Cross-Cultural Solutions: Volunteer Abroad in Guatemala
97% Rating
(18 Reviews)

Cross-Cultural Solutions: Volunteer Abroad in Guatemala

Guatemala has been one of the strongest economic performers in Latin America in recent years, yet it has the highest economic inequality in the region with some of the worst poverty, malnutrition, and maternal-child mortality rates, particularly in rural and indigenous areas. In nearly half of the country’s rural municipalities, 8 out of 10 people are living below the poverty line.

On average children attend school for fewer than 6 years in Guatemala, and 26% of children between the ages of 5 and 14 work instead of attending school. Maternal mortality is high in part due to hesitation to give birth in clinics or hospitals with the cost of private health services. Adolescent pregnancies in both rural and urban areas are common and increasing, often impacting women already vulnerable due to poverty and lack of education.

CCS in Guatemala has been working for the past 15 years as a leader in childhood education with the support of our international volunteer base.

Locations
North America » Guatemala » Guatemala City
Length
1-2 Weeks
2-4 Weeks
1-3 Months
Language
English
Timeframe
Spring Break
Summer
Winter
Year Round
Starting Price
$2,250.00
Currency
USD

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

  • Impact
    93%
  • Support
    96%
  • Fun
    87%
  • Value
    90%
  • Safety
    97%

Program Reviews (18)

Default avatar
Regina
Female
59 years old
Wilmington, DE

A change in Latitude: Guatemala

10/10

A change in latitude brings about a change in attitude. How else would I have seen both the best and the worst of Guatemala City all within one week. And where else would I have seen the sights that came and went so quickly that I didn't have time to reach for a camera: men swinging in hammocks over a load of goats in the back of a pickup truck; a display of sweet fruits in the market; old stone buildings reminiscent of Spanish architecture; and among that, Guatemalans with ambitions and lives just like mine.

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Melissa
Female
36 years old
Folsom, California
Other

this trip will change your life

10/10

The CCS Guatemala cultural experiences were life changing. The first day I hiked up an active volcano! The city tour really changed my perspective of life and resiliency plus gave me a better understanding of the culture I was volunteering in. Antigua is beautiful and rich with history. The home base was comfy and clean plus the staff was so friendly and helpful. The food was amazing! I loved helping Maria cook while she helped me with my Spanish. I felt extremely safe the entire trip. I will definitely be going back.

How can this program be improved?

As a pre-med student I was hoping to do serve in a more medical aspect. I thought I had communicate this through my online paperwork. I still enjoyed my service but next time I will try to be more clear.

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Hannah
Female
21 years old
Columbus, Ohio
Capital University

"Thank you for making me feel better"

10/10

It was my second to last day at my placement and was near the end of the month. Not a lot of families had money for medicine or to see a doctor, so I asked the doctors if we could walk around outside and see more of the ‘dump’. They said yes and took us outside on a walk further into the ‘dump’. I will never forget the smell, the sounds, or anything that I saw. It was then that I had a moment that has impacted me everyday since. A little girl stopped after passing us and turned around to us. She shouted out and then told us thank you for making me feel better. I had seen that little girl twice while I was in the clinics and gave her medication/treatment. She didn’t speak much while being there, but those words and moment have remained in my head. I realized that I really was helping and serving even with the smallest things. It reminded me why I have this passion and why I want to do this with my life.

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Mark
Male
23 years old
Buses Creek, NC
Campbell University

Well-rounded program

9/10

The program encompassed every aspect of a meaningful trip. From language immersion and giving back to cultural engagement, this experience had it all. The program staff were excellent and made the transition very easy. I would definitely do another trip if given the opportunity. My volunteer site was great: I still keep in touch with the nurses that I worked alongside. My life is forever changed by having this experience.

How can this program be improved?

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Patricia
Female
65 years old
Lansing MI
Michigan State University

Guatemala trip a colorful delight

8/10

Going to Guatemala City was a big jump for me, but I found the program to be a comfortable fit, and it also provided many opportunities to experience the culture and sights of this historical city. The staff at our homebase were approachable and helpful; even knowing a little Spanish as I do comes in very handy, and also I was able to act as an unofficial "interpreter" at various times for our group. The cuisine was basic but satisfying and filling; learning about the Mayan culture was so intriguing, and many of the outdoor markets featured mostly Mayan handmade products. We even got to hike or horseback up a mountain to view the adjacent (active) volcano. volunteering at two local agencies gave us lots of personal interaction with the people of GUatemala.

