VOLUNTEER TEACHING & EDUCATION PROJECT IN GUATEMALA
INTRODUCTION GUATEMALA TEACHING AND EDUCATION
When you work with The KIVOLEX Education & Literacy Project in Guatemala, you’ll teach children and support educators in an underfunded primary school. The average number of years spent in school among all Guatemalan children is 10; boys typically drop out between grades 4 – 6, when they then go on to work. Your support, attention, love, and eagerness for meaningful connection will help motivate children to continue with their education.
Rural Guatemalan schools in Tecpán face significant challenges providing students with a quality education to help break the cycles of poverty. Our partner schools lack critical resources, even textbooks, while struggling to keep students attending past the sixth grade. With poverty rates at nearly 60%, students are being pulled from schools to support family farming or to work for wealthier families in cities as housekeepers. With your involvement, we can provide engaging lessons and activities to young children in primary schools, giving them the individual attention and resources to be successful. Your work reflects the importance of education for all children in the community, which encourages increased attendance and improves the chances of students continuing to secondary school.
TEACHING AND EDUCATION VOLUNTEERING IN GUATEMALA
Standardized tests applied in developing countries show that many students fail to reach even minimum pro-ﬁciency levels in reading, writing and mathematics. The size of this basic skills gap is disturbing, and has potentially serious implications for equity and overall development. And while there is gen-eral agreement that many schools are failing to provide an adequate learning environment, articulating an effective policy response to this problem remains a challenge. On the one hand, on-going efforts to expand access into secondary education in developing countries deﬂect some attention away from school quality issues. But even when policy-makers are focused on improving skills in basic education the empirical evidence they have available to guide their actions is restricted. This unfortunate reality, despite more than 30 years of production function analyses of student achievement from all over the developing world, is in part attributable to the limited utility of many of the inde-pendent variables used in these studies Concerns about production function work go beyond data limitations, as best demonstrated by the increasing use of randomized trials. Nevertheless, the framework remains a popular one for testing ideas in education, and a group of “exceptional” studies combining original data and methods provides a useful precedent to build on this paper continues in this vein using unusually detailed, longitudinal data on student achievement from rural Guatemala. In the ﬁrst part I estimate models of student achievement using variables that are rarely available to researchers. These results are then contextualized through two sets of achievement decompositions. The ﬁrst extends previous studies in Guatemala and beyond by testing for speciﬁc mechanisms that explain a persistent indigenous student test score gap. The second analyzes different production dynamics between traditional public schools and their community school (PRONADE) counter-parts.
VOICE FROM GUATEMALA COMMUNITY
“By teaching English to our children, volunteers have helped us reach our educational goals for our students. They always have fun new ideas to share.”
“Since the volunteers have become the center of attention in the local community, they also draw positive attention to our center and have helped our community to become more aware of the work that we do with local children.”
“Being taught by English speaking volunteers has helped our students easily absorb proper pronunciation. This increases their chances of moving on to a good primary school to continue their education.”
CULTURAL ACTIVITIES IN GUATEMALA
SAY “I DO” TO MAYA TRADITIONS
Maya weddings are full of tradition and superstition, from the gifts of wooden hair barrettes and a sleeveless dress to an elaborate choreography of steps to seal the bonds of marriage. Try your hand in traditional Maya clothing. You just might fall in love with the Maya people!
CREATE POTTERY IN SANTA APOLONIA
Maya pottery tells the story of a civilization, marking important events, telling the history of cooking traditions, and sharing stories of cultural exchange. In the town of Santa Apolonia, the traditions of creating pottery continues. Join a woman in her home to learn about her craft as you create your own Maya artifact.
GO STRAWBERRY FARMING
An important crop in the Tecpan area, strawberry farming sustains many families in the area. With a local farmer, learn how to plant strawberries about the lifestyle of farming families in rural Guatemala.
VISIT A LOCAL DAIRY FARM
If you’re an animal lover, here’s your chance to visit the dairy cows who are a key in the whole economy of Tecpan! Visit the baby calves, the maternity ward, learn how milking is really done, as you also visit the factories of production. Make new animal friends along the way.
PRACTICE YOUR SPANISH
In Guatemala, KIVOLEX Spanish lessons are divided into levels based on your ability, and tailored to your needs. The first lesson is held in a typical classroom style, but then you’ll have a chance to put your knowledge to the test. Your teacher will take you out into the community and challenge you to bargain for fruits, vegetables, and clothing in Spanish at a nearby market. Just another awesome adventure to add to your list!
DISCOVER YOUR INNER ARCHAEOLOGIST
Fleeing problems with a neighboring tribe, the Maya Kaqchikels created Iximche as a safe haven and as a new city for daily life, including Maya ceremonies, rituals, and activities. As you explore these little-known ruins, where excavations continue to this day, you can feel the power of the Maya rituals that took place here in the late 1400s. Learn about the history of the Maya people, and the significance of the world-known Maya calendar, and engage in a traditional Maya fire ceremony.
