Volunteer in Guatemala: Children of the Maya™

Video and Photos

Local San Andres outfit!
Students gathered for recess fun!

About

Guatemala promises colorful adventure - and the opportunity to make an important mark on education. Spend your days in Xela becoming fully plugged into the local primary school and surrounding community, volunteering as an English teacher to the Maya children or helping construct a library, classrooms and other school facilities.

Program Highlights:
- Teach English at a Maya school
- Explore ancient archaeological ruins
- Zipline through the mountains of Guatemala

Program Highlight!

The ancient Inca Empire is yours to discover while making a difference in the lives of rural families on our Peru: Service in the Sacred Valley™ program.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

95%
based on 24 reviews
  • Growth 9.3
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 9.1
  • Housing 9
  • Safety 9.7
  • Program Selection 9.5
  • Pre-departure Help 10
  • In-program Support 10
  • Impact on Student 10
  • Value 10
Showing 1 - 15 of 24
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Claire
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life-changing Experience!

I had an incredible experience serving at a local school, bonding with my fellow participants, taking the opportunity to practice my Spanish, as well as learning about the history and culture of Guatemala. This program has helped to shape the person I am. It was the perfect balance between service, cultural activities, and forming what have become lasting friendships with my peers and mentors. I would highly recommend entering the program with an open mind. It may seem overwhelming at first but that will quickly grow into excitement. GLA does an amazing job of reminding you to take a breath then giving you nudge outside of your comfort level to the place where you will grow, learn, and enjoy yourself the most.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Keep a journal! You will definetly want to be able to look back on your trip once you return home and it’s a great way to reflect on your experience as you go.
Default avatar
Ella
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life-Changing!

I could say endlessly good things about this program! As a first time GLA traveler, I did not know what to expect when I first signed up for the program, but I can honestly say that my global perspective has been changed completely. The staff were incredible and I met some of the most genuine and kind individuals, all with the same sense of adventure. Being able to interact with a completely different culture along with participating in a variety of other activities was so exciting and truly made me value every experience that I had. Each day, from zip-lining to hot springs to the volunteer work at the primary school, left us with new lessons and leadership abilities that I still apply to daily life back home. Because I loved my experience on this GLA trip so much, I even signed up to attend another trip next summer!

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
The most nerve-wracking moment for me was during our first day of volunteering. We completely stepped out of our comfort zones and taught classes of 15-20 kids, all who spoke another language. It was really daunting to walk into the classroom and immediately have 20 pairs of eyes directly on you. I remember having to build up the confidence to step into the classroom and introduce myself in Spanish. However, after seeing the enthusiasm that the kids had whenever we introduced a new lesson completely made my anxiety go away. Being surrounded by the other students and staff members also calmed my nerves. Teaching ended up being extremely rewarding despite the nerves I had and I value the experience tremendously.
Default avatar
Denise
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Guatemala experience for my daughter.

I can't say enough wonderful things about Global Leadership Adventures, the program, staff communication and service was very impressive. They were very informative about all aspects involved to send a child overseas to protect students safety and well being. I had never sent my child out of the country before and was very nervous , concerned and cautious with planning and the details. GLA staff was wonderful with provide information, documentation and answering questions in a timely manner. As a result my daughters trip was a huge success. She came back a changed girl with a different outlook on gratitude, appreciation and responsibilities. She loved the staff who made her feel at home and built wonderful friendships within the Guatemala country and with GLA students and staff. If you are considering a trip with GLA I would highly recommend the wonderful learning experience. It is an opportunity for teens to grow, learn and experience the unknown.

Default avatar
Dana Christian
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Children of the Maya

My 16 year old daughter traveled to Guatemala with Global Leadership Adventures in the summer of 2017. The experience was life-changing. Being immersed in a Spanish speaking culture teaching children English offered the perfect balance of challenge and fun. Grace learned so much about herself, leadership and the challenges & blessings of education. She was able to compare & contrast Education system in the US with that of a small, impoverished town in Guatemala, seeing the beauty and brokenness in both systems. Grace came home more compassionate, inspired to create change in her own community and to be more courageous in her own life to help her grow. This personal growth will allow her to have more to offer those she serves & works side by side with on her next Global Leadership trip in summer 2019.

