Cross-Cultural Solutions: Volunteer Abroad in Guatemala

This program is no longer offered. View more programs from Cross-Cultural Solutions.

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About

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.

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Questions & Answers

Hello Jonathan, We worked in Guatemala City for many years in the past. We ran summer programs in Tecpan for the last 6 years, but as of last year, we're now based solely in Tecpan year round.

Reviews

9.65 Rating
based on 20 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 95%
  • 7-8 rating 5%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Impact 9.4
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 8.7
  • Value 8.9
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 1 - 8 of 20
Default avatar
Aubrey
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

CCS Guatemala, Tecpan Review

Cross Cultural Solutions allowed for me to experience more than just a volunteer trip, it was a unique travel experience that allowed us participants to completely engage ourselves in the local culture while also volunteering at a nearby school. The school was only in session until noon, which also ended our day of volunteering. This trip was unique because I felt as if we got the best of both worlds, cultural immersion as well as volunteering. The second half of the day was spent engaging ourselves in the local community as we attended different excursions everyday. Both halves of the day were equally as valuable as both opened my eyes to the extreme poverty that this town experienced. It allowed me to see a different perspective of life, as people lived fulfilled lives with little to nothing. By far my favorite memory would simply be the interactions I had with the school children. This being in the classroom, in the garden, or during breaks. This is a life changing trip that I recommend to all.

What would you improve about this program?
This program was incredible and I would recommend it to anyone interesting in learning more about Guatemalan culture while also making a difference in a small-town school. I feel as if the program does have room for improvement. The main thing that I was taken back by was the large the price attached to the program. However, CCS does a good job of guiding participants through the process of how to fundraise money if needed. Another improvement the program could see is providing a detailed itinerary before the volunteers arrived. Often times we would be driving to a cultural activity without being told where we were going. I was always pleased with where we ended up, however knowing in advance would have been nice.
Default avatar
Regina
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A change in Latitude: Guatemala

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
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

this trip will change your life

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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.
Default avatar
Hannah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

"Thank you for making me feel better"

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
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Well-rounded program

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.

What would you improve about this program?
Default avatar
Patricia
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Guatemala trip a colorful delight

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
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Special Place, Special People

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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

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!

What would you improve about this program?
Better-planned projects