Meeting Host Families and Exploring Guatemala

Meeting your host family for the first time can be a nerve-wracking experience.  Are they going to like you?  Are you going to like them?  What tools will you use to communicate across the cultural and language barriers?  How will you adjust your lifestyle to this new household?  Although it’s scary, host families are so valuable in offering a window into a new culture that you would never get to learn about from simply visiting popular tourist attractions.  Our host families go through a thorough training to learn what to expect from hosting a foreign student and how to best keep you safe, healthy, and happy during your time with them.


Check out this blog post from Grace, an alumna of our Latin America Gap Semester Fall 2018, as she meets her Guatemalan host family for the first time and starts her work assignment in the fields learning about sustainable agriculture and sustenance farming.  You can find her full blog here:


“We had one birthday about a week ago, Ivy’s, and we had an amazing cake as well as some fun with a piñata.  Don Pablo was the one moving/controlling the piñata, and I think he did a pretty good job at making it hard to break.

Now, orientation is over, and we’ve been sent off to live with host families in San Juan la Laguna.  My host mothers’ name is Filomena, my host fathers’ name is Diego, and I have two host sisters, Yessica and Vivianna who are 17 and 18.  They also have 2 dogs, Oso and Negro.


First time meeting our host mothers (Tara and I are living together).

One of the first things our host mother offered us was corn tea, sounds weird, right?  It’s actually not that bad.  The food has been great, with tortillas at every meal and delicious bread each morning.  I have also been waking up to the cock-a-doodle-doo of hens each morning.

San Juan is a very small, tight-knit community located right on Lake Atitlan, and it is absolutely gorgeous.  The streets are filled with tuc tucs and multi-colored store fronts.  On Monday, we had a weaving demonstration at a women’s co-op here called Casa Flor Ixcaco where a lot of my money is definitely going to be spent.  Oh, and at the bakery’s.  They have some really really good pastries.


All the yarns that they hand make and hand dye.

This week, we also started our work in the fields, learning about sustainable agriculture and what it’s actually like to farm or maintain fields everyday.  It has been a lot of hard work including carrying rocks on our backs and cleaning the weeds with hoes.  My host dad, Diego, is one on the farmers that we work with and it’s an absolute blast to be learning from him.

Our days have been pretty busy with working in the fields or going to Spanish class or having seminars in the afternoons, and it’s still hard for me to believe that I’m here in Guatemala.  Yesterday, the group went out to lunch, and it was definitely an interesting experience.  There were whole fishes involved as well as chocolate shakes that were a lot bigger than we expected.




I didn’t pet this dog, even though it’s really really cute.

This morning, we hiked up some of a mountain that surrounds San Juan, and the view was absolutely gorgeous.  I’ll leave you with some pictures from this morning.



This mountain is a face, and it’s called La Nariz.”

Thanks for sharing with us, Grace!