Cultural Immersion Guatemala

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 and assisting with agricultural work.

WHY
we need you in Guatemala

  • Guatemala has an extremely high poverty rate, estimated at 59.5% (23% of those live in extreme poverty).
  • 8 out of 10 indigenous children are said to be suffering from chronic malnutrition.
  • Income equality is very high in Guatemala, with a huge difference between rich and poor families.
  • Guatemala is prone to natural disasters, such as hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes and landslides. This leaves the landscape and homes ruined and many people struggling.
  • Deforestation and other environmental issues have become a big problem in the county.

with host mother

APPLY NOW

Ready to volunteer abroad? Complete your application online in 5 min 


NEED MORE INFO?

Not sure which program is right for you? Contact us for more info


SCHEDULE A CALL

Let’s talk about it! Schedule a preferred time and date to chat via phone or video   

HOW
can you help?

  • Immerse yourself in the local Mayan way of life
  • Live with a local family and take part in their daily routine
  • This is a manual project- be prepared for some hard work!
  • Learn and understand more about the local culture, customs and lifestyle

WHAT
you can do?

  • Help in the family’s fields
  • Assist with traditional dinner preparations
  • Help with livestock and feeding
  • Local construction projects
  • Learn how to make handwoven textiles and crafts

Why Involvement Volunteers International?

  • Non Profit Organisation & Charity
  • Over 30 Years Expertise Globally
  • Low Program Fees – From US$295
  • Excellent Safety Record, In-Country 24/7 Support & Emergency Assistance
  • 1 Application Fee – Multiple Countries

group with kindergarten kids

Project Description

  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: Criminal background check required

with host mother
digging on the farm
girl with parrot on her shoulder
standing with host family in traditional dress
trying on traditional outfits
preparing dinner
learning how to stitch
participants in traditional outfits
food on the fire stove
Cultural-immersion-Guatemala-1

Overview

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 30 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.

Location

This project is situated offsite from the volunteer centre, in a traditional farming community, around 30 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.

Project Tasks

  • 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

While in Antigua for your orientation, you stay in a shared room with a pre-approved middle class Guatemalan family or in a student residence. You share with 1-3 other people of the same gender.

You will work and live with an indigenous family inside their home, in a small town approximately 30 minutes to 1 hour from the volunteer centre. At your project site you stay with a local family in their simple farm house at the foot of a scenic volcano. Families often have children of all ages and you should expect there to be many pets and farm animals around. The village has a small park, a church, a school, and some shops. Keep in mind there will be no access to wifi whilst on project, or ATM’s so please bring all the supplies you need with you. 

Breakfast and dinner are provided 7 days a week* on the project 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. Please note that meals are made from ingredients available locally and it may be very difficult to accommodate dietary restrictions.

standing with host family in traditional dress
Homestay
food on the fire stove
Homestay
garden at the centre
Volunteer Centre
lunch time at the centre
Volunteer Centre
learning English
Volunteer Centre

fees

Standard
Projects

– Childcare Support
– English Teaching
– Stray Dog Rehabilitation

All prices in USD

  • 1 Week – $435
  • 2 Weeks – $685
  • 3 Weeks – $855
  • 1 Month – $1025
  • 2 Months – $1720
  • 3 Months – $2390

Home Stays

What’s Included
  • Accommodation
  • Meals
  • 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

– US$275 application fee applies in addition to program fees
– Application fee is one off per person (unlimited placements)
Click Here to convert the below prices to your local currency
– Discounts may apply if travelling in a pair or group!
– All credit card /international fees included in below pricing! 🙂

