Friday, October 18, 2019

Former Students

The following are a sampling of comments made about our school and homestay program from
some of our former students ….

May 20, 2008

I want to say “Thank You to the Escuela Minerva and to you, Julio, for providing me with a wonderful instructor, .

Spending the cool hours of the morning studying and then going out in the sun to view the culture of the city was most valuable and an experience I have not seen repeated in my studies. The instructor was sensitive to my needs and creative in her approach, repeatedly addressed the grammatical requirements to ensure that I understood them and then enabling me to create a sentence in this way reinforcing my studies. I have retained all of my notebooks and reading materials and use them when I travel.

Thank you again,

Diane L. Keeley
Human Resource Management Specialist
U.S. Department of State, USA

I have studied many times in Antigua. This trip I decide to study in Xela because I wanted more of an “immersion experience”.

I was not disappointed in Escuela Minerva. In Antigua there were always between 3-8 other students in my homestay.  Minerva set me up in a homestay with no other students.

My family here were wonderful hosts, always willing to chat and help me with my homework. My teacher at Minerva was the best I’ve ever had (ask of Yessi!!) She was professional, spunky inventive and most of all she made learning fun.

I looked at several schools in Xela before picking Minerva.  I´m glad that I chose to be in zone 3 away from all the tourists and bustle of the city center.  Minerva´s facilities are clean, bright and hot over crowded like many schools near Parque Central.

The staff at Minerva were always helpful planning trips and treated me like a part of the family from the beginning.
I feel that I´ve made life long friends and greatly improved my Spanish in just three weeks. I´ll hever go back to Antigua again.

Roxan McDonald, Santa Cruz, LA. USA
Correo Electrónico:
22 Febrero  2008.

My nine-year-old daughter, Marina, and I spent an unforgettable month studying and traveling in Guatemala this past summer. For two weeks we experienced farm life at my sister’s Guatemalan in-laws 40 minutes from the Escuela Minerva in Xela. Then, we studied at Escuela Minerva for 2 weeks and took excursions to Antigua, Lake Atitlan, and pueblos surrounding Xela.

Though Antigua is a truly beautiful town and has many Spanish language schools there are far too many tourists; for a true Guatemalan experience Xela is by far the choice. Xela is also a beautiful mountainous city and the Xela countryside, lush with green and maize, is one of the most beautiful areas I have seen (and I have traveled a lot and lived in places with spectacular views of the mountains and sea).

For the past 20 years, as a foreign language educator both in the U.S. and abroad (administer, teacher trainer, and teacher), I knew exactly what I was looking for in a language school and found it at Escuela Minerva, for both my daughter and myself. Julio, the director of the school is a very charming man who played the guitar and sang romantic Spanish songs at a birthday party the school held in my honor. He is also very accommodating to the specific needs of students and families. He arranged for me to visit a local school in dire need of resources so that I could arrange a “sister school” relationship and take photos for presentations I plan to give in the U.S. At my request, Julio also researched and found a seminar on the Mayan calendar for me to attend. My little girl, was able to attend a local elementary school for a day and interact with the children there. These customized activities were in addition to the standard activities that the school offers.

One of the primary reasons I chose Escuela Minerva over other schools in Xela is the level of education and professionalism that Escuela Minerva stated that their teachers had. I found the description of their teachers’ expertise to be very accurate. All of the teachers at the school enunciated clearly and spoke slowly but in a natural way. My teacher, Noelia, knew Spanish grammar inside and out and could clearly explain it. As an educated linguist myself, I appreciated this. Noelia and I spent most of our time speaking and she corrected my errors in a very supportive manner. Noelia was much more than a teacher for me; she also became our tour guide as she oriented us to the city, our family nurse when she took us to the doctors, and a good friend. In fact, Noelia and I continue to email each other.

The program for my nine year old was equally good. For her, the school was more like a fun Spanish summer camp and this is exactly what I was looking for. Marina improved her Spanish while playing games and interacting with other children and her teachers. “My favorite thing at school was going to the zoo with my teacher and seeing a live toucan.”, says my little girl.

That day Marina learned the names of animals and still remembers those Spanish words. As we were leaving Guatemala, Marina asked, “Mommy, next year, can we come back and study at Escuela Minerva again?” I was so happy to hear this request, and we have full intentions of returning to Escuela Minerva next year – this time with my husband and perhaps a few friends.

