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Basico Students at Patalup Primary School
Children excited about learning primary colors
Courtyard of the Santo Tómas Hotel
Diningroom at the Cacinque Inn
Evening Lesson Planning Session
Hanging with the teens at Patalup Primary School
Thursday 24 March
- Depart San Diego International Airport at 12:53 A. M.
- Arrive La Aurora International Airport, Guatemala City 9:06 P. M.
- Arrive Nova Hostel, Guatemala City 10:45 P.M.
Friday 25 March
- Breakfast at Nova Hostel
- Cultural Excursion – Museo de los Niños
- Cultural Excursion – Mira Flores Museum
- Depart Guatemala City for Antigua in late A. M.
- Lunch at La Fonda or La Condessa
- Check-in at Aurora Hotel
- Afternoon tour of Antigua
- Evening debriefing at hotel
Saturday 26 March
- Breakfast at hotel restaurant
- A. M. tour of ancient ruins Antigua
- Depart for Chichicastenango
- Evening arrival at Santo Tomás Hotel
- Dinner at the Santo Tomás Hotel
- Evening debriefing at hotel
Sunday 27 March
- Breakfast at hotel restaurant
- Cultural Excursion – Market Day Chichicastenango
- Lunch in Chichicastenango
- Cultural Excursion – Market Day Chichicastenango
- Lesson Planning by the pool (4:00 P. M.)
- Dinner at Santo Tomás
- Evening debriefing at the Santo Tomás Hotel
Monday – Thursday 28 - 31 March
- AM departure for Patalup Primary School
- Co-teaching classroom instruction
- Afternoon co-teaching of Basico students
- Afternoon departure for Chichicastenango
- Cultural Excursion – Home visits with indigenous families (one day)
- Evening debriefing at the Santo Tomás Hotel
Friday 1 April
- Breakfast at the Santo Tomás Hotel
- Cultural Excursion – Market Day Chichicastenango
- Evening debriefing at the Santo Tomás Hotel
- Depart Santo Tomás Hotel
- Cultural Excursion – Hike to Widows Weaving Cooperative – Chontola
- Lunch at Chontola
- Depart for Lake Attitlan and Panajachel
- P. M. arrival and check-in at Cacinque Inn
- Afternoon exploration of Panajachel
- Dinner at the Cacique Inn
- Evening debriefing at Cacique Inn
Saturday 2 April
- Breakfast at Cacique Inn Hotel
- Cultural Excursion – Lake Atitlan communities by Zip line
- Cultural Excursion – Lunch at La Iguana Perdida on Lake Atitlan
- Afternoon departure for Antigua
- P. M. arrival and check-in at Aurora Hotel
- Dinner at the restaurant of your choice - Antigua
- Evening debriefing at hotel
Sunday 3 April
- Breakfast at hotel restaurant 9:00 A. M.
- Depart for Guatemala City International Airport 10 A. M.
- Lunch at the La Aurora International Airport
- Depart for United States 2:22 P. M.
- Arrive San Diego International Airport 10:27 P. M.
- Students must secure a passport and must present it to program director for inspection at least 45 days before departure.
- Students make or buy supplies for instructional assistance (pens, paper, poster board, markers, etc.).
- A day or two before departure all participants attend the “Packing Meeting” at which all of the school supplies are packed.
- Attendance is mandatory at the orientation meeting in order to participate in the Guatemala Study/Teach Abroad Program.(Date and Time TBD)
- Reservations will be made for all students at each of our hotels.
- In Chichicastenango, our accommodations will be at the Santo Tomás. We have the option here of having both breakfast and dinner in the elegant hotel dining room. Should you take this option, the price of the meals will be included in the price of your hotel room. The Santo Tomás will be our home for six nights of our study tour.
- At Panajachel, we will be staying at the Cacinque hotel. We will lodge at the Cacinque hotel for the ninth night of our study tour.
- In Guatemala City, we will lodge at the Via Toscana Hostel. We will be at this hostel the first night of our stay in Guatemala. At this hostel, the rooms have two beds to a room.
- While in Antigua, we will be staying at the Aurora Inn. We will stay at the Aurora Inn the second and tenth nights of our study tour. The price of lodging at the Aurora Inn includes breakfasts
- We will eat all breakfasts, lunches, and dinners as a group at our hotels or at restaurants that we choose.
