Multiple Locations +2
  • Guatemala
  • Mexico
4 - 26 weeks
Need-based funding, General grants/scholarships, 529 Plan eligibility, BIPOC funding
Health & Safety

Program Details

City Exploring Remote Exploring Trekking
Fall Spring
Guesthouse Host Family
Primary Language
Age Min.
Age Max


Starting Price
Price Details
The land cost for Guatemala & Meixco Semester: Spanish Language and Social Justice is $16,550 for three months. Flights and insurance are an additional cost. Need-based scholarships are available.
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Meals Transportation
What's Not Included
Mar 29, 2024
Dec 13, 2023
9 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

Central America: A narrow strip of steaming jungles and fiery volcanoes unites two massive continents and splits the world's largest oceans. Rising out of the sea at a confluence of five tectonic plates, this causeway of Mesoamerican cultures and ecological diversity is a focal point of biological and cultural change. Today the communities sharing in this Mesoamerican heritage continue their legacy of adaptation, responding to rapid environmental and social challenges with innovative communal strategies. The Guatemala Semester takes a hands-in-the-dirt approach to understanding indigenous culture and collective life in Guatemala and Mesoamerica through extended rural homestays, one-on-one language study, work on communal farms, and a participatory examination of land-use and grassroots activism.

Video and Photos

Diversity & Inclusion

BIPOC Support

Unfortunately, discrimination based on race, ethnicity, national origin, and skin tone exists in different forms all over the world. In some destinations, especially rural or ethnically homogenous areas, people may not have had much exposure to racial diversity. As such, people with certain physical characteristics may experience unwanted attention. Most commonly, this might include staring, insensitive comments, people taking your photo (with or without asking), or attempts to touch your skin or hair. Black students traveling in parts of Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and North Africa have often reported higher levels of unwanted attention than their peers. White students traveling in parts of Asia and Africa have also reported receiving unwanted attention. Students are encouraged to communicate with staff if they feel their personal boundaries are being violated or if they feel unsafe or uncomfortable in any situation. We encourage you to believe your peers if/when they share experiences like this with you.

LGBTQIA+ Support

Social, cultural, religious, political, and legal attitudes toward the LGBTQ+ community vary around the world. According to the Global Acceptance Index, average levels of acceptance for LGBTQ+ people around the world have been increasing since 1981. However, many countries where Dragons operates programs may have social discrimination or even laws against being LGBTQ+. We have safely supported LGBTQ+ students in all of our program areas, and provide specific cultural and geographic advice to help students stay safe on course.

In some cases, students may be advised not to speak about their sexual orientations and/or gender identities with local contacts (such as homestay families, ISP mentors, language teachers, and guest speakers) due to safety concerns. Likewise, transgender and non-binary students may have to choose to present outwardly as male or female in certain contexts during the program. In other cases, “coming out” to some or all host community members may be a safe choice.

Neurodivergent Support

For students with neuro-differences (such as dyslexia, ADHD, ASD, TS, and dyspraxia), it is important to be aware that neurodiversity is likely viewed differently abroad than at home. People might not be familiar with labels or terms that are very common where you come from. If you struggle with lots of external stimuli, you should be prepared that you will be in some environments that are louder and busier than what you are used to.

Accessibility Support

If you are a student with a physical disability, you might encounter challenges around accessibility than you have at home. Many of the places we travel at Dragons don’t have building codes or other regulations in place to support people with visual, hearing, or mobility impairments. You may need accommodations or support that you don’t usually require in your life at home.



Dragons defines responsible travel as travel that is culturally conscious, environmentally responsible, and focused on developing meaningful connections and mutual respect in the communities to which we travel. Over the course of Dragons 25+ year history, we have cultivated long-standing relationships with respected community leaders, academics, social entrepreneurs and professionals involved in environmental and cultural preservation. In the more than 20 countries in which Dragons has operated, we have steadfastly adhered to minimum impact travel, an accurate and informed understanding of place, and the realization of maximum benefit for the communities we visit.

Ethical Impact

Dragons believes that we need to shift the way we think of volunteer travel. Instead of focusing on “service work”—on the idea that short-term volunteers can contribute to communities abroad—we advocate a paradigm shift: we choose, instead, to focus on “learning service.”

