The experience of a long-term volunteer at the San Lucas Mission is focused on learning. In working alongside Guatemalans and accompanying them in their daily activities, long-term volunteers can learn about the richness of Mayan culture, the work of the Mission, and life in Guatemala.
Long-term volunteers come to be a part of Mission projects, form relationships in the community and learn about the community development efforts of the San Lucas Mission. In being a part of this cross-cultural exchange, we hope that long-term volunteers become more open, aware, and educated global citizens.
The average day for a long-term volunteer will vary during the course of their time at the Mission. They take part in various projects headed by the Guatemalan directors, including but not limited to gardening, construction, coffee processing & picking, and work at the Women’s Center. Initiative is required on the volunteer’s part to involve him/herself, though the Volunteer Coordinator will help in facilitating the experience.
Long-term volunteers are required to interpret Spanish for visiting groups, so facility with Spanish is a must. Long-term volunteers also are expected to learn enough about the philosophy of the Mission so that they can answer questions brought to them by group leaders.
Weekly reflection sessions are held in the Mission. These sessions may focus on volunteering, Guatemalan history or culture, faith, or any other issues relative to life in San Lucas. Those who stay in San Lucas for three months or more receive a three-month evaluation. More information about this will be provided during the application process.
Room and Board
Depending on the number of volunteers present, a single or shared (one other person) room is provided. Currently, volunteers live communally in a house rented from a member of the community. Homestays are not available. All volunteers and staff members share meals prepared by staff at the Mission. Wifi is readily available.
Before beginning work at the Mission, long-term volunteers must be comfortable speaking Spanish in casual situations. You will also be asked to interpret for groups on a regular basis. We recommend that volunteers 1) arrive with a plan to strengthen their Spanish skills 2) have at least basic background in the language (beginning college courses, for example), and/or 3) attend language school in Xela or Antigua for 3+ weeks prior to arriving in San Lucas. The language schools in Xela and Antigua are among the best in Central America, but classes in San Lucas are limited. Keep in mind that admission to the program is competitive, and language ability is considered in the process.
The cost of volunteering varies depending on the amount of time you plan to spend in San Lucas. Most long-term volunteers pay $100 per month to contribute to the cost of room and board.
Money can be exchanged in the Mission Office preferably in check form. Long-term volunteers need not apply for a work visa – a tourist visa can be acquired upon entry and renewed every 3 months in Guatemala City or by leaving the country. Volunteers are required to cover the fee for their visa renewals (approximately $50).
In order to get the most out of the long-term volunteer program, it is important to come with an open mind and be willing to engage in a variety of activities and to invest in relationships both within San Lucas and with the people involved with the Mission. Planning to come to humbly learn, grow, and serve with a positive attitude and patience will ensure a rich and meaningful experience.
Travel Information: Up-to-date information about traveling to and from Guatemala can be found at the Department of State’s Guatemalan Travel Information Page.