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Guatemala Immersion

Dates: May 19-28, 2020

Cost: $1,800 – plus cost of passport (if participant does not have one), immunizations, and spending money for souvenirs


This immersion is open to all Notre Dame students, alumni, and staff. The Guatemala Immersion will have three or four focus areas: health care, performing arts, environmental biology and education/athletics. For this reason, we are actively seeking students who are interested and skilled in these particular areas. Most of all, we are seeking students with a heart for service.

Immersion Site:

Guatemala is a beautiful country with a rich culture and breathtaking scenery. The indigenous people of the country still practice ancient forms of fabric weaving and celebrate the continued existence of 21 different cultural groups, each with its own Mayan language. But Guatemala also faces some very significant problems.

More than 50 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, and the extent of poverty is even more severe among the rural and indigenous populations. According to the World Bank, 90 percent of the indigenous population in Guatemala lives in poverty.

Education is a challenge in Guatemala. Approximately 30 percent of the population is considered illiterate, and children only attend an average of four years of school. There are 2 million children in Guatemala who do not attend school at all. The majority of these children are indigenous girls living in rural areas.

Our specific destination is a small town named San Juan La Laguna, which sits on the shore of breathtaking Atitlan Lake. We will also have the opportunity to visit other cities on the way to and from San Juan, including Panajachel and the former capital of Guatemala, Antigua. It is possible that we may also have the opportunity to visit the ancient ruins of Iximche. Although Atitlan Lake is a popular tourist destination, San Juan has managed to hold on to its small town feel and community values. While in San Juan, we will partner with a Christian elementary school, Nuevo Amanecer, and the neighborhood Catholic church, San Juan Bautista.

Partner Organization:

We are traveling to Guatemala with the assistance of Covenant Merge Ministries. Merge Ministries has been in existence for more than 20 years and they have assisted thousands of people from the United States in their service travel to Latin America. They provide facilitators, translators, food preparation, tools, pre-trip planning, and everything else we need for a good immersion experience.


Our Guatemala Immersion focuses on three or four areas: healthcare, performing arts, environmental biology, and education/athletics.

We are actively recruiting nursing majors to participate in this immersion so that we can engage in a variety of experiences focusing on healthcare in a developing country. We have contact with local health professionals in San Juan and in some of the surrounding villages. There will be opportunities to work directly with people and learn about their healthcare needs.

For non-nursing students, there are many opportunities available to teach in the local school with subjects ranging from art to sexual education to music and athletics. Environmental Biology students will have opportunities to study the ecology of Lake Atitlan and also share their knowledge using hands-on activities and demonstrations with kids in the school. Service activities will be planned based on the unique makeup of the group.

During the week, all immersion participants will learn about the rich culture and history of Guatemala by visiting neighborhood agencies, marketplaces, weaver cooperatives, and coffee farmers.


We will be staying in three very modest and inexpensive hotels during our time in Guatemala. Often, these hotels have shared bathrooms and very basic rooms. An American-style breakfast will be served in the morning; sandwiches, vegetables, and other items will be provided for lunch; and an authentic Guatemalan dinner will be cooked every evening by a local cook.


Please visit the Application Info page to apply for the Guatemala Immersion