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Guatemala

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3 Foundations That Are Totally Worth Your Money!

Katia Arias No Comments

“Giving back” is a wonderful thing. In fact, many studies have proved that people who share are way happier than those who spend on themselves.

The world needs help! But there are so many ways and causes to aid that it can become daunting to choose just one. To assist you in this process, we’ve shortlisted 3 amazing foundations and social enterprises that could put your volunteering hours and donation money to very good use. All of them present in Guatemala!

  1. Empresarios Juveniles – Entrepreneurship Education

A member of Junior Achievement Worldwide, Empresarios Juveniles has empowered over 200K young people in Guatemala since 1988.

With more than 27 years of experience, EJ focuses on entrepreneurship, financial literacy and skill development to help the new generations break the cycle of poverty by starting their own businesses or becoming competitive candidates for good paying jobs.

Currently, EJ is present in 17 departments across Guatemala and works with a unique model connecting the business world with the classroom through internationally acclaimed programs taught by professional businessmen and women.

If economic integration is your thing, support this incredible foundation with donations, volunteering hours or by introducing their mission in your company!

  1. Feed The Children – Food Security

Feed The Children’s goal is simple: that no child goes to bed hungry. Feeding more than 263K kids per day, their efforts extend all over the world including Guatemala.

Being poverty the main cause for food insecurity, Feed The Children is conscious that the problem goes beyond food. That’s why they also offer various education programs and long-term solutions regarding clean water and health initiatives.

If food security calls you, you can help this amazing organization through volunteering, donations or by creating your own fundraising campaign. Imagine being the hero who gives a child the opportunity to get nourished! Doesn’t that sound good?

  1. Wakami – Community Empowerment

 Wakami is a wonderful nonprofit and social enterprise hybrid that seeks to empower at risk communities in Guatemala. Their model encompasses creating small rural community businesses and then commercializing their artisanal products worldwide.

Currently, their inclusive business methodology has empowered 486 Guatemalan producers, 95% of them being women. With almost 20 incubated businesses, the Wakami efforts have solved problems that go beyond poverty. Increased women empowerment, food security, increased school attendance and better education are only some of the great results that this amazing organization has delivered.

 If you find women and community empowerment interesting, get involved with Wakami! Here’s a short video from Soy 502

 

If you found this post useful, please let us know in the comments!

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Guatemala’s Holy Week: A Unique Experience

Katia Arias No Comments

Guatemala’s Holy Week celebrations are a splendorous display of history, religion and Latin American tradition.

After the Spanish introduced Christianity in Guatemala the 16th century, the indigenous people began to worship Christ the “Guatemalan” way. Mixing colors, music and gatherings this intercultural mix of European religion and indigenous worship methods created a new set of customs that became a cornerstone of the country’s present identity.

Of all the Holy Week traditions, we’ve put together a short list of the most famous ones, hoping you can enjoy some of them this year and get to experience one of the richest cultural experiences in the world.

Here is a short video from Aspectos Digitales, who presented the tradition perfectly

  1. The Passion of The Christ (live version)

In many Guatemalan departments like Huehuetenango and Santa Rosa, hundreds of actors come together to reenact the passion of Christ in the streets of their towns, allowing people to live the Stations of the Cross, side-by-side with Jesus.

  1. Sawdust Carpets

This is one of the biggest Holly Week traditions and is lived all around the country. Made of colored sawdust, each carpet either tells a religious story or displays important Christian images, such as rosaries, Hosts and images of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. During Holy Week, entire communities and parishes get together in advance to prepare the materials and put the carpets together so that Jesus (in the procession), can walk on them later on!

Source: flickr.com

Source: flickr.com

  1. The Processions

 Antigua Guatemala is mostly known for this Holly Week tradition. Processions start out on the first Thursday of Lent and then are carried out every week until Palm Sunday, and then every day until Resurrection Sunday. The processions not only tell beautiful stories but also bring people from all economic and social statuses to work together. Some processions are carried for more than 15 hours and they all include music, prayers and a lot of emotions.

