Summer Scholars

Summer Scholars

Stretch yourself next summer.  Dive into Spanish with daily language instruction, experience a homestay with a local family, work with community initiatives, explore the beauty of the lake, and design a personal learning project that celebrates your unique path in the world.

Spanish Immersion – Social Impact – Self-Discovery
July 15-29, 2017
For students who have completed 9th, 10th, 11th or 12th grade.



Summer Scholars is a two week experience for independent and adventurous high school students who want to stretch their body, mind and spirit. Participants will strengthen their Spanish, explore their unique journeys, and immerse themselves in the daily life and experiences of local families.

We will spend the first week in San Pedro receiving daily, one-to-one language instruction.  While we are studying,  we will stay with host families, practice Spanish, learn about Mayan culture and cuisine, and have opportunities for group excursions to other villages. After our time in San Pedro, the town of San Marcos will become our home base. Throughout our second week we will learn from and work with local organizations and individuals dedicated to supporting the community. We will also experience the natural beauty of the area through hiking, swimming, and creative expression.

Central to the Summer Scholars experience is the shared belief that we each have a responsibility to contribute our creativity, curiosity and passion to the world in ways that matter most to us.  Participants will design a personal learning project which they will work on throughout their time in Guatemala. This self-directed project is an integral aspect of the Summer Scholars program and allows the participants to explore and celebrate who they are in the world.


Total Cost: $1850.00/pp plus airfare to/from Guatemala. Airfare typically costs between $650 and $800, depending on the departure city.  Ticketing out of Boston or Montreal will be coordinated for the group.IMG_4374

Dates: 14 days in July, 2017.  Likely the program will take place the last two weeks of July.  Exact dates will be announced soon.

What is covered: International travel insurance, all in-country transportation, breakfast, lunch and dinner each of the days we are in Guatemala, bottled water, daily snacks, hotel fees, homestay fees, gratuities, 5 days (15 hours) of one-to-one Spanish instruction, cultural activities/classes, 24-hour emergency phone access, personal local cell phone during the homestay, materials for service projects, pre-departure logistical support, personal learning project coaching, flight leader in and out of Guatemala via Boston/Montreal, airport departure taxes, and a donation to each of the organizations where we will be volunteering.

What is not covered: Spending money for treats and souvenirs. Transportation to and from departing airport. Meals while in transit (breakfast on the day of our departure, and lunch and dinner on our last day when we are traveling back to the US). Personal learning projects are self-funded.

Who should go: open-hearted, adaptable, and adventuresome high school and gap year students who have a willingness to stretch themselves, a good sense of humor, and a curiosity about themselves and their world.  No Spanish experience is necessary–all levels are welcome.  Participants should have a high level of independence, feel comfortable living with a local family, and be willing to do their best to speak Spanish with their host family. Participants should be eager to take up a personal learning project. Adults are welcome on this trip, but please note that it is an experience designed for high school and gap year students.  Adult participants will also complete a personal learning project.Maria and W

Lodging: Our lodging in San Pedro while we are taking language classes will be with local, carefully chosen, host families. Participants will have a private room with a locking door.  When possible, two or more participants will be matched with a host family.  In San Marcos our hostel will be basic, but comfortable.  Boys and girls will sleep in different rooms.  Bathrooms will be shared and will have a western style toilet and a shower that might, if one is very lucky, have warm water.  Please note: the water is non-potable.

Food: While we are studying Spanish, our host families will prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner for us.  Host families are able to accommodate vegetarian diets.  Throughout the rest of the trip, we will eat most of our meals in restaurants that cater to travelers and use the highest health standards possible.  When possible, we will support restaurants that have a social impact component to their work. We will enjoy a wide range of food that might include burritos, pizza, eggs and toast, oatmeal, yogurt, rice and beans, sandwiches, smoothies and stews. When we are together as a group, most of our meals will be vegetarian, and we ask that students bring an open mind and a spirit of curiosity to each meal. Food 2 nachos

Health and Safety: All hostels, restaurants, work sites, cultural experiences, outdoor activities, group programs, drivers and guides have been carefully selected to provide students with an experience that is as safe as possible. During the homestay, students will be given a local cell phone to be used to contact the trip leader in the case of an emergency.  While no specific immunizations are required for the region in which we will be traveling, parents should check with their child’s health provider for his/her recommendations. Students and families are encouraged to consider the level of risk of any adventure before participating in this program, and we advise everyone to understand the personal responsibility accepted by both the participant and the participant’s family (including the zero tolerance drug and alcohol policy for teens and other guidelines outlined separately in our Community Understandings.)

Reservations: A non-refundable deposit of $750 is needed by December 1 to secure airline tickets, and the remaining balance is due January 8, 2016.


Day 1: Air Travel to Guatemala and Exploration of Antigua
We’ll be picked up at the Guatemala City airport in a private shuttle and then transported to Antigua where we will have a chance to explore the city and then rest from our long day of travel.

Day 2: Lake Atítlan
Our shuttle will take us on a three hour ride through the Guatemalan highlands, and then a private boat will transport us across Lake Atítlan where we will stop for lunch at a hotel with magnificent views of three volcanoes. Our boat driver will then bring us to San Pedro where we will meet our host families and get acquainted with the town that will be our home for the first week of our journey.

Days 3-8: Spanish Immersion
After breakfast with our host families, our mornings will be filled wcourses_tutoring1ith intensive language study. Each participant will be matched with a private teacher who will customize a learning program that meets the student’s specific needs and abilities. We will also share lunch and dinner with our host families which will give us the opportunity to practice our Spanish and participate in the daily lives of our host families.  In the afternoons we will gather as a group and explore San Pedro and the neighboring villages, and in the evenings we will learn about the local culture through salsa lessons, documentaries, and artistic demonstrations. Our Spanish Immersion week will include at least one group adventure; depending on the weather we might zipline, hike a volcano, or go on a kayak tour.

Days 9-10: Social Impact GHA 3
We’ll say goodbye to our host families and then head to a village across the lake.  Our mornings will begin with an optional yoga class and then we will put our Spanish skills to use as we volunteer with organizations that focus on education, sustainable agriculture, nutrition, and children’s well-being.  We will have time in the afternoons to work on our personal projects, swim, and hang out in some of the cafés in town.  Each night we will have dinner at a local restaurant and will return to our hostel for evening programs.

Days 11, 12 and 13: Self Discovery
This last phase of the journey is designed to stretch both the body and the spirit.  One day we will wake up very early and hike for an hour in the dark up La Nariz de Indio, one of the nearby volcanic peaks that surround the lake.  We will watch the sun rise over the Lake.   Another day we will trek for several hours and explore the towns and villages along the southeast side of the Lake. We will learn about the sacred Mayan calendar and draw on its wisdom as we contemplate our paths in the world.IMG_4276  We will close our time at the lake with a celebration of our journey and a showcase of our projects.

Day 14: Air Travel to back to the US
We’ll depart from Guatemala back to the United States.

While our itinerary serves to guide the flow of the week’s activities, we will have the ability to adapt the schedule to meet the needs of the group, the needs of the local communities, the weather, and other changing conditions.