Teach English in Guatemala: Work with your heart and contribute to education

Having impact as an English teacher volunteer


Our passionate, hardworking English teacher volunteer coordinator, Gracia, answers our questions after working with us for a year. Read about her experience with us and get an insider look into our work with volunteers from around the world who are all contributing to our overall impact on the community of Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala.


Gracia with English Students in Santiago

Gracia with English students in Santiago


Q&A with Gracia: 


One, Two…Tree!: Thanks for speaking with us, Gracia! To give our readers some context, can you explain a bit more about your role with us as Volunteer Coordinator? 


Gracia: Yes! I’d love to share my experience with you. I worked with One, Two… Tree! for a year as the volunteer coordinator, which meant that I was introducing people to the organization and recruiting them to come to Santiago Atitlán as teachers. 


The challenging part about restarting the project in the middle of the pandemic was finding ways to adapt to changing schedules and other situations that were limiting our normal work in public schools. Besides recruiting volunteers, I was also a teacher, and since I am an ESL teacher, I helped build the curriculum for our adults’ beginner level. I also helped develop the Coffee Terminology course we created for our friends at CoAtitlán. As coordinator, I was also consistently searching for opportunities to expand our impact and reach through connections with other initiatives in the community. 


English Class Graduation Day

English class graduation day


One, Two…Tree!: What impact have you seen One, Two…Tree! have in the community of Santiago Atitlán? 


Gracia: I have seen our work positively impact the students in their return to school after more than 2 years of distance learning. Public schools just recently  started gradually returning to teach in person this year, and both students and teachers have told us how motivating it is to receive classes on a new subject that is difficult and taught in a different way, since we plan our lessons with dynamic activities and hand out fun worksheets as homework, which is not the usual methodology for other subjects. 


I’ve also seen our impact on our young and adult students. Some of them were telling me stories of how they started learning English years ago with teachers Gary and Gergana (previous One, Two… Tree! teachers), and when they saw the posters I was handing out around town about the reopening of our lessons last year, they felt happy and immediately decided they were joining again. I am proud to see them now going from beginner to intermediate level, being able to have better job opportunities, connect with other people, and hopefully even teach English to children or share what they know with their peers.


One, Two…Tree!: What was your biggest accomplishment during your time with One, Two…Tree!? 


Gracia: I feel really proud about how we approached the challenges of working with irregular schedules from the public school system due to the changing restrictions and limited human resources. This year, opening our Learning Center in Santiago has been an amazing learning bridge, as it gave us a closer approach to the community, which helped us solidify our classes for adults with a better retention rate than previous groups. It is a nice way for volunteers to connect with other young people and make local friends. In the future, we may be able to go back to full work focused in public school  and may not need the center, but for now, this was my biggest achievement because it was the best way to maximize our impact despite the limitations we were facing. Our students and friends from the community are beyond happy with this project and they openly have told us so. 


Teacher Volunteers in Santiago Guatemala

Teacher volunteers in Santiago Guatemala


One, Two…Tree!: What would you like people to know about One, Two…Tree!? 


Gracia: That it is a rewarding experience, you learn a lot and have the opportunity to join a team where you can share your ideas, work with your heart, and contribute to education. Seeing children motivated about school again and happy about English classes makes you feel inspired. That’s our driving force; that’s why we feel excited about planning creative lessons and looking for ways to improve. 


One, Two…Tree!: What would you like volunteers to know about working with One, Two…Tree!? 


Gracia: This is the perfect program for committed people who want to invest some of their time, energy, and creativity in education. It is a great way to gain new skills, train to be a future tutor or teacher, and improve your Spanish! We work for about 20 hours every week, but we also know of many different fun activities around the lake, and have connections with projects where you can can learn about nature and the local culture. 


One, Two…Tree!: What is your hope for the future of the organization? 


Gracia: I hope to see One, Two… Tree! replicating the projects we did this year, expanding our collaboration locally, strengthening the team through local teachers (our students who could hopefully join our volunteer force in the future by teaching for a few hours), and growing in Central America and Mexico. 


Community development in Santiago Atitlan

Community development in Santiago Atitlan


One, Two…Tree!: What was your favorite part of working with One, Two…Tree!? 


Gracia: Doing what I love: teaching. Also, working to make English more accessible through creative teaching methods, working with other motivated and knowledgeable volunteers like Dani, Gersom and Carmela, amongst others, who were committed and passionate in their contributions to our work in Santiago. I’m going back to Guatemala City after a year, to continue my studies and get more experience in my field, which is Psychology, but in the future, I certainly want to volunteer with One, Two… Tree! again. 


One, Two…Tree!: Thank you so much for all of your hard work, passion, and commitment, Gracia! 


If you would like to join our team as an English Teacher Volunteer, please email us here: guatemala@onetwo-tree.com 


One Two Tree Volunteers Guatemala

One Two Tree volunteers Guatemala

The students of One, Two…Tree! speak up!

The students of One, Two, Tree! tell us about their English classes!  


