Ratings and Comments for Centro de Estudios - Pop Wuj
Student ratings for Centro de Estudios - Pop Wuj
Evaluation from shelley:
You learn a lot very quickly, but you have to study - they give you homework!!! The teachers are warm and dynamic, and the host families are amazingly generous of spirit. The volunteer projects are also amazing - just to be allowed to see how people live and to be let into their lives so real yet so different from ours in the US.
Evaluation from sara123:
I fell in love with Pop Wuj so much that I ended up staying three months longer just so I could work in one of their amazing volunteer programs. Since the school is a true cooperative, it has a comfortable family-feel to it and everyone pitches in to help out. I appreciated how knowledgable my teacher was and I lucked out with a fantastic family with whom I still keep in touch. I will always be grateful to Pop Wuj not just for teaching me the little spanish I know, but for opening my eyes to the incredible culture of Guatemala. Muchas gracias!
Evaluation from rebecca:
Over the past four summers I have studied at two other schools in Xela, but now that I´ve discovered Pop Wuj I probably won´t bother trying any other schools. The school really strives to fulfill its philosophy of helping local communties with awesome volunteer projects and school scholarships for kids. I had a great time and I highly recommend Pop Wuj!
Evaluation from dnordin:
The only school for medical spanish. I came to Guatemala to study medical spanish. After a week at another school, I found that an advertisement of ¨medical spanish¨ means pretty much nothing. Then, I found Pop-Wuj. If you do not already have medical volunteer opportunities set up apart from your school, this is the only school to go to in Xela for medical spanish, and thus probably the only school in Guatemala. It is a somewhat expensive program, but that is because you have extra lectures the first week, and you also have to help support the doctor who sees all his patients for free. Other schools may have a doctor, but that doctor may only see 1 or 2 patients a day because people can´t afford to visit a doctor. Pop-Wuj also has given its teachers some training in medical vocabulary though the ability to teach this vocabulary varies among the teachers. If you are looking for a medical spanish program there are a few things to look for. 1) Affiliation with a non-Guatemalan medical school. 2) Number of clinics affiliated with the school. 3) Whether teachers have experience in the medical field. Finally, it is always a good idea to bring you own medical spanish text book.
Evaluation from franandzoe:
I loved this school. I intended to stay for one week, and ended up staying for three. It was a wonderful experience. My only gripe was I asked to be placed with a family near the school, and this did not happen. I ended up staying in a hotel after one week.
Evaluation from Ezra224:
Even though my Spanish is pretty much still beginning level, I had a great time this summer building fuel-efficient stoves and playing with the kids at the daycare center. Pop Wuj has really great volunteer projects. I wish I could have studied longer. One of my friends studied in their Medical program and loved it, even though it was crowded, but it sounds like that´s how it is during the summer. I highly recommend this school.
Evaluation from KatieS:
I stayed with a Guatemalan family for 3 months, took classes 4- sometimes 5 hours Monday-Friday with a private teacher. I really enjoyed working one on one with my teacher. Other students all agreed that they liked their teachers, only 1 or 2 teachers had bad reputations for being less than great. And you have the option to switch teachers every week- no hard feelings. I however, chose not to switch teachers because my teacher tailored the classes to me. She knew what I needed to improve on, and would give me homework that helped me. Now, for the school as a whole, I would not recommend it. Here's the short version: While I was there it became evident that one of the male teachers, (the only person who spoke English, knew how to work a computer, and responded quickly and thoroughly to emails) was abusing his power and sexually harassing some female students. A group of us went to the Director of the school and let him know we were concerned. We asked that he be let go, but we were told that the laws are so that it's almost impossible to fire someone in Guatemala (still haven't confirmed this, as I have had trouble finding an attorney that knows about laws in Guatemala). In the end, they put him on paid leave (long enough for all of us that know about it to be gone) and he basically just worked from home. On my last evaluation, I wrote to the Director that I could not in good faith recommend a school that tolerated that sort of behavior, among other things. Because of the way that they handled the situation, I would hesitate to recommend the school without telling future students (particularly female students) to avoid taking classes with male teachers, and to stay at the school during class and not go on any field trips with teachers.
