About Guatemala

The Global Volunteer Network currently has opportunities to work on a range of projects in Guatemala. Volunteers can become involved in healthcare, childcare, teaching, construction and animal care / animal rights projects.

Guatemala is one of the most bio-diverse and historically significant countries in Central America, and the country's abundance of biologically unique ecosystems makes the entire region a biodiverse hotspot. Guatemala is bordered by Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras, and has coastlines along the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. It is one of the poorer Latin American countries, yet considered one of the most beautiful to visit. Guatemala has a predominantly mountainous landscape, with narrow coastal plains and limestone plateaus.

For more information, please visit the Guatemala webpage on the Global Volunteer Network website.

Recent Guatemala Journals:

Friday

 Posted by May Wright at 11:29 am  Guatemala  Comments Off on Friday
Jun 282015
 

I made it through a whole 5 day work week! Yay! If you’re wondering about the salsa lesson from Wednesday, it went alright. I think Frank is a good teacher, but I decided I’m not really interested in perfecting my technique haha… Today, I took my Spanish class early, at 8 so that I could do a walking tour at 9:30. I am still really liking my Spanish classes, but I’m starting to wonder if Nery realizes what he says sometimes. Like today, he wrote two similar sentences on the whiteboard and said, “This is correct, and this is also correct. The way that you said it is not correct.” I just laugh. The walking tour was great. A woman named Elisabeth Bell leads it and has been leading it for years. She has lived in Antigua for over 40 years, so she knows a lot and really her passion is keeping culture, history, and architecture alive and intact here. She’s led several restoration projects in various areas, has written books about Antigua, and keeps up with what’s going on in Guatemala. She even filled us in on some of the politics. Apparently there will be an election this year. I say apparently because I saw tons of billboards with pictures on the way from Guatemala city to Antigua. People can vote without being literate – hence the pictures. We of course looked at several churches. It’s really interesting how many churches are well… topless. They have no roofs because they were damaged by earthquakes and never rebuilt. The church on the central square was abandoned when the capital was moved to present day Guatemala city. It was later destroyed by an earthquake, and now you can walk through what remains: tall walls with no ceilings. Today’s beautiful blue skies [click here to read more]

Picking up Speed

 Posted by May Wright at 11:27 am  Guatemala  Comments Off on Picking up Speed
Jun 282015
 

Today I felt much more comfortable with the city and my work. This morning I awoke again at 5: 45 as sunlight entered in and a rooster somewhere started squawking. Ugh. I am figuring out how to best work my shower: more hot water at low pressure as it is heated by electricity right at the shower head. Breakfast was French toast coated with oatmeal with apples on the side. I liked the idea of rolling it in oatmeal and will have to try that again sometime. I hurried to the maximo nivel to take my Spanish language placement test. I was placed in the advanced level (very proud!). Sarah then took me to meet my tutor. His name, funny enough, is Nery – the same as my guatamalan-venezualan friend in Tyler. Easy to remember! I wasn’t sure what to expect of a private lesson, but by the time we finished I felt it was very productive. I thought it was interesting how the lesson began with him asking me some fairly simple questions… but incredibly fast. At first, I thought, “man, he is difficult to understand for some reason. I wish he would slow down.” Turns out he did it on purpose to test my comprehension level. We continued on with some other exercises until the hour was up. I then did some walking around town, continuing to try to get to know Antigua – especially around Yellow House. I took some photos that I am putting on the yellow house Antigua facebook page – a responsibility of mine in my internship. Having that to work on at work made me feel a lot more productive. Plus I checked several people in today! I feel like I really have picked up speed.  Also on my walk, I passed by [click here to read more]

Hit the Ground Running

 Posted by May Wright at 11:26 am  Guatemala  Comments Off on Hit the Ground Running
Jun 282015
 

