My name is Kat and I had been planning a trip around Latin America. I originally was only researching Spanish lessons to help me with my trip but then came across this project and saw they offered opportunities to learn Spanish and volunteer as a teacher in Guatemala. After a lot of research and conversations with the team, I decided this looked like a great experience.
I was placed with the charity which focuses on education for disadvantaged families in rural communities, and my time there was short and packed. I was helping their co-ordinator, Carlos, develop after-school activities, which included two sports days. The charity has a lot of space and a little basketball/football pitch which made it easy to set this up. I was also able to use my financial background to set up a math’s homework-workshop which encouraged critical thinking skills through educational games and activities. There were around 20 children between the ages of 5 and 14 and it was an amazing experience working with such an energetic, enthusiastic and positive group of kids.
Another main activity was to help raise funds. A local bar (Shamrock) had given us their space to organise a music event and all entrance fees would go to the charity. I helped organise the bands for the night and all the logistics. The night was a success and it was great to see local Guatemalan bands.
As my intentions were originally to travel I am so glad I came to Guatemala. If it weren’t for this project I wouldn’t even think of visiting this beautiful country. It is so diverse from Mayan temples to beautiful lakes and volcanoes. It is also a lot cheaper than other countries I was researching to visit in Latin America.
My Spanish classes definitely helped as very few people spoke English in the organisation. However, this was good because it immersed me more in the culture. Two weeks was a little short to volunteer and because of that my responsibilities were relatively limited. However, what I did notice was that the members of the charity took the time to listen to my suggestions. It is a great charity, doing amazing work and I will definitely be keeping in touch with the people there.