SIP HOT COCOA
Connect with a local family over cups of steaming, frothy hot chocolate and learn their millennia-old family recipe for the traditional Mayan drink. You’ll even have the opportunity to help them roast the cacao beans, peel and clean the seeds, cook the chocolate, and then — and here’s the best part — enjoy the fruits of your labors over conversation with the family.
COOK GUATEMALAN CUISINE
Spend some time with Esperanza in the kitchen learning to make one of our Guatemalan favorites – anything from pounding your own tortillas to making your own Pepian (the national dish of Guatemala) or wrapping the Saturday tamales in banana leaves – you never know what delicious item is on the menu!
FREE TIME IN GUATEMALA
VISIT A VOLCANO
Journey just outside of Guatemala City to experience some of the most impressive of Guatemala’s 37 volcanoes, including Pacaya and Volcán de Fuego. These are also two of Central America’s most active volcanoes, so trade in your flip flops for a pair of sturdy shoes and climb each volcano to snap some photos in front of the slow-flowing lava. You’ll want to remember to pack a stick or two, because where’s the fun in an active volcano if you haven’t got marshmallows to roast?!
DISCOVER ANCIENT TEMPLES IN THE RAINFOREST
Deep in the rainforests of Guatemala, discover the ancient Maya civilization of Tikal. As you climb up ancient temples, you’ll be in awe of the hieroglyphs and structures that have stood since the 4th century BC. Wake up early to watch the sun rise over the temples, or head out to the forest to greet the spider and howler monkeys hanging in the treetops.
RELAX AT LAKE ATITLAN
Formed nearly 2 million years ago, Lake Atitlan has been referred to as one of the world’s most beautiful lakes — and not just by the folks here at KIVOLEX! Once you’ve shopped your little heart out in one of the region’s many markets, check out all of the outdoor options. Get your adrenaline pumping on a zipline adventure, trek the forests, or climb some waterfalls. And, spend time with unique Maya communities living throughout the islands and on the shores of this picturesque lake.
WALK THE COBBLESTONE STREETS OF ANTIGUA
In the colonial town of Antigua, discover authentic Guatemalan restaurants, stunning cathedrals, and plenty of unique shops. Head to the outskirts of the city to check out avocado and macadamia farms, or visit a coffee plantation. Whether a day trip of an afternoon, Antigua provides a unique and alternative perspective to Guatemalan culture.
ENJOY THE CARIBBEAN
Perched at the very edge of Guatemala’s northeastern coast along the Amatique Bay and surrounded by jungle to the south and west, Livingston is unlike any other place in Guatemala. Sail down the city’s namesake river to a 19th century settlement for emancipated West Indian slaves and take in the rich Caribbean influenced culture of the Garifuna. Nibble fresh shrimp along the waterfront and let the sounds of local musicians’ bongos and turtle shell drums ease you into a Caribbean state of mind.
CANDLELIT CAVES IN SEMUC CHAMPEY
Hidden in the beautiful jungle of the Alta Verapaz department, Semuc Champey is the perfect mix of beauty and adventure! After taking a bumpy ride in the back of a pickup, followed by a hike through the forest, you’ll have a breath-taking view of this natural, limestone bridge forming crystal clear, turquoise pools, and then hike back down to relax in the cool water. You’ll also have the opportunity to tour Las Grutas de Lanquin, caves lit only by candles or headlamps. Semuc is definitely a wonder worth seeing as it showcases all of Guatemala’s natural beauty.
HOME BASE ACCOMMODATIONIN GUATEMALA
Within the beautiful tree-lined landscape of the Maya Highlands, our Guatemala Home-Base is a retreat tucked away in the bustling colonial mountain town of Tecpan. Rest and relax in comfortable rooms, each with a private bathroom, while soaking in the colorful fabrics and unique cultural systems reflecting Maya culture. As you explore the orange and avocado trees on the property, admire the colorful hummingbirds that visit the property or take a stroll down country roads to visit nearby strawberry farms. If you want to get away to the bustling city center of Tecpan, it’s just a 10 minute walk down scenic rural roads, with access to cafes, shops, and restaurants.
Our team, includes community experts like Andrea who will help you practice your Kaqchikel, Don Pablo and Don Quique who are eager to practice Spanish with you, a driver, Walter, who is always ready to greet you with a smile, and Esperanza who volunteers love making home-made tortillas with.
WORDS FROM OUR REPRESENTATIVE IN GUATEMALA
Juan Carlos Buonafina is known for his kind personality and for his dedication to the people of his home country of Guatemala. Juan Carlos is an educator, an intercultural exchange professional, and an expert at guiding international volunteer experiences. After receiving his degree, Juan Carlos started his career with KIVOLEX, specifically leading the KIVOLEX teen program in the Maya Highlands of Tecpan. Join Juan Carlos on your Guatemala journey to gain a unique and unparalleled insight into life in the mountainside towns of Guatemala.