Guatemala

A Broader View Volunteers Corp

My experience was more than I expected. I enjoyed every second of it. Learning at the clinic, meeting people and enjoying helping out. I fell in love with the city of Quetzaltenango and the people, so much so that I´m considering studying here and develop my medical career as a pediatrician in Guatemala.
The moment I got to the host family, I felt very welcomed by the family and comfortable. The host mom was very attentive about me going out, eating well and took good care of me when I got a cold. The girls were very nice and I got along with them like I had known them my whole life. The whole time I was there I never felt unsafe or unwanted.
At the medical center I was able to go around in the different “clinics” they have. I helped in the HIV clinic, family planning, pharmacy and pediatrics. I was surprised that I was able to do so much, including injecting birth control shots. I learned a lot more here than I thought. My favorite memory was getting to see the doctor suture up a man´s eyebrow. I was able to learn the stitching technique, as well as helping him out.
The coordinators were very helpful and easy to reach in case of an emergency. The office was nearby, which was easy because I could meet up with them and also make payments for weekend tours. The organization of the weekend trips was very reliable and I felt very comfortable going places.
The support in the US was amazing. I asked the online operator lots of questions and concerns and always got a reply back fairly quickly. When I called, the lady who picked up made me feel really safe about my decision to come to Guatemala, and I felt very encouraged. Wonderful experience.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Guatemala
Posted: Oct 10, 2017
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Global Crossroad

I did a month teaching programme in a public school in Antigua, Guatemala for 3 months of which I really enjoyed so much. Teaching in a school is what I wanted and it's the best way of getting teaching experience. The location was amazing as it was a walk from my home-stay.

My Coordinator Jonathan Dprera was excellent. He gave me all the relevant information on the school and on Antigua what to do and what not to do and obviously safety issues as well. He was extremely obliging in saying anything you need do not hesitate to ask and that was lovely to hear.

Regarding my Home-stay, home stays can be very hit and miss. When I first arrived I was in a home-stay next door to Jonathan and I loved it. I was away for a week and was told I had to move out of the home stay which I was sad about. I went to another home-stay and I was not happy there after a while. The family were not the nicest and gave me very little food. Numerous times I had to call Jonathan and get him to speak to the lady of the house which he did but she still gave very little food and they way she spoke to me at times was not nice, very controlling but eventually Jonathan got through to her and she improved on the amount of food she gave me. Jonathan did bring me to another Home stay which was lovely but with not much time left in Antigua I decided against moving into it. The thoughts of packing and unpacking did not appeal to me with little time left. I personally did not feel comfortable in the home stay and felt I was watched. I would not recommend this homestay for more than 2 weeks. The location though is fantastic. Jonathan did a fantastic job with this lady in the homestay.

Overall it was an amazing experience and I would like to thank Global Crossroads and Jonathan for an amazing job well done.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Guatemala
Posted: Sep 1, 2017
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Cross-Cultural Solutions

I volunteered with CCS in Guatemala City for two and a half months and had the most amazing experience of my life (so far). I decided to travel with CCS for personal reasons. I was born in Guatemala, adopted by Americans and brought up in the States. I wanted to visit my birth country but did not want to go back as just a tourist. While visiting, I wanted to experience the culture and give back if I could. CCS Guatemala offered everything I was looking for; cultural immersion, a chance to meet new people and friends, a great place to stay, and opportunities to volunteer. This trip was worth every penny! I met amazing people and went to incredible places. Furthermore, words cannot explain just how amazing the in-country CCS staff is! They were helpful, always a pleasure to be around and became a second family to me. I cannot thank them enough for such an incredible time. Choosing to travel with CCS Guatemala was and still is the best decision that I have ever made. I 100% recommend this program! I learned a lot about myself and the world outside my world. I bet you will too! I enjoyed every second of my trip and plan to volunteer with CCS again.

To all the travelers out there: Travel far and travel wide. Always travel with an open mind. Safe travels to all!

