Flory Hurtado, the Director of La Democracia, has been teaching people from all over the globe how to speak, read, and write Spanish for over 17 years. She has an international reputation for working successfully with all types of learning and language backgrounds. I have personally taken over 12 weeks of intense one on one Spanish instruction from Flory and am now completely fluent and literate in Spanish due to Flory’s tireless one on one instruction. Flory has taken her vast experience in teaching as well as over 5 years experience in leading Spanish Schools and opened her own school, La Democracia. She has truly created an authentic learning environment for students all over the world to come and not only learn Spanish, but also learn about Guatemala, Central America, and the ancient Mayan culture.
I spent four weeks at La Democracia in July 2004 and had a wonderful experience at the school and in Xela. I went to improve my Spanish and experience a little bit of life in another country. What I came away with was richer than I imagined, and I know that it is because I went to La Democracia because of Flory Hurtado, who runs the school.
As far as learning Spanish goes, I definitely improved. I studied with Flory, who is an outstanding teacher. She is highly experienced, knowledgable, intelligent, patient, and fun. (She also personally trains all the school's teachers.) Not only did I learn to speak better, I came to appreciate Spanish as a language because Flory was able to explain all its nuances.
As I mentioned, Flory is very experienced, not only as a teacher but as a school director. There were always interesting actvities planned for our school, such as salsa lessons and excursions to nearby towns, and we also had activities with another school, so our school's students were able to meet other students. Whether or not we participated though was always our choice, so the schedule was never restricting in any way.
More than Flory's experience as a teacher and school director, I appreciated her personal attention and warmth toward each student. Flory makes sure that someone (usually her) is there to pick you up when you arrive in Xela, that you are happy with your homestay, that you are learning what you need to learn, and experiencing all that there is to enjoy.
When I arrived, there were two other women that came on the same bus, but when they got off there was no one to pick them up and they had no idea where to go. Flory hailed a taxi for them to make sure they would get to their school safely. Students I met from other schools would go on trips organized by the school but the school would provide no native guide. When I had to go downtown after dark, she would give me a ride. Some who experienced Flory's warmth and fun-loving nature wanted to switch to La Democracia.
Plus, Flory knows so many people in Xela that she can help out in so many ways. Once I forgot to bring my passport to exchange my travelers check before a trip and the teller told me he could help me. Flory came into the bank to check on me, and because she knew the owner, I was all set! She also knew our dance instructors really well, and unbeknownst to me, she arranged for me to perform in the student showcase. I had the best time!
At the end of my 4 weeks, I did not feel like I had just been traveling through a foreign country. Xela felt like home, and I felt that Flory and the school staff were family. When I left, I left a piece of my heart there, and I hope to go back some day. For now, I fondly remember the wonderful potluck we had at the school, our squished rides in her little car to go downtown, and our trips to Xelapan (a bakery) everyday.
I know that if you decide to go to La Democracia, your
experience in Xela too will be all the richer for it.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
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