Guatemalan scholar finds opportunities to interact, share expertise during visit to Elon

Guatemalan graduate student Marco Saz visited Elon University to immerse himself culturally in the United States and share his expertise on education with youth at risk with Elon students, faculty and staff.

Marco Saz, a doctoral student of applied psychology with the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, arrived at Elon at the end of October to spend three weeks immersing himself in the academic and cultural life of the university.

Marco Saz and Carmen Monico presenting at the Evening with Guatemala Scholars
While residing in Elon’s visiting scholar apartment, Saz engaged in educational and language activities sharing his professional and academic experience on community psychology planning, education programming for youth at risk, and Mayan cultures and languages. At the request of the Universidad de Valle de Guatemala, Human Service Studies Assistant Professor Carmen Monico organized the scholar’s visit to Elon in conjunction with various departments, offices and student organizations. His visit was made possible by the support of a Living and Learning Integration Grant.

Saz is an engineer specialized in measurement, evaluation and research in the field of education. He has extensive experience in the design and implementation of relevant projects supported by the international and development cooperation, particularly the German Technical Cooperation.

Saz has monitored and evaluated public policies with the advocacy institute IPNUSAC-SEGEPLAN. He is fluent in the Mayan language kaqchikel and earned a certificate on “outcome and impact oriented monitoring” from the Berlin Training for International Development Cooperation at Humboldt-Universität Zu Berlin. He teaches statistics and research methods at the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, where he is a doctoral student of the Applied Psychology Program. Saz is involved in the research on youth at risk that Monico initiated with her Fulbright Project during spring 2016.

Marco Saz presenting at the Human Service Studies reception
The Guatemalan visiting scholar was a guest speaker at various human service studies and Spanish language classes, and made feature presentations at events sponsored by the Human Service Studies Department, El Centro, the Isabella Cannon Global Education Center and the Latin American Student Organization. Saz spoke at a lunch with students from a Global Experience course, in coordination with Dining Services.

Saz and Monico shared their research at the An Evening with Guatemala Scholars, an event held Nov. 10 in the Carlton Commons that attracted about 30 students and a handful of faculty. A small reception was also held at the Human Services, Psychology and Public Health Building. Saz also engaged in activities held at the Danieley Center and interacted with students who live there. At least one student involved in the Living & Learning Community Examining Disparities In Access to Education heard one of Saz’s class presentations in which he shared lessons he learned working with German Technical Cooperation supporting children’s education in Guatemala. 

During the visit, students gained greater understanding about the challenges youth at risk in Guatemala face, particularly those who live near the Guatemalan-Mexican border. Among those challenges are the numerous risk factors this vulnerable population faces when migrating to the United States. Students were struck by the increased levels of suicidal rates within this population due to the despair they feel and the lack of job and educational opportunities they find.

As a result to his visit, Saz expanded his intercultural understanding across race and ethnicity, and gained greater understanding of U.S. culture and language. Saz learned about the role of sustainability and neuroscience in human and social development. Saz goes back to Guatemala after the Thanksgiving holiday grateful for his Elon experience and hopeful that both his university and employer may be interested in engaging in similar endeavors in the future with Elon.