A more in depth look at my experience:
Before leaving for Guatemala, I was a bit apprehensive for the trip. This was going to be my first time out of the country by myself but I did not need to worry. Before leaving for the trip, the Guatemala CCS program specialist Hayden helped me through the pre-travel process. On the day of arrival, pick up from the airport was seamless and the in-country staff member that pick me up was very friendly. I arrived at the volunteer house and had a warm welcome from the staff that was present. The volunteer house was perfect and quickly became a second home for me. The food at the house was always delicious, I never had a bad meal. The in-country staff and the house staff were so amazing and very helpful. The in-country director, Virginia was so helpful and kind. She led us through orientation, answered our questions and gave excellent "life advice" when needed. The in-country staff quickly became a second family to me, they helped make my experience in Guatemala special.

While in Guatemala with CCS, I volunteered at a school by the city dump. I primarily helped in the 1st grade class. I helped with daily lessons (like math) and other activities. Besides helping at the elementary school, I also had the opportunity to assist the English language teacher at the high school. Volunteering at this school was amazing, I would do it again in heartbeat. Other than this school, some volunteers were assigned to other specialty schools around the city, health clinics, day care facilities and many other places. All the volunteers that I met throughout my two and half month stay had all good things to say about their volunteer assignments.

Besides volunteering, CCS also provided cultural learning experiences like a city tour (which was fabulous) visits to museums around the city, Spanish lessons and much more. These activities were wonderful and I always learned something about the history and culture of Guatemala from these excursions. Having these cultural learning experiences added something extra special to my trip! During my trip, I did have opportunities for travel in my free time. Traveling is on your own dime but it is worth it. With the other volunteers I met, I traveled to Antigua, Guatemala for Semana Santa in early April, Lake Atitlan (so beautiful) and Monterrico (a beach town). Also in my free time, I explored Guatemala City and went on small weekend trips to Antigua, Guatemala. Most of my free time in the city was spent walking up to Parque Central and experiencing the day to day activities of the city. Guatemala is an amazing place. I hope that you, the reader, consider this program and location. It will change your life!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Guatemala
Posted: Aug 30, 2017
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Global Crossroad

I had been hoping to volunteer for quite some time, but it took me ages to find a cheap program that accepted people under 18. Then I stumbled upon GC and I am really glad I did.
This has been one of the best life experiences I've had, the projects were amazing and fun, the host family was great( and they nade some really great food) and I learned so much.
My coordinator Jonathan was great and helpful as was my host family.
There was however an incident in which they tried to charge us more money than what us advertised, but the people at the main offices were glad to help and the issue was resolved.
I would really recommend this because the projects are incredible and GC is totally legit. Also volunteering is probably the best thing anyone could ever do.Getting to experience a different way of life and help out, makes you a better person in more ways than one. I had the best time and everything was awesome!!!!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Guatemala
Posted: Jul 28, 2017
Overall:
9
Support:
7
Value:
9

Institute for Field Research Expeditions - IFRE

I would not recommend signing on with IFRE. My daughter is currently an IFRE volunteer in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.. She was supposed to start her medical volunteer work today. However, the IFRE worker in Quetzaltenango told her she could not start today because of some cleaning work being done in the hospital! She is very disappointed, and we are wondering if a volunteer position was ever even arranged. IFRE stated that volunteers will live with local families who are respected members of the community. However, my daughter's "home stay" is in a boarding house run by an older woman. No family members are there. There is no shared living room, just individual rooms for rent. Her room has torn bedding and blankets. In addition, no towel or toilet paper is provided. If the situation is improved, I will post a follow-up review.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Guatemala
Posted: Jul 17, 2017
Overall:
2
Support:
2
Value:
1

Global Leadership Adventures (GLA)

My name is Lori Burgess. My daughter Brooke went on a GLA trip to Guatemala last summer. She had an extraordinary experience, was well taken care of by the GLA staff and gave back to an underprivileged society. It was a growing experience for a impressionable 15-year-old who learned to put others before herself.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Guatemala
Posted: Mar 30, 2017
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Institute for Field Research Expeditions - IFRE

My volunteering work at an orphanage in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala through Institute for Field Research Expeditions was an enriching, smooth and amazing experience. The demeanor of the personnel at IFRE from the first point of contact to the completion of the program was very professional and good.

I was working at an orphanage that had around 27 babies and kids and was accountable for taking care of the kids by organizing games, teaching them songs, playing with them, etc. IFRE gave utmost care to my comfort in settling into a new responsibility and made sure that their personnel (Carla, in my case) was there with me all the time to help out in my interactions and work. The place was very safe and a brief orientation given at the beginning of the program went a long way in acquainting myself with the culture and practices of the country.

