There is a fundraiser each year at Nova High School for the annual trip to Guatemala when students work with people in the community on job training and providing Guatemalan students in the Nuevo Amanecer (New Dawn) Community with scholarships.

As Jose Szwaja, the teacher who has led this program for the last 9 years states:

The goal of Nova’s Social Justice Program is to educate US students about Spanish, about Guatemalan history and culture, and to provide positive links between our people and those of Guatemala and to help repair a little of the massive damage done by our government and corporations.

Here are the details:

Sugar Skulls                       Music                     

Food                                        Pie/Frisbee throwing

Prize Giveaways                 Tarot Readings

Games for Kids                   Costume Context 


Friday, October 26

4:00 PM to 9:30 PM

Nova High School

300 20th Avenue East

Entry Fee: $2 Minimum

$2.00 Prize Giveaway tickets

Concert from 7:30-9:30: $ 5.00

If you are unable to attend but would like to donate, please send a check to:


c/o Nova 300 20th Avenue East, Seattle, WA 98112.

For more information contact Joe Szwaja


or call (206)-523-3278

Here is additional information about the program:

Survivors of Guatemala/US Repression Connect with Seattle High School Students by Joe Szwaja

An excerpt

Solidarity of Seattle High School Students Begins to Help

A high school trip to the New Dawn Community from US high school students was the event that began to provide US funded reparations rather than repression for the residents of Nuevo Amanecer. The goal of Nova’s Social Justice Program is to educate US students about Spanish, about Guatemalan history and culture, and to provide positive links between our people and those of Guatemala and to help repair a little of the massive damage done by our government and corporations. We feel a particular responsibility to do so in Nuevo Amanecer since so many of their family members lost loved ones and had their lives torn apart as a result of actions aided by our own government.

Since 1999 students and teachers from Nova High School, a small democratically run Seattle public high school, have traveled to Guatemala eight times. Over 80 students have completed the social justice trip, which features two weeks of intensive, individualized Spanish training five hours per day with Guatemalan instructors, a home stay with both urban and rural low-income families, and lots of instruction in Guatemalan history and culture. (Check for more info on this remarkable social justice school.) Nova also requires students participating in the trip to do extensive fundraising in order to provide financial resources to fund projects which promote social justice, particularly for communities such as Nuevo Amanecer that were directly harmed and made refugees by US intervention in their country.

Seattle Students Benefit Also Benefit from the Social Justice Travel Program

It has been eye opening for our students to participate in foreign travel organized specifically around social justice, solidarity, and reparations. They have seen first hand the damage done by our government and corporations but also have been fortunate to link up with those determined to forge a different and more path. Participants in our social justice travel program have also learned how that a few dozen hours of fundraising on their part can make a world of difference in a country such as Guatemala, especially if their efforts are channeled on behalf of a community that is organized to use resources to help those who need it most as is the case in Nuevo Amanecer.

According to Angela Neice, who participated in Nova’s 2010 Guatemala trip, “The trip totally changed the lens through which I view the world. It ignited a passion in me for exploring the world outside the limits of my own country, getting to know unfamiliar places and cultures, and furthering my human connections with people who are completely different from me.”

Ona Kroesen, who participated in social justice trips to Guatemala in 2010 and 2011, also described her experience: “I was already interested in Latin American and social justice, but my trips to Guatemala with Nova the past two years have solidified my commitment to making the world a more equitable place, and in particular to helping to repair a little of the tremendous damage done by our government in Guatemala, starting with Nuevo Amanecer. Their community is a brave and beautiful example of people taking care of each other though thick and thin, no matter what. We are honored that our solidarity has been able to help some of their young people to be able to study and earn something of a decent living. I salute the people of the New Dawn Community on their important anniversary and look forward to traveling back next year again in the spirit of solidarity, not charity. Their hospitality and generosity has inspired me to return for a third time. and I hope others in Seattle will support our program with anything that they can give.”

Tangible Results for the New Dawn community

Nova’s Guatemala Social Justice Program has raised over $25,000 for programs to help impoverished Guatemalans. More than half of this has gone to provide scholarships for 20 students in Nuevo Amanecer to finish high school and technical training and a similar number of kindergartners to go to school. Without this support unfortunately none of these students would be able to afford to go to school at all. Nova’s solidarity has also helped six of the technical college graduates to get jobs. Those who have obtained employment as a result of the technical training funded by Nova have been able to earn much better wages than is possible working the community land, as they have found employment as nurses, auto and motorcycle mechanics, and commercial secretaries.

Perhaps even more important than the education and jobs themselves is the more hopeful attitude that some of the community’s youth have taken on as a result of the positive links established with Nova’s program. Amaro Cifuentes (Pedro’s son), who lived over 10 years in Mexican refugee camps after having to flee the government’s violence against his family, and who serves as community’s international representative, commented on the effects of Seattle’s student to student solidarity: “A few years back our young people had few prospects except for working all day in the sun harvesting coffee or bananas for meager wages. We had no money for education or job training and the honey project, though it certainly helps, doesn’t provide enough for us to sustain our economy. Now, young folks from our community see that if they work hard they have a chance to get an education and get a job that pays a much more decent income. So the money and job training have helped a lot. But I think an even bigger thing that the connection with our sisters and brothers from the US has provided is hope for the future and a sense that we are not alone, that others are walking along with us in our struggle for a better life, a new dawn. I invite people to link up with the Nova Guatemala Social Justice Program in whatever they can as it has been of vital importance for us in trying to build a new life. On this the anniversary of our return to Guatemala I want to express how much the solidarity of Seattle students and teachers has meant for us and how I hope we can deepen our connections in the years to come.”