Learning Service is a holistic experience that combines an intimate and authentic engagement with the local community, the study of effective development, and the contribution to an established community-driven project. It is the process of living, working alongside, and humbly absorbing the culture of those being served while coordinating closely with project managers to understand the trajectory of the project, from inception to completion and beyond. It is an acknowledgment that often it is the volunteer who stands to gain as much or more from the work. And it is a commitment to making contributions that create positive impacts in the communities coupled with the humility to always listen and learn first.

Program Highlights

  • Learn about modernization and globalization, impact of education and tourism on indigenous culture, exploration of minority empowerment issues, sustainable agriculture, social justice issues.
  • Spanish language immersion: 4-6 weeks of one-on-one or small group interactive instruction, four to five hours a day, language immersion in home-stays.
  • Deepen your Spanish language skills through personalized instruction and an extended homestay on Lake Atitlán.
  • Discuss grass roots organizing, sustainable agriculture, globalization, indigenous rights, social justice movements. Volunteer at the Chico Mendes reforestation project, collaborate with local NGOs and community based projects.
  • Multiple opportunities for study with local organizations and mentors. Options include traditional weaving and textiles, Maya spirituality, medicinal plants, sustainable agriculture, painting and the arts, and exploration of socio-political issues.

Program Reviews

4.75 Rating
based on 4 reviews
  • 5 rating 75%
  • 4 rating 25%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Housing 3.75
  • Support 4.75
  • Fun 4.75
  • Value 5
  • Safety 5
Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews
Default avatar
No, I don't recommend this program


Entering this program, I expected to emerge as a more competent Spanish speaker with a wider knowledge of Guatemala’s history, politics, culture, food, and current situation. I learned a lifetime worth of knowledge about these topics, but the way I grew as a human being surprised me. I feel inspired to listen to my gut, I feel intentional with my actions, I feel innovative and excited to continue with my passions. A new world has been opened up to me in a beautiful way, leading me on my next adventures with a greater certainty and with many more questions I can’t wait to find the answers to.

What was your funniest moment?
Laughing with my host mom in the small town of Pachaj about the fact that the word zipper in Spanish is the same, just in a Spanish accent.
  • Spanish
  • Learning
  • Self growth
  • Not everyone in the program being as dedicated
25 people found this review helpful.
Yes, I recommend this program

Ditto Natalie....life changing

My experience with Dragons played an integral role in defining my values and determining the person I am today. The Dragons community is also one of the best I've ever been a part of. There were of course ups and down, but what I was exposed to and learned about myself and the world have changed the way I see everything since. Being part of a small traveling community of ten students and three instructors was also perhaps the most beautiful thing I've ever been a part of. Not only did the programming push and challenge me, but so did my peers. Every semester is a bit different, so I can't speak to specifics, but certain conversations with locals I'm sure to remember for a long while. Our theme was "Resistir es Bella," To Resist is Beautiful. The program did a great job balancing fun + goofiness with intense conversations about the reality of injustice in our world. The program turned my worldview upside down and inside out, and I am absolutely better because of it, as well as more at peace with my place in it, and more sure of who I want to be.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Keep an open mind, and prepare to think deeply. While it may seem counterintuitive, it's not about you. Your learning and growth will happen as you put your own comfort and beliefs aside and let the experience unfold. It's three whole months--not every moment will feel formative. That's okay.
79 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing

I went to Nicaragua and Guatemala in the fall of 2017. Before going on the trip I had never taken Spanish and I was really scared that my lack of language skills was going to ruin my trip. My instructors and fellow students gave me the support I needed to get through my first couple of homestays while I was still struggling. Through the teachings of the really quality Spanish schools we went to I actually learned Spanish! I was able to learn a good portion of a language in 3 months along with all that I learned about myself and about the communities we stayed with. There is no way to learn more about a language or a culture than to live there. Dragons will give you the opportunity of a lifetime.

What would you improve about this program?
I have already given them feedback.
78 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Semester Abroad

My time abroad was an insane experience and I learned a lot. The trip certainly had its ups and downs, but the overall experience was worth it. Nicaragua and Guatemala are two of the most beautiful places I have been in my life. The treks on this trip were amazing. Home stays are a large part of your time here. Before you go on the trip I would ask as many questions as possible to better prepare yourself (get in contact with alumni) for the 3 months you'll be away from home. Brian, Chelsea, Irene, and Juancho are all incredible people and will help make the trip great, so will the other kids you're with.

82 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers