We are excited to get your placement under way where you will:
Just choose a project and apply:
The Christmas and New Year project is specifically designed for volunteers who would like to travel to Guatemala during the Christmas break and would like to be part of a very special holiday both for volunteers and the communities of Antigua. This weeklong tour will offer a range of activities and while the project starting on December 23 will offer activities at a childcare centre, a home for the elderly and the animal project, the second tour will have opportunities to work at a childcare centre, a home for the elderly, on a volunteer construction site and even on a coffee farm. If you would like to participate in both, please just apply for one week and then let us know that you would like to attend the tour for both weeks.
At the childcare and orphanage placements volunteers assist the children with basic hygiene education, homework, organising games and activities, organising workshops and provide the children with love and attention. There are many different childcare placements available in Guatemala, including day care centres, school and orphanages, and many of the children suffer from poor domestic lifestyles and substance abuse in their families.
At teaching English placements volunteers will be assisting teachers in educating local students in English. Volunteers will assist with workshops, organising educational games and activities and tutoring. Volunteers may also participate in fundraising and the collection of educational materials, and will be placed in either poor public schools, community centres or libraries.
At construction projects volunteers assist with the construction and/or renovation of schools and orphanages and the surrounding grounds. Volunteers will typically be involved with laying bricks, carpentry, painting, laying tiles, landscaping and gardening. The building projects are to help the community improve their schools and orphanages. Be prepared to be patient and flexible, and to get your hands and clothes very dirty.
Volunteers work at either one of the rural clinics surrounding La Antigua, or in clinics for mentally and physically disabled children. There are roles for licensed professionals, medical students and pre-med students, however volunteers require at least intermediate Spanish as the staff they will work with have limited English. Volunteers should be aware that the range of activities available to them will depend on their experience as well. Notarized documentation of your medical school, nursing school, or other medical credentials will be required.
In the Coffee cooperative program, volunteers will assist with the sustainable production of coffee in a coffee-farming community, in the Guatemalan highlands. Volunteers may be involved with coffee-picking in the fields, roasting the beans and packaging the final product, alongside wider agricultural activities, such as helping in the nursery. As well as various agricultural activities, volunteers will also be involved in marketing of the coffee product to the wider market and with support of the community by helping in reforestation and possible construction projects.
Volunteers will work in the nursing homes and senior centres in and around La Antigua, with the aim of creating a compassionate and friendly atmosphere for the vulnerable elderly population. Volunteers will provide one-on-one attention, basic healthcare, assist with meal and medicine distribution and organising recreational activities. Volunteers are encouraged to bring their own ideas to this placement as well.
In the Lake Clean Up and Conservation program, volunteers will assist to preserve the lake's natural resources by raising awareness and educating the population on the proper use of the lake and its basin. The three main areas that volunteers will be involved in are environmental education, natural resources management and environmental cleanup.
Volunteers assist in the protection of domestic animals such as cats and dogs who do not enjoy the family status as their counterparts in the West. These animals are often neglected and abandoned, and volunteers will provide medical treatment, recreational activity and human contact for the animals. In addition, volunteers may have the opportunity to participate in educational programs for local schools, spay neuter programs, rabies vaccinations, and the construction of dog runs and fencing.
Guatemala is one of the most bio-diverse and historically significant countries in Central America, and the country's abundance of biologically unique ecosystems makes the entire region a biodiverse hotspot. Guatemala is bordered by Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras, and has coastlines along the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Guatemala has a predominantly mountainous landscape, with narrow coastal plains and limestone plateaus.
Guatemala’s economy is heavily dependent on agriculture, which accounts for nearly 15% of the GDP and half the work force. Key exports include coffee, sugar and bananas. Foreign Direct Investment is slowly trickling into the country since the signing of the 2006 Central American Free Trade Agreement; however this has been hampered by a combination of climate, poor infrastructure and a lack of skilled workforce.
Hampered by economic financial crisis in 1998 and the collapse of coffee prices, the economy has improved gradually and Guatemala enjoys a stable macroeconomic management, which has helped to mitigate the impact of the latest recession. The current government is continuing the policy of encouraging FDI and expanding the export and tourism industry. Despite this, Guatemala remains one of the poorer nations in Central America.
Volunteers provide assistance to disadvantaged socio-economic groups within Guatemalan communities, focusing primarily on childcare, animals, health and education.
As a volunteer in Guatemala you can provide love, affection, education and support to children in need. You will help to improve education in schools ensuring children learn and flourish. As a volunteer you can practice and teach preventative healthcare, and hygiene. Depending on your interests you can also contribute to building projects in impoverished communities, or in an animal rights project. You will also provide education, inter-cultural exchange and understanding in Guatemalan communities.
Visitors to Guatemala will be delighted by the cultural sights and natural treasures accesible to them.
Volunteers are based in La Antigua an extremely popular destination for both tourists and Guatemalans alike, famous for the preservation of its colonial architecture and a UNESCO world heritage site.
While you're in Guatemala visit a remote Mayan village in the mountains, or tour Mayan ruins dotted around the country. Spend a little time relaxing in a hammock on one of the Pacific coast black sand beaches.
If shopping is your thing, you can't go past the Chichicastenango market where vendors come from around the country to sell their hand-made products.
For your first week you will take Spanish lessons provided by our partner. These are taught by professional teachers, either certified in teaching Spanish as a foreign language or with their Masters in Education, and you will have two hours of lessons per day, usually in the mornings, so that you spend the afternoons at your volunteer placement. Volunteers will also be provided with a Native Spanish Program book.
For the remainder of your stay you will take part in our partner's Tandem Exchange Program. This program pairs volunteers learning Spanish with a Guatemalan student who is learning English at their headquarters in La Antigua. This way you practise Spanish with your partner for one hour a day, as well as provide invaluable practice for the Guatemalan student learning English. It's also a great way to get to know local students in La Antigua. If you wish to extend your formal Spanish lessons beyond your first week, this can be arranged for an extra fee.
Global Volunteer Network has established a partnership with the Spanish school Instituto Exclusivo, which offers GVN volunteers a 5% discount off their online Spanish lessons. This is not like other courses which give you pages of web material or recordings of various phrases to repeat. You will speak to, and see your instructor as he/she is giving you a private lesson, tailored to your level of Spanish. Learn spanish before you go
If your application is successful you will accepted and we will then get to work organizing your placement. You don't have to pay us anything at this stage. (We are the only volunteer organization which begins preparation for your placement before any funds are paid). It is an honor for us to do this as you have chosen GVN and the communities we serve for your volunteer work and after you have chosen to "Join Us" we will send further detail on your placement with information on how to prepare for your trip abroad, including:
*Placements longer than 8 weeks are available, please contact us or apply online for details.
*Based on an 8 week placement
Flights, insurance, visas, vaccinations, project transportation, departure from the program.
We recommend you allow a weekly budget of US $25 for your other expenses such as bottled water, personal items, beverages, transportation, and entertainment.
Apply now for the Guatemala Program:
Start Date: Every Monday of each month. Volunteers should arrive in La Antigua on the Sunday before this in order to attend the orientation session on Monday.
Length: From 1 week – 24 weeks
Please note: During the Christmas season some of the projects are limited. The Lake Conservation Project will be closed from December 21 2012 - January 2 2013. The Coffee project cannot accept new volunteers on December 24 2012, but can accommodate on-going volunteers who have started their placement before this date.
Hours: volunteers will be helping for 3-4 hours at their projects each day (Monday- Friday)
We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions which we receive at the GVN inbox. This is a great place to start if you have questions about Global Volunteer Network and our placement process. This information should answer the majority of questions you may have.
Childcare - including orphanage, school and day-care centres
Teaching - including public schools, community centres and public libraries
Construction - renovating in schools in and around La Antigua
Healthcare - medical support in rural clinics or clinics for mentally and physically disabled children, as well as working with the elderly
Animal Care & Animal Rights - working with neglected and abandoned animals in La Antigua
The schedule for each project will vary, but most volunteers will work for 4 hours either in the morning or in the afternoon. Those working in the orphanages may find their busiest period is early in the morning, whereas those working in the clinics may be busiest in the afternoon for example.
The climate of Guatemala is broadly divided into 3 sections, reflecting the changes in altitude across the country.
Tropical coastal zone – includes the coastal areas and lowlands up to 1,000m altitude. The climate here is hot and humid throughout the year, with temperatures ranging from 20˚C (68˚F) to 37˚C (99˚F).
Temperate zone – Guatemala cools slightly as you reach heights up to 2,000m, in the more moderate climatic zone. Here temperatures, whilst still warm, rarely rise above 30˚C (85˚F), and can cool rapidly at night. La Antigua is situated in this climatic zone, and where volunteers will be based, along with the capital, Guatemala City.
Mountainous zone – This includes the areas of Guatemala above 2,000m. Whilst temperatures are frequently in their 20˚Cs during the day, temperatures drop sharply at night, and can go below freezing.
The rainy season (winter) lasts between May and October, and it usually only rains for a few hours a day during the afternoon during the rainy season. Guatemala enjoys a couple of dry weeks during July, to break up the winter. The dry season (summer) runs through the rest of the year, although there are some rainy periods interspersed.
Guatemala is one of the most bio-diverse and historically significant countries in Central America, and the country’s abundance of biologically unique ecosystems makes the entire region a biodiversity hotspot. The Classic period of Meso-American civilization corresponds to the height of Guatemala's Maya Civilization and is represented by countless sites throughout the country, and today "Guatemaltecos" are very proud of their indigenous cultures.
Guatemala has a predominantly mountainous landscape, with narrow coastal plains and limestone plateaus. There are several active volcanoes in the mountains, and Guatemala occasionally suffers from violent earthquakes. Whilst the Caribbean coast is particularly susceptible to hurricanes and tropical storms, Guatemala usually only suffers from increased rainfall rather than being directly hit by hurricanes.
All volunteers will receive two hours of group Spanish classes each day for the first week of their project. All the Spanish teachers are professional teachers - either certified in teaching Spanish as a foreign language or with a Masters in Education. Volunteers will also be provided with a course book. After their first week of classes, volunteers will switch to a Tandem Exchange Program, which involves being matched with a Peruvian who is studying English with our partner organisation. They will meet for one hour conservation practice each day. Volunteers may also opt to extend their Spanish classes for an extra charge.
Each GVN program has different criteria depending on our partner's requirements. Every application is reviewed to ensure that the minimum requirements (as set out on the program page) are met. Next we look to see what skills or experience you have that relate specifically to the program. We are also interested in any previous volunteer experience you may have (either local or international), travel experience, and your particular interest in the program.
After reviewing your application, should we require any further information from you, we will email you to request this.
As in many countries, foreigners are perceived as wealthy in Guatemala. Although the people are generally warm and friendly towards foreigners, as well as appreciative of the work done by them, not every individual is the same. We work extremely hard to ensure you are placed in safe environments while volunteering and security policies are in place to achieve this. However, as in any situation at home or abroad, there is no way to erase all potential threats.
In major cities across Guatemala it is important to be wary of pick pocketing, especially in crowded areas. You should also avoid extremely remote areas where you will be alone. Furthermore, you should be aware that there are active volcanoes in Guatemala and Guatemala occasionally suffers from violent earthquakes. Volunteers will be given further safety advice, including for the case of natural disasters, in their orientation session.
Please indicate any dietary restrictions on your application form. Vegetarians can be catered for but you need to let us know beforehand.
You must be 18 years or older to volunteer. There is no upper limit for volunteers; we only require that volunteers are in good health. Under 18's wishing to volunteer with an adult will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Yes. Volunteers have their weekends free for travelling and we do recommend that you take advantage of being in Guatemala to see some other places of interest, which include the Mayan ruins of Tikal and Peten and Lake Atitlan. Our partners in Guatemala can help you book some of these trips.
The major holidays to be aware of in Guatemala and La Antigua are:
• 1st January (New Year’s Day)
• 22-25 April (Easter)
• 1st May (Labour Day)
• 30th June (Army Day)
• 25th July (Día de Santiago Apostol (Antigua’s patron saint))
• 15th September (Independence Day)
• 20th October (Revolution Day)
• 1st November (All Saints’ Day)
• 24th, 25th December (Christmas)
• 25th December (Christmas Day)
• 31st December (New Year’s Eve)
Holidays in La Antigua are perfect dates to go on trips and combine volunteer programs with travel and other activities. There are some projects that are always open, so if volunteers want to work these days it is still possible.
Each project will provide you with the resources you need. However, for the teaching and childcare programs you may like to bring teaching resources, toys or games to help you. Our partner organisation also has a selection of resources including games, books, pens and paper etc.