Testimonials…

Guatemala was amazing! I got to really bond with the people and the dogs at my placement and loved going there everyday. We helped out with walking the dogs, cleaning and just giving them love. Next to that, with fundraised money, I was also able to contribute by helping rebuild parts of the shelter and providing them with food and medicine.
Eline
ElineGuatemala Dog & Cat Rehabilitation
I helped build a sea turtle hatchery for a local community in Guatemala. I knew I signed up to work but didn’t realize how hard it would be. We shoveled sand out of a 9×6 m hole, put chicken wire and a tarp around it, and started to fill it in with sand from near the waves. While it was tedious and tiring work, it felt very rewarding in the end, knowing I helped sea turtles and the local community.
Matt
MattGuatemala Turtle Conservation Project
This organization is very structured and welcome. We worked with children of elementary school. I fall in love with them from the first seen. They are very friendly, sweet, and smart. I was suprised by many of the kids of their talents. They are outgoing when we do outdoor activities. They are super sweet when they bring drawings and handcrafts.
Lily
LilyGuatemala Childcare Support Project
My experience in the Teaching Program was nothing short of amazing. Phomolo and the whole team were always very supportive and trusting. Teaching the kids was the best experience I had and my placement was incredible. I’m definitely coming back one day!
Armando
ArmandoGuatemala Teaching Project
The placement was with a hospitable Mayan family who made sure to make me feel welcome and to connect with me aside from the language barrier. I knew very little Spanish going into it, but gained a lot of conversational skills with the help of the family. Their home was very modest and showed how simple the means by which they live. However, the family was very generous with what they did have and made sure to take care of me.
Emma
EmmaGuatemala Cultural Immersion Project
The staff was friendly and very helpful with questions or concerns. Even though we began with a serious language barrier the staff never seemed frustrated or annoyed at all. They invited me to every social event that the work staff attended (even black tie events). As an untrained medical personnel, I felt that the work I was asked to do was fair and the staff made a conscious effort so that work was continuously interesting.
Joe
JoeGuatemala Healthcare Project
I sent my son who is 16 years old to Guatemala. He had a wonderful experience. He went with a friend, being that they were not yet 18 years old they were assigned a local chaperone who showed them around Antigua and made the day to day a ton of fun.
Bridget
BridgetGuatemala Eco Farming Project
Previous
Next

FAQ

Is Cultural Immersion in Guatemala the Right Project for Me?

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.

What’s Included in the Volunteer Fees

  • 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

What’s Not Included

  • Flights
  • Medical insurance
  • Daily transportation
  • Travel and tours
  • Transfer back to the airport
  • Personal spending money

Is there an Orientation?

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.

What About Transportation?

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.                   

What does a Typical Day Involve?

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
  • Up to 8 hours of volunteer work
  • Your own lunch at the accommodation or project site
  • Free time
  • Dinner at the accommodation

You should expect to work up to 8 hours per day, Monday to Friday. That said, the goal of this project is to participate in the everyday life of your host family and their community. This means that schedules can vary greatly. For instance, some days may
require 8 hours of work split between morning and afternoon while others require only 1-2 hours. 

What Happens on Weekends?

You should be prepared to entertain yourself in creative ways during your free time,  keeping in mind the lack of Wifi. Volunteers are also expected to take part in local festivities and community gatherings alongside their host family. If you want to enjoy weekend excursions such as volcano hikes, this can be arranged from Antigua. It is possible to take the bus back on the weekend. 

Are There Any Special Requirements?

Volunteers must:

  • 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

Country Information

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.

Climate

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.

What’s the Culture Like in Guatemala?

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.

About Involvement Volunteers International

30 Years Non Profit Experience

IVI is an Australian charity & non profit organisation founded in 1989 and is one of the pioneers of overseas volunteering successfully placing over 20,000 volunteers globally.

Affordable Volunteer Travel

We’re not motivated by shareholder profits.   Our fees are fully transparent to ensure maximum benefit where it is most needed. 

Safe & Responsible Projects

All projects include a dedicated 24/7 in-country management team, operational & risk assessment & overseas support contact.   All projects are personally inspected to ensure very high quality. 

Work Experience & University Credits

We place thousands of Uni students and can assist you with course credits and in-field experience points.   Many of our project coordinators are qualified practitioners in their respective fields allowing unique in-field supervision and Uni accreditation options 

See More

How Can I Raise Funds for my Trip?

Check out this amazing blog with step by step info on how to raise funds for your overseas volunteer experience to help maximize your impact abroad. Guide to Fundraising

Weekends & Extra Tours

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.
Tikal Ruins
Tikal RuinsGuatemala
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.
Lake Atitlan
Lake AtitlanGuatemala
Head to these incredibly blue pools of water, all surrounded by Guatemalan jungle. You can go swimming in the pools too!
Semuc Champey Pools
Semuc Champey PoolsGuatemala
Pacaya, Santiaguito and Fuego are active volcanoes which visitors can climb up. If you love hiking, then make sure to try one of these treks for spectacular views.
Active Volcanoes
Active VolcanoesGuatemala
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.
Indian Nose Hike
Indian Nose HikeGuatemala
Previous
Next

LATEST InstaGRAM PICS

Ready to Volunteer in Guatemala?

APPLY NOW

Ready to volunteer abroad? Complete your application online in 5 min 


NEED MORE INFO?

Not sure which program is right for you? Contact us for more info


SCHEDULE A CALL

Let’s talk about it! Schedule a preferred time and date to chat via phone or video