Woke up 5:45 and went up to the rooftop patio to read through my lonely planet guidebook. It’s just lovely up there. I had pancakes for breakfast and then walked around the city, first looking for the central park. I got a little confused, but managed to find it (with a bit of sheer luck). I really wish they had good street signs. Some corners have absolutely no signs. I guess the idea is that you can just count. All the streets are numbered with avenues being north/south, and streets being east/west. Central park is really beautiful, abuzz with locals. I wandered north and passed through Cathedral  de nuestra senora de La Merced, strung with yellow and orange banners and bright flowers for some occasion I don’t know. The adjacent monastery ruins had some decent views although the volcanoes are all clouded over. My 10:30 orientation lasted for much longer than expected. In fact, today’s events were not quite expected. It was so full! Sarah from Maximo Nivel gave Luisa and me our orientation spiel. Luisa is Panamanian American and working with speech therapy here. In the afternoon, I went to Casa Amarilla, or yellow house, and met Sofi and Prizila. Sofi bought me a notebook, took me on a tour of the rooms and then soon after had me give a tour! She’s very good about pushing me to get involved. A phone call came in, and she offered to hand the phone to me, but I declined. I don’t like people asking me questions and being unable to answer. I feel so powerless and unhelpful. Reminds me of being on a new job… At the end of my shift, I got to meet Ceci, the bubbly curly haired Panamanian proprietor who talks very fast, but definitely has a [click here to read more]

Learning a language

 Posted by May Wright at 5:17 am  Guatemala  Comments Off on Learning a language
Jun 252015
 

Today started with breakfast with another Guatamalan family – that of my friend that’s living in the states, Nery. We had a nice visit over a great breakfast at a beautiful little restaurant in town. It’s funny to me how different people have different speech habits that make them more or less difficult for me to understand. Sijan, almost 15, speaks very quickly, and I had to ask her to repeat herself several times. After breakfast I went to my Spanish lesson with my teacher, Nery. By some amazing coincidence, we had parked right in front of the place where my lesson was to take place. Nery was waiting out front for me because our classroom had been changed (again). He told me as we walked to our new classroom that he was listening to me as I spoke with Señora and Sijan. He tells me, “your spanish is very good” [deep inhalation, shrugging shoulders, exasperated look on his face] “but some errors…” and he commenced talking about my mistakes. I laughed. I know I make a lot of mistakes. It’s apparent that he really wants for me to improve – not just speak the language – but speak it well and without many mistakes. So many of my mistakes are things that I know, but for some reason still miss. Having Nery as a teacher is so valuable because not only does he catch my mistakes, but he has such an in depth understanding of Spanish grammar that he can explain and help me not only to correct my one mistake, but apply it to a greater context. I’m really glad I have the opportunity to study with him.

My First Day

 Posted by May Wright at 2:54 am  Guatemala  Comments Off on My First Day
Jun 242015
 

All good first impressions: The flight here was easy – just 3 hours from Houston and the weather was good. Guatemala greeted me with absolutely lovely weather (although some have commented on the heat). The sun is bright and hot, but when you’re out where the wind can cool you down, it’s wonderful. Every person I have met so far has been lovely. A man saw me wandering around at the exit and helped me find my ride. I met two other volunteers: a middle aged woman and her son who come to volunteer at an afterschool program every summer. They’re returning to do it again. (What a wonderful thing to do with your kid!). Pholomo is a South African woman who works at Maximo Nivel – the business that is hooking me up with my internship. She is bubbly and helpful. Anna Maria is my host mom, kind, and informative. And there’s Jonathan, her son. He was very kind to walk me to the Maximo Nivel office, being very clear about directions and pointing out landmarks. He is 26, like me, and works for a tourism operator. Funny coincidence! The sights and sounds are almost magical when you arrive in a new place for the first time. I seem to always get this happy feeling because I remember it from other trips.  Flying in, you could see some skyscrapers, development over lots of hills along with lots of green. I also noticed some areas that were definitely poor parts of town.  The busy city with all its cars, busses (they have some pretty colorful ones here… they look like school buses gone wild), colorful business signs, pedestrians, and flowers makes for an exciting ride through town. Antigua itself seems very nice although I have only gotten just a tiny [click here to read more]

Getting ready to go!

 Posted by Michelle Slattery at 12:07 pm  Guatemala  Comments Off on Getting ready to go!
Jun 172015
 

Hello, I’m taking care of a few final details before leaving for my internship in Guatemala. I’ll be working for five weeks (June 29- July 31) and will stay one more week to travel. My Lonely Planet guide is a mess with highlights, red ink, and sticky notes. I can’t wait!  

Leaving Soon

 Posted by May Wright at 1:22 am  Guatemala  Comments Off on Leaving Soon
Jun 042015
 

I will be headed to Guatemala on June 21st. Visit this blog page to see what I’m up to. Thanks for following!

