World Leadership School

WLS Programs in Guatemala

World Leadership School works with host communities on the border of Belize and Guatemala. A typical Guatemala volunteer abroad program includes an orientation in Belize while exploring an ancient Mayan cave, a community project in a rural host community, and final reflections while watching the sunrise from the ancient Mayan city of Tikal. Each host community provides a rich and unique glimpse into daily life in Guatemala and allows students and faculty to build lasting relationships that grow every year. World Leadership School only sends 2 – 3 traveling schools to each host community for Guatemala student travel in order to ensure the sustainability and authenticity of our programs.

Why Guatemala?

The cultures of Guatemala are as diverse as its rainforest. The Mayans in Guatemala, along with the Incas in Peru and the Aztecs in Mexico, developed sophisticated cities long before the Spaniards arrived in the 16th century. Today’s Mayans thrive in Guatemala’s northern-most department, known as the Petén, where World Leadership School operates. The people here speak both Spanish and Mayan, which is one of 31 indigenous languages spoken throughout Guatemala. Mayans in the Petén live a very traditional lifestyle, which has not changed all that much in the last 2,000 years.

Guatemala is a fascinating case study in different global issues. The demise of the Mayans at Tikal and other Mayan city-states around 1000 AD has much to teach us about man-made climate change, biodiversity loss, and soil degeneration. Guatemala’s transition to modernity included a long civil war from 1960 to 1996, which offers a fascinating look at the changing relationships between the U.S. government and its corporations, such as the United Fruit Company. Poverty in Guatemala, and lack of access to resources, remains widespread and severe, especially in the Petén region. Access to quality health clinics and good schools is a serious issue throughout Guatemala. Communities often will build their own schools with whatever materials they have and seek government financing for operations once the buildings are completed.

Staff and Safety

The safety of our programs rests on the experience and skills of our Staff, Country Coordinators and Instructors, who convene at our annual training in Colorado’s Arkansas Valley.

  • The Staff of World Leadership School have decades of experience working in different educational environments. Their focus is logistics, risk management, program design, professional development, and consulting.
  • Our Country Coordinators live and work year round in our overseas countries. They screen our homestay families, evaluate our transport and other service providers, and provide ground support for our groups.
  • Our Instructors are veteran educators with extensive international experience. They have wilderness first responder training and often have past affiliations with Peace Corps, Outward Bound, NOLS, and/or independent schools.

We strive to responsibly manage risks. Our itineraries minimize highway travel and maximize immersion in rural communities that we know well. We update our risk management protocols, integrate feedback into program design, and invest in safety and communication equipment. Despite these efforts, World Leadership School cannot guarantee safety nor can it eliminate the inherent and other risks of international student travel. For information regarding program activities and associated risks, risk management, and student and parent responsibilities, please contact our office.

Participant Feedback

“I’ve learned so much about myself and others.”

— Student from The Wardlaw-Hartridge School

“This program has been truly amazing. I feel like I, personally, learned a lot about myself, the community, my students, your leaders, and the culture of Guatemala. What the World Leadership School has been able to do I find jaw-dropping. I find myself speechless, but at the same time, my mind has never been more active and aware.”

— Faculty from The Wardlaw- Hartridge School

“Personally, I believe I grew an immense amount. I feel inspired and believe I took a valiant step to be someone I really want to be.”

— Student from The Wardlaw-Hartridge School

“I loved the community. They are so tightly-knit. It was amazing that they opened their hearts and homes for us.”

— Student from The Wardlaw-Hartridge School

Request More Information about WLS Guatemala Programs