What would you improve about this program?
More learning circles, debrief, and question time at night with the in-country leaders and GLA leaders. Have leadership on the ground in the city explain more about their specific area of immersion- in this case it's the education system.
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Denise
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Olivia's Teen trip to Guatemala

For anyone who is considering doing a TEEN Volunteer Program I would HIGHLY recommend Global Leadership Adventures Guatemala trip, My daughter expressed interest in going on this trip at the age of 14 and as a parent I was nervous. I did my due diligence and there was no reason to stop her from going. The safety, support and communication from the Global Leadership Adventures staff to the hosting and staff in the US and Guatemala were very comforting to parents and our teens. Had anxiety of sending my child to another country as an unaccompanied minor and it turns out, she loved it, was safe and had no problems with travel. Not to mention she enjoy this trip so much because of the wonderful staff at GLA, the outstanding service programs, and relationships she built with children in Guatemala. My daughter loved the program so much she's off to Thailand in June 2018. So if you are considering going on a Global Leadership Adventure Program join the facebook groups and ask questions to teens and parents that have sent their kids on the programs. It's like joining a big family. Everyone is so helpful and supportive. Get onto GLA webinars they help answer so many questions.

Default avatar
Grace
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Global Leadership Adventures 14-day Children of the Maya Program

The two week Children of the Maya program is truly outstanding! During the two weeks my group of twenty-nine other high schoolers and I traveled around the country of Guatemala to the vibrant cities of Antigua, Lake Atitklan, San Andres, Quetzaltenango, and Xela. The main community service component we completed was creating and delivering lesson plans to teach in a Guatemalan primary school. This experience working one-on-one with Guatemalan children from PreK-6th grade revealed our positive impact. I was called into a leadership role utilizing my strong Spanish speaking skills. This hectic, high energy, primary school environment in rural Quetzaltenango lacked structure and disciple. Initially the challenge was simply maintaining kids’ attention. However, we quickly discovered ways to successfully teach the lessons. We kept students engaged through a variety of games as well as interactive and verbal lessons. Understanding came slowly. Our leadership and teaching remained positive and hopeful and during recess on day four, I witnessed beauty! Some of my students were asking my peers their names and how they were- in English! The children were utilizing my lessons and our positive impact was evident. Our physical and mental capacities were tested through a series of epic adventures including zip-lining over mountainous tree tops, swimming in hot springs, visiting Mayan ruins, taking a boat ride across sacred Lake Atitlán, attending a ceremony with a Maya shaman, and shopping at the largest indigenous craft market in the hemisphere. With all these experiences, I am forever grateful for my trip to Guatemala and highly recommend this program & Global Leadership Adventures as a whole to any high school student wanting to "be the change."

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Olivia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Had the best time in Guatemala!

I recently traveled to Guatemala through Global Leadership Adventures and had the most awesome experience! I met so many new friends that I am still in contact with while learning and helping out in a different country. From traveling to Guatemala there are so many different goals I have set for myself to reach corresponding to the service work we did there. The staff members are so welcoming and I felt safe all the time, so I would totally recommend GLA!

What would you improve about this program?
I personally can't think of a way the program could be improved it was such a great experience overall and I learned so much from it!
Aine
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Growth In Guatemala

My past summer service trip was an extraordinary adventure that I looked forward to for months on end before summer of 2017 came. Throughout the school year my mother would use the trip as a common incentive for me to keep up to date on my school work while motivating me to be the best that I can be because I knew that I had such a big reward coming my way. When the day came to get on the plane, I was nervous about not really knowing anyone and being so far from my family for so long. I was comforted by the Gla facebook pages that allowed me to at least know some names and faces prior to the trip. If it wasn't for the amazing staff and opportunity that the company gave me, I would not be the same person that I am today. My trip was filled with amazing food, one-in-a-lifetime opportunities, and experiences and friendships that will go on to last me a lifetime.

What would you improve about this program?
As long as the students on the trip stay friendly and focused, nothing could have been better.
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Lexie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Everyone Should Travel!!