  1. Penitence

 Throughout Guatemala, many communities practice interesting activities to pay for their sins. Curious enough, many of these practices date from the time of the colonies and have been passed down generations until this day.

In Quiché, the “gateadores” crawl around the city streets with their faces covered and with thorns on their backs.

In Chichicastenango, people carry a small cross on their shoulders and follow the procession on their knees all the way to the temple.

In Sololá, you have the “Toronjeada” where people fill bags of oranges and hit each other with it. And finally, in Sololá as well, communities are allowed a time to hit each other to settle any dispute and reconcile.  

Source: Pinterest.com

Source: Pinterest.com

  1. Food!

And last but never least, during Holly Week celebrations Guatemalans prepare their souls and also treat their stomachs with a lot of their traditional and delicious food!

Amongst these incredible dishes you can find enchiladas, “canillitas de leche”, “tostadas” with frijoles, guacamole or red sauce, “molletes”, “rellenitos” (plantain cakes), and Horchata (rice-based juice).

And just like these, there are many more traditions in every town of this beautiful country.

If you are religious Guatemala might be the right place to be during Holy Week and if you’re not Guatemala may also be a great place to visit this April if you want to experience something beautiful.

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Young Guatemalan Entrepreneurship

Katia Arias No Comments

The Lucky Attitude describes millennials as the “Startup Kids”, the generation that wants to be their own boss and the ones that see more value in creating something for themselves than climbing the corporate ladder.

Although such is a general statement, millennials in Guatemala are proving it right. With 40.3% of adults between 18-64 intending to start a new business and 60% of them believing they have the right capabilities to do so, you find yourself facing a country that ranked #107 in the Global Entrepreneurship Index.

But why are Guatemalans so special when it comes to business? My visit to the annual “Product Fair” sponsored by “Empresarios Juveniles” and “Universidad Rafael Landívar” gave me a good idea.

Image Credit: Katia Arias

Image Credit: Katia Arias

The program “Young Enterprises” is a semester long workshop where first and second year students from the business department come together in groups to build a functioning small-scale enterprise from scratch. Throughout the workshop, students must adopt different managerial roles, develop a product and create a business/marketing plan to launch their final concept at the product fair, where they are judged based on how well they developed and presented their idea.

As I walked by “grading” the stands, I couldn’t help to notice four prominent trends:

  1. Taking advantage of what’s local and traditional

The new generation of Guatemalan entrepreneurs has rediscovered the power of tradition and is exploiting it right!

Why are traditional products so attractive?

Because they not only offer a useful piece of clothing or accessory, but also a culturally valuable piece that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. By printing the Guatemalan identity on bags, shirts and wallets you’re giving these products a level of authenticity and “exoticness” clients inside and out of the country find very attractive. When clients buy traditional products they’re buying a story, a piece of the country and an “authentic” pass into global citizenship (which many people find extremely desirable and valuable).

Local products, however, have another advantage. While you’re promoting your country’s uniqueness you are also helping the artisanal community both socially and economically. Since entrepreneurs rely on indigenous craftsmanship to create their pieces, they embark themselves in a journey to better understand their people and roots. Also they keep the money within the local economy helping the country grow.

So, when clients see “local and traditional” they are sold. They see artisanal (which is “cooler” than commercial), they see cultural value and they see social impact (which makes them feel good about the purchase, and as I mentioned before, almost 90% of purchases are made through the emotional brain).

 

Image Credit: Katia Arias

Image Credit: Katia Arias

  1. Using social causes as marketing tools

 Speaking of the emotional brain, young Guatemalan entrepreneurs have also learned to take advantage of the country’s critical situation to create marketing campaigns with social aspects.

With the huge spectrum of social and economic gaps in Guatemala, people have many “causes” to choose from when they think of Social Corporate Responsibility. I was surprised of how many students chose to support a cause as part of their marketing. Their products were simple, almost useless to the eye but buying them helped someone, so suddenly the products had a social value impossible to ignore.

