April 2017: Guatemala



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Your Spring Break 2017 expedition to Guatemala will bring you in direct contact with the people, the landscapes, and the human rights and development concerns of the Guatemalan Central Highlands. This kind of place-based education teaches principles that apply to any situation in any location.

Community Cloud Forest Conservation is a U.S. 501(c)(3) non-profit organization run by Grand Rapids natives Rob and Tara Cahill; they have been providing service learning, academic, and adventure programs for colleges, universities, and high schools for over fifteen years. Click here for the CCFC website.

Through solidarity with local communities; study of human rights, agroecology, and conservation; and unforgettable adventures in sacred caves, pre-classical ruins, turquoise rivers and pools, and active volcanos, students will enhance their college readiness and broaden their perspective: they will help alleviate poverty, protect the cloud forest, develop communities, improve agriculture, provide opportunities for others, and gain invaluable experience to apply to any community and to their own lives.

For Spring Break, do more than sit on a beach. Serve others. Explore. Gain perspective. Learn. Expand your world.

Join the adventure – Complete your application here

Make your deposit here or mail a check

Meet the 15 yr old Guatemalan Girl Who Addressed The U.N.


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  • Immunizations and Passports

    Passport: valid passport is required
    • If you do not currently have a valid passport, please apply early to avoid delays. Note: airline ticket and passport name must match exactly!  Don't forget to provide Summer Journeys with a photocopy of your passport photo and information page.
    • More detailed information from the State Department
    • Additional information from the Consulate General of Guatemala, located in Chicago
    Immunizations - Each student will make their own decisions, but the CDC recommends:
    Routine vaccines (MMR, diptheria, varicella, polio, annual flu shot)
    • Hepatitis A (standard, because of the possibility of contaminated food or water)
    • Typhoid (standard, because of the possibility of contaminated food or water)
    Optional:
    • Malaria (We will NOT be in low elevation areas where malaria is present; if you choose to take malarial prophylaxis, consult your doctor regarding the many options and the presence of possible side-effects)
    • Rabies (recommended for travelers who may be involved in outdoor activities or contact with animals)
    Each of these is available through Spectrum Health Travel Medicine Services and Kent County Health Department (they may be less expensive through the health department).
  • Service Learning and Solidarity

    How does Community Cloud Forest Conservation (CCFC) alleviate poverty, protect and restore cloud forests, and encourage sustainable development?  Through education.  At CCFC, you may participate in the following initiatives:
    • Artful Eyes of Appreciation on Earth: teaching the joys of artistic expression to children in remote, rural public schools.
    • Teach English to young women in preparation for their own cultural exchange program.  In this region, girls are discouraged from continuing in school as early as 4th grade; this and other programs encourage them to stay in school and earn scholarships through the Conservation and Agroecology Leadership Training (CALT) program.
    • Connecting Kids Through Birds: Introducing kids to scientific inquiry and observation in this Cornell Lab of Ornithology and United States Fish and Wildlife Service supported program
    • Merge with any of numerous CCFC programs, including reforestation and restoration of ecologically sensitive areas.
  • Agroecology and Culture

    Agroecology is the ideal context for understanding systems; studying agroecology in Guatemala provides students with a clear knowledge of the principles that underlie place and help determine outcomes for individuals and communities.  Agroecology is applied in a cultural and political reality and is derived from general ecological principles:
    • Maintaining sustainable yield while minimizing negative environmental, social, and economic impacts.
    • Being culturally sensitive, appreciating the local complexities
    • Empowering people, using locally available and renewable resources
    • Developing alternatives to currently unhealthy situations
    • Valuing health, family, and family life
    • Incorporating design to improve efficiency, encourage diversity, increase productivity, regulate abundance, encourage self-sustenance
  • Adventure and Trekking

    The Guatemalan Central Highlands are an "outward bound paradise" of adventure opportunities:
    • Tropical cloud forest abundant with magnificent bird, amphibian, reptile, and mammal species
    • Spectacular caverns and scenic lakes
    • Beautiful rivers with turquoise waters and limestone grottoes
    • Trekking, kayaking, rock climbing
    • The student group will have input in the planning of adventure activities
  • Pre-travel meetings

    • October 6: info meeting with our in-country hosts
    • November 5: info meeting prior to application/deposit due date
    • January tba: First team meeting!
    • February tba: Guatemalan dinner, introduction to history, geography, and government
    • March tba: Introduction to agroecology, ecosystem services, and neotropical migratory birds
    • We will hear from special guests with experience studying, teaching, and traveling in Guatemala; we will watch films, participate in discussions, and read articles to help us understand the situation we are entering; we will get to know each other through exercises in leadership style; we will share meals and fun activities and laughter!
  • Costs and payments

    • Complete application and make $500 deposit by November 15, 2016; flight payment due January 15; balance due March 15, 2017; total program cost $2500 + airfare
    • Payments can be made online with a small convenience fee (see payment button above) or can be made by check (sent to the address below)
    • Make checks payable to Summer Journeys and send to Summer Journeys, 2006 Wealthy St. SE #201, Grand Rapids, MI 49506
  • Program At A Glance

    • Location: Guatemala highlands
    • Season: March 30 - April 8, 2017 (dry season in Guatemala)
    • Type: Education/adventure
    • Culture, language (no experience necessary), adventure, travel, sustainability
    • Tuition: $2500 plus airfare
    • Duration: 10 days
    • Minimum age: 14
    • Average age: 16/17

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