Global Prep — 2019
Application deadline: December 5, 2018
Join in a two-week volunteer adventure in Guatemala to effect lasting environmental change. You and your group of like-minded teens will help educate and empower children in Antigua to make educated decisions about sustainability. Through creating fun and active lessons for students of all ages and social backgrounds, you'll build leadership skills and get to see the immediate impact of your efforts. In addition to volunteering, you’ll have the chance to improve your Spanish language skills and explore some of Guatemala's most beautiful attractions. This experience is so much more than your typical tourist trip—it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join other passionate students in making a difference in the world.
Your journey will begin in Miami, when you’ll meet your Group Leader and the other members of your Global Prep team. You’ll fly together to Guatemala City, where you’ll be welcomed at the airport by AFS Staff or Volunteers. Then you’ll head to your community in nearby Antigua to relax and settle in. After spending some time taking in the lush landscape and ornate colonial architecture, you’ll begin your project with an introductory meeting on environmental sustainability. Then you and your group will take a crash course on the basics of Spanish so that you’re prepared to engage fully in Guatemalan culture (no prior language experience needed!).
After you and your group have gained a solid understanding of the importance of environmental conservation, you can put your knowledge to work in schools. Your team will be creating activities and lessons to find creative ways to engage and empower students to make educated environmental choices. Working with children of all ages (preschool through high school) and social backgrounds, you’ll have the chance to build relationships as you learn about students’ culture and experiences. Through creating your own active, engaging lessons, you’ll also gain essential leadership skills to take with you well beyond your two-week adventure. By the time you’re ready to leave, you’ll be able to look back with pride on all you’ve accomplished, and maybe walk away with a few ideas for continuing your sustainability efforts at home!
During your two weeks in Guatemala, you’ll spend most nights in a hostel in Antigua with your group. On the weekends, you’ll stay with a local host family, where you can experience a fresh perspective on Guatemalan culture and see how the country’s rich past influences contemporary life. As you get to know your host community, you may have the chance to taste delicious homemade dishes like pepian (a thick meat and vegetable stew) or tamales with potatoes and meat. This is also a great chance to try out some of the Spanish phrases you’ve been learning!
In between your volunteer project and Spanish lessons, you’ll have the chance to learn traditional dancing and cooking as well as explore Guatemala’s indigenous culture. In your free time, you’ll tour the city of Antigua and taste some delicious local food. You and your team will also travel to the Pre-Colombian site of Iximché, which was the first capital of Guatemala. It’s still used today for ceremonies by local indigenous people, so you may be able to observe a ritual as you learn about modern Mayan culture. Then you’ll visit the nearby lake Atitlán, where you’ll have the chance to relax and take in the beautiful scenery, including three shimmering volcanoes in the distance. You and your friends will spend the night in Panajachel, a lakeside community with stunning views, known for its laid-back culture and artisan goods. Finally, you’ll head to the city of Chichicastenango to wander around the local market and stock up on unique souvenirs.
This program is inspired by Grand Prize Winner Erin S.’s submission to the 2016-2017 Project: Change contest. To learn more about Erin’s volunteer project idea and the inspiration for this program, check out her video submission below!
The AFS Project: Change contest invites students in grades 8-12 to submit their ideas for a volunteer project that addresses a major global issue facing our world today. The Grand Prize winner has the chance to put their vision into action on a customized program abroad.
"Life-changing" is hard to describe, yet it’s nearly always the first thing that AFSers say when asked about their experience abroad.
"Transformed" is another one. When you return home, if you’re like most AFSers, you’ll bring with you a sense of accomplishment unlike any other. You’ll have gained maturity and independence, discovered new passions, and feel like you can do anything you set your mind to. That transformation isn’t visible only to you, though - others see it as well. AFSers gain critical skills for college and careers, ranging from language fluency to intercultural competence and critical reasoning. "Life-changing" means it’s only the beginning.
Please Note: Travel date ranges are meant to help with general scheduling and are subject to change; please don’t book any travel based on these dates until you’ve received confirmation from AFS. All programs, prices, and travel dates are subject to change without notice.