Dates: May 21-30, 2014 (students must arrive on campus on May 20th)
Cost: $1,800 – Plus cost of passport (if participant does not have one), immunizations, and spending money for travel/souvenirs.
Guatemala is a beautiful country with a rich culture and breathtaking scenery. The indigenous people of the country still practice ancient forms of fabric weaving and celebrate the continued existence of 21 different cultural groups each with its own Mayan language. But Guatemala also faces some very significant problems.
More than 75 percent of the national population lives below the poverty line, and the extent of poverty is even more severe among the rural and indigenous populations. In 1989, about 93 percent of the indigenous population in Guatemala were living in poverty.
Education is a privilege in Guatemala. With a 55 percent literacy rate, Guatemalans are the least educated society in Central America. Among children ages 7-14, four out of every 10 do not attend school. Of those who do attend, only 20 percent finish the sixth grade.
Our specific destination is a small town named San Juan La Laguna which sits on the shore of breathtaking Atitlan Lake. We will also have the opportunity to visit other cities on the way to and from San Juan, including Panajachel and the former capital of Guatemala, Antigua. It is possible that we may also have the opportunity to visit the ancient ruins of Iximiche or climb the Pacaya Volcano. Although Atitlan Lake is a popular tourist destination, San Juan has managed to hold on to its small town feel and community values. While in San Juan, we will partner with a Christian elementary school, Nuevo Amanecer, and the neighborhood church, San Juan Bautista.
We are traveling to Guatemala with the assistance of Covenant Merge Ministries. Merge Ministries has been in existence for over a decade and they have assisted thousands of people from the United States in their service travel to Latin America. They provide facilitators, translators, food preparation, tools, pre-trip planning and everything else we need for a good immersion experience.
During the week, we will provide service to the Nuevo Amancer School. In May, the students are still in school and we will have the opportunity to interact with them. We may be teaching in the classrooms or offering special activities for the students. We also hope to meet with teachers and the principal to learn about the educational system in Guatemala and their unique challenges. In the afternoons we will offer fun activities for neighborhood children in an effort to get to know people in the community and understand their lifestyle more clearly. We will also arrange visits with the youth group at San Juan Bautista, neighborhood agencies, government officials, weaver cooperatives, coffee producers, and others.
Students have the option of enrolling in a unique course about Latin America, focusing on Nicaragua and Guatemala (BU291, International Immersion - Latin America, 3 credits, Wednesdays 5-7 PM, Spring 2014). This course will count for the Arch 2 requirement. The course is relevant to students with an interest in social entrepreneurship, nonprofit management, and international business. Students who have studied the Spanish language, have been involved in campus ministry, or have an interest in Latin America will find the course very valuable. It is assumed that all students in the class will travel to either Nicaragua during Spring Break or to Guatemala in May of 2014.
We will be staying in three very modest and inexpensive hotels during our time in Guatemala. Often, these hotels have shared bathrooms and very basic rooms. An American style breakfast will be served in the morning; sandwiches, vegetables, and other items will be provided for lunch; and an authentic Guatemalan dinner will be cooked every evening by a local cook.