved with the education of their children through monthly “Parents’ school,” covering topics like nutrition and education that carryover in the home. During family book-making workshops, parents and students write and illustrate their own stories in Ixil. Students have been encouraged to take responsibility for their school in projects such as helping to build the school’s chicken coop and to harvest from its small school garden.

Upon graduating the 8th grade, many students desire to further their studies at the high school level. We are working with Luz y Vida to continue to grow and provide high school education in the future.

Below are just a few of Luz y Vida’s current programs.

Luz y Vida currently receives 2 trainings per year from Appedibimi, a Guatemalan organization that provides methodology training for teachers in of bilingual kinder classes and primary grades. They focus on cultural and linguistic rights of the indigenous child, family involvement, and creative student activities. In 2012 they invited Luz y Vida to participate in a folk dance festival where the school performed “La Danza del Venado” (The Dance of the Deer) and was named in the top 5 groups out of 45!


The school’s kitchen includes a bright, clean kitchen where staff prepare nutritious lunches for the students twice a week. With a fuel-efficient stove that uses a single piece of wood at a time, the school demonstrates to the kids the school’s responsibility to limit their pollution. A handmade hanging dish rack allows dishes to air dry and prevents standing water from collecting.


Materials such as bottles and chip bags are often converted into flowers and costumes at Luz y Vida. On “El Día de la Monja Blanca” (the day celebrating Guatemala’s national flower), each class made a monja blanca out of bottle caps, paper plates, plastic cups and cardboard. The doormats to wipe shoes are made from used metal bottle caps. In math class, measuring weights is taught by counting how many corn kernels are equal to an amount of water. Teachers pasted their own Ixil translations into Spanish children’s books from the school library to expand their Ixil language collection.

Library and Computer Lab

Students gain basic research skills through the school’s library and computer lab. Each week, students have library times when they select a book and collect five new words for their personalized glossary. During weekly computer classes, students learn basic skills and programs like Microsoft Word and Powerpoint.

In Guatemala, Spanish is the language of business, higher education, and politics. Yet the country is also home to over 20 distinct language groups. While the Ministry of Education has been developing its bilingual public education programs, many communities still do not have access to them.

Colegio Luz y Vida (Light and Life School) was formed in response to the need for bilingual instruction in Salquil Grande. Many of the people in this area are Maya Ixiles and speak Ixil as their first language. In 2004 Luz y Vida opened its doors with one teacher and one first grade class as the only bilingual Christian school in the region. It emphasized character formation and community responsibility.

At first, many parents questioned the school’s use of Ixil as a language of instruction. Gradually, as people began to understand the school’s mission to foster respect for Ixil identity, the school grew. Today Luz y Vida has expanded as a K-8th grade school.