Evaluation from jasper:
I would be more generous with the stars, but there is one problem at this school which completely outweighs any positives. In short: not a school for lone female travellers, and if you're a guy, you ought to think twice about supporting a school which employs sexual predators as teachers. Essentially, Pop-Wuj has a long-standing problem with one of the directors (the school has 5), who also teaches, sexually assaulting female students. When I was at the school, it was some kind of open secret which I discovered after two weeks there. All the girls would be treading on egg shells around this guy, and after a few too many inappropriate comments and leg squeezes, I decided to change teacher before anything more serious happened. At the time, I had a friend at the school who was deeply distraught after a sexual assault, who had been too embarrassed to say anything because she had been told 'she led him on'. This is a serious problem, as female travellers are already vulnerable and when you enrol in a language school, you're expecting to set up a safe base with a host family, friends and people at the school to look out for you. However, this specific teacher relies on the vulnerability of female travellers and their reluctance to want to cause any problems for their host family/ disrupt their friendships. In addition to this, the fact that people travelling constantly move on. I'm writing this review to warn people in advance, so hopefully nobody finds themselves in this position at that school. When I was first warned about this problem by another student who had previously had this teacher and told me that 'I was expressing behaviour which could lead him on', I knew something was wrong. I started talking to everyone and to my disgust, a guy who had been volunteering with the school's social projects for the past 4 months knew about the problem and hadn't said anything despite having had a female friend who had been assaulted; he was there on scholarship and didn't want to risk this opportunity. I was determined to break the weird silence around this issue before I left, to try and stop this happening again after I left. Before I left, a group of friends and I complained to the main director and this teacher was given two months' leave. It was argued that the 'indemnity costs were too high' and unless there was 'medical evidence' of a sexual assault (i.e. rape) then he would keep his job. This was a disgraceful response, and I still haven't been able to confirm the validity of this statement (not so hot on guatemalan employment law..) we agreed on a compromise that, after his leave, he would no longer be in contact with female students, and would no longer be in charge of allocating students to teachers (allowing him to partner himself with female students). I am sad to say that, three months later, someone in the area who I am still in touch with has informed me that nothing has changed. Pop-Wuj is a good school which runs great social projects and has a load of good teachers and activities going on. However, these aren't exclusive to this school, and can be found in other Spanish schools in Xela. When I first arrived there, I thought the school was great, but I soon became very disillusioned and uncomfortable. To me, the fact that this man continues to exploit his position and harm female students who are paying the school completely outweighs the benefits of the language tuition, and sadly the benefits to the local community. There are other community projects in Xela which do not take gringas' money and sexually assault them in return. I would suggest that students go elsewhere, Xela is a fantastic city, and there are other great Spanish schools. If you do decide to go to Pop-Wuj, and you do encounter anything like this, please just don't be afraid to make noise and leave the school. It seems that a lot of people have been too passive about this, leaving others in danger. The school appears caring, and on the whole it is- they give you detailed info on the surrounding areas, and tell you where to go/not go, however this safety information fails to inform students that the biggest threat is within the school itself.
Evaluation from PopWuj:
Below please find the school's response to the two reviews that discussed issues of sexual harassment. In 2011 one of the teachers, who also served as the student coordinator, was accused of sexual harassing his students. Although there were no legal actions taken against the teacher, the school itself has taken measures to address the accusations. The implemented reforms are as follows: 1) The accused teacher was suspended for three months without pay; 2) The accused teacher is not a director of the school; 3) The accused teacher is no longer the student coordinator and therefore does not assign teachers or home stay families; 4) Pop Wuj hired a foreigner/U.S. citizen to serve as the student coordinator. The foreign student coordinator is the liaison between the students and the school in order to address any concerns or issues related to the school, the teachers, the home stay families, the community development projects, and more generally, life in Xela; and 5) The accused teacher will not have female students. Pop Wuj is working hard to ensure student safety and satisfaction with the school. Thank you.