We interviewed two One, Two…Tree! students to hear about their experiences learning English with our English teacher volunteers in Santiago, Guatemala.


Here’s what they had to say:

(Their answers are translated from Spanish)


Q: Hello! Thanks for doing this interview with us today! Could you introduce yourselves?

A: Hello! My name is Manuel Ixbalán. I am twelve years old. I have English lessons 2 times per week with One, Two…Tree!  

A: Hello, my name is Silvia Saquid. I am twelve years old. I have lessons 2 times a week.

Teaching English in Guatemala

Students Learning English in Guatemala


What is your favorite English lesson so far? Why?

Manuel: I like all the classes because we learn about many different topics.

Silvia: I think all the classes are my favorite because the activities are fun and we learn about many interesting topics. We learn how to talk about our family, what we like to do, and talk about nature.


What is your favorite English word? Why? How did you learn it?

Manuel: “Great”, because I use it to say that things are always great, like when I say something is great or stupendous. I heard it in some videos, and then I asked Gracia (my teacher) what it meant, and I liked to start to use it.  

Silvia: “Happy”, because everyone is happy when we come to English classes! We learned it in the class about emotions and colors. Happiness is represented by the color yellow.


Teaching English in Guatemala

Teaching English in Guatemala



Do you like learning from English teacher volunteers from other countries? What have you learned from them?

Manuel: Yes, I like it! Teacher Lily told me her house is next to Queen Elizabeth’s.

Silvia: I like it, because they talk to us about different things that we didn’t know, and also some of them are interested about the things that we do too.


What kind of games or activities do you enjoy playing in the classroom to help you learn English?

Manuel: I like all the activities. I really like to write on the worksheets and mime.

Silvia:  I really like it when they give us homework and explain it well so that we learn to do it ourselves, and that way we can remember the topics when we are at home alone. I also like when we spend time taking care of the plants after class.


English Class Students

English Class Students


What is your favorite part of studying with One, Two…Tree!?

Manuel:  Learning more English! And doing exercises in front of the class, because it helps us lose the fear of speaking in English and participating in public.

Silvia:  When we go to write on the board or participate in front of everyone. Because it helps me lose my fear of speaking in public in English


Would you like to say anything to your One, Two…Tree! teachers?

Manuel: That they keep doing their work! I’m really happy to participate in the classes.

Silvia:  I would tell them thanks for creating this English course, and they are helping us a lot to learn the English language. They are giving us an incredible opportunity because not many think about teaching English to children because in schools we do not have many English teachers. And here we learn and have fun too.


Learning English in Guatemala

Learning English in Guatemala


Thank you so much Manuel and Silvia for these thoughtful and insightful answers!

We are so proud of all of our students for studying hard and learning more and more English with our dedicated English Teacher Volunteers here in Santiago.

If you’re interested in having an impact in the community of Santiago, or would like to learn more about volunteering with us, please send us an email to: guatemala@onetwo-tree.com 

Collaborating and learning together at our new Learning Centre

Our Learning Centre as a collaborative space 


Our English Learning Centre opened in Santiago Atitlán in February with the intention to provide more English classes to more students, both children and adults of all levels. Now, we also use the space for various community development and learning opportunities. 


There are currently not many available spaces for workshops and cultural activities in the area, so we wanted to open our doors for various events where the people of Santiago can come and enjoy a safe learning space. 


Our main values are collaboration, initiative, adaptability and respect. We follow these values in every thing we do from teaching, to meeting new people, to hosting workshops and working with local families. Our ultimate goal is to support community empowerment and to provide a platform for intercultural exchanges in Santiago.


English Learning Center Workshop

English Learning Centre Workshop


Contributing to the community’s empowerment  

When we are looking to collaborate on an event or workshop, we aim to focus on the community’s empowerment first and foremost.

In May, we collaborated with a local writer, Vincent Stanzione, who has devoted his life to write about Santiago’s culture and traditions.

Over the span of two days, Vincent encouraged the audience to write their stories, since he believes that we all have a story to share. He shared mindset tips, writing habits, and he explained character roles in stories, such as the character of the hero as a role to be inspired by when writing. He shared some literary resources and engaged the audience through various writing exercises.


Writing Workshop in Santiago

Writing Workshop in Santiago


The audience was full of people of various ages from the community. Some of our teen and adult students from the Centre attended, as well as a large group of students from a nearby highschool. Some other local writers also attended to get to know and collaborate with other passionate writers.

A few of the special guests that attended were local writer Alexwho shared a beautiful poem during the event; Señora Argentina, who is one of the hosts for our volunteers and was a teacher in the village for many years; Isaías, who is the librarian of Puerta Abierta and is publishing his very first children’s book this year called Matz, focusing on Tz’utujil culture. All of our English teacher volunteers also attended and participated in the workshop, as they are an integral part of the development of our Learning Centre, and they were also able to take the opportunity to learn from the talented people of Santiago.


