Location
  • Guatemala
Length
1 - 12 weeks
Need-based funding, General grants/scholarships, 529 Plan eligibility, BIPOC funding
Health & Safety

Program Details

Program Type
Provider
Timeframe
Summer
Housing
Host Family
Language
Spanish
Age Min.
15
Age Max
18

Pricing

Starting Price
7550
Price Details
The land cost for Guatemala: Spanish Language Intensive is $5,350 for 2 weeks, $7,550 for 4 weeks, or $8,550 for 6 weeks. Need-based scholarships are available.
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Meals Transportation
What's Not Included
Airfare Travel Insurance
Nov 24, 2023
Oct 31, 2023
6 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

At dawn a howler monkey cries from the branch of a giant ceiba tree. In the Cuchumatanes Mountains, a young woman rises to grind corn on a stone petate. Along Avenida Reforma, street-children juggle oranges for change as businessmen tuck into air-conditioned office buildings. Students explore this complicated country of contrasts where steamy jungles rise to meet towering volcanic peaks and traditional traje walk alongside Armani suites. Investigate issues of social justice amidst Guatemala’s diverse landscapes and communities while improving Spanish language skills through personalized instruction.

2, 4 and 6-week options available.

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.

Impact

Sustainability

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

  • 2 weeks of one-on-one interactive Spanish language instruction, four to five hours a day; language immersion throughout. (2-3 weeks on 6 week program)
  • Home-stays in 2 to 3 different communities, including 2 weeks during language school.
  • Volunteering in schools, clinics, and farms. Tree planting with the Chico Mendes project. Approximately 20 hours of service credit earned.
  • Delve into issues of modernization and globalization, impact of education and tourism on indigenous culture, free trade, exploration of minority empowerment issues.
  • 4-day trek through Cuchumatanes Mountains. Day treks through Biotopo del Quetzal cloud forest. Volcano ascents. ABOUT COMPONENTS ENROLL

Scholarships

Where There Be Dragons Financial Aid & 529 Funds

Where There Be Dragons offers need-based financial aid to students that demonstrate reasonable financial need and are excited to engage with communities around the world.

Program Dates

Application Deadline
Program Dates
-

Program Reviews

5.00 Rating
based on 10 reviews
  • 5 rating 100%
  • 4 rating 0%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Growth 5
  • Support 5
  • Fun 4.9
  • Housing 4.8
  • Safety 4.8
Showing 1 - 8 of 10 reviews
Default avatar
Teryn
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

An experience like no other

The Where There Be Dragons program is unparalleled to any other travel program. My six weeks in Guatemala was truly transformative and filled with opportunities to grow. The instructor team was experienced and cultivated opportunities that encouraged a broad spectrum of learning. The relationships developed both with the communities and among our group are still among the most memorable connections I have. Dragon’s program components create an intentional framework for travel yet each program is unique. I couldn’t recommend Dragons enough for anyone seeking to travel and I will forever remember the lessons and people from my trip. My six weeks in Guatemala allowed me to see the world in a new way, and I am incredibly grateful to Where There Be Dragons.

Pros
  • Community engagement
  • Language Learning
  • Homestays
23 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Joshua
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Review of WTBD Guatemala Trip S22

I had a wonderful time on the trip. At first I was really nervous, I spoke Spanish terribly and I knew very little about Guatemala. Those fears were quickly dismissed. Everyone in the group was nice and everyone had something offer. The staff were very nice and they did a good job of keeping the group together, not letting it form into individual cliques. Our counselors were Jochen, Paula, and Kelly. They worked together to keep us safe and they worked non-stop to making plans for the group. I know this all sounds like insincere hyperbole but it’s true! But that’s not to say there weren’t hiccups. During our 4 day trek we had to send two kids — one by one — by ground transportation to the destination, leaving us with only Kelly for a day. Three of us got sick because they forgot to filter their water. But despite these challenges, we all had a great time. Not to mention that I came back way better at speaking Spanish than when I left. We all grew a whole lot in that summer month. And we all still keep in contact.

Pros
  • Spanish speaking skills
  • Fun group
  • Beautiful cities and mountains
Cons
  • You can’t choose what to eat
  • You’ll get sick if you’re not careful with your water
48 people found this review helpful.
Response from Where There Be Dragons

We're so glad you enjoyed your experience, Joshua. Thank you for your thoughtful review!

Default avatar
Catherine
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Where There Be Dragons Guatemala Trip

As a lover of travel I was over the moon to discover these summer programs. Throughout my month in Guatemala I learned more about myself and the world than I did in two years of high school. Learning Spanish from locals was also a really interesting way to learn and I found that having one on one instruction helps me grow more than group classes do. My instructors on the trip were three of the most intelligent, kind, and loving people I've ever met. At times being away from your family can be hard but I received so much love and support the entire time. Having finished the trip I can say that it was the best experience of my life and I can't wait to travel more next summer.

