Our volunteer work program in Quetzaltenango (Xelaju), Guatemala will help to have better understanding about poverty issues in the country while helping to solve this issue through education. For solidarity reasons, you will be able to help people by sharing time and knowledge with members of the community or other organizations in the city or country. Volunteer work positions are the same as internships but without a formal evaluation. Casa Xelajú participates in a variety of social projects and uses its contacts with national and international agencies to place volunteers in specific fields and carry out supervised volunteer work
Through volunteer work, volunteers gain insight into social issues and problems facing Guatemala and help to contribute to their solutions, while at the same time gaining valuable educational experience. The programs that Casa Xelajú supports are in turn enhanced by the abilities, energy, and goodwill that volunteers bring, thus strengthening the bonds between social work, educational institutions, and cultural organizations.
A former volunteer from Minneapolis, MN wrote an article about her experience as a volunteer for La Pedrera Community Project
"My experience working with public health in and around Xela has been amazing. This is the kind of work that I want to continue doing throughout my life and the knowledge and experience that I've gained is invaluable. I think I've been able to be of service, at least to some extent, to the people I've been working with, and perhaps most importantly, I've developed a lot of ideas and understanding to put towards future work".-Diana Denhman, Student of Brown University
"My experience with Casa Xelaju was fantastic. I got to work within the indigenous community and practice my Spanish. It has a great combination of wonderful teachers and great volunteer opportunities. Guatamala is an inviting place to live and work". -Paul Kroshus, Student of NY University
Volunteer requirements vary depending on the position, length of stay, etc. In general, the following requirements are necessary:
• An intermediate knowledge of Spanish (intensive study available at Casa Xelajú before work begins).
• Experience and/or schooling related to the position for which you choose to apply.
• Ability to work independently, think critically, creatively and be able to solve problems.
• An open mind and ability to initiate your own ideas and project within our distinct cultural environment.
• A desire to share with and learn from people of different cultures.
• The submission of an application form.
• $50.00 registration fee sent to our USA office.
Half of your total bill must be paid to our office in Guatemala within 3 days of your arrival. The remainder must be paid on the Monday of your 4th week. No exceptions will be made to this policy. See our extension form for the payment schedule if you wish to extend your position for more than 6 weeks.
Upon receiving your application, Casa Xelajú will call you for a telephone interview in Spanish. After the interview, we will send you the confirmation and more detailed information and tips on travel, dress, climate, recommended reading, etc.
Programs start any Monday year-round.
four weeks ahead of desired arrival date.
Statement of Commitment
In order to foster a productive and beneficial relationship between the volunteer, the social organization, and the Internship and Volunteer Program Staff, we have developed a system of guidelines for the responsibilities of each party. Please read the following commitments. All parties will sign the statement at the beginning of your volunteer position.
The Staff of the Internship and Volunteer Program will:
- Assist the volunteer in finding a volunteer position suitable to their wants and skills
- Meet with the volunteer once a week to discuss progress, problems, etc.
- Produce a letter of recommendation for the volunteer upon the completion of the project
For the social organization, the staff of the Internship and Volunteer Program will:
- Provide a volunteer able to assist the organization in its goals
- Provide a bi-weekly stipend based on the amount of time worked by the volunteer
- Help in the mediation of disputes between the organization and the volunteer
The volunteer will be responsible for:
- Coming to work each day with a positive and enthusiastic attitude, including being prompt, respectful, and dedicated
- Fulfilling the goals set up between themselves and the organization
- Attending weekly meetings with the Internship and Volunteer Program Staff
- Attending weekly meetings with the organization supervisor where she or he is volunteering, when they require it.
- Setting up weekly goals with the organization supervisor
- Turning in all weekly worksheets in a timely fashion to the I&V Program Staff
- Addressing any conflicts between themselves and the social organization personally, with the help of I&V staff
- Carrying out her or his volunteer position for the full number of weeks agreed upon
- Notifying both the organization and Casa Xelajú if she or he will be missing work for any reason
- Collect signatures on donation receipts every 2 weeks and return them to CX
- Completing 6 hours of work per day (3 for half-days) for the full requirement for university/college credit (if applicable)
Note: If the intern/volunteer is working in several organizations, they will split their time accordingly.
The Social Organization will be responsible for:
- Providing a supportive and encouraging environment for the volunteer to work in
- Providing a contact person for the volunteer who will answer their questions, give them personal support, help them understand the workings of the organization, etc.
- Making sure the volunteer has no more than 10% of their daily duties as "busy work"
- Providing interesting and mutually beneficial projects for the volunteer to complete
- Setting up goals with the volunteer weekly to maintain focus
- Meeting with the volunteer weekly to assess progress and set goals for the following week
- Signing and returning the donation receipt to the volunteer every 2 weeks