Back after a quiet weekend

 Posted by Sami Buisson-Daniel at 12:59 pm  Guatemala  Comments Off on Back after a quiet weekend
Dec 222014
 

December 22, 2014 After a very quiet weekend I returned today to Mama Rosa’s place and took with me knitting needles and yarn.  Corinne (she is in charge of this program) went with me.  She’s supposed to visit each program a couple times a week. It was a much different day then usual.  I think because Mama Rosa was away the gals enjoyed a non-routine kind of a day.  So a few girls did come to the picnic bench (where I usually sit in the sun) and started to learn to knit.  As usually happens most of them put the knitting yarn tightly on the needles so they had to really work at getting the stitches off one needle and onto the second needle.  I did that when I first started knitting so I knew how it would go.  I’m going to teach them how to make a bow first and then maybe to make patches so we can all put them together to make one of the babies a new blanket.  It sure gets cold here in Antiqua and much more coldly there further up in the mountains (where Mama Rosa’s home is). Spanish has been okay at least until today.  I feel I’ve hit a low point and don’t have a clue how to do tonight’s homework!  Hopefully someone on face book will help me out since I put it out there in type.

December 20, 2014 Completed one week of volunteering

 Posted by Sami Buisson-Daniel at 5:09 am  Guatemala  Comments Off on December 20, 2014 Completed one week of volunteering
Dec 202014
 

December 20, 2014 I’ve completed one entire week of volunteering, tandem and Spanish lessons. It feels good not to have to go anywhere in a taxi or Tuc Tuc. Today is housekeeping day. I’ve gathered my dirty clothes and Silvia has taken them to the laundry for me to pick up later. Just the thought of clean clothes makes me happy. I was washing some by hand but that got to be old news because I had to remove them from each time I took a shower since that’s where I was drying them. James is a delightful addition to the experience. He tries to make me speak Spanish and is always explaining words and phrases for me to use. Shame he is leaving at the end of this month. I have learned something’s from him. He is also “the garbage pit” eater so what I can’t eat, he gets. (Note: he calls himself that) My biggest problem is the cobble streets and sidewalks. It’s so difficult for me to walk. I do have the fear of tripping because of the uneven surfaces. Therefore, I’ve limited my walking around which is a shame because there is so much to see. Antiqua has a beauty that is beyond my word vocabulary to express. The colors are munificent (to say the least)! The house is cheerful with the singing of birds. They have three birdcages in the (what I call outside hall way) that chirp all day. I’ve seen wild birds fly in to eat the droppings of the bird seeds so there is even more bird chirps. The three-legged dog “Moley” is basically very quiet. He’s bark only once that I’ve heard…. (He’s no Bernie who barks to let us know people are coming.) Oh, how I miss Bernie! I’ve started [click here to read more]

Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014

 Posted by Sami Buisson-Daniel at 11:24 am  Guatemala  Comments Off on Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014
Dec 182014
 

Thursday, December 18, 2914 Did pretty much what I did yesterday at the group home. We played Uno and some of the kids played on my I Pad. Reminds me that I need to download some games they will like. We watch the rehearsal for the Christmas Play that will take place on Saturday. I was going to attend but have decided against it. I did take a short video of the kids practicing (I was told I could) so I’ve attached it. Lunch was a Greek Salad at the Indian Restaurant. Very good! The tandem lesson was a good one. Letty (that is the woman’s name I sit with) asks me if I would help two of her friends. She fears they need some help or they won’t pass the test. Actually Letty is trying to improve her “conversation” because she’s failed the test three times. Hopefully with my help she can pass this time. She’s a big help in working with me on my Spanish. My Spanish lesson was okay. The teacher is good. I’m not! However, I’m giving it my best shot. My daughter Aletha Sangiray always says that Spanish is easier to learn then English. I find all these exceptions with the Spanish. I ask the teacher how I would know that this is this and she says “excepcion” so I’ve learned that word. I’m giving it my best shot so Manuel (owner of Hotel Francis Arlene) will stop complaining that I’ve been there for 30 years and can’t speak Spanish (and she’s right)! At least the Tuc Tuc driver speaks enough English and with my bad Spanish, he knows now to pick me up at the corner from Maximo’s. His name is Joshua. Tomorrow will be the real test when I personally call him and [click here to read more]

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