The experience of a volunteer at the San Lucas parish is focused on learning. In working alongside Guatemalans and accompanying them in their daily activities, volunteers can learn about the richness of Mayan culture, the work of the parish, and life in Guatemala.
Volunteers come to beapart of parish projects, form relationships in the community, and learn about the community development efforts of the San Lucas Mission. In being a part of this cross-cultural exchange, it is hoped that volunteers grow intheir faith, and become more open, aware, and educated global citizens.
Short-term individual volunteers are those who spend 7 weeks or less in San Lucas. Long-term volunteers are those who make a commitment for 2 months or more. The application process is different depending on how long an individual wants to be in San Lucas.
The average day for a long-term volunteer will vary during the course of his/her time at the parish. Volunteers are encouraged to take part in various projects headed by the Guatemalan directors, including but not limited to gardening, construction, coffee processing & picking, and work in the Parish kitchen. Initiative is required on the volunteer's part to involve him/herself, though parish staff will help in facilitating the experience.
As long-term volunteers more experienced in the culture and familiar with Parish projects, philosophy, and policy, they often act as resources to the various short-term visitors that come to the parish.
Long-term volunteers also participate in weekly reflection sessions held in the parish, which may focus on volunteering, Guatemalan history or culture, faith, or any other issues relative to life in San Lucas; these sessions are coordinated by the volunteers themselves. Those who wish to stay in San Lucas for three months or more are subject to a three-month re-evaluation of their presence. More information about this aspect in the program will be provided during the application process.
Depending on the number of volunteers present, a single or shared (one other person) room is provided. Currently, volunteers live communally in one of two houses rented from a member of the community. Homestays are not available. All volunteers and staff members share meals prepared by staff at the Parish. There are phones in the parish to call the States, but internet is not available in the parish – instead, there are several internet cafes available in town which usually cost around $1.25/hour.
Although it is technically not required that volunteers be fluent in Spanish before they arrive, it is highly suggested that volunteers achieve at least proficient/conversational Spanish before their arrival, as interaction and relationships with local community members are a crucial component of the volunteer experience. We recommend that volunteers 1) arrive with a plan to strengthen their Spanish skills 2) have at least basic background in the language (beginning college courses, for example), and/or 3) attend language school in Xela or Antigua for 3+ weeks prior to arriving in San Lucas. The language schools in Xela and Antigua are among the best in Central America, but classes in San Lucas are limited. Keep in mind that admission to the program is competitive, and language ability is considered in the process.
The cost of volunteering varies depending on the amount of time you are hoping to spend in San Lucas. Please contact us for further information about volunteering, indicating for how long you would like to visit us.
Money can be exchanged in the parish office in cash or check form. Long-term volunteers need not apply for a work visa – a tourist visa can be acquired upon entry and renewed every 3 months in Guatemala City or by leaving the country. Volunteers are required to cover the fee for their visa renewals (approximately $50).
In order to get the most out of the long-term volunteer program, it is important that individuals come with an open mind and be willing to engage in a variety of activities. It is important to invest effort into relationships both within the San Lucas community and also within the people involved with the parish. To humbly come to learn, grow, accompany, and serve with a positive attitude and some patience will insure a rich and meaningful experience.
Travel Information: Up-to-date information about traveling to and from Guatemala can be found at the Department of State’s Guatemalan Travel Information Page.