I would be very happy to make recommendations to anyone interested in attending Escuela Minerva.
You may contact me at
Aug 2007

My time in Xela and at the Minerva Spanish School has been one of the best experiences of my life. Julio Lima (Director), leads an extremely capable staff. There is a true sense of community at Minerva. Whether at school or with my homestay family, I have felt welcomed at every turn. The people I have met in Xela are incredible and I have made some of the best friends of my life. With confidence, I highly recommend Xela and Minerva Spanish School to anyone interested in study Spanish abroad. Questions? Yor can email me at: Molly Sloan. Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.

20 Abril 2007.

8 Abril 2007
Jill Carroll
Molly Sloan (
Lesley Peters Megan Magaldino Enjoying their time at Minerva Spanish School.


Tucked away in the highlands of Guatemala there is a special place that radiates with the spirits of its people, their culture and the passion of Julio Lima and his extraordinary group of teachers. The luminescence of Quetzaltenango makes the Minerva Spanish School the right choice for anyone considering the greatest time you never knew you always wanted.

I studied at Escuela Minerva for a combined total of 16 weeks over a period of seven months. I am practically a local. I have survived a study abroad experience in college, and I must admit that I was a little apprehensive about the idea of attending a language school and living with a local family, again. Any doubt quickly subsided within minutes of my arrival. My Guatemalan family is incredible and they enthusiastically accepted me as one of their own.

The school offers an excellent blend of conversation, literature, composition and grammar usage in their intensive language instruction program. Minerva Spanish School is ideal for complete beginners, folks who are trying the brush up on key phrases to aid a long journey even further south of the border, or students and professionals seeking fluency in all areas of the Spanish language. In addition, this school is also affiliated with the Universidad Rural de Guatemala for anyone interested in a degree program and extra accreditation. In short, Escuela Minerva is the school for you!!!

The city is rich in culture and there is something for everyone. Escuela Minerva is a short walk or microbus ride to heart of the city. The school provides an array of daily activities (optional) that keep students busy all week. There are multiple English language publications that list activities throughout Guatemala and Xela, including job postings, apartment listings and volunteer opportunities for those who plan on spending some quality time in Central America. These positions are extremely rewarding and an excellent way to practice Spanish. Additionally, you will find a home at XelaPages a traveler-friendly webpage and internet café that is your premiere guide to Quetzaltenango.

To my family, friends, and the unforgettable staff of Escuela Minerva, I am truly grateful for your hospitality, kindness and above all your amistad. I graduated with superior level of Spanish, but I have graduated from my Guatemalan experience with more than a diploma. If you have even had a passing thought about traveling to Guatemala, Escuela Minerva is only one of the many gems you will find in Quetzaltenango. Contact Julio Lima and book your flight right now! You think you know, but you have no idea what you are missing.

Megan Magaldino
April 2007

I was in minerva for 6 weeks and it was a wonderful experience. I studied 4 weeks at the school, I worked 1 month as a volunteer in a dispensary as a nurse and I went back to school for two weeks. It was a very good opportunity to do both a volunteer’s work and to go to school.
I had different ways of speaking Spanish and practising. I discovered the system of public health of Guatemala. The friendly and encouraging atmosphere provided me an ideal environment.
The teachers enjoyed teaching Spanish and iIhad several great teachers. Thanks to my homestay family, I discovered the Guatemaltecan way of life. I would like to congratulate all the people who contributed to teach me Spanish and the culture of Guatemala.”

Blandine Deveaux (France)
May 2007
I would like to use this opportunity to wholeheartedy recommend the Escuela Minerva to anybody who is consedering where they should study upon arrival in xela.

I studied at the school for 11 weeks and in fascinating insigts into Guatemalan culture and made many new friends. The director Julio, and the school admisión secretary Rosita, immediately make you feel welcome upon arrival. I personally studied with the same teacher for the whole 11 weeks, although some students opt to change every 3 weeks or so, and we got on extremely well, becoming good friends. During my time at Minerva I took part in organized activities including a sisit trip to an indigerious market. I also paticipated in, and thoroughly enjoyed, working of Guatemala cuisina, birthday parties and maestros versus estudents football matches! When my time came to leave the school my Spanish was at a very pleasing level, one at which I was able to have in-depth and varied conversations with local people using past, present and future tenses confidently. I shall definitely sep un touch with and overall have had an amazing time, one I will always be grateful for I would also like to add that I have had a wonderful stay with my homestay family, arranged by the school. Once again thank you to everybody connected to the Escuela Minerva for helping to make my time with joy such a rewarding one.


Ben Carlo, 2006.

Where can you spend 10 weeks and swim in the Pacific,
dive in the Caribbean, visit the 1500 year old Mayan
ruins of Copan, observe an active volcano and meet
with fellow students from 15 countries and all five
continents? We did all the above and more when we
attended the La Escuela Minerva in Quetzaltenango
(Xela) in Guatemala.