- The costs of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners are included in the price of the trip. Alcoholic beverages and in-between meal snacks are not included in the price of the trip.
- Lunch will be prepared and served Monday – Thursday on the School site. On other days, participants will be free to patronize restaurants in the cities we visit for lunch. The cost of these meals is included in the cost of the trip.
- Dinner meals will be available for purchase at the hotels in which we stay or at restaurants in the respective cities. Ask the program director for recommendations for lunch or dinner places.
Get information about available scholarships:
- Scholarship Applications San Diego campus.
- The deadline for this scholarship is October, 9 2015! Apply now!
- Scholarship Applications IVC campus
- SDSU Scholarship Search
Learn more about the Guatemala Study/Teach Abroad Program through the words of students who participated in previous years.
Select a name from the menu on the right to read about his or her experience.
Spring Break 2013 Participants
Visiting Guatemala for the second time has been an incredible experience. Although many of the places we visited this year were familiar to me, it was just as exciting. The best part about this year’s trip for me was visiting Patalup Primary School. Not only was teaching the second graders fantastic, but seeing the students that I recognized from last year was phenomenal. I also really enjoyed visiting places that we had toured last year. The feeling of arriving in each city was much different from how I felt last year, and it was great. Upon arriving in each different place I felt a sense of familiarity that I have never experienced with a city in a different country before. I felt very “at home” in Guatemala, and I can not wait to return and feel that same feeling. When I doubt my choice of becoming a teacher, I think back to my experiences in Guatemala, and I know that I have made the right decision for myself.
This second trip to Guatemala has confirmed my love for teaching, and my love for Guatemalan culture. Although I want to see many more parts of the world, I often find myself daydreaming about returning to Guatemala, rather than visiting new places. One aspect of this trip that made me want to return for a second year was Dr. Branch’s ability to take us to many hidden gems in Guatemala. Having been to Guatemala so many times allowed him to take us to places like the Widows Weaving Cooperative, which are not your average tourist attractions. On one of the last few days of our trip Dr. Branch took us to the home of one of his former students. She gave us a taste of what it is like to live in Guatemala, and I instantly knew that I wanted to follow in her footsteps.
This trip is something that I will always remember. The joy I felt when I saw my students from the year before, the feeling of being at home when arriving in Chichicastenango, the countless family meals we had, and many more memories will always be one of the best parts about my college experience. As a graduating senior, I was not required to attend this trip, but I chose to. While many students partied through their last spring breaks as undergraduate students, I spent my break seeing a very different culture and making memories that will last a lifetime. Not only were the Guatemalan culture and its people wonderful, but our group also made this experience great. We all learned and grew together, and will always be able to look back on this trip with fond memories. Guatemala is not glamorous, fancy, or lavish, but it has stolen the hearts of every member of our group. The culture and people of this country will forever be apart of my college experience.
Without a doubt the Guatemala Spring 2013 Study Abroad program has been one of my life’s best experiences. I may say that I speak for everyone when I say we all came back being different people. Being part of the Guatemala study abroad help me realize the many blessings I have in my life. I am grateful for the privilege of having a free education, the government of our country, being able to express who we are, these are things that I took for granted before the trip to Guatemala. The people in Guatemala are very humble, and work very hard to earn a living and to support their families. Guatemala is a country very rich in culture, and historical events. I loved visiting the museum of Santo Domingo! It helped me realized that the people in Guatemala have had a long fight for equality and education rights.
What I liked the most about the trip was having the opportunity to teach. The children were really excited that we were going to their school to teach them and are very eager to learn. Teaching the children in Guatemala made me realize the importance of education. Many of the students in the classroom were older than what the age standard is for that grade due to their parents not being able to afford to send them to school. It is a privilege in Guatemala to go to school! The kids were really grateful with the school supplies they received and that made me really happy. Knowing that we can contribute even if is with very little for these kids’ education is something great, I really hope this program continues over the years. A memory that stands the most in my mind is when we asked the seventh graders what they wanted to become when they would grow up. My teaching mates and I never imagined that these kids were going to have big dreams. Some of their responses were to be a doctor, lawyer, teacher, accountant, architect, engineer, among others. They were all careers that require not only a lot of money, but a lot of time. The school we taught in only teaches up to ninth grade, if the children desire to continue with their education they need to move to town, or the city. This is not possible for many since their resources are very limited. Many children even though they were in third grade had to work afterschool either selling their hand crafted goods, or helping their family to elaborate them.