This program is absolutely incredible. From the moment I arrived, I was greeted by our jumping for joy director and one of our mentors eager to welcome us to this new country. Every day we experienced something new, from hiking up a volcano to a shaman ceremony, to having a traditional mayan wedding ceremony performed on two of us (don' t worry they didn't actually end up married), there was not an end to how much we learned about the culture and people of Guatemala. In addition to lots of cultural experiences, we did our service project in the mornings at a local school in Xela, the town we were staying in. We had the choice of either helping in the construction of a new classroom, helping to paint a mural on water and water safety, or teaching the fifth grade students english. We also had an opportunity to spend an hour with the children during the recess time and they were all absolutely amazing and welcoming to all of us, including myself who does not speak any spanish. This trip helped me realize my place in the world and to gain a new, well evolved global perspective. I would recommend this to anyone who has even the slightest interest in traveling or children!!!

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Martha
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Guatemala: Children of the Maya

I spent the best two weeks of my life in Xela, Guatemala with Global Leadership Adventures. I was able to leave my footprint on Guatemala. We spent our time at a school in three groups. The groups were education, construction, and mural. I was privileged enough to get to work in the education and construction groups. While teaching, I was able to build relationships with the students, whom were about 10 or 11. Not only did they benefit from learning the english I was able to bring to them, I benefitted from having my eyes opened by their life stories.

One story in particular has stuck with me. A little girl of 10 years named Yullisa has a dream to become a english teacher one day. Her family spends all of their spare money to send her to Saturday school for english classes, in order to reach her dream. Her regular school does not have the money to hire english speaking teachers. Her desire to receive an education has inspired me in many ways to become a teacher.

I never would have met Yullisa if it was not for GLA. My world was opened up to cultures and backgrounds that I had never experienced before. I would suggest doing all you can to get to go on a Global Leadership Adventures trip; it changed my life.

What would you improve about this program?
This program is amazing and there is nothing I can think of that could make it better.
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Brooke
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Global Leadership Adventures- Guatemala trip

My experience this summer, with GLA in Guatemala, was above and beyond any expectations I could've had prior to my trip. The staff throughout my program grew to be a mentor that not only maintained my safety but someone I could confide in and seek advice from. Joe, a mentor on my trip, had endless activities for us that helped us evaluate our personality and leadership activities. One day, while others chose to rest , Joe even gave me an extra activity and did it with me because I wasn't tired. Beyond the outstanding staff, the many activities we did after service were once and a life time opportunities. How many kids can say they hiked to a sacred lake and witnessed a mayan healing ceremony? And learned first hand from locals how they make a living in a home based wool factory? Not to mention the inspiring, eye-opening, talk we had with a Guatemalan war veteran, who told us first hand stories of the monstrosities connected to our country. This trip was a fantastic learning experience and changed my views drastically.

What would you improve about this program?
I would like to have more service, but overall I would give it a 5 star recommendation.
Default avatar
Gabrielle
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

GLA all the way!!

I traveled with Global Leadership Adventures on the Children of the Maya trip to Guatemala, and I can truly say that it was one of the best experiences I have ever had. I not only met some amazing people from the country itself, but I met other students who are now some of my closest friends. Working with the kids at the schools where we volunteered was so heartwarming. We were all able to connect with these kids and to feel like we were making an impact. On top of all that, I gained a whole new understanding of Guatemalan culture that I never could have gotten without traveling with GLA and learning from the mentors and the local people we met. It was truly a life-changing experience, one that I will never forget.

Default avatar
Liv
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Simply Life-Changing

As my high school graduation waits right around the corner, I've reflected quite a bit on the things that have most impacted me throughout the past four years of my life. I feel that I've done a lot here at home, but being president of student council, playing softball, and excelling academically don't even begin to measure up to the impact of my experiences I had through GLA.

In the summer of 2013 I travelled to Guatemala through the 2-week "Children of the Maya" program. As my first experience ever out of the United States, the program was well organized, immersive in the local culture, and all-around showed me the amazing way that traveling abroad can bring new perspective. Through everything, including an unfortunate incident in which our van crashed on the way to a weekend excursion (everyone was okay!), GLA was nothing but supportive. I built a commitment to service and global consideration in everything I do. I came home from the program looking forward to future endeavors internationally.

Initially after the Guatemala program, I didn't think that another GLA program would be an option. However, in March of 2014 my dad mentioned the possibility. After much debate about which program to choose, I decided on the 3-week "Building a Sustainable World" trip in the Dominican Republic. If I thought Guatemala was life-changing, this experience completely flipped my world upside-down. Not only did I meet my best friends on this trip, but I also saw the true value of sustainable development and community. Upon my return home, teachers, friends, and family alike commented on my newfound happiness and passion. To put it simply, I was invigorated with a new drive I didn't even know existed.

Because of GLA, I was lucky enough not only to find my passion, but also to express it through my application to the Tulane University Deans' Honor Scholarship, which I actually received. I will attend Tulane starting this fall to study public health and international development. (See my video for the DHS scholarship at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lWbOR7JYfg )

GLA - this is my love letter to you, an expression of my undying gratitude for your programs, your staff, and your commitment to doing "voluntourism" right, thereby giving volunteer travel the good name it deserves. You have changed my life, and for that I thank you.

Default avatar
Caroline
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Unique Experience with Mayan Culture in Guatemala

I volunteered with Global Leadership Adventures this past summer for two weeks in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. The two weeks I spent in Guatemala were the best two weeks of my summer.

Quetzaltenango is a rural town nestled between mountains and volcanoes. The hotel we stayed at provided modest yet comfortable accommodations. The rooms were gender segregated and there was anywhere from 3-5 people to a room. We all shared a few communal bathrooms and the showers had hot ans cold water. The only quirks were that we could not use the sink water to brush our teeth and we could not flush toilet paper in the toilets. The food at the hotel was great and they were very respectful and accommodating of dietary restrictions.

We volunteered at a school and helped by painting, repairing a moldy wall, and adding cement to waterproof an outside wall. We were allowed to play with the school kids for an hour each day during their recess. Even with a language barrier, we were able to connect and have fun with the kids by playing soccer, jump rope, and tag, or as they called it "tenta."

Each day was a new unique adventure. In the afternoons we took various cultural excursions. We learned about weaving, pottery, chocolate made from real cacao beans, and how to play the marimba. We saw ancient Mayan ruins, took a weekend trip and saw a lake surrounded by beautiful volcanoes, and hiked to see a volcanic crater lake. We took two trips to the mall and went to an internet cafe where we checked emails, Facebook, and used Skype or Face Time to talk with family and friends.

The GLA staff is amazing! Our in-country director was Maria and she used her connections to allow us to tour local homes. The GLA director was Meredith and our mentors were Rudy and Eileen. They especially helped me overcome my homesickness and were the best staff members I could have hoped for. I highly recommended this program and encourage anyone considering volunteering abroad to do so with Global Leadership Adventures!

Default avatar
Claire
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best experience of my life!

Traveling to a foreign country by yourself can seem pretty terrifying, and in the beginning I had my fears, but by the very first day I knew it was worth it. Throughout our trip, we did so many amazing things like painting and concreting a local elementary school, interacting with the children during their lunch break, and even getting our own salsa dancing lesson! The mentors were absolutely amazing and I made many lifelong friendships in just the few short weeks. Going to Guatemala with Global Leadership Adventures not only showed me what I want to do with my life, but was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I never thought a trip could have such a lasting impact on me, but I truly came home a different person. Not a day goes by that I don't miss Guatemala and all the amazing people I met. It's truly a life changing experience and if you have any interest in going at all, my advice is to definitely go because you will not regret it.

Location

Location:
Guatemala
Currency:
Guatemalan Quetzal
Weather:
Jan-Mar
90 F / 36 F
Apr-Jun
91 F / 43 F
Jul-Sep
91 F / 46 F
Oct-Dec
88 F / 37 F
Airports:
La Aurora International Airport
( GUA )
Mundo Maya International
( FRS )

If you want to spend a trip chasing waterfalls, meandering through lush jungles, and seeing world heritage sites; Guatemala should be high on your list. Guatemala can be easy to overlook when there are more travelled destinations in the area, but don't be fooled, this country is filled with incredible landscapes and culture, all at a great price.

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About Global Leadership Adventures (GLA)

With a history and heritage in global education, Global Leadership Adventures packs our itineraries with leadership development, volunteering and the delight of taking learning off the beaten path. Our unique program design produces what many...