Since the end of the 36-year civil war in 1995, the country has been recovering slowly, making some improvements in infrastructure and services. However, social progress has been limited by high illiteracy rates, low school enrollment, insufficient health services and access to clean water. In this Maya community, you will support the organizations and schools striving to provide critical services to the population.Learn more about Volunteer Opportunities in Guatemala »
Costa Ricans face serious challenges related to an increasing number of regional immigrants, the highest rate in Latin America. These immigrant populations face discrimination and are often left with limited access to healthcare, education, or social services. Additional challenges for Costa Rica include rampant alcoholism and orphaned or neglected children. You will directly help local organizations that provide necessary social services.Learn more about Volunteer Opportunities in Costa Rica »
In recent years, Peruvians have struggled with significant social and economic changes following the terrorist acts of the Shining Path, a communist revolutionary group that was determined to overthrow the government in the ‘80s. These events triggered a major population shift from rural to urban areas, resulting in a strain on resources that left children and the elderly especially vulnerable. You will help support people affected by the Shining Path who are still searching for better opportunities.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 development and healthcare. 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,
Nestled in the Maya Highlands, the CCS Home-Base in Guatemala immerses you in a rich Maya farming community. Just a 10-minute walk down scenic rural roads, you'll find yourself in the bustling city of Tecpan, 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.
Kique is a hands-on leader; he is closely connected to our partner organizations in Peru. Kique is extremely knowledgable and passionate: he’ll discuss issues with you from human rights to Peruvian politics or history. He’s not entirely serious, though: his sarcastic and light-hearted humor is infectious, bringing a special light to the Home-Base. Before joining CCS, Kique was the Peru and Bolivia Country Director for the Canadian University Service Overseas (CUSO). He also served as an executive committee member for the Movimiento Homosexual de Lima (MHOL), an internationally recognized organization advocating for the rights of the gay and lesbian community as well as individuals affected by HIV/AIDS. Kique has established an AIDS hotline, a Peers Education program, and Safer Sex workshops for MHOL, and has interned with Human Rights Watch in Washington, DC.