English Teacher Volunteers at Workshop

English Teacher Volunteers at Workshop


Building a safe space for the community

Overall, the feedback after the event was very positive, and a few participants asked to be part of further workshops. We encouraged them to come up with a few ideas to lead potential workshops with the support of our English teacher volunteers who will assist with the organization of the events.

Currently, we have another event being planned to introduce participants to the art of mural painting run by a local artist, Bárbara Sosof.

These events are a great opportunity for our volunteers and our teachers, as we get to know even more people in the community, acquire new skills (as teachers we love to learn too!) and are able to have an even bigger impact in Santiago.

If you would like to be part of our Learning Centre, please email us here: guatemala@onetwo-tree.com 

How to plan an English lesson for children in Guatemala

How to plan an English lesson 


We have many resources that our teachers can use to help them plan their lessons both in the public schools and in our Learning Center. Some of our volunteers have never taught before, but not to worry – we have plenty of resources and ideas for you to use. 


Teaching in the public schools in Santiago


When we teach in the public schools, we have guidelines that we follow for each lesson. There is a master binder in the office for all of our teachers to review and use as a resource to help them prepare for each class. Generally, each class has a mix of vocabulary and basic grammar concepts. Some of the topics that we teach are the colors, fruits and vegetables, descriptions of people, school supplies, how to introduce yourself, animals, and many more. 


Lessons generally include a warm-up that can be a song or a short game – many of our teachers like to get creative here and do different activities to make the students feel welcome and comfortable. The next part of the class is focused on vocabulary words, and then an activity to help the students practice and remember these words. Each lesson is between 30-40 minutes, which varies depending on the school. 


Lesson Planning in Guatemala

Lesson Planning in Guatemala


Teaching at the One, Two…Tree! Learning Center


We use the same structure and resources to plan lessons for our Learning Center. We also include other topics, such as countries and continents, life on a farm, family members, the environment, and more. Since we have 1 hour to teach each lesson at the Center, we take advantage of that extra time and we practice vocabulary through more games and songs. 


An English lesson example 


I’m Teacher Gracia. I’ve been volunteering with One Two… Tree! for a year, and this was a lesson I planned for our teen group at the Center (kids between 10-14 years old) to learn about the Natural Wonders of the World. 


Teaching English in Santiago Guatemala

Teaching English in Santiago Guatemala


Every day, we start by taking attendance during the first 5 minutes. Then, I like to start with an activity or something interactive to get the students engaged right away. 


Getting creative with lesson planning


We had previously learned a song in our Countries and Continents lesson which went well, so before the class, I searched for a few new songs on YouTube and I found one that I thought the students would love. 


English Lesson Planning

English Lesson Planning


I brought my phone to class, then I played the song a few times and asked the students to write down the lyrics in their notebooks. They absolutely loved it! 


After that, for each new lesson in the Wonders of the World module, we would sing together to start the class: They are Asia and Africa, North and South America, Antarctica and Europe, finally Australia.   


After this activity, I handed them a worksheet about the “Natural Wonders of the World” (a free worksheet I downloaded from an educational website www.liveworksheets.com). We read the new words, practiced the vocabulary and learned the meaning in Spanish. Then the students had time to complete the worksheet, matching the pictures with words such as forest, cave, river, and more. 


For this lesson, I also needed a computer to show the students a video about the 8 wonders of the world, so I brought my laptop. I put subtitles in English on and after each place was featured in the video, I paused it to give the students time to match each place like Niagara Falls, Mount Everest, and Amazon River, with the country they are located in on their corresponding worksheet. This helped the students practice the new vocabulary in different ways and solidified their understanding of the concepts through interactive methods.


Teaching English in Guatemala

Teaching English in Guatemala


Having fun with the students


After these activities, we had some extra time which we used to decorate a folder the students use to keep track of all the activities and worksheets we’ve completed over the past 4 months. 


We always finish the class talking about the topic we learned or playing a game and having a good time. Once the hour is finished, we say goodbye and see you next time! 


English Students in Guatemala

English Students in Guatemala


Does this sound fun and interesting to you? 


Volunteer with us this year!  


We are seeking more English teacher volunteers to come to Santiago, Guatemala to help us expand our programs, reach, and impact on the community. 

If you would like to learn more about volunteering with us, please send us an email to: guatemala@onetwo-tree.com 

A day in the life of an English teacher volunteer

Are you wondering what a typical day in the life of an English teacher volunteer with One, Two…Tree! looks like?


Join us as we follow the footsteps of a current volunteer on a typical weekday.




It is a beautiful Monday morning and the alarm goes off at 7:00am. We get up, take a shower, get dressed and head downstairs to enjoy a breakfast of oatmeal and fruit. Once we finish eating, we pack our bags and head out on foot to the school where we will teach our first English class of the day.


Santiago Guatemala

Mornings in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala



The classes usually start between 7:30 and 8:00am, and each volunteer teaches in two different public schools during the week. Today, we are teaching a group of 9-10 year olds vocabulary about farm animals. We sing Old McDonald Had A Farm to keep them engaged and have some fun while learning – the kids love this song! 