Bre
Female
22 years old
Springfield, MO
Drury University

Special Place, Special People

10/10

My week in Guatemala was one of the most magical and most meaningful of my life. My flight into the country was severely delayed, and so the main group of volunteers had already been shuttled to the base. I was nervous that I would be alone, left scrambling to find my way there. However, that was not the case at all! Two of the staff had stayed back to welcome myself (and four others of us who were on the same plane) and personally drove us to the base, after offering us snacks and a warm welcome. This was the first indication that my week was going to be special because of the people I was surrounded by.

The in-country staff in Tecpan, Guatemala became a family to me. Juan Carlos planned an amazing tour of his country for us, taking us around Lake Atitlan by boat, visiting many small villages and taking a hands-on approach to cultural immersion activities. One day, we climbed the mountain behind the base, which is something I was very scared of. I have knee trouble, asthma, and vertigo, which are three things that do not equate easy climbing. However, two of the staff stayed back and helped me every step of the way up that mountain, comforting me despite the language barrier. It was a truly magical experience for me to reach the "top" - I CLIMBED A MOUNTAIN! I could not have done it without all the help and support of the wonderful people at CCS Tecpan.

We learned about the history of Guatemala and how we can actually create change. We met the last woman in the area who still handmade clay pottery, and she taught us her trade. We learned how to speak Kaqchikel Mayan, the local dialect. We visited ancient ruins and were blessed by a shaman in the valley of mountains.

And of course, we were warmly welcomed into the lives of several hundred kids at the local elementary school we volunteered at. I spoke very little Spanish, but it didn't matter. Those kids were so receptive and kind and eager to learn everything. It was absolutely inspiring.

We were placed into groups of three and assigned a classroom to teach for the entire week. This way, we were able to bond more closely with the kids. Hearing the shouts of "Miss Bre! Miss Bre!" every morning is a memory I won't soon forget.

On our last day at the school, the kids put on a dance show for all of us, and then our group performed for them. It was so awesome to dance with the kids and see their smiling faces! They even held an awards ceremony for us, presenting each volunteer with a handmade clay vase and handwritten letters.

Leaving was hard. The little girls in my fourth grade class latched onto me in a giant hug and didn't let go until I pried them off as I got into our van. Tears were shed and souls were parted.

Guatemala is a special place filled with special people. Go, and you shall returned changed for the better.

How can this program be improved?

While I deeply appreciated the meals provided (they were hand cooked every. single. meal), there was little variety in the food. Several of my friends are vegetarians, and many meals, they had tortillas and rice to eat. While that's food, it gets old in a hurry and is not nutrient healthy. However, the food was really lovely and the staff did their best to always provide our large group with authentic cuisine.

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Emily
Female
35 years old
Ogden, UT
Utah State University

Far more than just a trip . . . a life-changng experience!

9/10

Volunteering with Cross-Cultural Solutions allowed me and my two daughters experiences that we could not have had on our own. We worked in an orphanage for disabled kids and at an elderly center. But we also had the opportunity to eat home-cooked meals and see the "real" sites of the city: the cemetery, the dumps, a local bakery, museums, and several cathedrals. We hiked to an active volcano and traveled to Antigua. The value that comes from a trip with Cross-Cultural Solutions is far more than room, board, and the opportunity to volunteer. The staff made us feel welcome and taught us more about the culture than we ever thought we could learn in just one week. We left Guatemala with dozens of new friendships . . . it was so hard to leave the country and people we had fallen in love with!

How can this program be improved?

Better-planned projects

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Jeff
Male
59 years old
Fargo,ND
South Dakota State University

You can not not communicate in Guatemala !!

10/10

I had a great opportunity to go to Guatemala City in August of 2015. The whole experience went by so fast because every day was different. We got to experience a lot of the culture right from day one with parades and festivals/street fairs going on for a majority of our service.
My placement was in a public pediatric clinic located in zone 3, by the city dump. The clinic was for mothers and babies. We got to help by weighing the babies/children, getting heights ,taking temps and doing blood pressures on the moms. We were able to help by preparing the nebulizers with the right medication for treatment which kids came in 2-3 times a week to get. I was able to use my pharmacy background by helping organize the storage room that had a lot of unpacked boxes of medications that needed to be organized. I could communicate with the children by holding them or playing peek a boo. They would run over and hug my leg. The moms were so appreciative to get help by holding or playing with one of their children. It was a great chance to be a great human being and make people feel like they matter. Even though my Spanish was not the best, we figured out how to communicate with each other and get things done that needed to be done.
During the weekend off we visited Lake Atitlan, which was just breath taking. We got to visit some villages on the lake and do some shopping in the villages and take in the views from the villages. The food was great everywhere we went. CCS did take care of the safety of the trip and the food preparation was meticulous. This was an experience I will never forget and I will share with others forever. A special thanks to Virginia and her staff that made the trip truly enjoyable.

