- Tell me, why did you decide last year to apply for the Solway Music Fellowship?
Well, the truth is, since my talent is drawing and painting, I really enjoy it. The director of the school where I was studying called me and asked if I was interested, and I said yes, because I was curious. One of my dreams was to visit another country, and I accepted with no hesitation. But after that I had to learn English in order to be able to travel to Europe, because in Guatemala is not taught.
- What do you do now? Do you study? Do you work?
In fact, this year I graduated in Management, I’m looking for a job so I can continue my studies at the university. My goal is to study law, but that will depend on whether I find an opportunity in Guatemala, it will be very difficult because there are many people who are graduating in Guatemala these days.
- How did you find out about the program? did you know anything about it? did you know any ex-scholars before you applied?
I didn’t know anything, absolutely nothing, but when they mentioned it to me, I figured it was a nice program. I decided to participate because I like to be involved in activities, I didn’t know much, but at school two organizers of the program came and we were at a meeting presenting our talents and they told us that we had to study English. A teacher told us that some girls had come from Solway to give us a talk about the program.
- Do you have an education in the field of music, art, dance? What talent did you show in your scholarship application?
As I mentioned, my talent is drawing and painting. I showed my skills in this area. In Austria I was in the Theatre Group. As I couldn’t speak much English, I couldn’t communicate much with the other kids, I was a bit embarrassed at first, but then I loosened up a little more.
- In El Estor, people usually get a creative education and if so, where?
Six years ago I moved to El Estor, I decided to study management studies. In El Estor there are no opportunities to pursue a career in the arts.
- What was the most difficult part of the qualifying rounds?
Honestly, I dedicated myself to receiving English classes well, because I wanted to experience another country, I dedicated myself to studying English. The teachers saw that I had this desire to learn and to travel. But it was difficult for me because in Guatemala we speak Spanish, in fact, in my town we speak an indigenous language, Q’eqchi’.
- Why do you think it is so important to spend so much time studying English?
I think it’s important to learn English, because anywhere in the world many people speak it and if you don’t dedicate yourself to learning then you’re not going to make it and now I continue to study because I would love to have perfect English.
- What was your reaction when you found out that you had been selected for the program?
I didn’t expect it, it was one morning when I went to run an errand for my dad, I was walking and then the teacher called me and told me that I had been selected. I was very happy, because one of my dreams had come true.
- How did your friends/family react when they heard that you had won and that you were going to Salzburg to represent Guatemala?
I told my father the same day I was told. He was very happy and advised me to put in a lot of effort and enthusiasm. My school mates gave me advice, wished me good things so that I could qualify for the competition and win.
- What were your expectations of the trip?
Before the trip, I was very happy because I was going to get to see a new country, new cultures, other young people from other countries. Once there I met a lot of people from other countries and now I would like to spend time with them again one day.
- What new things did you learn for yourself during your stay at the camp? what new skills did you acquire? what did the experience of participating in the program give you for your future?
I learned a lot about music in Austria, I saw the differences compared to Guatemala. I learned to live with children of other nationalities. I became friends with a boy from Ukraine and we became good friends. I felt very bad when I returned to my country because we shared a lot.
- Tell us about the camp: what did you do every day?
It was different, varied food. Other cuisine. We would wake up and immediately go to have breakfast. Everything was very organized with different schedules, and we were divided by talent and activities: singing, art, dance, music. While some were singing, others were organizing and setting up the stage.
There were famous guests (singers, directors, choreographers, stage designers) who came to your camp? how many?
I met many teachers and musical directors, singing teachers, choristers, piano teachers, acting teachers, there were so many names that I don’t remember any of them now.
What did you do in the afternoons?
In the afternoons, we’d all go for walks together. We went to visit a castle outside Salzburg. We did a lot of group activities.
- What impressed you the most at the camp? Was it Austria or Salzburg?
I was impressed by the different operas and songs. The different vocals from different countries.
- Have your expectations of the trip been met? What would you have liked to know before making the decision to participate in the programme?
The truth is that thankfully everything went very well; my expectations were fulfilled. I told you that my talent is art and painting and before I left I imagined many things but it went well. Even though I didn’t have any musical talent and didn’t know much about the contest, I still managed to take advantage of the opportunity.
- Did the experience of having participated in the program change your way of seeing the world, your life, or your plans for the future? What would you like to do in the future?
This experience has changed me a lot. I used to have the dream of going to live in another country when I set foot in Europe, to have this wonderful experience, and since I was already there, I experienced what it is like to be in another country. I would like to go and live in another country, get a better job, complete my studies at university and travel more.
- What would you like to wish for the future participants of the program?
I would tell them to make a big effort, because it is going to be an unforgettable experience. There are many people who want an opportunity like this and have to work hard to win, study a lot of English, because once they win the contest they will have a lovely experience.
- Do you think a program of this type is necessary in El Estor and Guatemala?
Here in Guatemala we have talent, but there are no programs that support it. This talent is being wasted because there is no investment in young people.
- How can young people be motivated to participate in this type of programme?
I would say that you have to explain and teach the young people who have had these experiences, there are many people who do not believe that it is possible, you have to teach them English well in order for them to be able to communicate once they are in Europe. Young people from other countries who are participating in the programme already know English and can do better.
- What would you like to say to parents of young people who plan to participate in such programs?
I would tell the parents to help and motivate their children to achieve their goals. Give them time to learn English. If your children have the desire to participate in this program, then you have to support them, so that they can get ahead and win the scholarship.
Some of the answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.