The teachers are mostly young university students who
have an excellent manner and boundless patience. The
management of the school is very aware that, in a one
on one teaching environment, individual chemistry is
important and it acts promptly when change is needed.

The school arranges up to 5 different group activities
a week for students, in addition to the 5 hours of
tuition a day. Such activities range from lectures
about the country and people of Guatemala, musical
evenings (marimba and classical guitar), trips to
natural hot springs and saunas, trips to local markets
and hiking in the surrounding hills. We played
football against the teaching staff and in the course
of several birthday parties learnt ‘uno, dos, tres
elefantes culumpiantes’ – a beautifully  onomatopoeic
word for the swaying of elephants.

Age is not a barrier to any part of this experience.
Being at the older end of the age spectrum we never
felt out of place and indeed enjoyed the perspective
of life offerred by the younger generation.
Guatemala is a fascinating country, Xela its second
largest city, can be traversed in 90 minutes of
walking its cobbled streets. You will enjoy the old
buildings and the colourful clothes, woven and worn by
the Mayan ladies.

Staying with a local family adds to the experience and
we certainly would repeat the experience.

For further elaboration contact:

I arrived in Guatemala together with three friends of mine, all participating in a Spanish course at an adult education center, in California. All four of us decided to try the Minerva Spanish School in Guatemala, after another friend of ours came back from there and told us all about it.

After an extensive search on the Internet about the Minerva program we registered through Xela Pages and made the final preparations for our trip to Guatemala, at the beginning of January, 2006.

Upon our arrival in Xela we were warmly received by the School Manager, Don Julio Lima himself, who took the time to very kindly talk to us, introducing us to the program and showing us around the school. After that, he introduced us all to our respective host families, making sure we are all settled comfortably.

When the Spanish classes begun, we were amazed by the great internal organization of Minerva School: everything was ticking like clockwork. Then, we found the teachers participating in the program to be extremely well prepared for the job, capable to adjust to any level of their students knowledge in Spanish and ready to attend to any language needs that any student might have.

All our teachers were young, energetic, and having broad expertise in many domains and fields of Guatemalan social, political, cultural and economical life. Also, they showed the willingness to open any discussion about International life and, doing this in Spanish, made the dialogs between teachers and students more interesting and challenging.

For the entire period of our Spanish studies at Minerva School we felt all around us the warm, friendly atmosphere teachers and students alike were building together. We felt like home, it was like we were with long time friends, having good, quality time together.

The management of Minerva School had also lots of activities, for our enjoyment in the free time, after the school hours. We were absolutely delighted by everything that Don Julio prepared for us. The schedule couldn´t be more interesting. From a variety of private concertos, given just for us, the students at Minerva, dancing lessons, visits to hot springs (where we indulged in the goodness of Nature, with her best offering of healing waters, surrounded by luxurious tropical vegetation and with breathtaking views of volcanoes all around us), day long trips to colorful villages, genuine local markets, famous archeological sites and typical artifacts factories, a two days trip around the famous Lake Atitlan during the weekend (packed with adventures and activities in itself), to trekking up Santa Maria volcano, all being wonderful , awesome experiences for us all.

This way, without noticing how fast time flew by, we built rich memories in our minds about this exotic and troubled land, about this country full of contradictions and about its people, with their luminous wide smile and their kindness of heart.

These memories will go with each of us everywhere in our paths, will be ours for the rest of our lives and will be shared with our families, friends and with just about anybody who is curious to hear about our adventures in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.

I am grateful to my very young, but amazingly experienced teacher, Jimmy, for helping me with all my Spanish grammar problems, for having comprehensive answers to all my questions, for being so patient in correcting the many grammar mistakes I kept doing and for the bright and interesting conversations that we had had , in a very relaxed atmosphere, when my brain just couldn´t take any more. Subjunctive exercises. Thank you very much, Jimmy, you have the wonderful gift of spreading knowledge all around you. Keep doing what you are doing best, but please, don’t forget to also pursue your dreams in life.

Personally, I want to congratulate Don Julio Lima, for the wonderful enterprise that Minerva is and to thank him for giving me the opportunity to learn Spanish in his school and with that, not only to catch a glimpse of, but to actively participate in a way of life that one cannot even begin to imagine, unless he/she was there.

And I, my friends, am proud to say I was there!