Teaching English in Guatemala

Teaching English in Guatemala


Lunch time 


After the morning classes, we go to the market to grab some food for our lunch and head home, where we meet the other volunteers to eat together on the terrace with beautiful views of the volcanos. We have a bit of time to chat, relax, and review the classes for the afternoon.


 Lesson Planning in Guatemala

Lesson Planning in Guatemala



At 4pm, we go to the One, Two…Tree! Learning Center, which is about a 10 minute walk from the house, to start the classes with the kids. There are three different groups: the 6-7 year old kids, the 8-9 year old kids, and the teenagers. Today we are teaching the 6 year olds and we have some fun games and visuals to engage them in learning the names of family members.


After an hour, the kids’ classes end and we have an hour break where we discuss the lessons with the other teachers, share some ideas, and plan for the next day. Then, we go for a walk to get a chocofruta, a delicious frozen fruit stick covered with chocolate and nuts – a typical Guatemalan snack! 


Classes at One, Two… Tree! learning centre




At 6pm, we welcome the adults to the Learning Center for the evening classes, which are divided into the Beginners group and the Advanced group. Today is Grammar Day, so we are teaching them about modal verbs and the simple past tense. The adult learners are always so interested in soaking up as much knowledge as they can, and are asking us lots of questions to ensure their understanding.


It is now 7pm and all the classes for the day are finished. We walk back home to see our host family, Lolita and Chonita, and we enter by saying ‘Ixcola’ (ix k’ola), which is used to say hello when you enter a place with more people. It generally means ‘I’m home, how are you?’ in Tzutujil, the Mayan language spoken in Santiago. Other towns speak Kaqchikel, but Santiago, San Pedro and San Juan speak Tz’utujil. 


We have dinner with the host family today, but some other days we can cook and eat alone, or enjoy a meal with the other volunteers on the terrace or out in the town. 


Eating with the host family in Santiago

Eating with the host family in Santiago


In the evening, we chat in the courtyard with Lolita and Chonita, as they always ask us about our day and it’s also really nice to spend the evening outside because it feels like a forever summer night. 


We start to get sleepy after a long day of hard work teaching English to all the amazing students in Santiago! We head to bed to get some rest for the next day’s wake up call bright and early! 


Volunteer with us this year! 


We are currently seeking more English Teacher Volunteers to join us this year to support our growing Learning Center and English programs in Santiago. If you or anyone you know is interested, please contact us at: guatemala@onetwo-tree.com  



Things to do in Santiago & around Lake Atitlán

You may be wondering…
What activities can you do during your free time in Santiago? 


Over the years, our English Teacher Volunteers have gotten involved in many different types of activities in Santiago and around Lake Atitlán. Some activities include weaving classes to learn the traditional Mayan methods of weaving, or if you prefer something more active, there are multiple hiking trails with stunning views of the lake and the volcanos (you can even hike the volcanos too!) On the lake, many people enjoy going kayaking or paddle boarding. You can get involved with the local community and learn Tz’utujil, one of the Mayan languages spoken in the area. You can even try cacao and participate in a Mayan cacao ceremony.


There are tons of different activities to get involved in and fill up your spare time while soaking up the culture and the stunning nature in the area. 


Here are some of the activities that you can look forward to: 


Weaving classes: 


There are many different organizations you can take classes with and support their weavers:

  • 13 Batz’ Weaving Co-op  
  • Cojolya Association of Maya Women.
  • Maria, Cojolya’s master weaver, has a store near Parque Central where you can learn all about traditional costumes
  • Embroidery lessons with Mujeres de Maiz
  • Trama Textiles (Women’s Weaving Co-Op in San Juan)



Volunteers Learning Guatemalan Weaving

Volunteers learning Guatemalan weaving


Hiking/Active experiences: 


If you like the outdoors and physical activity, then these activities are for you! From hiking volcanoes to paragliding, to camping, here are some of the best options and tours to choose from.


  • Climb Volcano San Pedro, Toliman or Atitlán
  • Do a bird-watching tour around Mirador Tepepul to spot the quetzal, the national bird
  • Visit the tulares of Santiago Atitlán in a cayuco with el tour del tul. You will get closer to ancestral culture, learn about the process of looking after the tul and the aquatic ecosystems as well as the process of making handicrafts out of it.
  • Experience the Canopy in San Pedro
  • Go paragliding in Panajachel 
  • Go horseback riding 
  • Do the beautiful Rostro Maya sunrise hike 
  • Hike from San Marcos or Tzununa to Santa Cruz de la Laguna, ending the hike at Cafe Sabor Cruceno (it has amazing views!)
  • Explore Cerro Tzankujil Nature Reserve in San Marcos, Atitlan Nature Reserve with its hanging bridges and monkeys in Panajachel or Los Tarrales Nature Reserve in Patulul, close to San Lucas Tolimán.
  • Explore Cerro de Oro, source of inspiration for Saint-Exupéry author of the famous book The Little Prince
  • Experience a traditional Temazcal (sauna)
  • Go to the solar pools in San Pedro
  • Camp in the woods and watch the sunrise at Chuitnamit – we have local friends who are guides and can take you on this tour – simply ask us about it when you’re here! 
  • Go to Mirador Kaqa Siwaan in San Juan la Laguna (a beautiful lookout point)


Outdoor activities in Lake Atitlan


Water activities: 


Since you’ll be living on this beautiful lake, you might as well take advantage of it! These are a few popular water sports that you can participate in. 


