Throughout the year, Squads Abroad offers faculty and administrators the opportunity to join a Site Visit to experience our programs first-hand to see if they are a good fit for their students. On our most recent Site Visit to Guatemala from July 22-27, 2023, faculty got a glimpse of the different community service projects, cultural learning activities, and educational workshops that are implemented during our Squads Abroad programs and returned home inspired and with a sense of confidence to promote a future Squads Abroad program in their schools.
On their first day, after arriving at the Guatemala City airport and being met by a Squads Abroad staff member, the faculty were transported to a hotel in Antigua, Guatemala, one of the country’s most beautiful and historic towns. Everyone enjoyed a local dinner together and received orientation by the Squads Abroad Country Director and local staff to review the itinerary and the objectives for the trip.
The following morning, faculty received a tour of Antigua, including a visit to the Jade Museum and the “Cerro de la Cruz,” before heading to the region of Tecpan to see first-hand the process of making chocolate by a family with a tradition shared through generations. At the end of the day, faculty prepared for the following day’s community visits and enjoyed a delicious dinner.
On Day 3, faculty got their hands dirty working on some of our local community projects. This is when the magic happens! While these Site Visits give faculty an opportunity to enjoy the local tourist sites, the primary purpose is to introduce them to the community relationships that we have built and the service projects that we have managed for years. Our goal is to inspire faculty to return to Guatemala or one of our other partner countries with their students to implement a project of their own.
On this service day, faculty specifically worked in Aldea Xetzac, a small Mayan community, providing fluoride, teaching language classes and upgrading a playground area for the local students. After work, they visited the ruins of “Iximche” where we learned about the Mayan culture. After dinner, they had a great time playing a traditional game called “Loteria” and sharing stories from the day.
On Day 4, faculty returned to Aldea Xetzac to complete the projects and say goodbye (for now!) to the local families. After lunch, they made a visit to a pottery master to learn another local tradition.
On Day 5, the final day, faculty enjoyed visiting Lake Atitlan, where they received a workshop about coffee, artisanal cacao, and honey, and learned about the different products you can make with them. The group also had a wonderful workshop in which they learned how to make handmade cotton in “La Casa del Jaspe”. Before leaving, faculty visited a small gallery of art, where many artists from “San Juan” sell their paintings.
We are grateful to all of the faculty and students from across the United States that make these projects possible. We are especially grateful to the faculty that choose to come see the work first-hand on one of our Site Visits. If you are interested in visiting our projects this year on your own, please fill out a Site Visit Interest Form. If you would like to begin planning a trip with your students, please fill out this interest form or schedule a call and we can plan a trip that works for you.