About Xch’ool Ixim

Xch’ool Ixim is proactive in fighting to return vitality and strength to Q’eqchi Maya culture – not only to our language, traditional dress, customs and traditions, but also to our traditional knowledge, authorities, cultural values and principles, to ensure our development is rooted in Q’eqchi Maya culture. We also work to promote knowledge and understanding of our true history, our rights, identity and dignity; and to raise awareness of our social, cultural and economic circumstances.

We were founded by indigenous community leaders from rural areas, who continue to lead the Association.  Our managerial structure has our General Assembly at its head, a Board of Directors to manage activities, an Executive Director in charge of coordinating and carrying out projects, and a linguistic advisor for the integration of Q’eqchi’ Maya cultural education in the curriculum.

The General Assembly provides oversight of the association and is comprised of all founding community members and active members. The Assembly meets in one or two regular sessions from September to December each year, and thereafter as required. They discuss specific issues about education and elect the Board of Directors.

The Board of Directors is responsible for delegating legal representation, supervising the Executive Director, and following up with different project commitments. The Board meets quarterly to approve the organization’s programs, guidelines, and to follow up on regular issues such as the development plan, financial reports and other programs related to the Executive Director’s obligations. Board members are all indigenous Maya Q’eqchi’ that include original Founders, teachers, ancestral authority, and alumni.

  • Augusto Ba – Board President (Teacher)
  • Ismael Che – Board Secretary (Alumni)
  • Rosendo Choc – Board Treasurer (Founder and Teacher)
  • Alfredo Chocooj – Board member (Ancestral authority)
  • Victor Oxom – Board member (Alumni)
  • Pedro Quib – Board Vice-president (Founder and Teacher)
  • Enrique Rax – Board member (Alumni)

Executive Director – Fredy Oxom, MS
Linguistic Advisor – Ava Berinstein, PhD

Fredy Oxom is a Mayan Q’eqchi’ Education Specialist and an experienced Community Development Professional that speaks Q’eqchi’, Spanish, English and some French.

He has a wide variety of experience that includes developing community projects, and training teachers at a local level but also as an Adviser to the Vice Minister of Bilingual and Intercultural Education at the Ministry of Education.  He also coordinated USAID’s funded projects at the Inter-American Dialogue and UNICEF’s United Nations Children’s Fund.

He is pursuing a PDH in Education and he holds a Master’s degree in Bilingual and Intercultural Education, both from the San Carlos University of Guatemala. He also earned a B.A. in Global Studies from Methodist University, NC, USA. He is a Scholar of the United World Colleges, earning an International Baccalaureate Diploma from Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific, BC, Canada.

Fredy has received several awards, recognitions, and scholarships, including the 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award from Methodist University, the Projects for Peace Award from the Davis Foundation, An Outstanding Guatemalan by AlDía Newspaper, and a recognition for Cofounding the Instituto Maya Comunitario K’amolb’e (IMaCK). He is also a current Board Member of Chaptops and Planting Seeds International, both are NGOs based in the United States to support education in Guatemala. 

As a professional in Grant Development for over two decades, Dr. Ava Berinstein wrote grants to support funding for the Mathematics Department faculty at Boston University to develop an advanced mathematics curriculum for high school students, and to provide professional development and teacher training in mathematics for middle school and high school teachers; fund Suffolk University faculty in the Arts and Sciences, Business, and Law; and fund physicians and scientific researchers in health care at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Before that, as an academic herself, Berinstein studied Mayan languages and wrote a grammar of Q’eqchi’ Maya for her doctoral dissertation (1983). To write the grammar and to understand the culture while living in the Q’eqchi’ region of Cobán, Alta Verapaz, she recorded 21 folktales, legends, and rituals from elders and shaman in the community (from 1978 -1981). This rich corpus of verbal art was the database for her dissertation. After having transcribed and translated this collection into Q’eqchi’, Spanish, and English, it became evident that it was the collection itself that was most valuable contribution (not the analysis of its sentence structure). Now, Berinstein has dedicated herself to the repatriation of the collection and to make it available to the Q’eqchi’ in Cobán, where the original narrators lived. With a fellowship award at Harvard’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (2013), she was able to digitize the original tape cassettes; and with support from the US non-profit Cultural Survival that works with Guatemalan radio stations, she was able to distribute audio files to four radio stations in Guatemala and to one radio program in Belize (where Q’eqchi’ is also spoken). Since most Mayas in Cobán do not read or write, or have Internet, being able to produce the narratives on the radio was the best way to revitalize this sacred oral tradition and support collective memory.

As a retired professional, Berinstein is working with Xch’ool Ixim to provide bilingual books to Q’eqchi’ schools in the rural indigenous areas of Nimlah’akok so that students can hear and identify with the voice of their ancestors. She is working with Fredy Oxom to integrate this knowledge into the curriculum through courses that raise awareness about cultural understanding, equality, social participation, promotion of traditional knowledge and culture, and other inherent rights.