  • Kayaking 
  • Cayuco-ing – Paddle as a local to see the sunrise from the other side of the lake
  • Scuba Diving – The only dive shop on the lake, ATi Divers, is located in Santa Cruz, and it is linked with La Iguana Perdida
  • SUP –  Some of our volunteers have enjoyed the SUP experience at Free Cerveza Hostel in Santa Cruz la Laguna or at La Casa del Mundo in Jaibalito. Both hotels rent their equipment at affordable rates so you can explore the surrounding areas. 



Kayaking on Lake Atitlan

Kayaking on Lake Atitlan

Culture/ Local life


Immerse yourself in the culture and local communities surrounding the lake to gain a deeper connection to and understanding of Guatemala and the Mayan culture. 


  • Visit Chichicastenango, Central America’s largest outdoor market. 
  • Do a Coffee Tasting Tour at CoAtitlán
  • Visit the local market of Santiago. It is a vibrant place full of fresh vegetables and fruit. Most of what’s available is locally grown, so you can enjoy seasonal produce, try new flavors, and support the local economy. Do not forget to try jocotes, zapote and pitaya when they are in season.
  • Visit Santiago Central Park. Besides being a nice spot with a 3D map of the lake in the middle of the park, it’s surrounded by street food which is very popular amongst locals, and worth trying. You can try tostadas, dobladas, chuchitos, tamales, rellenitos, atol & patín (traditional food from Santiago Atitlán made with tomato sauce and spices). 
  • Visit the Catholic Church built in the XVI century and Parque de la Paz in Santiago to learn about recent history
  • Visit Casa Museo Concepción Ramírez in Santiago, dedicated to the Tz’utujil woman appearing on the Guatemalan 25-cent coin
  • Try a chocofruta (frozen fruit dipped in chocolate). They are sold across the Lake, just ask the locals
  • Visit an artisanal brewery in Santiago, owned by a family from the USA who has been living in Santiago and getting involved in community projects for many years. 
  • Eat at Germinaciones or Le Antigua, both are cosy places to try creative cuisine and hang out with friends. 
  • Have ceviche in one of the many cevicherias in Santiago
  • Enjoy a picnic of barbeque and tacos at the local parks (Xechivoy and Pachichaj). Everyone loves going to hang out and eat at the picnic tables with lake views and surrounded by nature. 
  • Visit Hotel Bambú and its beautiful garden or La Posada and its magnificent views towards the lake (ask for their terrace!)
  • Play basketball or soccer with local friends and students from our Learning Center. 



Volunteers enjoying local life in Santiago Atitlan

Volunteers enjoying local life in Santiago Atitlan


Classes/ Workshops: 


Learn a new skill such as pottery, Tz’utujil, or painting while gaining even more knowledge of the local culture. 


  • Learn Spanish & Tz’utujil – our host families have recommendations for excellent local teachers, some of our volunteers have taken Spanish classes and were happy with their progress, and some have taken Tz’utujil classes, which is an amazing opportunity to understand other cultural aspects from daily life in this Mayan community. 
  • Visit local artists from Santiago – Galeria Iglesia de Arte, Diego y Gherardi Mesia or Galeria de Arte Juan Sisay
  • Visit art galleries and take painting classes – La Galeria in Panajachel, Galeria de Arte Chiya or Galleria Imox in San Juan
  • Try Pottery workshops and Shopping in San Antonio
  • Learn about artisanal chocolate at Liccor Marron Chocolate in San Juan
  • Participate in permaculture and ancestral Mayan wisdom workshops at IMAP (Mesoamerican Institute of Permaculture) in San Lucas Tolimán
  • Learn the traditional recipes from local friends and host families
  • Do you like mushrooms? Visit the Fungi Academy in Tzununa
  • Attend a Cacao ceremony at Lavalove in San Marcos
  • Take a yoga class at the Mystical Yoga Farm



Workshops and classes in Lake Atitlan


Support the community 


If you are interested in sustainable and ethical tourism during your stay here, there are a few options for you to have an impact in the community, beyond the work you are doing with One, Two…Tree! 




Volunteers supporting Guatemala

Volunteers participating in sustainable and community projects


There are so many ways to get involved in the local community, immerse yourself in the Guatemalan culture, and soak up the nature of beautiful Lake Atitlán. 


When you are in Guatemala, we can help direct you to any of the organizations or companies we mentioned above to ensure that you feel comfortable, safe, and happy during your entire time with us! 


Volunteer with us this year! 