This helped me understand the true value of education, and how everyone deserves to obtain the best education possible no matter what their social status is. This also helped me for my future career; as we made the lesson plans for each day I wanted the kids to really learn what we were teaching them. I wanted them to have quality time learning, since most of their classrooms due to the lack of resources were not very welcoming. I understood the importance that as teachers we have to give our best when we are teaching. Children all over the world deserve to have a great education. I believe programs like this help the kids believe that everything is possible. That if one sets their goals to have a career, one may achieve that goal. I am very happy that I chose to go to the Guatemala Study Abroad program with Dr. Branch, I believe the experiences that I went through will accompany me for the rest of my life. Not only did we get to learn, but had lots of fun. I loved the zip lining, visiting the lake in Panajachel, and the museums in Antigua and Guatemala City. The trip was very safe, and I loved the people. I would definitely recommend to everyone to go!
I cannot even put into words how amazing my trip to Guatemala was. From the food, to the culture, to the people, to working with the children, it was all just wonderful. I learned so much from this trip. I learned how much Americans take for granted. The children at the school were so excited when we gave them something as simple as a pencil. In America simple things like that are just handed to our children, but in Guatemala it was a gift of gold. Also we take advantage of clean water. You cannot open your mouth in the shower, brush your teeth with the water and have to buy bottled water everywhere you go. After doing this for eleven days I felt so fortunate for our clean filtered water. There are so many memories from this trip that make me smile and want to go back, but I will go over some of them that stick out the most.
One of the days we went to a place called the Ruins and saw all of the old buildings from the Mayans. It is a blessing that the people were able to preserve this land and make it a historical monument so others in their culture and tourists could appreciate what they had gone through and their heritage. I also enjoyed going zip lining. The hike was good exercise to the top and the view and experiences is indescribable. You literally zip line from one mountain to the next flying over the beautiful Lake Atitlan. One of the best experiences was teaching the children. I learned so much from this experience. I learned how less fortunate they are and how grateful they were for us to be there. The children were so eager to learn about America and English. I thought at first it was going to be hard to get them to participate, but my partner and I had no problem because they all wanted to learn. I will never forget when we gave them one of our lesson plans and as each student finished they would come up to myself and my partner to show us their finished product. They wanted to badly to be told “good job” and rewarded for what they had done. I was also surprised because their reading and writing skills were so good. The only part they did not know much about was pronunciation in English. They are such smart and wonderful children that were so excited for us to be there which made the experience more than worth it. Also, Market day, Oh MY GOSH!. This day is crazy shopping day. I could not believe how packed the streets were with vendors and how beautiful and artistic their creations were. It was so fun talking with the small children who were selling the headbands and bracelets and bargaining with the vendors. I could not believe how cheap everything was. It amazed me how these people basically surround their life around this market. They spend all week creating their products go into town on Market Day set it up, sale, and then do it all over again. It saddened me to see the small children working at such a young age when they should have been at school, but it amazed me how good their marketing and selling was. The children were so personable and polite. That is another thing I never once came across one rude person in Guatemala. The entire trip and itinerary were laid out perfectly. Every hotel and restaurant we were at was of high class and clean. I did not expect such an extravagant experience.
Overall, my eleven days in Guatemala were amazing. I learned so much about the culture and myself as a person. The culture is so different from America and it made me appreciate all that I have. I was so sad to leave the children, but am hoping to return next year and they will still be there. I would recommend this trip to anyone. You get to immerse yourself into an amazing culture, teach wonderful children and tour a country filled with beautiful art and historical background.