There was a stand selling bottle openers. The products didn’t have anything special on them, but if you bought one (for very cheap) you would be helping a kid’s shelter. So technically you bought the cause not the product.

Another stand offered bracelets to support breast cancer. I liked their approach when they said to me; take a bracelet for a meaningful donation of Q.20. Notice they didn’t say the words price or cost. Although they had adopted the structure of an nonprofit, I was happy to see that the salespeople prepared themselves to offer their products using the right vocabulary and approach.

Image Credit: Katia Arias

  1. Targeting Millennials

 According to PFS, “millennials may only comprise 26% of the population, but they contribute to approximately 35% of retail spending. That said, new and old businesses must seek to understand what millennials value to properly market to this generation; and, in consequence, their baby boomer parents.

The World’s leading research and insight platform, Qualtrics divided millennial values in four: relationships, socio-ecological impact, easy-grab and high-tech.

Most of the stands did offer products that fell in one of these categories: from fashionable iPhone chargers to eco-friendly bottles, one-step make-up removers, traditional clothing and artisanal jewelry.

Image Credit: Katia Arias

Image Credit: Katia Arias

  1. Employing charismatic salespeople

 The category of “relationships” in the millennial value circle refers to how well the company seeks to relate with the customers before they sell them a product.

Latin America is comprised by what sociologists call “primary cultures.” Where most people rely on inter personal relations to meet their needs. These cultures value extended family systems and social connectivity as well as oral forms of communication and natural-spiritual concepts.

These cultural traits have helped Guatemalan entrepreneurs become natural salespeople (at least some). “4Her” was the small business that captivated me the most. They had incredible traditional products and they knew the story behind them. But, what really helped was the team’s customer service. The only reason I didn’t buy from them was because I didn’t have any cash on me!

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Image Credit: Katia Arias

Conclusion

 In conclusion one could say that Guatemalans are growing to become great entrepreneurs because they are taking a proper advantage of their local resources and causes as well as their natural sociability. On the improvement side, I youngsters still have a long way to go when it comes to understanding their customer and sharing their story. The products I saw at the fair were great but I left wanting more information from each one, I left feeling as if students didn’t do enough research on their market and as if they were doing it “just for the class”.

Overall, however, visiting the product fair was a very enriching and insightful experience to see what young people value and believe is important. I was impressed by the quality of the products and marketing material (given they only have a semester to plan everything) and would definitely recommend the activity to anyone interested.

Hotel Industry in Guate

The Hotel Industry in Guatemala

Maxime Piekarski No Comments

The hotel industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world with predicted revenue of $550 billion  in 2016 (hospitalitynet, 2015). In 2011, the revenue was $457 billion, showing an increase of almost $100 billion in just five years (hospitalitynet, 2015). This increase is due to many factors affecting the sector, including key business, technology and hotel marketing trends (hospitalitynet, 2015). For example, Europe and Asia Pacific are continuing to be key regions with ever growing hotel occupancy, with the highest so far at 68% (hospitalitynet, 2015).

On the other hand, the most expensive region for hotel room rates goes to the Middle East and Africa with a $165.97 daily room rate average (hospitalitynet, 2015). Amongst other markets, Central and South America have an increase in room construction of 4.4% from 2015 to 2016, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil reporting the largest increase yet (Hospitality trends, 2016).

Just recently in 2015, the hotel industry is looking to increase their presence in the Guatemalan market with the expansion of four hotel chains by the end of 2016 (Central America Data, 2014). These four are: La Quinta Inn & Suites, Hyatt, Four Seasons and Marriott hotels. In Guatemala, you are going to see new buildings, the arrival of new brands, remodeling, and expansion of facilities, are part of the changes in the hotel sector in the Guatemalan capital.

