The goal is to immerse ourselves in new experiences and new cultures. Guatemala is not like Europe or Costa Rica. Most people who live there are indigenous. Poverty is huge. When you travel on a chicken bus you’re expected to share your seat, if you’re lucky enough to get one, with at least three or four other people. Yes, we’ll go to touristy areas and boat across gorgeous lakes nestled between volcanos while eating fresh mangos, but we’ll also try and connect with local lives and real places where the lifestyle and world view will be so different from yours that it’s hard to even understand. We will spend time during the fall to talk about what kind of experience participants want and the skills they’re wanting to develop. Staff will be on hand to offer support and meaningful engagement throughout the ten weeks abroad.
During our travels you will be able to see firsthand important issues playing out like deforestation, poverty, women’s rights, and immigration issues. You’ll cross boards and see less lucky potential immigrants waiting to do the same. You’ll stand among 30 chicken buses and try to find the one going to where you want to go. You’ll meet people who grow their living on an acre of steep rocky hillside and others who support their family selling tacos. You’ll collect stories of their lives and yours and share them over an avocado picked straight off the tree.
We begin in Phoenix Arizona. We’ll go camp in the desert and catch up with each other and swap stories about our winternships. Next we’ll divide into smaller groups (each with a staff) and make our way south to and then through Mexico. It will mean over a 1000 miles of staring out the window at different lives and worlds, stopping now and then to get out and explore and sample the local food. We’ll cross the border into Guatemala, get on a chicken bus and head to Lake Atitlan where will spend a week together getting oriented to Guatemala and make plans for independent and smaller group activities and travels.
Then you go off and adventure. Staff will be available for anyone who encounters any issues.
Now and then we’ll come altogether to share stories, create new options and groups, exchange back massages and horchata, and get ready to do it all again.
Finally, we come together and head north again, this time going a different way through Mexico. We’ll end up in Arizona where we’ll celebrate and part ways.
We will pay for your overland transport to and from Guatemala. We will also pay for some room and board expenses for the time that the whole group is together in Guatemala.
For the most part, however, you will be in charge of your own budget. Our plan is to only collect from you $6750 of the $8250 total gap year tuition. The remaining $1500 we will ask you to have available, partly in cash and partly on a debit card, to cover your individual food and travel expenses. You’re in charge of the budget. Those of you who are thrifty during travel time and who take advantage of cheap options during independent travel like, for example, volunteering with organizations through Workaway or WWOOF that help cover food and lodging during your stay, will save money and have extra to pocket or spend. Others who buy lots of drinks and snack or who pursue more expensive options for independent travel times like yoga retreats and guided trips, can expect to need to balance your spending with some frugal times or to spend additional amounts of your money.
Study Spanish and experience cultural immersion with homestays
Work on a reforestation project
Explore the volcanos, trails, caves, lakes, and beaches
Volunteer on organic farms or coffee plantations
Explore your spiritual side with yoga, meditation, and traditional healing
Surf, eat mangos, kayak through mangroves
Get a job at a local cafe
Learn indigenous skills from boat making to weaving
Take daily one-on-one Spanish lessons to bring your language skills to the next level. Immerse in culture with a homestay and build lasting relations with your host family. Work on a reforestation project for community lands illegally logged. Kayak across Lake Atilan, from village to village. Learn about indigenous history and culture.
Explore the volcanos, trails, caves, lakes, and beaches from El Peredon to Semuc Champei. Meet people from all over the world and be part of a global community. Spend Semana Santa in Antigua and take part in the processions. Head down to the Yoga retreat with somebody you just met from Estonia and then go buy a papaya and fresh made tamales at the outdoor market.