Guatemala: Children of the Maya™
See the world of the Maya through the eyes of a future generation.
- Volunteer at a Maya school
- Journey across sacred Lake Atitlan
- Attend a ceremony with a Maya shaman
- Explore ancient archaeological ruins
- Shop at the largest indigenous craft market in the hemisphere
Observing the traditions of an ancient culture, while navigating an increasingly globalized world is the exciting challenge of this, and future generations. Experience and interact with the art, artifacts, landscape, and inspiring young minds of Guatemala in this immersive program.
Based in Quetzaltenango (or “Xela” – shay-lah – as it’s referred to by locals), four hours from the capital city, students will get to know the Xelaju people in this historically-treasured town of great scenic beauty.
You will spend the week volunteering at a local school refurbishing and building classrooms and working with the Maya children. The school is unique in that it is run by Maya teachers and actively promotes indigenous language and culture. In addition to building classrooms, you can share your talents doing arts and crafts, playing sports and games, and teaching basic conversational English.
- Check out a video of student volunteers helping kids.
- Read GLA Alum Scott Elias’s blog about volunteering at the Escuela Rural Pueblo Viejo.
Rural Guatemala is the perfect place to learn first-hand about Maya culture. We will meet a traditional shaman who will teach us about Maya cosmology, and also learn about medicinal plants used by the Quiche people of the region. You’ll dive into Guatemala’s rich culture by learning how to make colorful indigenous textiles, play the marimba (the national instrument of Guatemala) and even soak up art by indigenous painters. You will meet with grassroots leaders to learn about the challenges the Maya community faces to preserve their heritage in the face of globalization.
- Read about GLA Alum Adam Woodnutt’s experience with Maya culture.
- Check out our video of a Traditional Maya Wedding Ceremony.
Xela is located near many important cultural treasures such as the famous Maya ruins at Takalik Abaj. We’ll participate in a traditional ceremony with a Maya shaman. We will visit Antigua, a charming colonial town with gorgeous architecture and cobblestone streets, Lake Atitlan, which rests at the foot of three massive conical volcanoes, and Chichicastenango with the largest Maya craft market in the world.
- Read Hannah & Peyton’s blog about their adventures in Guatemala!
The GLA Home Base is a lodge on the outskirts of Xela surrounded by beautiful mountains and fields offering a peaceful escape for students. Students live in gender-segregated rooms with two to three bunk beds, depending on the size of the rooms. Bathrooms are shared and showers have both hot and cold water. The Home Base is modest, yet comfortable for students. Student will not have internet access at the home base, but will be able to use an internet cafe once a week.