Guatemala was great the whole 10 days we stayed. Since the first night I noticed that the people in Guatemala are very nice and every place we went they gave us a nice warm welcome. My very first impression of Guatemala was that it closely resembles Mexico. But as the days passed I noticed that even though, Guatemala looks like Mexico its culture is very different. Guatemala stills maintains its believes and language. I thought it was interesting that almost everyone still speak Quiche their native dialect, but there are some few that only know how to speak Quiche but don’t know how write it. I was surprised to see that I was wrong about the education in Guatemala. Even though, the children work at a very young age they are well educated. All the kids that tried to sell us their merchandise speak more than two languages. Some of them speak up to 4 languages which are: Quiche, Spanish, English, and French.
Experience the market day on Sunday was something new. It’s like the whole city comes out of their homes to sell what they make. It was so big and you could buy anything you want. It seemed that every single people that live in Chichicastenango have something to sell. The market is where you can learn a little bit of their culture because almost everything they sell has a meaning. Everyone that is selling is so determined to sell you something that they would lower the price of the merchandise to very low low price from the original price. For a while, I was overwhelmed of everything I was seeing that I couldn’t decide what to buy. After lunch and after having a break from the market, I went back and started doing my shopping. Sunday market day was a different experience and exchange of culture.
There were two things that I enjoyed the most in my stay in Guatemala which were teaching for three days and of course doing the zip line. Teaching for three days was and amazing experience. Those students were so eager to learn as much they could from us. The first day was a little difficult because the children were so shy that they didn’t want to participate. It was a challenged teaching the kindergarten because they were learning Spanish and sometimes we had the teacher or a student from 7 grade translate our instructions into Quiche so the students could understand what we had said. The second day was very different and everything went smoothly. The students paid more attention to us and participated more. But the third day the students really enjoyed it. I think that they really liked the song “head and shoulders, knees and toes.” And seeing their faces when they received their school supplies was priceless. They were so excited. They looked at the school supplies like if they didn’t believe that they just received new school supplies. From all the things we did at Guatemala teaching the students and having that wonderful experience was the most significant part from the whole trip.
I loved that after we did our teaching we had time to have some fun. Doing the zip line was great. I had never done the zip line and it never crossed my mind doing it. I got to admit I was nervous and thought I was not going to do it. At the end I was so glad and proud of myself that I did it. The hiking was great. It had nice views, we saw monkeys, and really nice waterfalls. The sensation you feel when you are going through the zip line at high speed is just unbelievable. The adrenaline just makes you to want more and the view at that height is amazing. I think that Dr. Branch needs to do the zip line at least once so he can experience the feeling that we all talk about. The boat ride was beautiful. After going through that adrenaline rush, the boat ride helped us relax and I enjoyed the beautiful view of the volcanoes and the communities around the lake. I learned a lot and will always remember this trip.
Spring Break 2012 Participants
On the 22nd of March, we departed from San Diego and were headed to Guatemala to study abroad for 11 days. At the time we boarded the airplane, I was so excited but nervous at the same time. I was not sure exactly what to expect, but I was filled with anticipation about all of the things I would have the opportunity to learn about and experience from another culture.
We arrived in Guatemala City late at night and went straight to our hotel. I was exhausted and was so happy to finally be in Guatemala. The next morning, we woke up and enjoyed breakfast in the hotel. We explored the city and this was my first time experiencing the culture. Guatemala City was very Americanized from what we saw during our time there. In many ways, Guatemala City was much like cities in the United States. I loved going to the Mira Flores Museum as well as the Children’s Museum. The Mira Flores Museum was so interesting because we were able to see some historical artifacts while in a mall. It was an interesting mix of history and the current time. The Children’s Museum showed me that the children in Guatemala learn in the same way that the children in the United States learn. I was not at all surprised to see this; however, the Children’s Museum was a great way to reinforce this thought. I was also able to explore some of the exhibits and learn new things in Spanish.
Antigua was such a beautiful city. I loved everything about it, from the cobblestone roads to the little shops down each road. Antigua had a lot more culture than I saw in Guatemala City. It definitely was still somewhat Americanized, but I enjoyed every second of being there. I got to learn about the history of the city, and explore the little shops up and down the streets.
Our time in Chichicastenango was by far my favorite part of the trip. I loved everything about the city. The market on Sunday and on Thursday were such memorable experiences. My time in Chichcastenango is something that I never will forget. I had no idea that places like the market existed. The hustle and bustle of the city was amazing. The streets came alive with the people of Guatemala, the items that they were selling and an immense amount of color.