We are currently seeking more English Teacher Volunteers to join us this year to support our growing Learning Center and English programs in Santiago. If you or anyone you know is interested, please contact us at: guatemala@onetwo-tree.com  


How our partnership with Cojolyá empowers our community

Who is Cojolyá and what is their impact? 


Cojolyá is a non-profit organisation in Santiago Atitlán that began during the Civil War in 1983. It has developed into an association of artisans who create Fair Trade products for sale locally and internationally. Cojolyá has a holistic approach that, includes providing educational programs for the children of the community, as well as personal and professional development for the artisans. 


Cojolyá programs currently support ten children and adolescents by providing school supplies and scholarships. Lately, because of the restrictions in public schools due to the Covid-19 pandemic, assistance programs have provided the students with a tutor in addition to regular educational supports.


Cojolyá is having a direct impact on the lives of the artisans, their families and the general community of Santiago, and it is also supporting Fair Trade efforts.

nglish Teacher Volunteers in Santiago

English Teacher Volunteers in Santiago


How does our partnership work?  


One, Two…Tree! has partnered with Cojolyá to ensure that both organizations are able to have double the impact in Santiago. 


Beginning last year,  One, Two… Tree! teamed up with Cojolyá to provide students with English lessons. It was immediately apparent that the collaboration was having a positive impact. The in-person classes were a success and the students enjoyed them. Now, with our very own Learning Center, the students will be able to attend lessons and take advantage of more opportunities to learn and practice English. 


Similarly, Don Antonio, Cojolyá’s artisan founder, and Carina, the administrator, both attend adult classes at the center as well. 


Learning English in Guatemala

Learning English in Guatemala


This year, One, Two… Tree! is collaborating on various activities with the students of Cojolyá every month, which provides them with different ways to learn and practice English that are outside the traditional methods of education. For example, every month One, Two… Tree! hosts a cultural celebration in English featuring a different theme each time so that the students can learn new vocabulary in a fun and unique way. 


One of the volunteers, Kelly from Greece, was also a part-time volunteer with Cojolyá when she was here earlier this year. Some of our other volunteers have collaborated with Cojolyá’s partner artisans by taking weaving classes and buying Cololyá’s products, since Cojolyá is a weaving association part of the WFTO (World Fair Trade Organization). Doña María, one of the partner artisans, really enjoyed the visit from the One, Two… Tree! volunteers, so she dressed them all in traditional clothes! 


English Teachers in Guatemala

English Teachers in Guatemala


What is your role as an English teacher volunteer? 


Apart from in-person teaching and activities in the classroom, it is exciting to watch volunteers get creative and find new ways to present English materials to the students.


For example, this year, volunteers Elinor from Belgium, Alizée from France, Kelly from Greece, Carmela from Spain, and Gersom from Guatemala have all been helping us plan the cultural activities and curriculum for the students. Through the use of fun activities, these volunteers ensure that each student receives equal amounts of attention and opportunities to practice their English. Carmela is also a part-time volunteer math tutor with Cojolyá.

One, Two… Tree! is proud to be partnering with Cojolyá to provide students with the opportunity to learn English to increase the overall impact of education and development in Santiago Atitlán. 


Teach English in Guatemala

Teach English in Guatemala


Volunteer with us this year! 


One, Two… Tree! is seeking more English teacher volunteers to come to Santiago, Guatemala to help expand the programs and reach of the organisation, and boost impact on the community. 


If you would like to learn more about volunteering with One, Two… Tree! and Cojolyá, please send us an email to: guatemala@onetwo-tree.com  


Nonprofit partnership in Guatemala

Nonprofit partnership in Guatemala



Our partnership with Puerta Abierta to increase our impact in Santiago


Who is Puerta Abierta? 

Puerta Abierta is another non-profit in Santiago Atitlán focused on education and development of the community.


They have opened the first creative school in the area that focuses on education through innovative programming for students at the kindergarten level through to grade six. They also have a community library that is open to other schools and programs to use as a resource to support their curriculums. 

School in Santiago, Guatemala

School in Santiago, Guatemala

What does our partnership look like?

At the beginning of this year, we began our partnership with Puerta Abierta in order to bring more programming, resources, and development to Santiago. 


We are providing English lessons to all students at Puerta Abierta, and providing bilingual materials to support their learning as well. Our English teacher volunteers are sharing their time with Puerta Abierta to ensure that these English classes are being delivered to their students on a regular basis. 


In exchange, Puerta Abierta has provided us with books and materials to help our teachers with lesson planning and developing activities for our Learning Center so that they are well prepared and equipped, especially since some of our volunteers do not have an education background. 


Amanda, the founder of Puerta Abierta, has also prepared a workshop as a resource for our teachers to learn techniques when working with younger students. We are so thankful for the opportunity to learn from their work in alternative education in Santiago. 