Daniela Friedmann

Mountain View – California, USA.
january 2006

die 2 monate in der escuela minerva waren für mich eine sehr bereichernde und wertvolle zeit. einerseits habe ich viel spanisch gelernt, habeaber gleichzeitig auch sehr viel über die lebensweise in guatemala, die kultur, die alten weisheiten der mayas, die politik usw. erfahren. durch die konfrontation mit dieser anderen kultur habe ich auch sehr viel über michgelernt. die schule ist ziemlich klein und daher sehr familiär und persönlich. ich fühlte mich von anfang an sehr wohl und wilkommen und die herzlichkeit und lebensfreude der lehrerInnen verbreitet ein sehr gutes und anregendes lernklima. julio, der direktor der schule ist auch immer bereit für fragen und gespräche über sein land, über das er ungemein viel erzählen kann. unter der woche gab es immer verschiedene aktivitäten (salsatanzkurs, vorträge über politik, mayas, wirtschaft…, ausflüge zuheissen quellen, märkten, kirchen etc.) und am wochenende wurde auch immer ein ausflug angeboten (vulkanbesteigung, lago de atitlan, momostenango etc.). mir fiel der abschied von der “familia minerva” sehr schwer und es ist schön zu wissen, dass ich nun in einer anderen ecke der welt so gute freunde habe.

Martina greminger, suiza

I planned to study Spanish for four weeks during august 2005 in Minerva Spanish School – And stayed for six. The wonderful atmosphere in school, a welcoming family and a very motivating quick progress in my Spanish still made it hard to leave. Go to Xela and greet everyone in escuela Minerva from me! Kathy

Mein Plan war, vier Wochen im August 2005 in der Minerva Spanish School Spanisch zu lernenb – Ich blieb für sechs. Die wundervolle Atmosphäre in der Schule, eine tolle Gastfamilie und ein äußerst motivierender, schneller Fortschritt in meinem Spanisch machten es am Ende immer noch schwer, zu gehen. Auf nach Xela – und viele liebe Grüße an alle in der escuela Minerva! Kathy

Katha Kraemer

I had the pleasure of studying for three weeks in January 2004 at the Escuela Minerva. It truly was one of the best experiences of my life. The quality of the teaching couldn’t be better; my grasp of Spanish grammar improved dramatically, along with my ability to speak and understand. The one-on-one teaching experience is both incredibly effective and flexible.

The atmosphere at Minerva is comfortable and welcoming, and the teachers are fun and personable. Being truly immersed in Guatemalan culture is an eye-opening experience. There is a beauty and complexity to this culture that one comes to appreciate more and more with each day.

Staying in the home of a host family enriches the experience. I was able to visit at length with my host family, comparing notes on our daily lives and our views and beliefs. I learned a tremendous amount about the Guatemalan culture from my family. They couldn’t have been more welcoming, more concerned about my welfare, or more attentive to my wishes and needs. It was a wonderful experience on all fronts!

I would be happy to answer questions or visit in more detail with anyone who is considering a trip to Minerva!

Greta von Bernuth

The friendly and encouraging atmosphere provides an ideal learning environment. The teachers enjoy their work and nurture the students. The mutual respect and apreciation between administration and teaching staff shines forth as a wonderful example of a socially responsible business administration. Teachers and students improve lives in Xela and the surrounding areas in numerius ways.

Scott Palmer                                                              

I studied at Minerva for three weeks and it was a wonderful experience. The school is intimate and friendly, but it is also lively and interesting with loads of activities and opportunities to meet other students. My teacher was fantastic. She had plenty of teaching experience and training (like all the teachers here) and my Spanish improved a great deal. Lessons were lively and fun and the time flew by.

My family lived very close to the school, cooked amazing foor and provided plenty of opportunities to test my Spanish. I felt I had chosen the right place from the start. I had a great welcome from Julio, lively director of the school, my family and the other staff and students. I cannot recommend Minerva enough- this is a place with genuine warmth and lovely people. You’d be a fool to miss out!

Minerva is Great for Families

The Minerva school was a wonderful experience for our family and we highly recommend it for others. We attended for two weeks, along with our two children, ages 8 and 6, in the summer of 2003. We would be happy to talk to any families considering attending the school who might have questions about how well it works for children.

Everyone at the school was warm and welcoming and very patient with us and our children. The children’s teachers were particularly patient and kind. They took Joshua and Eva on outings to the nearby zoo, to play soccer, and  to bakeries; read them stories; encouraged them to write in Spanish; and played games, such as Scrabble, with them in Spanish. The children also participated with us in an outing organized by the school to visit nearby hot springs. They loved swimming in the thermal pools and interacting with the teachers and other students. The school has a very fun-loving and friendly atmosphere. Our children enjoyed the party we had one day to
celebrate the birthday of one of the teachers. I’ll never forget my
daughter dancing and singing along while Julio, the director, played “La Chucaracha” on his guitar. Joshua and Eva were very proud of themselves at the ceremony held to mark our “graduation.”

