Immerse yourself in the Maya Highlands in the city of Tecpán, Guatemala, where 90% of the population is Kaqchikel Maya. The traditions of an ancient culture is still alive today, with colorful fabrics, fascinating ruins, and intricate ceremonies. Surrounded by lush farms and towering volcanoes, your experience in the Maya Highlands is a unique opportunity to see the true culture of rural Guatemala.Learn more about Volunteer Opportunities in Guatemala »
Beach life and cowboy culture converge in the province of Guanacaste in Costa Rica. Let the city of Santa Cruz amaze you with it's expansive ranches and rolling hills, or head over to the pristine beach communities along the Pacific coast for an afternoon in the sun. As you sip on tropical juices at the CCS Home-Base, and perhaps pick a mango or cashew from one of our fruit trees as an afternoon snack, you'll find yourself in the Pura Vida lifestyle in no time.Learn more about Volunteer Opportunities in Costa Rica »
The city of Lima is the gateway for travel throughout the diverse landscapes of Peru, featuring deserts, rainforests, and the Andes Mountains. In Lima, on the banks of the Pacific Ocean, discover a varied and deep culture combining indigenous and Spanish populations, with the influences of migration bringing world-renowned food and art. With a unique neighborhood at every turn, you'll never run out of opportunities to explore what makes this capital shine.Learn more about Volunteer Opportunities in Peru »
As you explore 3 distinct countries and cultures on your Spanish Immersion Gap Year program, you will be working with sustainable community organizations to help them to advance their goals in child education. You may be working toward supporting community development in Lima at an education center for underprivileged youth. Then, hop over to Tecpan, Guatemala, to work with Maya children in an elementary school focused on improving their opportunities to stay in school past fourth grade, while improving hand washing and sanitation facilities. Finally, help young children meet their early childhood education goals in Costa Rica through schools and day cares.
Nestled in the Maya Highlands, the CCS Home-Base in Guatemala immerses you in a rich Maya farming community. Just a 20 minute walk up scenic rural roads, you'll find yourself in the bustling city of Tecpán, the heart of the surrounding villages, with access to cafes, shops, and restaurants. Rest and relax in comfortable rooms, each with a private bathroom, and reflect in the incredible scenery while soaking in the traditional life, colorful fabrics, and unique cultural systems through your new Maya neighbors. Every moment in your home in Guatemala will be a relaxing retreat from your impactful volunteer work. In the large dining area, share traditional Guatemalan cuisine with your fellow volunteers, including some old favorites like homemade guacamole and corn tortillas, and some new dishes that are sure to please, like hearty stews, fresh tropical fruits, and frijoles volteados, a popular local dish.
Your home away from home in Cartago is located on a safe and quiet residential street, complete with swinging hammocks and lush Costa Rican vegetation. Living areas are communal, and you'll find plenty of space in and around CCS Home-Base to relax and reflect on your time abroad. Whether you're kicking it in the courtyard with fellow volunteers or lounging in the common area, this former schoolhouse will provide the perfect respite at the end of the day. The hallways and bathrooms are full of colorfully painted hand prints, inspirational quotes, and good memories, all compliments of program alums.
Your Peruvian home away from home is located in a lovely community, just a short walk from a convenient hour laundry service and delicious restaurants. With little gardens inside and outside of the CCS Home-Base with plum trees and grapevines, you’ll never feel too far from nature. The CCS Peru Home-Base has bedrooms upstairs and downstairs and wood floors throughout. The common area is a great spot to play board games with fellow volunteers, or study up on your español. Then there's the food in Peru. You'll enjoy incredible local meals made up of meats, salads and veggies, all served with a side of amazing fiery sauce that will quickly become a new favorite!
Juan Carlos Buonafina is known for his kind personality and for his dedication to the people of his home country of Guatemala. Juan Carlos is an educator, an intercultural exchange professional, and an expert at guiding international volunteer experiences. After receiving his degree, Juan Carlos started his career with CCS, specifically leading the CCS teen program in the Maya Highlands of Tecpan. Join Juan Carlos on your Guatemala journey to gain a unique and unparalleled insight into life in the mountainside towns of Guatemala.
Jose has a hunger to learn and desire to share: he’s truly lifelong student and educator. As a teacher, Jose worked with high school students in both Costa Rica and the United States, and he led civic education programs for students in Washington D.C. Jose is also a fierce advocate for children’s rights and opportunities. Jose collaborated with the Foreign Service Foundation for Peace and Democracy to reduce child labor and to protect the environment across Central America. With Defense for Children International, Jose worked to reduce sexual exploitation and child labor, and to improve access to education and healthcare for children across Latin America.
I believe that positive impact and investment in education can change the realities of the beneficiaries we serve. I am passionate about ensuring that each volunteer makes a meaningful difference, but also experiences Lima from the perspective of a Peruvian, from the delicious food to our history and culture. I hold a Bachelor's Degree in Tourism Management from San Ignacio de Loyola University (Lima, Peru) and a Master's Degree in International Cultural Heritage Management from Durham University (Durham, UK). My work experience ranges from tourism to cultural heritage to social responsibility, where I have a particular interest in creating experiences that represent a true Peruvian immersion. I am passionate about impactful volunteering and sustainability. CCS gives me a chance to make a difference.