Our time in Patalup with the children was such a memorable experience. The children had such a profound impact on me and on the way that I think about things. It breaks my heart that some of these children will probably never complete high school. It was so astonishing that these children were excited about getting pencils, pens, crayons, erasers, notebooks, and coloring books. These are the things that children in the United States often leave on the ground, lose, or take for granted. The children were so excited and passionate about learning. But most importantly, I saw that these children got excited about the same things that children in the United States get excited about. I saw that I could connect with these children, despite the language barrier and learned that we could still learn from one another.
When we got to Panajachel, I was excited to be able to explore yet another city. I found that it reminded me a lot of our time in Antigua. It was a small town but definitely catered towards tourists. I loved visiting the Women’s Compound. This is where some women stayed whose husbands had been killed during the time of the Civil War. I enjoyed hearing the stories of the women who lived there. It was very sad, but eye-opening and powerful experience.
We also got the opportunity to cross Lake Atitlan and see a little bit of the other places that surround the lake. I was so excited that I was also able to zip line through the forest and see the gorgeous views of the area.
My time in Guatemala changed the way I think. It impacted my life in ways that I never thought I would. I appreciate the little things in my life and realize how lucky we are. I appreciated learning about a new culture and learning to appreciate the differences. I enjoyed impacting the lives of the children there. I will never forget my experience and the way the country has made my view of the world so much larger.
Visiting Guatemala this spring break was one of the best experiences of my life. This amazing opportunity gave me the chance to explore many different cities, learn from the Guatemalan culture, and teach children. I highly recommend this trip to any student at San Diego State University.
The first few days of the trip were full of traveling and exploring new cities. Our group landed in Guatemala City on Thursday night and went straight to our hotel. In the morning we checked out of our hotel and began to see the city. We went to two very interesting museums during our day. Guatemala City was a lot of fun but I was ready to get out of the big city and see other parts of the country. Our first stop was Antigua, a small colorful city filled with culture. I spent most of my time in Antigua walking around the city and trying the traditional food. My favorite experience in Antigua was the day that our whole group took a bus tour and got to see different parts of town.
Our next stop was Chichicastenango. Our group spent the majority of our time in Guatemala in Chichicastenango. We arrived in this town on Sunday, which is one of the two days of the week that the market occurs. I enjoyed the market and bought some interesting things. The following day our group went to Patalup Primary School to begin our teaching experience. This experience was the most rewarding, difficult, and amazing teaching experience I have ever had. I taught a fourth grade class on my own, and an eighth grade class with a partner from our group. Teaching entirely in Spanish was the most difficult aspect of this experience. Although it was hard, I learned a lot more Spanish than I had already known, which was great. Another difficult yet rewarding experience I had was having entire class to manage by myself. I had never been in control of my own classroom before, which was intimidating, but by the end of my experience I had gained more classroom management skills and confidence.
After another market day on Thursday in Chichicastenango, our group departed to Panajachel. Our hotel was beautiful, and so was Lake Atitlan. Our group walked around the streets of Panajachel, had lunch, and made our way down to the lake. I had a great time that night because we all decided to cross Lake Atitlan on a boat. There was some stormy weather but we had fun with it. The following day myself and two other members went zip lining. I had never gone zip lining before so that made this an incredibly fun experience.
Our trip came to a close on Sunday, when flew back to San Diego. Leaving Guatemala was bittersweet. I was excited to go home and relax, but knowing my time in Guatemala had finished was a very sad thought. When I arrived home I knew that I wanted to return to Guatemala, and help the students of Patalup again. This trip was an amazing experience, and I hope to embark on another trip through this program in my college career.