Your program fee is payable to Global Volunteer Network 10 weeks prior to the 1st of the month you wish to volunteer. Please note, your placement is not confirmed (ie secured) until your program fee has been received. Please note that all charges incurred by the payment of the program fee are at the volunteer’s expense, e.g. if a bank transfer incurs a bank fee at the point of origin, that is at the expense of the volunteer. Seventy percent (70%) of the program fee is refundable until two calendar months before the 1st of the month you are due to begin your program. For example a volunteer with 15 July 2012 as their start date would need to submit their refund request form by the last day of April 2012 to be eligible for a refund. Refer to GVN's legal terms of service for full details.
After you have joined the program, you will be sent the program guide with more details about the program and your Volunteer Coordinator will begin making arrangements for your placement. Once you’ve confirmed your placement, you’ll be put in touch with our partner organization.
The projects are all based in and around La Antigua.
For the Healthcare Programs volunteers must have at least an intermediate level of Spanish (i.e. be able to hold a relevant conversation, understand and follow instructions, and so on). For the other programs there is no language requirement, but we do recommend that you learn some basic Spanish before you start volunteering. The staff at our partner organisation speak English, but the locals at your specific project may have very limited English. All volunteers will participate in one week of Spanish lessons and then for the duration of their stay you will practise with a Spanish speaker wanting to learn English, as part of a language exchange program.
All GVN Volunteers must have insurance. You are free to take out insurance cover through any provider of your choice. However, as some policies do not cover volunteering, we recommend you check you are covered during your volunteer placement.
For your convenience we have arranged a comprehensive package specially designed for volunteering. It includes excellent medical and accident coverage as well as “loss of deposits” cover which covers fees paid to GVN, airlines etc. If you would like to learn more just follow this link: http://www.globalvolunteernetwork.org/insurance/
Our partner organisation was founded in Cusco, Peru in 2003, with their Guatemala office opening in 2009. In addition to international volunteer programs they also have TEFL/TESOL Certification programs in Guatemala and Costa Rica, and offer English and Spanish courses. Their aim is for volunteers to experience Guatemala's rich cultural diversity and build their proficiency in Spanish while at the same time helping an impoverished region of the country.
If you need one, you will need to organise your Visa through your travel agent before you leave for Guatemala. The information pack includes links to Guatemalan Embassies through out the world. Volunteers from the majority of countries are automatically given a 90-day tourist visa on entry into Guatemala.
If volunteers wish to stay longer than 90 days, they have the option of applying for an extension in Guatemala City (which usually takes 1 working day), or visit a nearby country such as Belize or Mexico, and then re-enter Guatemala, where they will be given another 90-day visa.
Volunteer orientation takes place on the first Monday following arrival on Sunday. This meeting includes a power-point presentation about the program, the partner organisation, and living in Guatemala. Volunteers are also given an info sheet relating to the meeting, which includes information on their volunteer project (schedule, contact person, location, how to get there etc.) and their Spanish class schedule. All volunteers are provided with a pocket-sized card with our partner's emergency telephone numbers, and any questions they may have will be answered. Volunteers first visit their project with staff members, are taught how to use public transportation, introduced to the staff at the project (who will have the volunteer's details), and discuss their project in more detail with the staff.
The vast majority of volunteers will fly into La Aurora International airport, in Guatemala City. Here you will be collected by staff and taken on the 45 minute journey to La Antigua.
The program begins on any Monday of each month, and volunteers need to arrive into La Antigua the Sunday before.
We recommend that you spend your time on one project as our experience shows that between one volunteer project and Spanish lessons, volunteers are kept very busy. However if you do wish to volunteer in different projects, please ask your volunteer coordinator.
You will be shown during orientation the best way to get to your project. Volunteers will usually catch a short bus ride to their project or walk.
Hepatitis A & B
Diptheria, Tetanus & Polio
Measles / MMR
Malaria - recommended only for those visiting rural areas below 1,500 m (4,921 ft).
Yellow Fever - recommended only for those who come from an infected area.
The program costs cover accommodation, airport pick-up and all meals. If you plan on arriving early or staying on, then you will need to have spare money for this time. Also some money may be required for your days off depending on what you intend on doing. Other costs include buying bottled water, visa (only required in staying longer than 90 days), departure tax, and any shopping you will do personally. Volunteers also need to pay for the bus to their project each day.