Evaluation from traceylparks:
I am ranking this school not because I attended it but because I read very disturbing reviews about this school. Apparently there is a teacher there that has sexually harassed and abused female students. The worst part is that when students let the directors know, they continued to pay him to teach there. Absurd and unbelievably consciousless!
Evaluation from ThomasK:
I have been returning to Pop Wuj with a colleague and 20 university students for the past three summers to learn Spanish, to become socially acclimatised to life in Guatemala, and to take part in the organization's outstanding cultural competency and volunteer programs. I have had three teachers here, each superb in his or her own way in determining my level of Spanish -- after three visits, my level has improved from very basic to high-intermediate. Even more importantly for me, whatever my level of Spanish or energy level on a given day, each was skilled in engaging me on an impressive range of topics, from the personal and professional to the cultural and political. If you're looking for a tourist haven, a center for exploring the natural wonders of the highlands, somewhere to connect with other Westerners, or a place that will not profoundly challenge your sense of personal comfort or cultural assumptions, then Xela offers an impressive variety of other great language schools. But if you're looking for a well established civil society organization with a clearly articulated cultural mission that is thinking and acting on a local level on the forefront of social justice issues, then Pop Wuj should be your first port of call in Guatemala.
Evaluation from carrieray5:
I spent over 5 months with Pop Wuj, first as a student in the Social Work Program and then as a long term volunteer helping to coordinate the Family Support Center. Pop Wuj was created by local Guatemalans and continues to maintain it's strong roots in the community. This is a plus for internationals who desire a true Guatemalan experience. Pop Wuj offers essential cultural competency classes, lots of volunteer opportunities, and incredible excursions (I climbed up the highest volcano in Guatemala with Pop Wuj). For three months I volunteered at the Family Support Center, working alongside other volunteers and staff with about 40 children from ages 1-17. I loved this experience and had a lot of freedom to incorporate my own skills into the curriculum such as teaching a kids yoga class, arts and crafts, nutrition classes, etc. There was never a dull day at the center! You will fall in love with these awesome kids.
Evaluation from andreag:
I'm really interested in studying at this school, in part because of some of the great reviews on this site about the culture and atmosphere of the school. I am troubled by the sexual harassment allegations and the fact that someone who is sexually harassing students might still be at the school. Does anyone have an update about whether this school is safe for a single female student? Thank you.
Evaluation from aeaue1000:
When I initially came to Pop Wuj in 2011, the school was experiencing some issues with student complaints, and I was genuinely concerned with what I heard. I began working as a volunteer, with the plan of staying for 3 months. After witnessing the issues going on with one of the teachers, I considered leaving early. I feel so lucky to have stayed! The school impressed me with their concern and ability to respond to the situation, and willingness to take any steps necessary and any input provided on how to best address the situation, and avoid any future problems. Over the past year, I have been further impressed with their ability to follow through and continually seek ways to improve the experience for students, teachers, volunteers and individuals served in the community projects. I have continued to work with Pop Wuj on a volunteer basis throughout the past year and a half, and couldn’t be happier with the experience. Pop Wuj is ideal for students who are interested in getting involved in the community, supporting long-term and sustainable projects geared toward making lasting changes in the lives of individual children and families in and around Xela. You will get an incredible education not only in Spanish, but also in cultural awareness. The staff is attentive, accommodating, friendly and professional. I couldn’t have asked for a better organization to be a part of and hope to continue working with Pop Wuj for a long time to come! *** in response to questions re: safety for lone female travelers, I would say 100% YES! It is a safe environment for any and all travelers - young, old, male and female. (this from a lone female traveler!)