Spring Break 2011 Participants
As we arrived in Guatemala I was reminded of previous Latin American countries I had traveled to in the past. The people were generous, friendly, and extremely hospitable. The people of Guatemala were very humble and gracious for what they had. This made me appreciate what I had back at home and made me realize how lucky I was. The cities and culture of Guatemala were just beautiful. We traveled to Guatemala City, Antigua, Chichicastenango, and Panajachel. Each of these cities had something different to represent the county. We traveled the capital, Guatemala City, during the day and visited various museums. We then traveled to Antigua, the old capital of Guatemala. The town was made up of cobblestone roads and very colonial like. We were able to visit many different churches in this city. We then went to Chichicastenango where we would be staying while we taught the students. Chichicastenango was the heart of Guatemala in my eyes. We got to experience the culture there more than in any other city we visited. The best experience I had in Chichicastenango though was the market. The market was held every Sunday and Thursday of the week. There were so many people from around the country selling products they had worked so hard making. The market sold everything from clothing to fresh produce. The market was almost like a labyrinth and never seemed to end. In the market though I was able to see how hard these people worked and how much love they put into making their products. This was a way of living for them and they all had such special skill. After spending many days in Chichicastenango, we spent our last weekend in Panajachel. Panajachel was located on Lake Atitlan and was absolutely beautiful. It was very touristy and hippie-like. We were able to take a boat tour of the lake, shop, and have fun. It was a great way to end our trip.
The most memorable part of my trip though was teaching the students. We had prepared lesson plans for the students and were eager to teach. On the first day of our teaching our professor, Dr. Branch, had told us that the children had known we were coming and were very excited. Little did I know what he had meant by that when we actually arrived. When we pulled up in our bus to the school in Patalup, the children ran to the gates, ran out of their classrooms, and swarmed us like we were celebrities. They were so excited to have us be there and were so eager to learn. I was even more excited and immediately felt welcomed. I taught a third grade class, a fifth grade class, and a ninth grade class. The students were so determined to learn English and studied so hard. They wanted so bad to communicate with us. We taught the third and fifth graders the colors and numbers in English and taught the ninth graders simple conversations. The children would come back to school the next day prepared and ready to learn more. This showed me how hungry these children were for the knowledge we were giving them and they also gave us teachers the utmost respect. On our first day of teaching during recess time, I was swarmed by little girls who wanted to play and touch my curled hair. The children had also bought me a chocobanano, a chocolate covered banana, from the little market across from the school and gave it to me to enjoy at recess time. I didn’t ask the children to buy me one, they did it out of the kindness of their hearts and immediately I felt loved and appreciated. We had taught the children hopscotch, a game that was so unfamiliar to them, sang songs with each other, finger-painted, and played soccer. By the end of the week all of my classes could say the colors and numbers in English. My ninth graders could carry simple conversations and I was so proud of all of them. I knew I had done my job and I knew they had worked so hard. I will never forget my experience teaching in Guatemala.
Working with these children has changed my life forever. I have never felt so treasured and respected in my life. This experience abroad has helped me open my eyes to the world and has also prepared me for the world of education. Teaching abroad was one of the most rewarding experiences and is something I will cherish forever.
The alternative Spring Break in Guatemala was an unforgettable experience, not only because it was a different spring break, but most importantly because of everything I learned while immersed in the Guatemalan culture. Starting with the team I thought was great and helped this experience be a great one. We all got along really well and each had something unique to give to the students. While one was better in planning a lesson, the other was better in playing sports with the kids, etc.
I am from Mexico and the people in Mexico are a lot like Guatemalan people. They are generous and loving. I realized that people in Guatemala are happy with what they have. They do not need to have the best house, clothes, or any material possessions; as long as their family is united they are happy. I speak fluent Spanish and I had the opportunity to talk to people in Patulup, the town we were teaching and in Chichicastenango, where we stayed. I met a woman in the market who was selling purses, while we were talking she mentioned she had five children, and how they were all a blessing from God. That really struck me to see how people in Guatemala value the importance of life and live every day to the fullest.
In addition to this wonderful experience, I also noticed how fortunate I am of having had a great education and life, I couldn’t ask for more. Having prepared the lesson plans for the students and teaching them, made me realize my passion for teaching others, especially those who have not had the same opportunities I’ve had. I have decided to teach low income students, and am looking forward for this upcoming experience, which I know this Guatemalan trip has taught me great skills that will prepare me for my future.
Finally, I want to thank you Dr. Branch for all your effort invested in this trip. It was worth it! I had one of the best times of my life!
Dr. André J.Branch, Faculty
Enhance your university studies in the spectacular
scenic mountains of Chichicastenango, Guatemala.
Any SDSU student may participate!