WHY we need you in Guatemala
HOW can you help?
WHAT you can do?
Why Involvement Volunteers International?
PROJECT NAME: CULTURAL IMMERSION
LOCATION: TOWN OUTSIDE OF ANTIGUA
START DATES: WEEKLY (SAT/SUN ARRIVALS)
ACCOMMODATION: HOMESTAY (SHARED ROOMS)
MIN DURATION: ONE WEEK
MIN AGE: 18+ (under 18 with guardian)
SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS: N/A
This project will let you experience a true Mayan hospitality and in-depth overview of local life. The project in based in a traditional farming community, around 33 minutes outside of Antigua, in a rural and ‘off the bean path’ location. You will live with a local Mayan Kakchikel-speaking family and assist within everyday life. Work includes helping in the fields, cooking traditional Guatemalan dishes, caring for animals, assisting with local construction projects, working at the local school, agricultural work and making handwoven textiles and crafts. Work will vary based on seasonal needs, weather conditions, and location.
Within the indigenous community and culture, some of the work is gender specific, so please be aware that your daily tasks could vary accordingly. We ask that you respect the community’s way of life and customs with sensitivity. Please note- the local people on this project do not speak English, so it is helpful if you have some understanding of Spanish. During the project, you also have the chance to learn Kakchikel, one of the main Mayan languages.
This project is situated offsite from the volunteer centre, in a traditional farming community, around 33 to 60 minutes outside of Antigua. This location may not have reliable internet, but a phone is available in case of emergencies. Our local coordinators will check in with you by phone and in-person throughout your project.
- Working on the local farms
- Learning to weave textiles
- Construction projects
- Learn to cook traditional food
- Learn the language and interact with locals
Food & Accommodation
You will work and live with an indigenous family inside their home, in a small town approximately 33 minutes to 1 hour from the volunteer centre.
Breakfast and dinner are provided 7 days a week* and will be of local cuisine (which you may be asked to help prepare). Corn, rice, beans, beef, pork, chicken, cheese, and tortillas form the basis of the typical local foods. Meat stews and soups are very popular also.
- Airport Pickup
- Local Transportation
- 1 Day Orientation
- 24/7 In-Country Support
- Project Materials & Equipment
- Pre-departure Expert Advice
- Preperation Tools & Checklists
- Certificate of Completion
This project would suit anyone who wants to fully immerse themselves into the local culture and to learn the local indigenous language. Some knowledge of the Spanish language would be extremely useful as most of the locals do not speak English. This project is great for those who love to try something new and experience and learn about a different culture.
- Airport pick-up
- Host family accommodations
- Breakfast and dinner, 7 days/week
- 3-4 hours/day practical work, Monday-Friday
- Program and safety orientation
- Walking tour
- Official certificate of volunteer service
- Letter of recommendation
- Spanish language tutoring table
- Tandem Conversation Program
- Office-wide WiFi and computer lab
- Salsa dance classes
- Cooking classes
- Free coffee and tea and on-site snack bar
- Institute is open 7 days/week
- Emergency contact number 24/7
- Medical insurance
- Daily transportation
- Travel and tours
- Transfer back to the airport
- Personal spending money
Each project will include a 1-day orientation to familiarise yourself with the local area, rules, safety advice and general information. Your host family will show you the best way to get to/from your accommodation to the volunteer centre. Orientation will include health and safety advice, do’s and don’ts, cultural norms, activities and tours you can do on weekends, and a short walking tour, showing you the local area. You are also able to take a free Spanish placement exam. On your first day the local coordinator will take you to the placement, where you will be introduced to everyone and shown around the project.
Our projects are situated in the Antigua area. The most effective way to get you your project is to walk or take the bus. Travel time can vary between projects, and you should expect to spend 20-60 minutes travelling each way. You may need to change buses, depending on where your accommodation/project is located. Taxis are widely available but much more expensive than the bus.
We will explain to you how to get to your project site and you will be given transportation tickets. You will leave on Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning to reach your offsite project. Transportation back is included, and this will usually be Friday evening or Saturday morning.
Sunday – Arrival / Welcome and Home Stay Introduction
Monday – Orientation day
Tuesday to Friday
Here is a rough guide on what to expect:
- Breakfast at the accommodation
- 4-6 hours of volunteer work either in the morning or afternoon
- Your own lunch at the accommodation or project site
- Free time
- Dinner at the accommodation
There is so much to see and do around Antigua, including cultural events, tours and treks, and exploring the various markets. The local coordinators regularly post a monthly events calendar to let you know of the activities going on nearby. For more ideas on things to do in Guatemala…
These Mayan ruins are set amidst the jungle of northern Guatemala and close to the borders between Belize and Mexico. The incredible ruins are a little hard to get to but have a spectacular backdrop. The ruins used to be one of the most influential cities in the Mayan empire.
Semuc Champey Pools
Another destination a little hard to get to (think long and windy bus ride) but definitely worth it for the incredibly blue pools of water you will find here, all surrounded by Guatemalan jungle. You can go swimming in the pools too!
Pacaya, Santiaguito and Fuego are active volcanoes which visitors can climb up. These 3 are still active but Guatemala also has 37 volcanoes dotted around the country. If you love hiking, then make sure to try one of these treks for spectacular views.
Lake Atitlan is a place where you can easily spend several days. This pretty lake has the backdrop of volcanoes and pretty wildflowers around the edge of the water. There are lots of small towns around the lake to explore, or you could simply relax by the sparling water or try SUP and kayaking.
Indian Nose Hike
This is a spectacular viewpoint which will only take around a 45 minutes climb. Situated close to San Pedro, this mountain is known for incredible sunrises, but we would recommend going with a tour group for this, for safety reasons.
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Those under 18 are welcome when there is a faculty leader, parent, or guardian present
- Have a good level of fitness as this can be a manual project
Limited access to education and healthcare, poverty, illness, unemployment and illiteracy continuing problems in Guatemala. Guatemala is bordered by El Salvador and Honduras to the South, Belize to the East, and Mexico to the North. There is plenty for outdoor and nature lovers here, including tropical coastal beaches and lush jungles, mountains, rivers and volcanoes. Guatemala has a population of 14 million people, half of that being indigenous. You will see plenty of ancient Mayan traditions and customs still alive today.
The climate in Guatemala changes somewhat dramatically. In the lowlands there is a hot, tropical and humid climate year-round. The mountain regions are a lot cooler and can even fall below freezing in the cooler months. The climate in the popular tourist destinations in Guatemala, such as Antigua and Guatemala City, is temperate and a comfortable warm temperature.
May to October is the rainy season, which brings short rains usually in the afternoon. This can be a great time to visit, as the landscape are lush and green. The dry season is from March to May.
Guatemala has strong Mayan and Latin influences, with the main language being Spanish, as well as some Mayan languages. The indigenous people are known for their colourful clothing and textiles and Guatemalans love their sport (soccer in particular) and music. The designs of the clothing vary in patterns from which village you come from. Religion in Guatemala varies from Mayan spirituality, Catholicism, and Evangelical Christianity. Muslim and Jewish populations can be seen in Guatemala City as well. A lot of the festivals here are influenced by religion.
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