You should contact our partner organisation who will take you to a clinic with an English speaking doctor. They will also give you an emergency number during your orientation session. If you are unable to contact our partner organisation, you may call GVN using our 24/7 emergency hotline.
Monday, September 20th, 2010
Many of the children at our projects have been affected by poor living conditions, little or no education and alcohol / drug abuse. Volunteers provide loving care, support and companionship to children in need, organising games and activities, providing individual attention, educating children in hygiene and assisting with homework. Volunteers will work in street children [click here to read more]
Please visit journals.globalvolunteernetwork.org for more journals and feedback from past volunteers
As a volunteer in Guatemala you must:
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Please see some general feedback on the program organisation below:
"Excellent experience! I was very impressed with the support and service ..."
"[The] staff provided great support and were all very happy to help. Thank you!!"
"Loved everything about my stay here in Antigua. Keep up the great work! See you soon!"
"The facilities were very neat and my apartment was conveniently close by. Anything I asked for was provided, so I appreciate it. Thanks!"
Feedback from one of the medical program volunteers:
"I really enjoyed the program. At first I was not used to it [the environment]. However, after a few days things were getting better. And it was since then that I started to enjoy the atmosphere in the clinic. It just takes time,and once we are used to the atmosphere we will have fun."
At GVN we align with the idea of 'local solutions to local problems', so we work with local community organisations in each country. What this means for our volunteers is that they receive a unique and genuine cultural experience whilst being immersed in a local community.
Volunteering abroad could be the very thing for YOU!
If you're looking for something worthwhile to do volunteering will give you the opportunity to travel whilst making a difference in the community you are based in.
Did you know taking a Gap Year can improve your college admission chances and success rate during your studies?
"Harvard College encourages admitted students to defer enrolment for one year to travel, pursue a special project or activity, work, or spend time in another meaningful way" – Harvard College Office of Admissions, 2010.
International volunteering is a great way to gain experience living in a developing country, learning about another culture and experiencing a different way of life. It is a fantastic way to grow as a person, to develop life skills, self-confidence and self-esteem, and is a tool for self discovery and identity formation.
Other personal benefits include, developing international friendships and networks, social awareness, and building independence.
Volunteering can increase your employability, help you to gain valuable work experience and enhance your CV/resume.
"Going to a foreign country for a volunteer experience is a huge boost on a resume. Employers love to see a person that can think outside the box and work past their comfort zone. The added benefits of teamwork, foreign language knowledge, and plain old hard work also add polish to the volunteer candidate. Since business now happens on a global scale, the volunteer is armed with useful, and potentially actionable, information." – USA Today, 2010.
The Global Volunteer Network (GVN) is a New Zealand Charitable Trust (non-profit NGO) based in Wellington, New Zealand. Our Charitable incorporation number is: CC46460. GVN has been verified and approved by Idealist (the largest volunteer portal on the internet. GVN is also a member of the World Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (WANGO), and our ‘sister’ organization the GVN Foundation has been granted special consultative status on the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Prestigious web sites such as Lonely Planet and Goabroad.com have placed web links to us. Additionally, when you apply, we can provide you with contact information for previous volunteers if you wish. GVN is also an approved member of the Site Trust Network and you can view our verification page.
Bill Gates personally recommended GVN by stating "I'd love to see more young people taking action to help the poor and disadvantaged. Two places to get started are Network for Good and Global Volunteer Network." Newsweek Web
To give you peace of mind, GVN has over eight years experience and has placed 13,500+ volunteers since 2002. Read volunteer's journals and testimonials or speak to a returned volunteer directly about their experience abroad through GVN.
GVN’s specialist staff provide personal support to volunteers, assisting not only with preparation for your placement, but whilst in-country, and follow-up on return home. GVN provides comprehensive Program Guides, project resources (eg teaching resources).
GVN aligns with the idea of 'local solutions to local problems', therefore we work with local community organisations in each country. We believe that local communities are in the best position to determine their needs, and we provide volunteers to help them achieve their goals.
CNN listed the Global Volunteer Network as one of 10 organizations that can help you to make a positive impact on the world around you. CNN encourages you to visit our website to get more details on how you too can Be The Change.
GVN offer an insurance package tailored specifically for volunteers. Partner's staff are always available (24hr/7days), along with this GVN also has a 24hr/7day emergency hotline.
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If you decide not to use GVN then just let us know and we will cancel your application.
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