Visiting another country is always a learning experience. While the course provides content on culture, communication and working across cultures, it is in visiting another country that these topics are best appreciated and understood. Students who choose to go to Guatemala will experience a very different culture and a much different work culture than most have experienced. It is a visit students never forget.
The partnership with Guatemala is different and in some ways richer than our collaborations with other countries. The College has been working with the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala on efforts to increase participation of students in engineering. So in addition to the aspects of the global technical workforce are opportunities to interact and even help with encouraging local students to pursue engineering and other technical fields.
Want to see what a student’s perspective of the trip? Take a look at this short video of to see what you can experience in Guatemala.
Visiting industry allows students to hear from local representatives the challenges and opportunities faced with global business. Each link provides a description from a UC student describing what was learned on the industry visit.
- Coffee plantation
UC and the College of Engineering & Applied Science have a strong partnership with UVG – the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala. We work with UVG on STEM outreach and educational best practices. We are also exploring additional opportunities for visits and academic programs.
- Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, UVG
Cultural Visits and Experiences
Guatemala has a rich history, culture, and perhaps the friendliest citizens on the planet. There are Mayan ruins, active volcanos and traditional markets among other attractions. Students who have visited Guatemala have described their experiences in the following links:
Service Trip–The Orphanage
Probably the most heart-warming experience of the trip came when the team visited an orphanage stowed away deep in the mountains of Guatemala. Working closely with students from UVG, the team assisted the orphans in a multitude of activities, including the comprehension of air/mass through the use of balloons and a balance, and the construction of different shaped objects through the use of plastic straws. Despite communication difficulties, the young beings were very excited about each and every project, and were very happy to “entertain” everyone that participated.
Universidad del Valle de Guatemala
The Global Technical Workforce, as per its namesake, is all about learning how other countries (and other cultures) do business in a professional, technical environment. While the team did not visit a large industrial site, they did have the opportunity to explore a “familiar” location, as they took a trip to La Universidad del Valle de Guatemala (UVG).
Here, the team toured the chemical, mechanical, and biology labs, and participated in a special luncheon where they interacted with personnel from the university. From one of the largest beetle collections in the world to CNC mold machines, this university had a whole lot to offer, as the team gathered an abundance of knowledge from this trip.
El Lago de Atitlan
The trip to El Lago de Atitlan was another highlight of the trip, as the students were able to experience a plethora of cultural phenomena that were unique to Guatemala. An exquisite lunch on the shores of the lake gave the students a great taste of local life, while the boat tour on the lake itself gave everyone an unprecedented view of the surrounding volcanoes. Furthermore, the group was able to peruse the markets of Santiago Atitlan, as they experienced, first-hand, the bartering system that the Mayans invoked upon their culture.
The Pacaya Hike
One of the most exciting parts of going to Guatemala has to be the fact that the students get to hike up an active volcano. The views are second to none, and being among/above the clouds is absolutely breathtaking. With the help of a local tour guide, the team endured the steep slopes of the volcano, while learning a portion of it’s history along the way. From roasting marshmallows in the natural heat of the mountain to clambering down it, Pacaya proved to be one of the highlights of the trip for both the students and the faculty, as many memorable moments were shared.
Panajachel & Lake Atitlan
Lake Atitlan is a Guatemalan Lake that sits at just over 5,000 feet. The lake is an endorheic Basin which means that it does not drain into another body of water, such as an ocean. The lake is also the deepest lake in Central America and has a maximum depth of 1120 feet.
Located on the shores of the lake is the town of Panajachel, a center of trade in the area. Merchants line the streets offering various textiles and other hand made goods.
The local market here provides a great chance to experience business in a drastically different culture than that of the United States. No goods have a price tag and everything can be bartered for which can be a great experience.
While much of Guatemala has long forgotten its Mayan heritage the town of Panajachel is still holding onto to its history. This can be seen from the dress of the local people to the goods that they sell. If you are looking for an opportunity to truly experience a unique culture first hand this is a great chance to do so.
Visit the Mayan Ruins of Iximche!
Iximche is a pre-columbian Mayan site located in Guatemala. It used to serve as the capital of the Kaqchikel Maya from 1470 – 1524. The structures were excavated from 1960 – 1972 and are now easily accessible to tourists. In the center, you will find two small plazas of temples, ceremonial platforms, and palaces where the capital used to be ran by wealthy Mayan families. The museum in Iximche also houses and displays sculptures made by the Mayan people, which will provide insight into the way they lived.
This experience will make you realize that we are all global citizens that have similar histories, even if we have different cultural backgrounds. As global citizens, it is our job to preserve the past and to learn from it to build our futures. Being a member of a world-wide community requires us to work together to build a community in the emerging world that respects the values and beliefs of all cultures.
Students should have this experience to expand their knowledge of the past and of Guatemalan culture. It is important to understand the beginnings of civilizations to grow our future. It is also important to understand the cultures of another country to remain aware of their beliefs and backgrounds when developing trust and friendships with them. In addition, diversity makes us more open-minded, smarter, and more creative, which will help students to grow as problem-solvers.
Antigua is the one of the pinnacles of going on this trip and experiencing the Guatemalan culture to its finest. Being the old capital of the country, Antigua offers some of the richest history there is in Guatemala. Through visiting Antigua I was able to learn a lot about what it means to interact with other cultures. For example, the way they approach shopping here is entirely different, as they use a bartering system, which I had to adjust to.
This experience has been truly eye opening. As someone who has never left the country, this was my first time being able to actually see what other cultures are like. The scenery is unlike anything I have ever seen before, the people are completely different and the activities we did will be unforgettable (when else will I get to climb a volcano and roast marshmallows in one of its steam pits?). I do not regret my time in Guatemala and neither would you if you decide to go on this trip.