In 2018, in partnership with Cayalá Group, the Marriot International chain has announced a 160 room hotel in Guatemala city and another one in Cayalá which will hold 115 rooms (Central America Data, 2014). The hotel industry in Guatemala is expanding rapidly and according to Laurent De Kousemaker, development director for the Caribbean and Latin America of Marriot International, “…Guatemala City is one of the most important and dynamic destinations in the region, therefore we are very excited about the opening of these hotels and about having partners who are so knowledgeable about the local market.” On the other side, eleconomista.net reports that, “…CEO of Cayalá Group said they feel very proud … because it energizes the city of Guatemala generating employment and investment and putting Guatemala on the map with world class companies such as the prestigious Marriot hotel chain.”

On a personal note, Guatemala and Guatemala City are both locations that have a great potential of expansion within the hotel industry. Just within 3 years, the numbers of tourists have increased from 1,225,000 to 1,455,000 in Guatemala (The World Bank, 2016). This is an indication that there are business opportunities in that sector and that key hotel chains are moving in quickly to grasp them. With the businesses come the trends as shown in the diagram below. These trends will lead the way and will push your business to be very competitive:

 

Hotel Guatemala city

 

Business English with International Business Academy

Experience and Travel within Guatemala City

Jackie Jacobsen No Comments

When I first came to Guatemala I was excited as well as nervous. I was not sure what to expect coming into a new culture. There are many differences here compared to the United States. For example with how people greet each other, the food, the language, and etc. It was challenging to adapt at first, but as time went by and I started to become close with people and get in a routine, which has helped me to consider this country a second home for me.

For my traveling within Guatemala it has been quite adventurous. Recently I had traveled to the Peten to visit the Mayan Ruins of Tikal. It was so beautiful and interesting. I have never seen or done anything so adventurous in my life. Walking through the Jungles of Tikal and climbing the ruins was a whole new experience for me that was very enjoyable. download (8)

Now with completing my internship in another country has been quite an experience in itself as well. The internship at IBA has been great. I have learned so much about important business topics as well as my own personal career development. I have also been working on developing a training for the Company, which has helped me learn how to use the skills I have learned in my studies within a real world setting.

Overall this experience has taught me many lessons thus far within my career as well as my personal life. I feel I have grown as a person and have conquered many fears and aspirations sense being here. I do not regret my decision to come and live in a new country to complete my internship because it has been one of the most beneficial experiences of my life. If you are considering traveling abroad to Guatemala or in general I say try anything to make it happen because it really does change you and helps put your life into perspective.

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5 Tips to improve your English skills, effectively!

Patrick Gartrelle No Comments

Learning a new language can be difficult, trust me I know! They always say, the person giving advice doesn’t take their own and I would agree. In the current moment, my urge to learn Spanish is more of hobby than it is a necessity. Here in Latin America and across the world English is a lifeline of new opportunities and for those of you who need a few extra tips on how to land new vocab, here are five tips for you.

1. Read articles online.
Reading online is possibly the best thing you can do. Find a newspaper, magazine or other source of media that interest you. Reading out loud a little bit allows you to hear yourself and it’s a plus because you will practice your pronunciation. Circle words in the article that you do not understand. Challenge yourself and try to figure out the word by trying to understanding the sentence. If you understand the sentence than you can take an educated guess as to what the word means.

2. Look up words you don’t know.
Number 1 and 2 are friends. If you cannot figure out the word do yourself a favor and read the sentence before and after and try again. Really try and understand what the sentences are saying and try to pinpoint the root of topic of the word. Is the word negative or positive? Is it a noun, verb or adjective? So if you are still stuck, grab a dictionary and look it up.

3. Keep a small journal of new words.
Learned a new word? So, write it down and put the definition next to it, and under that use it in a sentence. Keep a small book of your new discovered words so you never forget them. You will also be surprised in a year how many words you taught yourself by reading.

4. Change topics frequently.
If you read the same genre of articles, novels or magazines repetitively then your vocabulary will not grow. If you are into the local news that is great, you will learn some great vocab. Make sure to read an article about space and travel every so often too. Switching up your articles will expose you too new words that you possibly wouldn’t see in your everyday reading English sessions.

