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  • Locations: Quetzaltenango, Guatemala
  • Program Terms: Winter
  • Restrictions: Drexel applicants only
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Program Description:
Program Overview | Academics | Program Calendar | Program Fee | More Information

Winter Break In Guatemala:
Development in Action

Guatemala Lake Scene

Program Overview

Based in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, Doing Development: Learning from the Ground Up, is an Intensive Course Abroad that focuses on exploring development issues through experiential learning, cultural exchange and service.  Students will explore international development, including global and environmental health, women’s rights, economic development, and community tourism, through interactive site visits and service learning projects.
By the conclusion of the program, students will:

  • Understand key challenges of development, and the intersecting connections between global and environmental health, gender issues, economics, politics, etc.
  • Increase their language capabilities.
  • Increase their cultural competency skills, especially when working with diverse, non-English speaking communities.
  • Experience and learn about Guatemalan culture, and understand how the country’s history shapes its current state.
  • Develop experiential education reflection skills, and understand how engagement shapes their own identity and interpretation of the world.

Check out an online presentation about this program! 


Learning will mostly be rooted in Quetzaltenango, which is nestled in a valley mountain surrounded by farmland, indigenous populations, numerous development organizations, and a lively art and music scene. In addition to service learning activities and field trips, students will engage in daily lectures, discussions and qualitative research efforts.ICA Guatemala Student Weaving

Students will be registered for GST T380, Doing Development, 3 credits as part of their winter term course load. Students must leave space for this 3 credit in their winter term credit load or will have to pay for exceeding the 20 credit maximum. The 3 credit for this program is not optional.

Although many of the assignments will occur during the program, students will be responsible for completing a research paper upon their return. This course is open to all Drexel students in class or on co-op, and there are no pre-requisites.

Students will be directed and overseen by Kate Hughes, M.S., MPH, Associate Director of the Center of Interdisciplinary Programs (AFAS, GST and WMST), as well as Guatemalan instructors at local development practitioners and NGOs.

Program Calendar

Arrival Date: December 12, 2019
Departure Date: December 21, 2019
*Students may extend their travel independently before or after the official program dates. Students assume all risk during independent travel as Drexel University is not responsible outside of program dates.


ICA Guatemala Fabrics

Students will gain an interdisciplinary understanding of Guatemala and development through lectures, site visits, community-based learning projects and cultural activities, which include meeting with a local journalist to discuss the Guatemalan civil war, building safe stoves in the Mayan highlands with a women’s empowerment organization, participating in a traditional Mayan ceremony, assisting with a clean water project, and helping an environmental organization address deforestation. The group will also spend two days at a cooperative coffee finca, learning about land and labor rights, fair trade and sustainability, and will volunteer during harvest season. 

Afternoon cultural activities include salsa lessons, chocolate making and cooking classes, soaking in natural hot springs, and exploring local markets. Students will also have free time in Antigua, and an opportunity to explore the world heritage site independently.
Weekend excursion
Students will spend the first weekend sleeping lakeside at famed Lago Atitlan. The weekend will be devoted to exploring tourism along the lake, including the environmental, economic and cultural issues spurred by development. Students will meet with different NGOs (artist and weaving cooperatives, etc.) and learn about innovative and sustainable community tourism projects formed in response to development pressures. Students will also have the opportunity to swim and explore the lake by kayak.

Check out an online presentation about this program! 
Read student blogs from Guatemala

Program Fee - $1,450

Due September 30, 2019 - $500 Advance Payment + $25 application fee
Due November 1, 2019 - $950 Final Payment
*All payments are non-refundable unless declined admission or program cancels for unforeseen reasons.

Included in Program Fee:ICA Building Safe Stove

  • All accommodations
  • Three daily meals (minus two independent meals)
  • All cultural activities and field trips
  • In-country transportation
  • Volunteering costs for materials (safe stoves)
  • Donations to NGOs the group is assisting.
  • Gratuities associated with services
  • Bilingual guide(s) to accompany and translate for the group
  • On Call Medical Evacuation/Repatriation Insurance

Not Included in Program Fee:

  • Round trip flight to Guatemala City (from Philadelphia or NYC) $700
  • Passport fee $140
  • Meals $25
  • Miscellaneous/ spending money $150
  • Visa (if applicable)
Housing & Meals
Students will live together in local hostels in Xela, Antigua and Lago Atitlan, and have special accommodations at the coffee finca. Meals of traditional Guatemalan food will be provided during both weeks.

ICA Financial Aid: Students may request an Adjusted Cost of Attendance by submitting the ICA program fee and estimated out of pocket expenses listed above to Drexel Central (via askdrexel). Doing so could make students’ eligible for additional financial aid.  Students may also be eligible to apply for Drexel's ICA Scholarships.

More Information

  • No visa is required for US citizens. Other nationalities should check on the Guatemalan Embassy website for details.
  • Onsite Program Partner: EntreMundos 
    • EntreMundos “is a registered Guatemalan non-profit association that promotes positive social change by supporting and strengthening communities and non-governmental organizations in Guatemala.
    • This is achieved through capacity building workshops and training; the publication of a free bimonthly, bilingual magazine (in Spanish and English) about development and human rights issues in Guatemala; and operating a volunteer placement program, connecting volunteers, both international and local, with community projects and NGOs.
    • As an NGO committed to the projects with which we work, the proceeds from your participation go directly back to serving the organizations and communities of Guatemala. 

Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.

This program is currently not accepting applications.