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Tickling Tongues and Tackling Numbers: Reflecting on a Year of English Empowerment

As we gear up for the commencement of another year of English programs in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala, we’re taking a moment to reflect on the past year. We want to express our huge appreciation to the community of Santiago and our donors for their support, and to our amazing volunteers who enabled us to deliver our programs and make positive impacts.

 

A glance at our key achievements in 2023

 

Reach and number of schools involved

 

Spreading English like confetti, we dazzled the minds of 300 kids across 5 public schools! Grades 4, 5, and 6 were our fearless language adventurers, and together, we created a symphony of verbs, nouns, and a lot of ‘Aha!’ moments.

 

Benefited students

 

We’ve had a blast teaching English to almost 160 students at our Learning Center too. Across two semesters, we rolled out 10 English programs to kids and adults. And to keep things interesting, we sprinkled in some one-on-one conversation classes. Because, who says language learning can’t be a VIP experience?

 

We also teamed up with the crafty women of Cojolya in Santiago. From translating lessons on the art of weaving to orchestrating English activities, we were there.

 

Training of local teachers and their impact on the community

 

We tapped into our English-teaching super powers to help upskill community members, and voila! One has now secured a job as an English teacher in Santiago! We are very proud to have contributed to the empowerment of a Santiagüeña.

 

A big thank you to our Volunteers

 

A big shoutout to our volunteers! We had 21 awesome humans supporting our project last year – 6 of them brought the Santiago vibe, and the rest? Well, they joined the party from all corners of the globe! From Spain, the UK, Germany, Italy, the USA, Portugal, the Netherlands, to Australia—talk about a diverse and collaborative squad making things happen!

 

Check out our 2023 wrap-up video for a sneak peak of our volunteers in action in Santiago!

Educational programs and innovative methodologies implemented

 

Techniques and teaching methods used

 

Active learning strategies are the backbone of our methodology. Scaffolding, problem-solving activities, hands-on work, peer teaching… you name it! Teaching is a partnership, a dynamic two-way street, so not only do we share our “power” with our students, we also create scenarios where they can’t resist using their English.

 

We always kick off our lesson by having a lively discussion about what the students remember from our last session. We like to get them engaged and excited about the learning journey we’re on together. As we wrap things up, we sprinkle in a cheerful summary of the day’s discoveries. This way, we’re creating a chain of lessons that sparks their memory and keeps them eager for more.

 

We also want to make sure our students grasp the concepts without relying on Spanish. In fact, we don’t speak Spanish in class at all! We make use of your own resources, like mimicking, drawing, gesturing… The goal is for them to understand the concept first, and then the translation will naturally follow in their minds. We want to keep those brains flexible and agile! We also try to make ourselves understood by modulating our voice, using Latin words and our body language.

 

Looking to the future: our programs in 2024

 

Expanding our reach across public schools and the Learning Center

 

We’re riding a wave of enthusiasm because there’s an incoming tsunami of volunteers! With their help, we’re set to partner with six schools this year, where we will again be teaching English to kids in grades 4, 5 and 6!  The anticipation is building up, and on February 15th , the public schools will come alive with learning and excitement.

 

The Learning Center is clearly a hot spot for eager adult learners and our one-to-one lessons are always a sought-after gem, so we’ll continue to meet that demand. Our classes at the Learning Center will kick-off on 19 February and we are pumped to have new cohorts of kids and adults join our English programs.

 

Exploring collaborations and partnerships

 

We are eager to strengthen our connections within the community by seeking new collaboration opportunities and supporting local initiatives. On top of that, we’re also actively exploring partnership opportunities with educational institutions and beyond to boost our volunteer network and in turn broaden our impact.

 

If you would like to partner with us, or have ideas for collaboration don’t hesitate to contact us !

 

How you can participate: volunteering and support in 2024

 

Embarking on a volunteering journey with One, Two… Tree! is a wonderful choice, and we’re excited to welcome enthusiastic volunteer English teachers to join us in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala.

 

To kickstart your journey with us, reaching out is easy. You can express your interest by sending an email to our team in Guatemala , completing the volunteer contact form on our website, or connecting with us through Instagram.

 

Once we receive your inquiry, our team will promptly get in touch, providing you with all the details about our project. Our volunteer coordinator will arrange an interview, giving us the chance to get to know you better and address any queries you may have. Following the interview, we’ll guide you through the necessary steps to prepare for your trip, including the submission of required documentation such as a criminal record check, photo ID, and an insurance policy.

 

As your volunteering journey with us approaches, we’ll share a comprehensive introduction package a month before your arrival. This package includes valuable information on our work processes, tips for living in Santiago Atitlán, and training materials to help you prepare for your teaching role.

 

During your stay, you will be supported by our awesome coordinators and your fellow volunteers and no doubt, you will make some great friends within the community.

 

Can’t make it to Guatemala? Reach out to explore how your talents can be used remotely or head on over to our donations page to check out how you can contribute.

 

We look forward to connecting with you and sharing this meaningful experience!

 

What Are the Main Pros and Cons of Volunteering?

What Are the Main Pros and Cons of Volunteering?

 

Are you interested on community service? Learn about the positive effects of volunteering and some of the challenges you may face during your volunteer journey!

 

What motivates people to volunteer?

Volunteering brings people together like a dance floor at a wedding. You’re part of a gang with the same mission. There’s something heart-warming about fighting the good fight side by side.

Some people treat volunteering as a personal training ground. You’re out there, learning stuff that might just come in handy beyond the volunteer party. Others use volunteering as a break from the snooze-fest of regular life. It’s a chance to inject a bit of excitement and purpose into the routine.

So, why should you volunteer? Because it’s not just about giving; it’s about receiving a lot in return – joy, connections, growth, and that awesome sense of making the world a bit brighter.

 

Pros of Volunteering:

Volunteering is like this secret party, but everyone’s invited. It’s this wild, unpredictable journey where you end up discovering more about the world and yourself than you ever imagined. Let’s look at some of the benefits of doing community service.

 

You can learn new skills

 

Embarking on different projects opens doors to diverse skills. Dive into tech, and you could master mobile app development, coding, and digital solutions. Event promotion or cause championing might transform you into a marketing whiz, handling social media, campaign development, and content creation. If storytelling is your forte, documenting experiences or project impacts turns you into a narrative ninja. From the comfort of your couch, you could become a remote work superhero and excel in precise communication, time management and seamless collaboration. For those in education, virtual volunteering can morph you into an online teaching and tutoring wizard.

 

You can volunteer abroad

 

When you volunteer abroad, as our One, Two…Tree! volunteers do, you’re basically diving headfirst into local customs, traditions, and the real deal of everyday life. Chatting it up with the locals day in and day out will have you throwing around colloquialisms in no time.

And let’s talk about worldview expansion. Volunteering abroad is about getting a front-row seat to diverse perspectives and global issues. Flexibility and adaptability become your middle names. You’re navigating through all sorts of cultural twists and turns, and these skills become second nature.

One, Two…Tree! volunteers connect with diverse communities and cultures.

You could meet new people and expand your network

 

Don’t be a wallflower; jump into events, workshops, and all the cool training sessions your volunteering crew throws together. And hey, don’t limit your networking game to just volunteering stuff. Step out of your volunteer comfort zone and dive into the local scene. Social media? Most volunteer organizations have their own groups or pages. Spill the tea on the ups and downs, and stay in the loop about what’s on the horizon. Check out our Instagram page to see what our One, Two…Tree! volunteers have been up to!

 

Personal Growth

 

Volunteering is your door to self-discovery. You might stumble upon hidden talents, passions, or parts of yourself you didn’t know existed. It also often means connecting with people facing tough times. You become an emotional intelligence wizard, learning empathy, compassion, and how to ride the emotional rollercoaster. And, as you assess situations, identify needs, and whip up solutions. Your critical thinking skills will help you make smart decisions.

 

You improve your soft skills and CV

 

Volunteering can lead you to CV glory and a soft skills upgrade. Time to show the professional world what you’re made of!

Lots of volunteer gigs let you take charge of projects, events, or campaigns. Slap those on your CV! Employers dig those who bring a bit of a worldview and can handle different cultures. And when the drama unfolds in group settings, and conflicts are on the menu, volunteering teaches you to navigate that terrain.

 

Cons of Volunteering:

It’s not always rainbows and sunshine in the volunteering world. Let’s talk about the flip side, the negative effects of community service, that sometimes sneak up on you when you’re knee-deep in good intentions.

 

Emotional involvement and impact

 

One big emotional curveball is burnout. You’re all in, giving your time and energy, and suddenly, it hits you like a ton of bricks – exhaustion, fatigue, you name it. When you’re dealing with heavy stuff, there’s this thing called compassion fatigue. You absorb so many emotions that you’re left feeling numb, detached, or just less empathetic.

Setting boundaries can be a real challenge, especially when you’re dealing with personal stories and struggles. So, where do you draw the line? Witnessing suffering, dealing with personal safety concerns, or just being overwhelmed by the enormity of social issues – that’s the emotional weight that can come with certain volunteer posts.

 

Frustration

 

Picture this: you’re trying to tackle an issue, but the impact isn’t as great as you expected. Maybe the challenges are way more stubborn than you expected. Then there’s the lack of recognition. You’re pouring your effort, but it feels like nobody’s noticing. No pat on the back, no acknowledgment. Sometimes, frustration kicks in when you’ve got these big expectations. You think you’re going to rock it, change lives, and leave your mark. But reality hits, and it’s not as glamorous or impactful as you imagined.

 

You put in the time and the money

 

So, let’s spill the tea on why overseas volunteering is a bit of a time and money whirlwind. Visas, flights, where the heck you’ll bunk – it’s a pre-departure puzzle that takes time to solve. It can also mean shelling out your hard-earned cash.

Picture this: you find this amazing volunteer opportunity, but it’s halfway across the globe. Exciting, right? Until you realize you’ve got to dip into your savings for that flight ticket and let’s not forget about accommodation or food!

Volunteering overseas isn’t a pop-in, pop-out situation. You might be in it for weeks or months. That’s time away from your job, family, and your usual routine. Plus, some volunteering gigs might need you to undergo training or obtain certain qualifications, adding more time and cost.

 

Confrontation with other people’s reality

 

Alright, let’s talk about one of the real and tough parts of volunteering – the confrontation with other people’s reality. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions – empathy, compassion, frustration, and maybe even a bit of guilt for having a different reality. It can be messy, emotional, and sometimes uncomfortable.

Picture this: you’re in a community, maybe halfway across the globe. You see first-hand the challenges people are facing – perhaps it’s poverty, lack of access to education, or health issues. It’s a reality check that hits you square in the face.

You might also find yourself in situations where you can’t fix everything. You want to, you really do, but the reality is, some problems are deeply rooted and complex. It’s a humbling experience, realizing that your efforts, while meaningful, might not be the solution you envisioned.

 

FAQs

What are some key benefits of volunteering?

 

  1. Dive into Learning:

You’re out there, getting your hands dirty. Social issues, community dynamics – you’re right in the thick of it, applying the stuff you’ve read about. Some posts even throw you into this mix of different fields, like a knowledge buffet. It’s not just learning; it’s applying, doing, and looking at problems from all angles.

  1. Feel the Feels and build resilience:

You’re dealing with all sorts of people, navigating through the ups and downs of community life. It’s like a crash course in understanding emotions – yours and others’. And guess what? You’re not just learning to deal with it; you’re building up your emotional strength.

  1. Reputation Boost:

Volunteering isn’t just good for the soul; it’s a reputation booster. Whether you’re rocking it in your personal life or hustling in the professional world, people notice when you’re out there making a difference.

 

Volunteers in action at our Learning Centre in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala.

Does volunteering reduce stress?

 

Volunteer work is a game-changer, breaking the cycle of negative thoughts and worries that often run on a loop in our heads. Now, here’s the science behind it – acts of kindness trigger the release of neurotransmitters, the feel-good chemicals. We’re talking serotonin and oxytocin, the brain’s own happiness cocktail.

But it’s not just about the brain; it’s a full-body experience. Depending on the kind of volunteering you’re into, you might find yourself getting active. Physical activity is a known stress-buster, releasing endorphins – your body’s natural mood lifters.

And here’s a bonus – volunteering nudges you towards mindfulness. It’s this sneaky way of encouraging you to be present, fully engaged in the task at hand. Instead of stressing about what’s coming next, you’re right there in the moment.

 

Is volunteer work good for mental health?

 

From a psychological perspective, volunteering is a powerhouse for mental well-being. When you engage in volunteer work, you’re essentially rewiring your brain in ways that contribute to positive mental health. It is a cognitive workout too. Learning new tasks, problem-solving, and engaging in meaningful activities contribute to cognitive flexibility and mental agility. Your brain becomes more adept at handling diverse situations, and this cognitive stimulation is a buffer against mental health hurdles.

Volunteering also challenges your comfort zone. You might find yourself in situations you never thought you’d be in, dealing with people from all walks of life. Stepping outside your bubble not only broadens your perspective but also makes you more adaptable. And guess what? An adaptive mind is a resilient mind, a key ingredient for good mental health.

 

What skills do you need for volunteering?

 

One thing that stands out is the need for clear and effective communication. You will have to collaborate with a bunch of people, each bringing their A-game toward a common goal, and being able to express ideas clearly and listen actively is crucial.

And let’s talk about the human side of volunteering. You’re likely to interact with people facing all sorts of challenges. This is where empathy and compassion come into play – understanding others’ perspectives and offering support. That’s why having self-care skills is non-negotiable. It’s about balancing the scale between giving to others and taking care of your own well-being.

And as you’re navigating this volunteer journey, recognizing and valuing the contributions of your fellow volunteers is key. Openness to feedback, understanding your own limitations, and being receptive to constructive criticism – it’s what makes you a useful team player.

 

What is the toughest aspect of volunteering?

 

Volunteering can be a bit of a tightrope walk, especially when you’re dealing with organizations that operate on shoestring budgets. The constraints on time, funding, or manpower can make it tough for volunteers to hit their goals or create a significant impact.

You may also encounter resistance. Introducing new ideas or initiatives can face pushback, both from within the organization and the community. Changing the game might mean shaking up the status quo, and not everyone is on board with that. Navigating this resistance becomes a challenge that volunteers often have to dance around to bring about positive change.

Last but not least, ethical dilemmas. You can find yourself in situations where values ​​clash or decisions become morally complicated. Manoevering in this ethical maze requires a solid framework and critical thinking. It’s not just about doing the right thing, but figuring out what that right thing is in the first place.

 

Weighing it up!

So, yes, burnout and compassion fatigue can be a part of the emotional rollercoaster of volunteering. Boundaries blur when dealing with personal struggles. Confronting others’ realities might be uncomfortable, realizing that your efforts might not be the envisioned solution. Expectations collide with reality. And overseas volunteering? A money and time whirlwind. Visas, flights, food, accommodation…

But we mustn’t forget that volunteering can be a skill booster, enhancing social media, storytelling, and teaching prowess. Plus, it’s CV gold, it expands your social circle and reveals hidden talents. Abroad, interactions enrich language skills and cultural adaptability. It’s also a mental health powerhouse, releasing feel-good chemicals, and rewiring your brain for cognitive flexibility and resilience.

Well then, are you in?

What skills does volunteering give you?

What skills does volunteering give you?

One of the most cited reasons for volunteering is to gain knowledge and skills. In addition to contributing to a fairer and more humane society, volunteering helps develop a diverse array of ‘volunteer skills and qualities’, beneficial for both your personal and working life.

 

In the journey of volunteer work, organizations like One, Two, Tree! serve as a catalyst in your skill development process. Volunteering can turn into a once-in-a-lifetime experience, especially when you choose to lend your skills to noble causes. Let’s take a glimpse at the skills that you can learn and how to apply them!

 

What skills do you gain from volunteering?

Teamwork

 

Volunteering offers a valuable opportunity to collaborate with others towards a shared objective. Through volunteering, you will have the chance to interact with individuals from diverse backgrounds and cultures, fostering a greater understanding of diversity and inclusion. Engaging in volunteer work can also enhance your ability to function as an effective team player, a quality that is crucial for success in the workplace, wouldn’t you agree?

 

Relationship building

 

Volunteering provides a platform for building meaningful connections with individuals who possess varying backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. This experience can help you cultivate skills such as developing empathy, establishing trust, demonstrating respect, and effectively managing conflicts. By fostering strong relationships with others, you can contribute more effectively within a team and community, and create a positive environment. These invaluable skills can be applied wherever your journey takes you, making a difference in any setting you find yourself in.

One, Two… Tree! dream team

 

Interpersonal skills

 

Developing your teamwork capacities leads to boosting your interpersonal skills. You’ll become better equipped to interact with people and handle various situations that may arise in the workplace. 

 

Communication

 

Participating in volunteer work allows you to develop vital interpersonal communication skills, such as active listening, empathy, and conflict resolution. Moreover, volunteering can provide opportunities for public speaking, enabling you to refine your articulation, tone, and overall confidence. Interpersonal communication and public speaking are highly regarded skills that will make you a more effective and influential worker. Be sure to highlight these strengths during job interviews!

 

Time management

 

As a volunteer, you often have to balance your volunteer work with other commitments, teaching you valuable skills in task prioritization and effective time management.

 

While working as a volunteer, unexpected events may arise, which may require modifying your agenda and plans. Being flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances is essential for efficient time management.

 

Additionally, volunteering often requires committing to a specific schedule, allowing you to hone your abilities in planning your activities and responsibilities effectively.

 

Punctuality

 

Punctuality skills demonstrate professionalism and respect. When you volunteer, you make a commitment to the organization, and arriving on time for your scheduled activities is crucial. Being late can have consequences, such as causing delays, overburdening other volunteers, or missing important tasks. Volunteering helps you cultivate accountability for everyone’s time. 

 

Commitment, awareness of consequences, and accountability are all valuable skills that make you an invaluable asset within any organization.

 

Organization

 

Volunteering offers an excellent opportunity to improve your organizational skills. Keeping up with changes in your role, ensuring preparedness with necessary materials, and effectively collaborating with a team all require you to be organized and proactive. In volunteer work, you may also need to manage resources like money or supplies, allowing you to develop skills in budgeting, forecasting, and efficient resource management. Depending on the nature of the volunteer work, you may need to juggle multiple tasks or projects concurrently. By learning to prioritize, delegate, and manage tasks, you can enhance your organization and efficiency. 

 

Goals and dates management

 

As you can see, these skills intertwine and form a powerful set. Volunteering can also foster skills in setting and achieving goals. For instance, in a teaching role, you may be tasked with completing a unit within a specific time frame, preparing you to establish specific, achievable, and time-bound objectives. Many volunteer organizations require progress reporting, allowing you to develop skills in taking responsibility for your work, meeting deadlines, and delivering on commitments. This is particularly valuable in objective-driven professions where effective goal management and meeting deadlines are highly regarded.

 

Leadership skills

 

Leadership, like any skill, can be cultivated, developed, and enhanced, and volunteering provides an excellent avenue to do so. Engaging in volunteer work can make you a more confident and adaptable individual, empowering you to take that step upwards. Moreover, when working within a team, you will often need to take  initiative, further honing your leadership abilities.

 

Gain self-confidence

 

Many volunteer organizations create a supportive environment that encourages learning, embracing mistakes, and personal growth, free from the fear of criticism. You are also likely to receive positive feedback from your peers, fellow volunteers, or the community you serve. Knowing that your efforts are making a difference can be a profound motivator and a source of self-esteem. Learning new skills, overcoming challenges, and contributing to positive change all lead to a sense of pride and accomplishment.

One of our volunteers leading an English class

Problems solving: Think smart = Smart Solutions

 

Volunteering inevitably presents challenges and obstacles along the way, making problem-solving skills invaluable. Facing adversity helps you develop the ability to come up with smart solutions under pressure.

 

Critical Thinking

 

As a volunteer, you may encounter situations that demand creative and analytical thinking. Being able to make informed decisions in critical moments without overthinking is truly a remarkable skill to possess. By nurturing these skills, you will become more effective and impactful in your work. 

 

Training and teaching

 

What other skills does volunteering give you? One of the most effective ways to learn how to teach or train others is by observing someone who is already skilled at it. Many organizations offer workshops to help volunteers develop their skills and you can take this opportunity to assimilate how it’s done.  Additionally, as projects progress, there is often a flow of volunteers coming and going. In such instances, you may actively participate in training newcomers on the essentials of the work. This hands-on involvement is an excellent way to foster your training and teaching capabilities.

 

Work ethics and Responsibility

 

Volunteering entails a significant level of responsibility that demands commitment and a strong work ethic. It involves being reliable, dependable, and accountable for your actions. By consistently showing up, completing tasks, and meeting deadlines, you can demonstrate a robust work ethic and build a reputation as a reliable and dedicated team member.

 

Commitment

 

When you volunteer, you willingly devote your time and effort to support a project, often tackling challenging tasks such as working to address complex social, economic and political issues. Through your commitment, you showcase your willingness to take on difficult responsibilities and make a meaningful impact. Volunteering may require personal sacrifices, such as giving up your free time or financial resources.

Future employers will undoubtedly value your deep commitment to meaningful causes and recognize your belief in the importance of the work being done.

 

Perseverance

 

Volunteering can often involve working with limited resources, facing rejection to your ideas or facing unexpected obstacles. Perseverance can help you stay focused and motivated in the face of these challenges. Volunteering can also provide opportunities to learn from failure and setbacks. Perseverance will help you stay resilient and use these experiences as opportunities for growth and improvement.

 

What other soft skills can you gain by volunteering?

Well, what else can you gain from volunteering? Volunteering offers much more than meets the eye.

 

Creativity: The Sky’s the limit

 

Working as a volunteer will expose you to new experiences and diverse perspectives that can ignite your creativity. Working alongside people from different backgrounds and tackling new challenges can expand your horizons to find creative solutions to problems. Many volunteer organizations are dedicated to creating positive social change, often requiring out-of-the-box thinking.  Your creative ideas can contribute to finding new ways to achieve objectives. 

 

Creativity is of paramount importance in today’s world as it fuels innovation, problem-solving, and the ability to adapt to an ever-changing landscape.

 

Compassion

 

Compassion is a quality that can be cultivated through self-awareness, practice, and a genuine desire to connect with and support others. It involves being non-judgmental, accepting. This helps create a safe and supportive environment and promotes a sense of trust and respect, which is what compassionate leaders provide. They practice servant leadership, which is about prioritising the needs of their employees and organization above their own interests. They lead by example, fostering collaboration, innovation, and personal growth.

 

By cultivating compassion in your volunteer work, you can contribute to creating a positive and uplifting environment that your colleagues will certainly appreciate. And with time and experience, you will become a compassionate leader too!

 

Cultural competence 

 

Living and interacting with a different context or culture to the one you were raised in gives you  the opportunity to be exposed to an alternative way of life. This can help deepen your empathy, question your truths and foster adaptability towards others.

 

As volunteer teachers in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala, we have to learn to read our students’ individual needs and with time we learn to tailor our approach in order to connect with them, which impacts their learning in a positive way. 

Welcome wall at one of the schools we teach in

 

How to apply your new volunteering skills in your daily life?

At this point of the article, you might be thinking, OK, fine, but… How do I apply these skills in my life? Let’s see!

 

Get out of your comfort zone

 

One way to apply all the skills learned from volunteering is by embracing new challenges and stepping out of your comfort zone. Take on opportunities like delivering presentations at work, proving to yourself that you’ve truly developed these abilities. The sense of accomplishment will be immensely satisfying.

 

We have had volunteers leading music sessions in front of an audience or jumping into organising cultural events that turned into a brilliant way to connect and strengthen bonds within the community.

 

Try helping your family and friends

 

Extend your helping hand to family and friends in everyday life. Volunteering doesn’t have to be limited to formal organizations. You can utilize your skills at home by assisting your family with technical issues, planning meaningful activities together, or even providing guidance on subjects they find challenging. If you have expertise in crafting impressive CVs, offer your assistance to friends who may benefit from it. They will surely appreciate it! 

 

Collaboration holds immense importance at One, Two… Tree! as one of our core values. Our volunteers not only assist one another but also actively seek opportunities to collaborate within the local community. This spirit of collaboration extends both ways, as many of our students generously volunteer and contribute in various ways, such as organizing outings or sharing their expertise in skills like playing musical instruments, drawing, playing chess and many more!

 

Teach your family and friends about volunteering

 

Inspire your loved ones by sharing your enthusiasm and personal experiences as a volunteer. Encourage them to explore volunteering opportunities and reassure them that they don’t need special skills for volunteering to make a difference. Help them find local organizations where they can contribute their time and talents. Additionally, consider organizing a day of volunteering together, such as participating in a local clean-up project. By involving your family and friends, you can ignite their passion for volunteering and create meaningful experiences together.

 

Many of the volunteers we receive have heard about us by word of mouth. Do spread the word about your favourite volunteer opportunities!

 

FAQs

 

What are the 5 core values of a volunteer?

 

According to the United Nations the 5 core values of volunteerism are:

  1. Solidarity
  2. Reciprocity
  3. Mutual trust
  4. Belonging
  5. Empowerment

 

What does volunteering teach you about yourself?

 

Volunteering can be a transformative experience that teaches you a great deal about yourself. It can foster a greater sense of appreciation, gratitude and belonging. Working towards something bigger than yourself can be a catalyst for personal growth and self-discovery as you learn more about yourself, your values and what truly matters to you. What a journey!

 

Is volunteering considered work experience?

 

Sure thing! You can add it as professional experience on your resume. While volunteering you are committing to an organization and to delivering outputs while putting all your professionality at it. As we have seen, volunteering helps you develop a wide range of abilities in any professional context while you absorb the expertise of the organization you volunteer for. 

 

Volunteering is a great way to collaborate within our society, working together to make the world more equitable, fair and humane. We have seen what volunteering teaches you and the skills gained from volunteering . It is now your turn to find the right volunteering for you!

Meet the new Volunteer Coordinator Team in Guatemala

Introducing our new Volunteer Country Coordinators in Guatemala – Candy, Toño and Nina!

 

One, Two… Tree! extends a warm welcome to our new Country Coordinators for our project in Guatemala –Candy, Toño and Nina!

 

Candy and Toño are natural from Lake Atitlan and both call Santiago, the beautiful lake town where One, Two… Tree! Guatemala is based, home. Having grown up in Santiago, Toño and Candy are always eager to get involved with projects that support their community. So, when the prospect of joining the One, Two… Tree! team as Volunteer Coordinators presented itself, they were more than happy to come onboard!

 

Nina is from Germany and ventured to Santiago to volunteer with One, Two… Tree! as an English teacher in early 2023. She quickly came to love Santiago, as was keen to join the Volunteer Coordinator team to continue to support the project.

 

 

 

Meet Candy, Toño and Nina! (from left to right)

Introducing Candy:  Volunteer recruitment admin and support

Candy is our very talented local volunteer who’s been working with us for a while now. She started off as a student  at our learning centre and six months later started volunteering as an English teacher. She’ll be managing volunteer recruitment, engaging with prospective volunteers to share information about the project, answer questions and arrange interviews.

 

Candy will also arrange your accommodation and transportation, ensuring details are up to date and quality is provided. Because she has grown up in Santiago, she knows almost everyone! 

 

Since she’s done fab work as a teacher, she’ll be assisting with the organization of group and team-building activities outside of teaching time, so that you experience different facets of  your stay in Santiago Atitlan. 

 

What excited you about joining the One Two Tree team?

 

As an indigenous Mayan woman, I want to set a good example for my community. Because of this, I am committed to supporting initiatives that empower people, improve access to education and that encourage and enable people to pursue opportunities. Being part of the One Two… Tree! team will enable me to contribute to such impacts within Santiago.

I also love to learn from and about other cultures. The One, Two… Tree! team is diverse, and when volunteers talk about the places they come from, it is a very emotive experience for me as I can travel through them. One of my greatest pleasures is making friends from all around the world, as I firmly believe that once you truly get to know and appreciate other cultures, barriers and stereotypes start to be challenged. Cultural exchange holds tremendous significance in combatting racism, and that’s another aspect of why I’m so passionate about being a part of One, Two… Tree!

 

Introducing Toño: Financial admin and learning Centre management

Toño worked for many years in Guatemala City and is now back in his hometown. We also met Toño as a student last year and he was very keen to join the One, Two… Tree! team this school year. He’ll be managing the budget and reporting to One, Two… Tree! which is paramount to keep the organisation afloat!

 

He will also be the point of contact with school headteachers, coordinating to understand the grading system, school timeframes and schedules, ways of working through the year and specific topics to teach, keeping regular contact with schools throughout the year to understand progress and solve any issues as they arise.

 

Taking advantage of his former training as a teacher, Toño will coordinate classes at our learning centre aimed at children, teenagers and adults within the community. He will also  identify and establish collaboration opportunities with other local NGOs and community projects. The perfect man for the job!

 

What excited you about joining the One Two Tree team?

 

I was a student with One, Two… Tree! last year and saw first-hand the real-life impacts the organization had in Santiago and was impressed by what students were able to achieve by improving their English. Joining the Volunteer Coordinator team provides me with a unique opportunity to support my community in a meaningful and practical way. I’m looking forward to  helping One, Two…Tree! grow and working with the community to provide people with opportunities to learn English and improve things.   

 

Introducing Nina: Volunteer induction and training/support, curriculums

Nina was looking to volunteer teaching English abroad and she found us! She has been doing a wonderful job as a teacher over the past 3 months so has great first hand experience of what life “on the ground” is like as a volunteer. Once you have arrived in Santiago, Nina will be carrying out the induction, helping you settle in, explaining roles and responsibilities, providing background information, showing available teaching materials and talking you through the methodology followed in our classes. To ensure that everything goes according to plan, Nina will keep the induction material up to date, embedding feedback from past volunteers.

 

We all want your experience as a volunteer in Guatemala to be memorable, so Nina will oversee the preparation of teaching material and supervise teaching quality in the classroom, offering mentoring to ensure that you flourish in your English teacher role. If you think you’ll be a little anxious when you start teaching, don’t worry! Nina will support you to allow you to develop confidence and learn by example. She will also coordinate more experienced volunteers to co-teach with as necessary for large classes  As you can see, we will go hand in hand with you until you are ready to fly! 

 

What excited you about joining the One Two Tree team?

 

I have taught German for several years, and I learned to speak English as a young adult. I’m also currently learning Spanish. These experiences have ingrained in me a deep appreciation for the worlds and possibilities that languages can unlock. I’m eager to use my skills and love of developing connections and community to help One, Two… Tree! build on its achievements of 2022 and deliver positive outcomes in Santiago.

What’s in store for One Two Tree and Santiago for 2023?

This year, we will endeavor to boost the positive impacts of 2022 and we will do this in 5 keys ways:

–    Support 5 public schools to deliver English language programs to students in grades 4th to 6th;

–    Deliver kids, teens and adults English language programs at our dedicated learning centre;

–    Collaborate with and local cooperatives and organizations to promote and support their work;

–    Increase the number of volunteers and the length of the stay. This includes recruiting and upskilling volunteers from within the community, and

–    Continuous review and improvement of the curriculums we use to deliver our programs.

 

 

What’s something you would say to someone who is thinking of joining our free volunteer program?

One of the most beautiful things you can do is empower people with knowledge. Same way someone shared that knowledge with you, keep the ball rolling. There is a saying that goes, “We are more powerful when we empower each other”. We promise you will feel pretty empowered too and you will learn way more than you teach. While not without its challenges, everyone who volunteers with One, Two… Tree! has the capacity to positively contribute here in Santiago and further away as we all take with us the beauty of volunteering and building together wherever we go.

 

What you do, even if it seems small, can have such a big effect. So, we encourage everyone thinking about free volunteering teaching English in Latin America or abroad, to take the leap and apply to join us!

How to become a volunteer teacher? Guide for beginners

How to become a volunteer teacher? Guide for beginners

 

“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.” 

 

You might be wondering what the importance of volunteering is. We believe that we all have the opportunity to vote for the kind of world we want to live in, every day. When you volunteer as a teacher, you play an essential role in a child’s life. Education is power, so as a volunteer teacher, you are allowing and enabling children to learn and grow. Many people have that one special teacher that they will remember forever because they touched their life in some way and helped them grow into the person they are today.

 

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #4 is about ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all. The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in many children losing 2-3 years of academic learning, which inevitably harshly affected already economically challenged communities. When you volunteer as a teacher, you are helping to develop this worldwide goal of access to quality education for all, especially after a difficult period of time due to the pandemic. 

 

 

How to become a volunteer teacher?

If you have a deep appreciation for education and the power it has to transform societies, and you have a strong commitment to supporting local or foreign communities, then volunteer teaching might be your calling! You will find this to be an enriching experience both for yourself and the students.

 

When volunteering as a teacher, usual requirements are:

 

  • A criminal record check since most projects involve working with children
  • To be 18+, although there might be some projects looking to promote youth leadership where those under 18 might be welcome. This would normally be the case with local volunteering where no traveling is required.
  • Have basic knowledge and passion for the teachable subject matter
  • Be proactive, creative, flexible, and self-motivated
  • Be full of energy and enthusiasm to make a difference
  • Have a passion for education, openness to new experiences, and a drive to learn new skills
  • Have an understanding that you will learn more than you teach during your time volunteering

 

 

What does a volunteer teacher do?

 

Volunteer teachers generally commit up to 16 hours per week to teaching, and most projects require at least a one-month commitment, since building relationships with the students is key to any learning process. Generally, we have found that three months is ideal to start seeing changes and progress among students.

 

When you are a teacher, you will be engaging with children of various ages and abilities. It’s important to have a patient, calm, and accepting demeanor and attitude when interacting with students. Volunteering as a teacher requires flexibility to adapt to different ways of learning to ensure the best experience for the students. 

 

The project that you choose to be a part of might have a well-defined curriculum to follow, or you might need to find resources and prepare materials. Either way, you will always need to prepare the classes in advance and adjust the content to your particular students. In English Teaching Programs specifically, your main focus should be on helping the students to learn the vocabulary and the common phrases, while for other types of programs, you may take up any subject, including math, general knowledge, geography, history, etc! 

 

Some duties and responsibilities of a volunteer teacher might involve correcting exercises and exams, organising events, preparing materials, helping with classroom setup, cleaning up after an activity, or onboarding other volunteers. All of these tasks are often the ‘behind-the-scenes’ tasks that make a project succeed. You might even get the opportunity to support field trips and help with the extra-curricular activities of students. This is another way to enhance the children’s learning and life experiences, and your relationship with them as well.

 

In addition to teaching hard skills such as the actual subject matter and topics, it is important to teach children soft skills such as critical thinking, communication skills, teamwork and responsibility. These are key pillars and values that should be continuously taught and emphasized across all subjects and levels of education.

 

 

Volunteer teaching English abroad for free 

 

Teaching English is a popular volunteering opportunity across the world, as more and more, English is becoming a skill for life which opens up new opportunities for students to get their studies to the next level and have access to a wider range of jobs in the future. Teaching English is becoming a way to empower communities and individuals. In many non-English speaking countries, fluent English teachers are scarce, hence the numerous teaching English volunteering opportunities. This is normally part of community projects, where, by local demand, English support has been requested.

 

To volunteer as an English Teacher, it is important to have a fluent level of speaking and writing, since teaching 100% in English is the most effective way to expose students to the language and develop their listening and speaking skills which are the foundation of learning a language.

 

 

Volunteer teaching opportunities

There are many volunteer teaching opportunities around the world that you can be a part of, from local projects to projects abroad.

 

Volunteer teaching opportunities abroad

 

If you’d like to volunteer with nonprofits in a specific country, you can search for “teaching volunteering opportunities in Guatemala”, for example, and dozens of opportunities will show up. 

 

Volunteer World is one of the many platforms you can use to look for opportunities across the world.

 

In most countries, unless engaging professionally with an NGO, you will volunteer as a tourist and your visa requirements will be those asked for tourists from your country of nationality.

 

Online teaching volunteer opportunities

 

Remote support can be very useful too, especially for conversational practice, and 1:1 support on any given subject. It is a good way to gain experience and to get to know other people, cultures and realities.

 

 

How to volunteer in Central America?

If you are interested in volunteering in Central America specifically, here are two resources that may be helpful for you: 

 

This platform links you directly to many volunteer opportunities across Latin America: 

https://www.volunteerlatinamerica.com/

 

If you are interested in working specifically with nonprofits in Guatemala, this is a directory of nonprofits in Guatemala, most of whom have volunteer opportunities: 

https://directorioguatemala.org/

 

How to apply as a volunteer teacher?

 

Once you have found the volunteer teaching program you would like to volunteer for, there should be an email or contact form to apply. Most application processes would ask for availability, time of commitment, motivation and CV to understand how to make the most of relevant skills and experience.

 

Here at One, Two… Tree! we are always looking for enthusiastic English teacher volunteers to come to join us in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala, where we teach children and adults.

 

If you are interested in volunteering with us, there are a few ways to get in touch. You can either send us an email to guatemala@onetwo-tree.com, complete the form on our website, or contact us through Instagram

 

Once we receive your inquiry, we will be in touch with you and share information about the project. Our volunteer coordinator will set up an interview to get to know you and answer any questions.  After the interview, we will share information to prepare your trip  and ask for the required documentation: criminal record check, a picture ID, and an insurance policy.  A month before arriving, we will share an introduction package with everything you need to know about how we work, tips for living in Santiago Atitlán, as well as training material that you can use to start preparing for teaching. 

 

 

FAQ’s

Here are some of the most frequent questions people have when thinking about teaching volunteering: 

 

How to get volunteer teaching experience?

 

Start tutoring your friends or neighbors, look out for local opportunities, and ask at local schools before looking into volunteering abroad. That way you will have a taste of what it is like and if it is something you enjoy doing before commiting to a full experience abroad. 

 

Can you teach abroad with no experience?

 

Yes, you can! As long as you have basic knowledge and passion of the teachable subject matter, and are passionate about working with people of various ages to facilitate, motivate and increase their knowledge and skills then you will be able to make the most of the opportunity. 

 

Humility and an attitude to learn are key, as you will be learning how to teach with the support of fellow volunteers and project coordinators who will train and mentor you. It is important to volunteer with organisations who have similar values to yours. Have you ever thought about this? 

 

Proactiveness, autonomy and independence are paramount for volunteers while being ready to make a difference. These qualities may even be more important than having prior teaching experience. 

 

Does a volunteer teacher get paid?

 

Volunteer work means working without monetary compensation. There are other non-monetary types of compensation involved with volunteering, such as gaining human connection, feeling useful to others, enriching your view of the world, gaining life experience, becoming confident with public speaking, making new friends, and many more. 

 

Most projects will cover the cost of teaching supplies and traveling such as public transportation if needed to reach a remote community. Some projects might offer food and accommodation as compensation, but this generally requires a long-term commitment and specific background to support the project like teaching training or prior experience.

 

Is it possible to volunteer abroad for free?

 

Even though it is normal for projects to charge a fee per week of volunteering there are many projects, like ours, that don’t charge any fee and will only ask volunteers to cover for their own expenses.

A look at our work in 2022, a year full of connections and impacts

 

On 5th December we celebrated International Volunteer Day (IVD). 2022 celebrates the theme of solidarity through volunteering. This campaign highlights the power of our collective humanity to drive positive change through volunteerism.

 

At One, Two… Tree! we are all volunteers. It is a project made by people from all around the world who want to share and connect with others. 

 

This year, we have had the privilege of working with 29 English teacher volunteers (27 onsite plus 2 online) from 12 different countries and two young professionals who carried out internships related to their field of studies with us, supporting us in the administrative area. Each volunteer has collaborated in their own unique way, allowing for everything that has happened throughout the year.

Meet our volunteers from 2022

 

After the isolation that the pandemic brought, 2022 has been all about making up for the time when we all had to stay home: sharing and making connections, bringing back face-to-face learning, spending time together, exploring, and participating in new activities.

 

Thanks to our volunteers this year we:

 

  • Taught over 400 students across 5 public schools, a community school and one secondary school. 
  • Delivered two 4-month English programs to kids, teenagers and adults at our dedicated learning centre, supporting 125 children and 90 adults from Santiago on their English learning journey. 
  • Delivered 1:1 and group conversation classes in person and online so we could help our students reach their learning goals.
  • Created a mini English library at our learning centre from where our students can borrow books to keep practicing in their own time.
  • Supported coffee cooperative CoAtitlán practicing their coffee tour in English and learned loads in the process!
  • Collaborated with Cojolya, a collective of mother artisans, tutoring and organising English activities for their kids, translating weaving classes and supporting with fundraising and social media posts in English.
  • Participated in beach cleans, tree planting and at a local tree nursery producing compost from the coffee pulp. We called these activities our green gym!
  • Organised cultural events and workshops to share and learn from each other.
  • Reviewed and updated our curriculum at schools while creating a whole new curriculum for adult lessons.
  • Participated in an NGO networking event organised by El Directorio de Guatemala, where we could connect and share with other Guatemalan NGOs.

 

Have a look at our end-of-the-year video for 2022 and what it has been like studying and volunteering at One, Two… Tree! this year

 

 

A big thank you to all volunteers who have made this year possible and so special. Let us share with you some thoughts and reflections from some of our volunteers.

 

 

 

Volunteer interviews 

 

Toño (23, local to Santiago) 

 

Toño teaching at our learning centre in Santiago Atitlán his hometown 

                         

Toño first met One, Two… Tree! as an English student himself. His confidence, cheerful attitude and fluent English made him want to volunteer as an English teacher to the children attending our Learning Centre.

 

 

What did you enjoy most about your volunteering experience?

I liked teaching and helping students who have the enthusiasm to learn, spending time with people from different parts of the world and sharing our different cultures

 

What do you like most about Santiago?

I love the nature, the magic and the beauty, and that includes the people. It’s a very welcoming place. 

 

What do you like about your country in general?

The sites you can visit, and how friendly people are no matter which part of Guatemala you visit. I especially like the beautiful lake Atitlán and the villages around it. 

 

Why did you decide to join the organisation? 

To be able to help my community and be a person of change for my country.

 

What is one thing you would say to someone who is thinking of joining?

That you should take the opportunity to volunteer because no matter what you do, you will leave a mark wherever you go.

 

 

 

Sonia (52, Spain) 

 

Sonia enjoying a secret garden in Antigua

 

Sonia came for three months to share her extensive knowledge of teaching English which she has done for over 20 years! She helped us develop our current methodology, volunteers’ training and created content for our children and adults curriculum. We can’t thank her enough for all her energy and support.

 

 

What did you enjoy most about your volunteering experience?

I took pleasure in many things, like discovering hidden places and diving in the “pacas” (second-hand shops). But I especially enjoyed trying to work out how to implement my knowledge and experience in a context that posed many challenges.

 

How was your experience living in Santiago?

Life in Santiago is very lively, noisy and friendly. You’ll never get bored.

 

What about Guatemala in general?

The country is simply beautiful. The small villages around the lake and the volcanoes are stunning. Tikal is out of this world.

 

Why did you decide to join the organisation? 

They were looking for a profile that happened to match mine. I also thought they had a very interesting project going on, so I didn’t think about it twice. Off I went!

 

What is one thing you would say to someone who is thinking of joining?

I would suggest being open-minded and receptive. And to bring a pair of wellies!

 

 

 

Carmela (31, Spain – our current volunteer coordinator!)

 

 

 

Carmela at Cafe Sabor Cruceño in Santa Cruz

 

Carmela arrived as a volunteer early in the year and fell in love with the town and the project. She was keen to get involved in everything she could connecting other local projects in Santiago with One, Two… Tree! fostering collaborations across the different organisations.

 

 

What did you enjoy most about your volunteering experience/ experience as a coordinator?

I loved meeting people from Guatemala and all parts of the world. I also liked how many local projects there are to get involved in. Everyone I’ve met has been very welcoming and I’ve felt very useful and fulfilled throughout my time.

 

How was your experience living in Santiago?

I’ve never lived in a village before, so I enjoyed the community vibe for example walking everywhere, saying hi to people I know in the market and buying things from my neighbours. People have also offered lots of opportunities for cultural experiences. I’ve been surprised and grateful throughout my time here. 

 

What about Guatemala in general?

It is a surprising country; it is so rich in culture and colour. The people I’ve met have been kind, welcoming and polite. There are many breathtaking sites to explore and have an amazing diversity of nature and culture. There is also so much history here that I discovered more and more of throughout my time. 

 

Why did you decide to join the organisation? 

I was changing careers from the corporate world into working with NGOs. I came here first as a volunteer and I felt it was a place I could stay for the whole year. When the last coordinator was thinking of finishing her time at the organisation she helped me to step up and continue with the project as a coordinator.

 

What is one thing you would say to someone who is thinking of joining?

I would say reflect on why you’d like to join, be mindful of your expectations and be prepared to be surprised and have a different way of life here. 

 

 

 

Lauranne (26, Belgium)    

 

 

Lauranne in Santiago Atitlán

 

Lauranne arrived in September, eager to contribute to the project. She led classes at the school of Pachichaj which we were able to incorporate into the program late in the year as the number of volunteers increased.                                                                            

 

What did you enjoy most about your volunteering experience? 

I loved living with other volunteers throughout the experience, and with a local host family. 

 

How was your experience living in Santiago?

It’s been an authentic and real Guatemalan experience. Living by the lake is breathtaking. I had breakfast with a view of a volcano every day and I could never get enough. 

 

What about Guatemala in general?

It’s such a beautiful country yet I didn’t know much about it before coming. In every part of the country, you will find different cultures, landscapes and experiences.

 

Why did you decide to join the organisation? 

Because it is a real volunteer experience, not like the many ‘voluntourism’ organisations out there. You live with a local host family and your rent goes directly to them.

 

What is one thing you would say to someone who is thinking of joining?

What you do, even if it seems small, can have such a big effect. Like the butterfly effect.

 

 

 

Rueben (19, the Netherlands)

 

 

Rueben at Mirador Kiaq’Aiswaan in San Juan la Laguna

 

Rueben decided to take a gap year to travel and volunteer before getting into university. From being our Social Media manager to designing infographics, preparing movie afternoons, role plays for his students in school and developing the content of our teenage course he is definitely a resourceful person! All with a smile always on his face, wishing you the best of luck Rueben!

 

 

What did you enjoy most about your volunteering experience?

I liked how we have the freedom to explore Guatemala. We don’t have full working days and we have 3-day weekends so there’s plenty of time for trips together.

 

How was your experience living in Santiago?

The location of Santiago is amazing. I also felt like we had many opportunities to connect with the culture here.

 

What about Guatemala in general?

Guatemala is an amazing country. During our time here, we’ve been able to explore a lot of different parts. Some of them include: Xela, Antigua, Chichicastenango and surfing in el Paradón!

 

Why did you decide to join the organisation? 

For a new experience, I could tell that it was an authentic organisation and that I would be valued. It’s also accessible to everyone because you don’t need to be a qualified teacher to join the team as long as you are keen to learn and have a passion for education. 

 

What is one thing you would say to someone who is thinking of joining?

Just do it, you won’t regret it. This type of volunteering can suit many different types of people. There are so many things to do and explore and you’re always with the other volunteers so you never feel alone. 

 

 

 

Would you like to volunteer with us in 2023?

 

We are always looking for passionate and proactive volunteers, full of energy and enthusiasm to make a difference. 

 

Do you have a passion for education, openness to new cultures, and a drive to learn new skills? Do you have experience teaching, tutoring, or engaging with children and have a fluent level of English? 

 

Would you like to be part of a proactive and supportive team where your ideas and thoughts will be heard and important in the day-to-day of the project?

 

Volunteering abroad with One, Two… Tree! is FREE, our English teacher volunteers only pay for their own expenses which go directly to the local families and businesses volunteers interact with. You can either send us an email at guatemala@onetwo-tree.com, complete the form on our website, or contact us through Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn.

 

We can’t wait to meet you!

 

 

 

Would you like to collaborate with us in 2023?

 

Are you a public or non-profit educational institution, cooperative, NGO, or local association seeking English support and volunteer work? Are you located in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala, for onsite support or in Central America for online support?

 

Are you another type of organisation or located elsewhere but feel we could collaborate to make English accessible in Central America?

 

Get in touch with us by either sending us an email at guatemala@onetwo-tree.com,  or contacting us through Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn.

 

We can’t wait to know more about your project!

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 writing 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, and 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 high school. 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 an inclusive 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 

All you need to know about how to teach English to kids

How to teach English to kids – 11 useful tips

 

Being fluent in English is one thing, but being able to teach it is a completely different game. If you learned English as a second language, it will be easier for you to empathise with the process and understand your students’ struggles, yet it is important to have some strategies in place to avoid falling down the route of copying and filling out grammar worksheets all day long.

 

Here we give you some tips on how to teach English to children. 

 

11 useful tips to teach English to kids

If you have never taught English before, do not worry; we have some tips for you so you can start on the right foot teaching English to kids. 

 

Note: Even though it is best to have some variety in your classes, you don’t have to constantly come up with new activities to teach English as it can be pretty exhausting as a teacher! If you find your students respond well and enjoy a set of games, go ahead and continue to use them, adjusting the difficulty level accordingly.

 

1. English only

 

Our first and most important tip is to speak English only throughout the class.

 

It is normal that children won’t understand at first, but don’t try to translate. Instead, use all the resources available to you to make yourself understood (mimicking, drawing, using flashcards…). Make it a game!

 

This will expose children to English and their brain will start assimilating words as concepts, as opposed to the exact translation. We are looking to develop their flexibility to understand the context of a sentence even when they only understand one or two words. Constantly translating brings rigidity to the brain and slows down the process of learning a language, stopping them from communicating when they don’t have the exact word they are looking for. 

 

2. Encourage speaking – Eliminate pressure

 

From day one, encourage children to speak without the pressure of having to create perfect sentences. Create situations of need where children need to speak English, for example asking to go to the toilet, to come in when they are late, and keeping crayons and other resources with you so children need to ask to use them.

 

Don’t be afraid to write down the pronunciation of the word or sentence so they learn it right from the beginning (for example, the word ‘please’ would be pronounced as ‘pliis’ for a Spanish speaker). Always positively reinforce their speaking attempts; give a thumbs up, smile, and reply back accordingly. If possible, use token economy to encourage speaking, for example, during a class, a point or token is given for every correct intervention. The student that ends up with the highest number of tokens, wins.

 

3. Creating a routine

 

Since the whole lesson should be in English, creating routines helps children understand what comes next and facilitates the process of explaining activities and methodology. Start with greetings, perhaps write the date on the board depending on the age, and a quick review of what you learned in the previous class. Then, introduce the new topic, do an activity together followed by individual activity, summarise learnings and say goodbye.

 

4. Keep it fun and simple!

 

Scaffold concepts, from easiest to hardest. Break down the target of the lesson into simple concepts and use lots of repetition so that the students’ brain assimilates new words in different contexts.

 

Make sure activities are linked and increase in difficulty while using the same vocabulary, so the concepts within the lessons are assimilated. Don’t try to cover more than one target per lesson (i.e. vocabulary, grammar, speaking, etc) to avoid confusion.

 

5. Use visual support

 

Make use of flashcards and posters hung on the walls for students to visualise and repeat the new words targeted. To teach the colours, we have a poster hung on the wall so children need to go to the poster, read the colour they want, and come to where we keep the crayons to ask for that specific colour. Normally, the children love coming back and forth to the poster since they take it as a game.

 

                                                 

                                              Visual resources at our Learning Centre

 

6. Incorporate your students’ interests into lessons

 

Make it culturally relevant and age-appropriate. In our Guatemalan project, we are currently looking to teach all content with a Guatemalan perspective, which includes local animals, fruits and vegetables, or family flashcards representing Tz’utujil people with their traditional clothing.

 

Also, keep in mind their age and what is exciting for them at that age. For example, animals and fruits are a favourite amongst 8-year-olds, whereas describing famous people is engaging for teenagers (you will just need to do a bit of research on who is ‘cool’ for your audience!).  

 

“Tortillas are round”, a book used to teach the shapes

 

7. Teaching English to kids? Use technology too!

 

As part of the routine, you can introduce vocabulary using videos in an engaging way. If Whatsapp is available, make sure you share the resources used in class afterward so they can review them at home. Depending on the size of the class, there is a myriad of digital activities to make learning fun. 

 

8. Using music to learn English

 

Music is magic for children. It captivates their attention and makes them remember complex sentences. Use movement while you sing so they can identify the meaning of each sentence.

 

We usually sing a welcome song with the younger students (up to 10 years old) and sing a song related to the topic seen in class at the end of the lesson as a prize for good behaviour and a fun way to finish the class. Play with the speed of the song, start slowly and sing it faster and then slower so it is a game to keep the pace. 

 

9. Use mnemonics strategies

 

Mnemonics are memory-enhancing strategies and are highly effective to help students learn and remember new vocabulary. Examples of these strategies are providing a picture or situation to relate to a new word, Pictionary, charades, or memory games with pair cards. This could be used to learn 8-10 words per lesson. Learning new words while reading a book will help recall the meaning of those words and associate them with the book.

 

Placing flashcards across the classroom will help with visualising and memorising new words as well, if possible try to place them in a logical way so it is easier for the brain to come up with a pattern. Another way is to draw the vocabulary by categories, for example, what’s in my bag? (notebook, book, ruler, pencil case…) What’s in my pencil case? (pen, pencil, crayons, eraser….)

 

Rhymes are another powerful way to remember new words and phrases. That is why songs are so effective. Head and shoulders or the alphabet songs are classics that help them learn in an easy way.

 

Using acronyms is useful too when the student needs to remember a particular combination of words, for example for older children there is the famous “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Noodles” to remember the order of the planets.

 

10. Games to learn English for kids

 

Everyone loves games, even adults. Use them to your advantage to practice your lesson target, whether that is pronunciation, learning vocabulary, or reviewing grammar.  Adjust the game to practice the area you are working on.

A children’s English lesson at our Learning Centre

 

Role-play games!

 

Role-play games are a great way to practice speaking, for example, greetings, shopping in the market, giving directions, describing people and so on. We love mimicking and playing taboo to review vocabulary.

 

 

Play “Simon Says” to teach English

 

Simon says, Teacher says is very versatile and children from all over the world quickly understand the game. We use it to review the parts of the body but also movement actions like sit down, stand up, jump, run, clap your hands.  It is a great game that combines learning and movement.

 

Do you need a bit more inspiration? Have a look at the list our English teacher volunteers have put together to teach English to kids.

 

11. Outdoor activities to learn English

 

Using outdoor spaces is another way to make learning fun and engaging for children. There are many activities that can be done outdoors from telling a story in the garden, to writing words on the ground, to running games like “Steal the Flingsock”. Just make sure you have your target clear.

 

 

What is the best way for kids to learn English?

Learning a language is in itself a game that requires logic and many internal resources to decipher what the other person is saying and make yourself understood. Try to look at it this way so in every lesson you provide opportunities for your students to practice their detective and problem-solving skills.

 

Use visuals to provide cues, be engaging to create interest in what you are talking about and the need to use English, always trying to cater to their interests in the activities planned. Body language is one of your best resources to be engaging and to help scaffold your classes at the same time. 

 

Play with your pace; a slower pace helps students understand complex concepts while a faster pace makes it fun once they have understood the goal of the activity. Use cooperative learning; offer peers to lead the activity, choose who is next in the game or the next word to guess. Use healthy competition as a way to lift the class’s energy and increase the pace of the activity. 

 

 

An English Lesson Example 

Find below a little example of one of our lessons at One, Two… Tree!

 

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 which is a good excuse to practice greetings and common courtesy like “Hello, Good afternoon, How are you today?”. 

 

Then, I like to start with an activity or something interactive to get the students engaged right away. 

 

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. 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, practicing the pronunciation and learned the meaning. Then the students had time to complete the worksheet, matching the pictures with words such as forest, cave, river, and more. 

 

 

English Lesson Planning

English lesson planning

 

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 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 the 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

 

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! 

 

 

Does this sound fun and interesting to you?  

Volunteer with us this year!   

 

We are seeking more English teacher volunteers to come to Santiago Atitlán, 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 at: guatemala@onetwo-tree.com, complete the form on our website, or contact us through Instagram @onetwotreengo.

 

FAQs as an English teacher volunteer

Here are some of the most frequent questions people have when thinking about teaching volunteering: 

 

What causes poor performance in English?

 

There might be different causes for poor performance, one that is key to address early on is lack of interest, boredom and motivation. Learning English requires effort and being able to master it it’s a long journey, students need to want to learn to go through the effort. With children, you will achieve this by using games that they want to play. As they grow up it is important to identify their interests and goals to relate them to their English practice.  

 

Lack of repetition and practice to fully assimilate one topic, not scaffolding concepts correctly or lack of English foundation background when working with more complex structures and activities, can make students think it is impossible to learn English and switch off. Trying to teach too much at once and focusing too much on grammar with little practice will likely overwhelm your students. 

 

If you identify students with a much lower level than the rest of the class you can either bring extension activities for the more able students while you reinforce the basics or create a small tutoring group (no more than 5 students)  to bring them up to speed.

 

Another common cause for poor performance is fear of making mistakes especially when practicing speaking. Having enough vocabulary helps you feel a bit more confident as well as a reinforcing environment where speaking is encouraged and mistakes are normalised as part of the learning process. 

 

Lastly, a very common cause in non-English speaking countries is the lack of exposure to English-only classes and interactions. Having an English lesson mostly taught in the students’ mother tongue will only slow down the learning journey as there is no opportunity nor motivation to put the language skills into practice.

 

 

What are the difficulties in learning English?

 

Here are some of the most common difficulties when learning English:

  • Spelling. Many words that are otherwise unrelated and are spelled differently sound the same when spoken (for instance, “pair” vs “pear”)
  • Pronunciation. Especially for students whose native language is pronounced as written, like Spanish. English pronunciation doesn’t always follow the same rules like different vowel pronunciations “island vs igloo”
  • Idioms and slang.
  • Variations of the language and different accents. Chips or fries? Movie or film? Lift or elevator? Colour or color?
  • Feeling Embarrassed and lack of confidence
  • No interaction with native speakers

 

In addition, it is important to explain to your students that learning English, and any other language, is not linear. In the beginning, they will see their progress as they start assimilating different topics. However, there is a point where the brain is trying to speak without consciously preparing each sentence that the student will feel like going backward. It is a signal of progress! That is the time to increase speaking practice and be involved in situations requiring English.

 

 

How can I convince my students to speak English?

 

Generally speaking, there are two factors that affect students’ speaking English in class. One is they fail to find suitable words to express themselves and the other is they are afraid of making mistakes. A friendly, fun and relaxed environment helps the students to speak actively and correctly.

 

Some tips to get your students to speak in English:

  • Give clear goals and instructions
  • Be firm in a gentle way as some students will only dare to speak if asked to. It is important to spot those more shy students to ensure the class includes everyone. Yet be mindful to give plenty of time and support so they don’t feel put on the spot.
  • Positively reinforce any attempt at speaking.
  • Do small talk every day to keep practicing
  • Always add unexpected factors so they need to think and respond to the stimulus instead of replying mechanically 
  • Make use of competition.
  • Relate the practice to real-life situations. If possible make your students interact with native speakers or simulate the situation. For example, set up an exchange with a school in another country so they have to use English to get to know other students. Take your students to an activity where all the participants only speak English for example having a picnic, going to the market, or visiting an exhibition. 

 

How do you help students who can’t speak English?

 

Eventually, all students will end up speaking English, it is just a matter of time. In the meantime:

  • Be patient
  • Praise any attempt to communicate in English and answer/act accordingly so they can see their progress and not wait to have the perfect sentence to speak. 
  • Leverage background knowledge. Identify early on any gaps
  • Provide visual support and use loads of body language 
  • Model comprehensible language
  • Purposefully pair peers of varying English proficiency to increase chances to practice their language skills, working together to support each other while English-proficient students can model language and provide personalized feedback.

 

What should I teach a child first in English?

 

Remember when teaching English to children that for them it is the start of their English journey hence it is important to break it down into manageable chunks that they can put together as they grow up. 

In order to know where to start or what activities to plan, be mindful of your student’s age so you can adapt to their learning capacity. 

  • From preschool, until they learn how to read and write, it is all about learning vocabulary, commands and songs so they can develop their listening skills, and assimilate new words and simple sentences to repeat and use in their day to day. Useful topics at this age are:
    • numbers (1–10; 10–20; 20–100)
    • colours and shapes
    • adjectives (e.g. big, small, tall, happy, sad, tired)
    • the body
    • toys
    • clothes
    • animals (e.g. pets, farm animals, wild animals)
    • food
    • emotions

 

  • From 7 to 10 years old you can start practicing a bit of writing and reading but keep it simple. Encourage loads of role play and little dialogues at this stage to get them a bit more confident in their speaking. Here you can expand the above topics to:
    • family
    • house rooms and furniture
    • classroom items
    • months and seasons
    • nature

 

  • From 10 to 14 years old you can incorporate more complex sentences in all areas of English. There is no need to explicitly teach grammar rules, but instead get them used to hearing and using different grammatical structures in context. Hearing the grammar being used in context from an early age will help children to use it naturally and correctly when they are older. Useful topics at this stage are:
    • daily routine
    • self-description and describing others
    • hobbies and interests
    • jobs
    • festive holidays and traditions

 

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.

 

Morning

 

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

Afternoon

 

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

                                                                                                                                                 

Evening

 

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. ANADESA a community NGO based in Santiago offers walking tours on Santiago’s recent history. Have a look at their website for more cultural activities.
  • Walk down “Ruta de los murales” an alley filled with street art made by various local, national and international artists reflecting on origin and identity of Santiago Atitlán.
  • 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
  • Have a coffee at Space Coffee and let Diego, the best barista in all of Santiago, talk you through the different coffee varieties.
  • Eat at Le Antigua, Maria Chula, or Germinaciones, all of them 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 and at Ruk’ux Ulew at Bosque Encantado in San Marcos
  • 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. As part of their services ANADESA offers traditional cooking classes and Tz’utujil  cultural heritage workshops in Santiago Atitlán.
  • Do you like mushrooms? Visit the Fungi Academy in Tzununa

 

 

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