5. Watch and read advertisements.
Ads teach a lot of creative words. If you want to be a more detailed speaker ads will be your guide, and the great things about ads are they’re everywhere. Ads also relate to many different types of topics and will increase vocabulary as well. Use ads to your advantage sometimes you can learn a regional language or slang that is not English spoken world wide.

When finding or identifying new words, be patient and be ready to challenge yourself first before surrendering to the dictionary. Also if you want to understand proper pronunciation use the power of the internet to help you. On dictionary.com, google translate and other sources you have the ability to hear audio of English words, use this to pronounce the words correctly.  Try these and home and see where it takes your English.

-Patrick

Hello in lots of languages

Why language matters!

Patrick Gartrelle No Comments

Patrick –

A few nights ago my house celebrated the birthday of the woman I call “Casa Mama”. I know the words do not translate into English properly but it’s true intention is to show respect for my house mom. She is a wonderful woman and is always trying to find ways to make me feel more comfortable in Guatemala.

On her birthday she nicely requested we had pizza for dinner, so we did. At the table she invited some visitors we were hosting and the tenants who live in a house behind our house. A giant box of Pizza Hut showed up at the door and everyone was ready to dig in. As we sat around the table it is important to know, I don’t speak enough Spanish to have a comfortable conversation with others and to make matters worse I was at a table with all native speakers. I prefer to listen and attempt to follow along, sometimes I chime in when necessary.

So one of the reasons why languages matter is because true emotions move through our words and also our actions. But it is hard to truly comprehend how another human is feeling without the power of language. As I looked around the table I saw nothing but smiles, the conversation looked healthy and I was itching to join in, but it wasn’t really possible. At least it is not possible right now but listening for the time being is helpful, I understand more than I can responded.

At the dinner table “Casa Mama” went and got a very large candle and said we were celebrating all the summer birthdays. So we started with Roxy who is 17 and lives in the house behind ours with her mother. I see them daily and say my hellos and few words and go about my day. We began to sing happy birthday in Spanish which I actually knew, so I found it entertaining to be included in this chant. After Roxy, a candle was lit for me and they requested we sung it in English, but they needed to learn the words.

So another reason why language matters is because everyone wants to get involved with it and understand the meaning. I don’t think there are many things as frustrating as not being able to understand someone. When you don’t speak the same language as someone you do some crazy things to get your point across. I can recall throughout my travels around the world I have acted like a chicken in many foreign countries in order to ensure my food order was correct. So in the long run understanding someone completely is a small desire within us. I can’t recall one time while travelling in Guatemala or anywhere around the world where someone has walked away from me because they could not understand me, in fact I think it only makes people want to help out more. The sense of accomplishment is one to parade around with, when you get through to someone who can’t comprehend your native tongue.

After I taught the words to “Happy Birthday” we sung it with mixed success but it was very warm and I blew out my candle 21 days late but at least it happened. Last but not least it was Casa Mama’s turn and as we prepared to sing the words to Happy Birthday in Spanish the lyrics defiantly changed, which confused me. But I just clapped along and wished her well on her birthday. After the celebration and clean up Roxy had a request. She wanted me to help her with an English assignment she had due for tomorrow.

I agreed to help her of course, English is my native language and I love sharing it. Her assignment was to properly write and read aloud the rules of basketball. I explained to her that the sport was complicated but the basics are very easy to comprehend. It is also really up my alley because my father is heavily involved in the basketball world. Through our exchange and working together for about 90 minutes not only did Roxy master pronunciations, she is really good at retaining information. Her listening skills we superb and the excitement knowing that she would be successful with her assignment the next day was a great feeling. We also both discovered we both play basketball for leisure.

This brings me to my last point. People want to be successful in as many ways as possible and language opens up more options in my opinion than a 4 year degree. Keeping this short it was just a really nice feeling knowing that she felt prepared for something and it did not take that long. It also didn’t take much for me to share information that I was programmed with since birth. The night was a fun success in my opinion. We celebrated each other, our cultures and learned something new.

