We are delighted to share the story of Julio Salazar, the new Country Director of Niños de Guatemala. After working in the United States as an Industrial Engineer for many years, Julio made a decision that would change the course of his life, as well as the lives of countless others. He returned to his birth country of Guatemala and found a way to make a difference.
Julio always believed the best way to increase understanding and break the cycle of poverty is through education, so he began to study and put into practice different educational theories and techniques. In 1998, he founded Guatemala’s Colegio Meso Americano, an educational center for both primary school and middle school students. Here he successfully implemented different educational programs, including a Double Spanish-English Immersion Program. But Julio shrugs off the title of “expert”: “I have been at it for about 21 years and the more I learn the more I discover what I lack.”
Julio came involved with Niños de Guatemala in 2018 after seeing an ad for a Director’s position on LinkedIn. He realized that even 20 years earlier, his vision to change lives and communities through education was perfectly aligned with that of the founders of NDG. “I am still amazed that Niños de Guatemala is trying to do the impossible: Educate 500 children and give them with the life skills and tools they need to flourish. It is a monumental task!” Julio continues,
“My first months at NDG, I learned that NDG has a solid platform for its educational goals: all three schools are well organized, working like a well-oiled machine on a daily basis. The most important components of NDG’s mission are quality of education and enabling students to achieve their goals in life. Skills for Success, if done well, will accomplish both of these aims. Dual Language Immersion is simply an effective method to transfer language skills to our students.”
Julio says the sponsors and volunteers play a vital role in forwarding the NDG mission:
“Sponsors and volunteers are indispensable, as our children benefit immensely from the exposure to these wonderful humans that come from all walks of life and share a piece of themselves with them.”
What is Julio’s hope for the future of NDG and its children?
“In five years I see our three schools reaping the fruits of the seeds we are planting today: graduating students who are prepared to meet the challenges of tomorrow, equipped with useful skills such as Spanish, English, Math proficiency, and the emotional intelligence that allows them to decide what they want out of life and pursue those goals. I am excited to be part of the NDG Team and look forward to steering the boat through the rough Guatemalan waters.”
All of us at Niños de Guatemala are grateful to have a leader with such incredible heart, passion, and skills to help fulfill our organization’s vision of breaking the cycle of poverty through education. Welcome aboard, Julio, you truly are making a difference!