How can this program be improved?

Use the air conditioners in the vehicles and keep the smoke from the buses of the city out of the vehicles. It got to be over powering.

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Ranae
Female
57 years old
Ogden, Utah
Weber State University

Junior League in Guatemala

10/10

Volunteering abroad was the most humbling and extraordinary experience of my life. The opportunity to provide service while reaching new heights in my own personal growth was the most beneficial part of the volunteer experience. I am still continually processing thoughts and experiences of my trip to Guatemala. I find myself thinking and dreaming about Guatemala with its overwhelming contrast of the countrys’ colorful villages and humble inhabitants to the most unpleasant visions of Zone 3 with its atrocious living conditions, gunmen abounding and dirt and garbage everywhere. My heart is torn between thoughts of ever wanting to return, because of my feeling of helplessness and the huge need that exists, and wanting to join an eternal fight to become a GAME CHANGER in some way.

How can this program be improved?

Volunteers can better prepare for their international experience by learning simple phrases in the language of the country that they are volunteering. Relax and be flexible and look for the beauty in your experience. Try to prepare for your placement ahead of time. Ask the CCS team questions about your placement prior to your trip. If available, buy extra texting, email and data on your phone and download translation APPS like Google Translate. Write emails and text home daily, they will be valuable emotional expressions that you will enjoy later.
Take lots of photos!

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Barbara
Female
57 years old
Richmond, Virginia
Adelphi University

Person to person in Guatemala

10/10

In the last few years I had grown tired of hearing about luxury vacations. Also, when I suddenly became a widow, I looked for a vacation experience that I could do by myself. Volunteering in Guatemala satisfied my need for interacting with real people and everyday life.

I observed that the very young children in the day care center, whose parents made a meager existence by picking through the city's trash, were bright and curious and loved to learn new things--like young children everywhere. Though supplies were limited, I thought of simple activities that involved movement, singing, playing with balls, and simple art.

My basic knowledge of Spanish came alive for the first time in my life, and I was so grateful to use it and to be understood! (One would not have to speak the language in a fancy hotel.) I was able to converse in a very person-to-person way with the cook, caretaker, and driver at home base.

During my stay I encountered no difficulties with regard to health, safety, or interaction. I accepted whatever accommodations or food were offered with thanks. Also, I endeavored to interact with everyone as an equal, not as if I was in Guatemala and knew more than they did.

How can this program be improved?

While I respect the donations policy, some thought should be given to replacing toys and play things in the day care facility where I was assigned "La Casita Amarilla." I observed children eating the stuffing from old stuffed toys that had become torn; very unclean toys (children wiping their runny noses on soft toys); broken wooden toys (splintered legs of a Barbie doll). Also, even children as young as 2-2 1/2 love a story, but when I asked, there were no story books (in Spanish) in the facility.

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Paul
Male
32 years old
Derwood, Maryland
University of Missouri- Columbia

A genuine taste of Guatemalan culture

10/10

The program effectively balances a genuine immersion into the Guatemalan culture with a strong emphasis on safety. Virginia and co. truly make the volunteers a part of their family - I was truly spoiled. With a security guard on staff 24 hours per day, the home base was a welcome oasis on Septima Avenida in Guatemala City. I have grown to appreciate many little things that I take for granted in the United States. Every volunteer has a different experience, and the staff is more than eager to make sure everyone is able to take something away from their program.

No matter how many pictures and videos you see, they will not do Lake Atitlan and Tikal justice. I was able to see every tourist attraction on my list, while still managing to budget time for a rewarding volunteer experience. I've often read that the best volunteer programs follow the rule of thirds - 1/3 volunteer, 1/3 cultural, and 1/3 free time. This program follows that structure admirably.

How can this program be improved?

Some of the cultural activities were quite far away, leading to a 2-hour roundtrip commute for a 40 minute activity. Finding activities that were equally rewarding and a tad closer would do the program justice.

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Brenda
Female
57 years old
United States

Guatemala Two weeks

10/10

As I set off ,I was a little apprehensive. I suppose of the unexpected. But it took me no time too feel very comfortable at the home-base and work sight. The staff are very friendly and supportive and the kids are just too much--very friendly and heart warming. I would not change a thing.

How can this program be improved?