Special accolades to Oscar Gomez, the IFRE counterpart in Guatemala. He is a thorough gentleman who meticulously planned my pick-up, accommodation, placement and subsequent follow-ups. There was an instance where the banks in Quetzaltenango would not exchange USDs for Quetzals. Oscar went out of his way to help me out in the dire situation.

I will highly recommend the IFRE volunteering program not only to US citizens but to everybody across the globe.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Guatemala
Posted: Jan 4, 2017
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Discover Corps

The Discover Corps trip to Guatemala was more than I could have hoped for. The guide, driver, home base, volunteer experiences, and the additional sights we visited were beyond my expectations. The food was remarkable and I felt safe, taken care of, and informed every step of the way.

Program:
Location: Guatemala
Posted: Dec 6, 2016
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Global Crossroad

I traveled to Xela, Guatemala to volunteer with Global Crossroads for 2 weeks in August 2016. I am a public school English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher and I traveled with 2 other ESL teachers to improve our Spanish speaking abilities and to gain a better understanding of the backgrounds of our students from Guatemala. Our experience was very authentic and valuable to our profession as teachers.

We stayed with a sweet host family in downtown Xela. Everyday, we took the chicken bus 45 minutes through the mountains and volcanoes to Santa Maria de Jesus, a small village on the side of a volcano where we volunteered at a wonderful elementary school. The principal, Edgar, only speaks Spanish but was so incredibly warm and welcoming. He even recognized our work in front of the entire school during a ceremony which was really meaningful and unexpected. The kids were thrilled to see us everyday, and we taught basic English lessons with materials we brought from the United States.

After volunteering, we took Spanish lessons from Oscar and Mario, the Global Crossroads liasons in Xela. Our friendships with Oscar and Mario were a highlight of the trip. We got private one-on-one Spanish lessons, laughed and joked, learned about Guatemalan culture, and it was very affordable. I am incredibly grateful to them for making our experience so rich. Overall, this was a very humbling and realistic way to experience Guatemala and the rural, Mayan culture.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Guatemala
Posted: Nov 27, 2016
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Global Crossroad

Our experience in Guatemala was incredible and so impactful! We had the opportunity to work in an 'orphanage' (truly a shelter for girls) with teenage moms and their babies - victims of rape or abuse. We held babies, changed babies' diapers, consoled mothers and in all ways helped these young women with their babies. They needed our help and we greatly appreciated the opportunity to be of assistance. The second week we made 2 cookstoves for two impoverished families who now can cook safely for their families. (One family was cooking all meals in the rim of a wheel and had previously scarred/burned a child from the cooking method). The work was very labor intensive and involved mixing cement, laying bricks and cement and filling the cookstove with dirt and adobe bricks under the direction and with the help of a local contractor/coordinator. While in Guatemala, Global Crossroad also placed us with a host family and we had the opportunity to 'live like a local' and see firsthand what the living conditions are in Guatemala (this is not a shack like some Guatemalans live in, but a home with electricity and water and a family who provided us with meals in addition to our rooms). Global Crossroad also provided us with immersion spanish lessons for two hours each day which greatly helped us communicate while working on our projects. Global Crossroad was great to work with as we prepared for the trip (Kim and Customer Service) and was very helpful in identifying and lining up options for excursions over the weekend (we hiked a volcano and went to a hot springs). Oscar, the in country coordinator, was also very critical in organizing our activities and providing us with all the opportunities to make a difference.
This is not the 'volunteer tourism' that many people worry isn't really helping others - it is truly volunteering that makes a difference in the lives of the people in Guatemala. They NEED your help and while this is a 3rd world country and you will sacrifice the comforts of home in order to participate, it is affordable and the work you do will make a difference. I highly recommend Global Crossroad. I also appreciate that there were no hidden fees or additional costs sprung upon us once we got to Guatemala. We felt and were safe the entire time we were in the country. We had free time in the evenings and were able to take advantage of modern options (i.e., McDonalds) near the main central park in order to have wifi and share pictures with our family/friends back home.
The office is located close to the host family and projects and we were able to safely walk between most activities which further enabled us to see the people and the culture and further enriched our experience.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Guatemala
Posted: Apr 16, 2016
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

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