The one-on-one instruction provided by the school is great. We all learned a tremendous amount. It was also very positive for our children to see their parents learning a language. It reinforced for them how important we think it is for them to know another language.

One of the highlights of the program is living with a family. We loved our  family! Our children spent many hours each day playing with their three children and with cousins who lived next door. We ate three meals each day with the family, went on outings with them, and were invited several times to visit their extended family. We learned a lot of Spanish while being with them. They couldn’t have been more friendly, generous, and open. We were sorry to leave them and look forward to some day returning.

After we left Minerva, we traveled in Guatemala for two weeks. Our children learned a lot more Spanish, as well as Mayan culture and natural history. We greatly enjoyed our time in the Lake Atitlan area, Antigua, and Tikal and would be happy to make recommendations to families interested in traveling in those areas.

We were all sad to leave Guatemala and wish we could have stayed much longer. Joshua and Eva felt very accomplished upon completing their adventure and have each made presentations at school about their trips. Our trip to Guatemala was one of the best things we’ve done with and for our children.

Feel free to contact us with any questions.

Debra Prybyla & David Blockstein

I studied Spanish at Escuela Minerva for four weeks in March and another eight weeks in August and September.  All those weeks I was at Escuela Minerva I had a really great time.  I had classes with teachers Flory and Monica and I don’t think that the teachers at other schools could be better.  I really learned a lot and they are great people.  It’s a small school and there is always a family atmosphere.  It wasn’t just 5 hours Spanish each day with the many activities the school organized. Many evenings I went with students and teachers to a restaurant or cinema and we always had a good time. 

Because I studied 12 weeks at the school I had to write a thesis (Costumbres de Guatemala) and at the end I had to give a presentation about it.  Escuela Minerva is the only school in Quetzaltenango which does this, which proves the professionalism of the school.  If you want to learn only a little Spanish in a big school and go late every night then this is not your school.  But if you really want to learn Spanish in a family atmosphere then Escuela Minerva is your school. 

Lindo Greve

I am a first year Spanish student from the University of
Victoria, in British Columbia, Canada. I have attended Escuela Minerva for four weeks to practice my Spanish prior to my second year Spanish course. Xela and Especially Escuela Minerva provide an excellent environment to learn, study and practice Spanish. Whether for travel, university or work, Escuela Minerva can design a program specifically for you. School director, Julio Lima is a university professor and his instructors are friendly, organized and very professional. The school and home stays are located in a residential part of Xela, approximately 20 minutes by walking to the city center. It is a safe environment for studying Spanish. The staff at Escuela Minerva are eager to share their knowledge of Spanish and the cultures of Guatemala with you.

Brian Woodley

Nachdem ich verschiedene Spanischschulen in ganz Guatemala durchprobiert habe, kann ich Euch nur waermstens die Minerva Spanischschule in Xela empfehlen! Dort bemueht man sich wirklich sehr um die Schueler, es werden viele Ausfluege und kulturelle

Veranstaltungen oder Diskussionen angeboten und der Spanischunterricht hat ein sehr hohes Niveau. Ich hab in den 3 Wochen die ich dort verbracht hab ne Menge gelernt  – sowohl sprachlich als auch ueber die Kultur   und Politik Guatemalas, und habe die Zeit dort sehr genossen!

Sabine Gose

The Escuela Minerva is one of the best Spanish Schools in Xela.  The teachers affiliated with it are all charming and very knowledgeable. All the students who were there when I was there felt welcomed into the Minerva family.  Even students who were only studying for 2 or 3 weeks developed real and rewarding friendships with their teachers. 

The one on one education is the best way to learn Spanish.  Additionally, all the host families associated with the school are of sterling quality. They go out of their way to have conversations with their students – which is why my Spanish went from  non-existent to very competent in one month.  The school is currently undergoing renovations so that it will be an even more pleasant facility soon.  It is located in a beautiful neighborhood very close to the main downtown area of Xela.

Also,students can take weekly trips to interesting places nearby and participate in stimulating conversations about the Guatemalan economy, Mayan religion, etc.  I highly recommend the school to anyone considering spending some time in Xela.  I will be happy to answer more questions at  

Bidisha Banerjee

Woody was the coordinator of Escuela Minerva for more than 8 months.  He has detailed knowledge of the schools style, atmosphere and philosophy. Woody also has traveled extensively in Guatemala and would be happy to help in any way he can with your trip.

Woody Rubin