 

Language matters because it creates and moves emotion or information from person to person, it creates involvement and  gives a sense of success and security. Language is essentially for life’s greatest things.

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A weekend trip to Lago de Atitlán for the the first time.

Patrick Gartrelle No Comments

My name is Patrick Gartrelle, 22 and I am currently Interning at IBA. A little bit about myself is I am a recent graduate with a degree in International Business. I am originally from New York City and have done a fair amount of travelling in my short 22 years. I have traveled to Latin America before but never to the Central America region. My time here at IBA allows me to travel on the weekends and recently I traveled to the famous Lago de Atitlán.

San Pedro la Laguna was most likely the most exciting trip I have taken so far, but the events that took place during the weekend trip and leading up to my arrival truly made the trip worth it.

A friend of mine from the United States Cindy, joined me on our weekend travel to Lake Atitlan and I am glad she came along. About 4 hours before we were supposed to depart Guatemala City our shuttle company informed us that they did not have room for us, which honestly almost killed the entire trip. I live fairly close to the airport so we walked over and Cindy was able to negotiate with her fluent skills to get us to San Pedro with an alternative shuttle company. We left about an hour later than we planned but this is where the most memorable bus ride I have taken throughout Guatemala began.

Our first leg of the trip was from Guate City to Antigua which was simple and quick and then we connect shuttles to the lake. The real fun began after we changed shuttles and embarked on what should have been a three hour journey. After Cindy and I boarded the shuttle we were greeted by some fellow Americans and a few Europeans. In the front of the van was a family of Guatemalans sharing the passenger front side seat which is more common here. Sometimes you see motorcycles with families speeding down the street, so at this point I was not surprised by anything having to do with transportation. About 30 mins into the journey we ran into dead stop traffic in practically the middle of nowhere. To make matters worse our shuttle sat behind the exhaust of a chicken bus for roughly an hour.

A chicken bus for those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, is an old American yellow school bus painted in crazy colors, blinged out with chrome rims and LED lights. You can hear chicken buses from miles away because they blast some of the best Spanish music and the exhaust is extreme loud. These are used to transport goods, people and of course chickens all throughout Guatemala. The chicken bus is essential to the local economy and the underground economy because of they’re in expense of operating. It cost about 1-3 USD to get anywhere in Guatemala via chicken bus. I have yet to take one but many travelers say it’s an “experience” and I’m just being a Pollo (a chicken). These buses blast huge piles of black smoke from its exhaust sometimes and being behind one in stop and go traffic is less than ideal. I am positive we all got a mouth full of fossil fuels at some point, but I didn’t die from it so no complaints.

We sat in traffic for about an hour and after finally seeing the source of the holdup which happened to be a car accident we were off again. The Shuttle at this point was very heavy and every seat was taken plus some improvised seats. Our shuttle was rattling and every a couple of miles it would die or the engine would just cut out. Without exaggeration our shuttles engine cut out over 50 times during our “3 hour journey”. As our shuttle struggled to make its way to the Lake we stopped along the route to pick up a random Guatemalan lady and she also just added to the weight and improvised seats in our bus made for 12, carrying now roughly 17 people. Somewhere along the drive the American crew received cabin fever and many songs were being sung in the rows behind us. I will not lie I chimed in for a few rounds of song. About 4 hours into our journey the shuttle pulled into a mechanic and they evaluated the car for about 20 mins. Eventually the shuttle was back on the road again but on the most death defying road I have ever been on. The street would give Lombard Street in San Francisco a run for its money. Our shuttle engine roared down these steep inclines making sharp hairpin turns about every 200 meters and I think it was the scariest road I’ve been on in my life, not to mention it was unpaved, had zero guard rails, plagued with potholes and the decent was extremely steep. The driver informed us that the engines noise was due to the lack of brakes he could apply on the hill because the breaks were too hot. Exactly what I wanted to hear…… in Spanish, that he wouldn’t use his brakes on the hill at around 15-20 mph, but yet again I didn’t die and we made it down the hill safely, so no complaints.