English Teacher Volunteer in Guatemala

English Teacher Volunteer in Guatemala

Our impact

This partnership means that both organizations can have a stronger impact. Amanda Flyer, the founder of Puerta Abierta talks about our impact and work together:  


“At the beginning of 2022, we were overjoyed to learn that One Two…Tree! would be partnering with the Puerta Abierta Learning Center to offer English classes to our students. 


Our collaboration with One Two…Tree! goes much further than teaching English. My favorite moments of observation have been the mutual exchanges of inquiry and curiosity passed between volunteers, teachers, and students regarding culture, lifestyles, and countries of origin.  We have been fortunate to receive volunteers from Greece, Spain, Belgium, France, and different areas of Guatemala in just a short span of time.


One Two…Tree! volunteers have also been collaborating with ongoing cultural exchanges that the Puerta Abierta has established with schools in the United States. I have found great joy in working with Carmela on our preschool exchange with a school based in Boston, MA.  I’m grateful for Carmela’s extra set of hands and creative outlook which have enhanced our interaction with young children in Guatemala and the USA.” 

Puerta Abierta Partnership

Puerta Abierta Partnership

Joining forces 

Our partnership is beneficial for both nonprofits to do their work efficiently and effectively. Juanita Chiviliú, the Director of Puerta Abierta explains what this partnership means for her work. 


“As the director of an unconventional school in rural Guatemala, finding creative, dynamic, and empathetic English teachers proves to be a great challenge. So having the link this year with One Two…Tree! has been a great opportunity for our center to continue to provide an education full of love, joy, and celebration of cultures with our students.


Personally, I love to see the friendship that is cultivated between the volunteers and the students and teachers during the English classes. Teachers and children always want more, which means that they enjoy it and want to learn, so both institutions are achieving our goals.”

English Teacher Volunteer in Santiago

Your role as a volunteer

Mary Chiviliu Ajtujal, a sixth-grade teacher with Puerta Abierta talks about the role of One Two Tree…! volunteers within this partnership. 


“It has been nice to have the teachers of One Two Tree…! in the class during these months. For the students, it has been very positive to see different people and learn about other cultures while learning another language. It has helped them a lot since sometimes it is difficult to meet and talk with new people. 


The teachers have made it possible to resume learning the English language. It has been difficult lately with the hybrid education modality (online and in person, due to the pandemic) to maintain continuous learning of this language, but the teachers have been very open to accommodate the changes that this modality represents. All the teachers are very grateful for the openness, passion, and creativity that they bring to our center in this way and in other ways.”


We are so grateful for and excited about this partnership with Puerta Abierta and all of the possibilities it brings to the students and the community of Santiago Atitlán. 


If you would like to learn more about volunteering with us and Puerta Abierta, please send us an email to: guatemala@onetwo-tree.com  

Informative interview with our amazing English volunteer: Kelly!

In this #InterviewSeries post, we interview Kelly, a volunteer from Greece who joined us in January. She shares all of the details about her time and experience as an English Teacher Volunteer with One, Two… Tree! in Guatemala. Let’s get started!


Question (One, Two… Tree!): Hi Kelly! Thank you for joining us for this interview.

Answer (Kelly): Hello! Thank you for inviting me to share my experience!


QCould you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your background?

A: For as long as I can remember I have loved traveling, meeting people, and being a (non-formal) teacher :). I am a youth worker back in Greece and manage many global education projects. So, I thought, “what could be better than some action in the field with One, Two…Tree!?”

English Teacher Volunteer in Guatemala

English Teacher Volunteer in Guatemala

Q: Could you provide some details about when and where you volunteered with us, and for how long?

A: I volunteered with One, Two…Tree! in rural Guatemala (I recommend always going to rural areas for such projects), in the village Santiago Atitlan on the Lake. I was there for 1 month; the first month of 2022 (wish it could have been for longer) for the best start to the year!


QCould you tell us a bit about what your daily life was like as an English volunteer?

A: My daily life was more than exciting. You are always doing so many different things with different people and with so many stimuli that you take with you back home. You are busy with the classes in the mornings, then have lunch with your host family or explore the colorful market and prepare your own food. Then, you prepare for class materials, grade, complete worksheets, participate in team meetings – you know… the teacher’s life!


Team activities on the weekends range from day trips around the lake to hiking and Mayan ceremonies, interactions with the locals- students or others – exploring the rich culture of Guatemala, and enjoying the warm hearts of the people. The list is as endless as your imagination!

English Classes in Santiago Atitlan

English Classes in Santiago Atitlan

QWhere did you stay in Santiago, Guatemala?

A: I stayed with a lovely local family, in a private room with a nice balance of autonomy and blending at the same time. Maritza, the host mom, was cooking for me and helped me practice Spanish in the most efficient way. Pedro, the host dad, was caring and also explained a lot about the institutions and situation in Guatemala. Azul, the sweet girl, was one of my students and it was amazing to see her at home and at school. The stay was very comfortable and very interactive. I really miss them!


Q: Did you feel that your volunteering work had an impact on the community?

A: Absolutely, from day 1. The engagement with the students in the English classes and beyond is so direct, and much needed. The classes are helping them to improve their lives, increase their employability and have a dignified future. It is much more than that though, as it is a very enriching intercultural engagement, a beneficial way for both sides (volunteer and community) to gain more self-confidence, more ideas, self-esteem, deep connections, and life satisfaction.

One, Two… Tree! Volunteering

Q: Did you have an opportunity to learn any Spanish?

A: ¡Absolutely! This was one of the highlights of the experience. Staying together with a family is the best way to learn the basics and beyond and become proud of it. Knocking down the language barrier also opens up the heart and makes the connections and your impact even deeper. You can also have a language exchange with your new Guatemalteco friends to boost your language skills!


QWhat is something you wish you knew before coming to Guatemala to volunteer?

A: I wish I knew how much you can do, give and learn – I would have scheduled to stay longer!


QWhat is the best memory you have from your experience?

A: It is impossible to pick just one, I have so many precious moments, connections, activities, smiles, and hugs. I think if I had to choose, it would be the first opening day of the One, Two…Tree! learning center that took place in February, thanks to the amazing teamwork by the volunteers. The reward of the emotions felt when the kids, teens, and adults were coming to learn English cannot be put into words.

Teaching English to Children in Guatemala

Teaching English to Children in Guatemala

Q: Do you have any advice for future volunteers who want to start this adventure?

A: Come live this life-changing experience, serve a community really in need, and receive more than you will give! Come with an open mind and an open heart leaving every fear from the Western world behind!


One, Two…Tree!: Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us, Kelly!

Kelly: You’re welcome!


If you are interested in learning more about volunteering in Guatemala this year, please contact us at: guatemala@onetwo-tree.com

One, Two… Tree! English Teacher Volunteer

Our first English Learning Center in Santiago, Guatemala!

Our English Learning Center opened in Santiago Atitlan in February to provide more English classes to more students, both children, and adults of all levels.


Our Learning Center Brings More English Classes to More Students!


At the beginning of February, the doors to our new Learning Center opened in Santiago, Atitlán. Since our work was affected by the pandemic due to the constantly changing rules around classes and restrictions in public schools, we decided to open our own center in order to bring more English classes to more students! We will still be bringing our English teachers and curriculum to schools, additionally offering these classes to the community.

English Teacher Volunteers at our Learning Center

English Teacher Volunteers at our Learning Center

We found the space in a central location, close to the schools we work with. With the help of our current volunteers, we painted the building and cleaned it up in order to open our doors quickly because we were receiving lots of inquiries from families in the community. We have already begun teaching our English curriculum to both children and adults in the center.

Volunteers Painting Our Learning Center

Volunteers Painting Our Learning Center

How the English Learning Center Works

The Learning Center is open every day and classes are available for students during after-school hours. Classes for children are available between 4:00-5:00 pm, and teens and adults can join us for classes between 6:00-7:00 pm. There are three classrooms in the center, meaning that multiple groups can study simultaneously. We currently have two classes for each age group; one is for students at the beginner level, and the other is for more advanced levels.

English Classes in our Learning Center

English Classes in our Learning Center

We are using the same curriculum as we have been using in public schools. This curriculum focuses on introducing our students to English with a special focus on developing listening and speaking as well as the acquisition of basic vocabulary to provide a foundation on which to continue learning English. We include worksheets, activities, games and short quizzes. Some of the materials, such as books, that we are using in the Learning Center are provided by Puerta Abierta, a nonprofit organization that we partner with here in Santiago. These materials help to enrich our English classes and enhance the experience of the students.


What Does This Mean for Our English Teacher Volunteers?

One Two…Tree! volunteers will still work with us for approximately 16 hours per week, however, now those hours will be divided between working in public school classrooms and teaching at the Learning Center. These hours will vary depending on the current government restrictions for public schools, as well as the demand for classes at the Learning Center.

English Teacher Volunteers in Santiago

English Teacher Volunteers in Santiago

The Learning Center will provide our English teacher volunteers with a home base that they can help develop and contribute to. So far, our volunteers have helped us set up the space and ensure the classrooms are optimized for learning at all levels.


The Space Will Be Open to the Community

Our Learning Center will also be open to other local programs and organizations. The intention behind the Learning Center is to create a safe learning space for everyone in the community. For example, Instituto Tzanjuyú, the secondary school that we partner with, has lent us chairs, tables, and whiteboards, and in exchange, they will use the space to host a chess club and guitar lessons for their students and anyone who wants to join.


The Learning Center will also be a recycling point for the community. Our friends at Amigos del Lago will come every Monday to pick up everyone’s recycling. Currently, the community throws everything out together in the garbage, so not only are we providing a space for recycling to be easily dropped off and picked up, but we are also educating the community on the importance of recycling and what items can be recycled in our programming.

Adult English Classes in Santiago Atitlan

We are excited to continue to develop our Learning Center to ensure it is an open space for the whole community to come together and learn.


If you are interested in learning more about our Learning Center or volunteering with us in Guatemala this year, please contact us at: guatemala@onetwo-tree.com