Notre Dame College Connects Students, Faculty, Staff with Guatemalan Community for Sixth Year

Notre Dame College students embarked on an international immersion to the Central American country of Guatemala for the sixth consecutive year in 2019.

Nearly 20 students, faculty and staff spent almost 10 days at the end of May together on the global learning experience that focuses on building and continuing relationships with members of villages in and around the small town of San Juan La Laguna on Atitlan Lake. The College travelers connect deeper to a Guatemalan culture rich in family, community and kindness each year.

On the immersion, the Notre Dame group helps teach in schools, often conducting science experiments, music lessons and athletic activities with children.

This year, the Notre Dame group conducted a vitamin drive prior to its departure, collecting hard and chewable supplements, especially children’s and prenatal varieties, from among members of the campus community to give to members of the Guatemalan communities to aid in their health and wellness. Some of the villages the College visits are in remote areas with limited access to medical care and health resources, such as vitamins. 

In the past, students, faculty and staff have passed out nutrient-rich cereals and conducted basic health information sessions.

During each immersion, the Notre Dame travelers also learn the art of ancient weaving and the business of growing, processing and packaging coffee, two of the main sources of income for those living in the Western Highlands region of the Central American country. Many indigenous Mayans in Guatemala wear traditional hand-woven clothing, and the College supports the sale of free trade coffee imported from San Juan La Laguna on campus as a result of its growing bond with the community.

Guatemala also is home to volcanoes and Mayan ruins, which the faculty, staff, and students have the opportunity to explore during the trip. Residents of Guatemala speak about 20 different Mayan dialects, though its official language is Spanish, so the group experiences semantic diversity as well.

Through its individualized, service-learning emphasis, the College tailors each trip to the interests of the student travelers.

The immersion program is based on the values of servant leadership, learning, community and spirituality. Program participants are invited to grow in each of these areas during preparation, the trip itself and post-trip gatherings.

In addition to the travel experience, meetings are required prior to the journey so that students are educated about their destination and prepared to serve their hosts.

May 2019

About Notre Dame College

For almost a century, Notre Dame College has educated a diverse population in the liberal arts for personal, professional and global responsibility. Founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1922, the College has grown strategically to keep pace with the rapidly changing needs of students and the dramatic changes in higher education. But it has never lost sight of its emphasis on teaching students not only how to make a good living but also how to live a good life.

Today, the College offers bachelor’s degrees in 30 disciplines plus a variety of master's degrees, certification programs and continuing and professional development programs for adult learners on campus and online. Notre Dame College offers NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletic programs for men and women and is located in a picturesque residential neighborhood just 25 minutes from the heart of Cleveland. Hallmarks of the Notre Dame experience include stimulating academics, personalized attention of dedicated faculty and staff, and small class sizes.

Notre Dame College is located at 4545 College Road in South Euclid. For further information contact Brian Johnston, chief communications officer, at 216.373.5252 or

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