Eventually we made it to San Pedro about five and half hours later in the pitch dark. We checked into our hostel and were going to just call it a night but some friends I had met on a previous trip were standing right in front of us.

My friends I refer to as “The Germans” were a group of guys respectively from Germany that I met the prior weekend in Livington. We planned on meeting up in San Pedro but it was kind of a shock that we booked rooms in the same hostel directly next to each other. So it made the trip a little more satisfying to have some new friends to explore the little town with and their names were Freddie, Simon and Christian. That night the five of us all hung out and went to a local bar which had a disco, its actually satisfying to see a Guatemalan disco. We called it quits for that night and agreed after breakfast the next morning to meet up and do some exploring.

The next morning I opened the door of our room into the open air hallway similar to motel where the hotel is inside and outside and saw the most beautiful view ever. It was really nourishing to see these ridged mountains but Lake Aitilan is known for its green waters and 3 volcanoes, which we had yet to spot, I truly came to this region for the volcanoes. After breakfast the very punctual Germans met up with us and we walked around the very small town which you could cover in less than 4 hours and snapped some cool photos. I think this place lands in the top 10 places in natural beauty for sure and the fact that the region around the lake isn’t plagued with luxury hotels made it that much better.  We eventually made it to the end of the town and climbed up a series of rocks probably not our best idea but the view was one that I will always remember. That afternoon we rented kayaks for an hour and set out on the lake to get a new vantage point and one of my biggest regrets was not buying disposable cameras or risking my iPhone for these photos. I really wish I did because it was the clearest day and the sun was setting behind us and we were looking east so the volcanoes had a green and orange tint which was extraordinary. It was a once in a life time memory engraved in my mind which is okay, but I will try again to get that shot.

As we were in our kayaks we came across three young Guatemalan men. They were extra friendly and offered to show us around San Pedro but were originally from Guatemala City. They were speaking English very well, it was surprising for San Pedro because most locals didn’t speak more than one language. So a few weeks back Trevor (my boss) mentioned to me that call centers are making there way back to Guatemala. The government and Multi National Companies are reinvesting in call centers here and moving them back from the East. The only reason I mention this is, because one of the guys mentioned “the only reason I speak English is because of the call center jobs”. I was in shock, sort of, everything Trevor had told me had even made it back to the local people. It also just came to show how quick businesses change their models in order to stay competitive and save valuable dollars.

My friend Cindy, I forgot to mention is here in Guatemala on business so her job entails signing up hotels and guesthouses in South and Latin America. So the next morning (Sunday) we boarded a lancha which is similar to a boat and took a 30 min boat ride to Panajachel which is the largest city on the lake and by large no more than 15,000 people live in the town. Saying goodbye to Germans was a little hard because we had spent a series of two weekends together but all good things come to an end. The new view from the boat was even better than the last few views I had on Saturday because I could actually see all three volcanoes. This boat ride was not as terrifying as the boat ride I took the week prior to and from Livingston. As I mentioned Cindy was in Panajachel for business so we decided to split up and meet back at 3:30 for our shuttle back to Guate.

So I had time to myself where I could explore the markets. Here everything is colorful, with practically every color being used on an items such as shirts, quilts and worry dolls but I decided I rather explore than to spend money. So after Cindy and I separated I bought this shaved ice treat which turned out to be possibly the worst thing I had ever eaten. The man put hot sauce and black pepper on a shaved iced treat and I tried to have respect for the culture and eat it but it just tasted horrible so I attempted to give it to a little kid. The little guy unfortunately wasn’t to fond of my offer and didn’t except it, I don’t blame him. So I began to walk through the outskirts of the town. It was really nice in fact and I could say it was the most enjoyable walk I had taken in a long time. I just followed the shore line trying to find a great place to swim. I wanted a nice secluded spot where I could read and swim and take time to play with my Nikon and get some photos. About 30 mins along the lake and eventually found this awesome “spot” with no one around with a view of all 3 volcanoes. It kind of reminded me of all the generic photos I saw wen I googled Guatemala prior to my visit. Anyways I found this “spot” and I have never been so silent in my life, I swam alone, took some pictures and conquered about 100 pages in the 800 page book I am reading. The time spent by myself I reflected on a lot about life and solidified my decision to come to Guatemala, knowing it was the correct choice. I was making friends here even if they were travelers themselves and I knew everything was going to pan out okay for me in Guatemala. Every so often a local would pass right through were I was sitting but for the most part I was the only one there.

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Guatemala-map

Guatemala, a place to live, travel, and work

Trevor No Comments

Guatemala, also known as the “land of many trees” named for its foresty landscape is the cultural hub and and the most visited country in Central America.  The official language is Spanish but being a country of Mayan descendants, there are also 21 dialects spoken throughout the country. The capital city is Guatemala City, a place tourists often choose not to visit, heading straight from the airport to the colonial city of Antigua.  At IBA, our internship program provides a great opportunity to live, work, and explore the capital city and also travel to top travel destinations such as Antigua, Tikal, Semuc Champey,  and Lake Atitlan.

IBA interns, Sarah Leib and Rob Dolot, have spent the last three months working at the IBA office in Guatemala City’s zone 4, in an area also known as 4° Norte (4° North), an upcoming trendy spot within the city, and also exploring the country.

 Antigua

Antigua was once the capital city of Guatemala. After being destroyed by an earthquake in 1773, it was preserved as ruins and Spanish colonial buildings, churches, and houses. It is one of the top tourist destinations of the country and a great place for dining, purchasing typical clothing and souvenirs, and exploring.

Antigua 2

shopping for local artesan goods at the market

 

Antigua 4

Just one of the many parks…

 Rooftop Views in Antigua

Antigua 5

Café Sky

 

Antigua 7

Jungle Party Hostal rooftop bar

Around the office, 4° Norte

Ciudad 5

4° Norte has become an urban renewal project started by a group of entrepreneurs to make the area what it used to be, filled with nightlife; bars; restaurants; and music. The IBA office is located in the heart of the area in a building called the Campus Tecnológico. The area bustles during lunchtime with business people and food trucks on Thursdays, brought in by the municipality. On the weekends, the municipality also organizes a “flea market” where local artesans come together to sell their products.

Ciudad 7

 In the office…

Ciudad 1

Sarah and Rob became much more than interns to the company, they have become part of the team.  In addition to teaching local Guatemalans and online clients in Germany business English, they also became managers of their own projects within the company.

 

Ciudad 2

Campus Tecnológico, IBA Office Building

Ciudad 4

Coffee break at the local café Rojocerezo Coffee

 

Ciudad 9

International Business Academy of Guatemala is an organization that is dedicated to the constant improvement of its shareholders, customers, and its workers. Each person here has a genuine passion for learning and the office environment is one that promotes self-learning and rewards creativity.  Personally, the Professional Development Training I have received though International Business Academy has been a tremendous experience and has given me some great ideas that I will apply to any career path I pursue. Overall, I would highly recommend this internship program to anyone who wants to gain valuable international business experience in a friendly atmosphere that fosters growth.

Oh, and the food here is incredible!

– Rob Dolot

My time working with the International Business Academy has been remarkable. The IBA team immediately welcomed me in as their own and helped me comfortably immerse myself into the culture and country of Guatemala. My work days fly by because I always have work to do,the work environment is comfortable, and my co-workers are fantastic. Additionally, the housing arrangements they set up for the interns is great. The family has been very welcoming and accommodating.

Overall, I’d highly suggest this program to those who are interested in an innovative international internship experience! This has definitely been a great resume builder, I am proud to say I work there and overall have enjoyed my time with the IBA!

– Sarah Leib

Want to learn more about the IBA internship program? Check our the Careers section of our website!

Sources: mwengo   lonely planet  THE TICO TIMES

Photography by: Rita Flores

 

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