I just would have chosen to stay longer

Default avatar
Michael
Male
57 years old
Olympia Washington

What's next for Guatamala?

10/10

My wife and I shared the trip and we share the feeling that there is a need for CCS if only to educate the world on the struggle of a proud and great nation and people. The answer is education! So I would expand the part that lays out the history of the country, where it is now and more about the future. The world needs to know.

How can this program be improved?

Nothing!

Default avatar
Julia
Female
24 years old
Missouri

Great Program--Make a Difference

10/10

I loved my experience with Cross Cultural Solutions in Guatemala. I would say my favorite part about the program was being able to experience the country in a way many people never experience. I stayed in the country for 3 weeks, and I felt that I had ample opportunity to explore Guatemala and do touristy things (the CCS field trips were very good and educational, and the free weekend time gave an opportunity to visit any other places, like Tikal, the Mayan ruins, that the field trips didn't provide.) I also felt like CCS allowed me to take advantage of vacationing in a new place, with the bonus of being able to help others, without all the stress others might find in trying to plan out a trip. CCS provides you with a (really nice) place to stay, meals, showers, some transportation, and very knowledgeable locals who can give you great advice. A great experience, and I can't wait to go again!

How can this program be improved?

The only thing I wish that had been different was the arrangements for meeting at the airport--arriving in a new country (alone)(for the first time ever)is super scary, and I couldn't find my ride. Everything worked out in the end, but I had wished that part of the trip had been better explained/planned. But twas no big deal, and not really a criticism at all--more like an "oops" (and probably more of an opps for me than for CCS!)

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First
Female
24 years old
Toronto, Canada
York University

Fantastic program in Guatemala City

10/10

I had always thought about volunteering abroad but was never sure where I wanted to go. When i contacted CCS, they suggested Guatemala City. In March of 2012, I went there for just one week. Although the trip was much too short, I think it has been one of the most gratifying, thrilling and inspirational experiences by far. I worked in a school for children 3-6yrs. Our group had painted a mural to brighten up the school's appearance. The best part of my trip was meeting new people and learning more about the Guatemalan culture. Before going, I had very little knowledge about the country, culture, etc. What's really great about CCS's program is that not only do they provide you with a comfortable living environment and volunteer placement, but they give you time to venture out on your own/ with other volunteers to places in the city, ie. climb the Pacaya Volcano, travel to markets, etc. This gave me the chance to see and experience the Guatemalan culture for myself. The staff was amazing, making me feel safe and comfortable at all times. Not only would I love to go back to Guatemala through CCS, this experience has been so great that I would definitely be interested in volunteering elsewhere with this organization.

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cwait
Female
24 years old
NJ
Other

Guatemala City 2007

9/10

I was 17 when I volunteered for two months in CCS's Guatemala City placement. It was the best thing I have chosen to do. I met amazing people from all over the world, worked with children in an orphanage that stole my heart, and was able to see different parts of the country that I wouldn't have even known about without the CCS team. Sonia and Virginia were great supports with great personalities. I enjoyed all of the in home staff, the activities, and especially my placement in the orphanage. I am hoping to return some day and do this experience over again!

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vamirr
Male
57 years old
Arnold California
Other

Fanastic program. Worthwhile work but still feels like a vacation!!

10/10

I have volunteered five times with CCS in Guatemala. This last time I worked at a soup kitchen, a home for elderly women, an orphanage for wheel bound children and assisted a nun with her English.

Everyone is so appreciative of the little work that we do. You get to meet wonderful people, contribute in a small way to improving the life situation of the people served.

The staff at the home base (cooks, housekeepers, guards and administrative staff) quickly become family. Local sites of cultural interest are visited during the week and on weekends you are free to visit surrounding areas on your own.

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J.
Female
24 years old
Lima, Peru
Sexual Health

A good experience, but a high price

9/10

I spent 2 weeks volunteering at an orphanage in Guatemala City.
We lived in a house with all the other volunteers, which was nice, but not a great way to improve your Spanish if that's what you're looking for.
The work was challenging, but rewarding, and the staff was very helpful.
However, Cross-Cultural Solutions is very high-priced, and if you look I'm sure you will be able to find an equally satisfying program that is much more affordable. For example, I volunteered for 1 month in Costa Rica with Greenheart Travel, and it cost less than my 2 weeks in Guatemala.

About The Provider

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For 22 years, CCS has been the standard setter for the safest, most meaningful, and enriching volunteer abroad programs while striving to be a global leader in child development and women's empowerment.

Since 1995, over 35,000 people have volunteered with Cross-Cultural Solutions, providing meaningful and

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