Pros
  • Experiencing a new culture
  • Learn Spanish
  • Meet amazing people
Cons
  • Limited food options
  • Traveling during COVID
53 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Sylvie
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Life-Changing Program

What an incredible experience! I can't begin to count the valuable lessons I leaned and the memories I made. The program was the perfect blend of bonding within our Dragons family and spreading out as individuals to witness the beauty and complexity of Guatemala. Our instructors were knowledgeable and supportive, and they molded the trip to fit the personality of our group. The small group environment provided opportunities to explore how we get along with other people, and our instructors facilitated sessions to allow ideas to be shared and feedback to be given. Throughout the trip, I always knew I was supported and cared for.

Each aspect of the trip brought new challenges and triumphs, and through those I formed unbreakable bonds with the other members of the group. We traveled together to many different towns and areas, experiencing both the serenity of Lake Atitlan and the majesty of the mountains of the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes. Before going on the trip, I was worried that I my participation would be limited because I did not speak Spanish, but that was a non-issue. My confidence with Spanish increased exponentially, and I even developed a love for the language. This program has had such lasting impacts on my life and I am grateful for it every day.

What would you improve about this program?
I don't have any improvements!
91 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Hailey
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Could not recommend more highly!

I can say without a doubt that my trip changed my life for the better. I attended the four week language program in Guatemala with Where There Be Dragons and could not have had a better experience. Their trips are thoughtful, beautiful intellectually interesting, and fun! I learned so much about the local culture while living in homestays and my Spanish improved in leaps and bounds. Where There Be Dragons trips are not vacation-y, they can certainly be intense and challenging at times. However, the instructors are an amazing support system and they always work hard to make certain everyone is safe and happy. You will learn so much about yourself, make lifelong friends, and become a more global citizen doing a trip with Dragons!

What would you improve about this program?
Make sure to ask for a contact with someone who has done the trip previously. They give helpful packing tips and added insight that you would not otherwise get.
86 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Scott
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Time of My Life

This voyage of exploration was honestly one of the best experiences of my life. It may hurt my credibility to put near perfect score for everything, but ti is hard to come up with bad parts of the journey I went on. The only two I marked down are for housing and safety. I did this for the pure reason that going on this trip means accepting being out of your comfort zone and some of the housing is included in that. My first home stay house was, as my instructor best put it, very materially poor, but it did not diminish the great family I was staying with or the great times I had in the city of San Antonio Palopo. This trip was the experience of a lifetime and I cannot recommend it to anybody enough. In fact I implore you, if you are not interested in this particular dragons program, to go to there website and check out other programs that they offer. For if it is a fraction as good as the one I went on I can promise you that it is well worth it. If you want to know more contact them and experience it for yourself as I promise any descriptions I could give about how it changed my life or the experiences I had cannot properly do it justice.

What would you improve about this program?
Not in many ways.
94 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Anna
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Trip of a Lifetime

Guatemala was a life-changing experience. I made some of my closest friends, met the most wonderful local people, and learned from the most qualified instructors. I learned about a forgotten Guatemalan history, I learned the Spanish language, I learned about a new culture, and in the process I learned about myself and my place in this world. I was pushed to challenge myself and try something new, and this push changed the person I am today. One of the most memorable experiences of my Where There Be Dragons trip to Guatemala was on our trek. It was the last day of the trek, it was pouring rain, and I didn't have a rain jacket. I was pushing myself through the muddy ground, drenched in water. We got out of the beautiful mountains into a little village. I look up at this little house and saw a smiling little boy. There were horses outside his house that were so skinny you could see their ribs. Although he didn't have much, he looked at me and saw my discomfort. He reached out his hand and offered me a garbage bag to use as a raincoat. That little boy helped me see the bigger picture. Putting others before yourself, embracing the true meaning of community, and doing good deeds, not just because you know it is the right thing to do, but because you genuinely care. Guatemala changed me, and if anyone has the privilege to go on this trip, they should take it in a heartbeat.

What would you improve about this program?
I really don't have many improvements. Maybe being able to incorporate more of the independent study aspect.
91 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Sarah
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Authentic, rugged, and life-changing

I gained a vast amount of newfound confidence as a self-reliant and responsible traveler. I have come back with much more confidence and a stronger ability to take initiative in various settings, which will benefit me in the rest of my high school career and beyond. The program helped me understand how to be leader while respecting the environment I was in. I lived with three different host families and worked beside them and their communities during my stay, such as Cooperativa Tejidos Cotzal. The cooperative, composed of 45 women widowed by the Guatemalan civil war, was founded on the ideals of self-sustainability and community through maintaining the indigenous tradition of weaving.
Becoming a leader through this program meant learning how to become a poised, attentive, and understanding traveler rather than imposing my values or opinions. I learned how to immerse myself into a new culture without relying on ethnocentric beliefs, keeping cultural relativism in mind while being exposed to new, unusual experiences. I became comfortable with the idea of being there simply to help a community while soaking up and learning about a unique and fascinating culture instead of being there to change it. This was as amazing experience, and I strongly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a Spanish intensive program and is ready for a rugged, authentic journey.

87 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers