It was a great program, providing both theoretical and hands-on experience. Starting with IMAP was very beneficial. We learned a lot about Mayan culture and agriculture, and we even created compost and visited various fieldwork locations.
Working in groups to design a piece of land was challenging, but we learned a lot about the factors we need to consider. Staying in IMAP was a very special experience, sleeping in cabins, doing laundry by hand, having local meals daily, and learning Mayan Nawal and Kaqchikel languages. IMAP provided a high quality of education, and it was amazing to have sessions with Guatemalan people and exchange opinions.
After completing IMAP, there were various volunteering opportunities available, and each participant individually chose and designed their own program. It was unique to see that everyone had their own dreams and specialties, and it was interesting to listen to what they had learned and found challenging through regular report meetings.
Personally, I was interested in integrating into Mayan and Guatemalan society, so I chose to volunteer as an English teacher in a local school. I felt that I was not only teaching a language, but also sharing my background and providing insight into what was happening on the other side of the world. I also learned a lot from them, such as daily Tzutujil language lessons and a deeper understanding of Mayan culture and society through classes.
During the program, we had a two-week intensive Spanish course, which was very helpful in improving my basic Spanish skills, and we also had the opportunity to stay with a local host family. Taking classes in the morning and volunteering in Spanish-speaking environments in the afternoon was very efficient for practicing our language skills.
Through the local homestay experience, we were able to enjoy local meals, learn about their stories, and even be invited to family events. Of course, we also saw the reality of their financial difficulties and cultural differences, which were sometimes challenging, but I am glad we were able to experience and learn from them.