Gabriela is a 39 years old, worldly, Czech, living in Atlanta, Georgia. She is always eager to visit new places and learn about new cultures and sees herself as a loving, fun, and adventurous person.Interviewed on - 12 March 2015
I traveled to many places, but as tourist only. I think I was just ready to take my experiences to a new level, really get to know the country as if I lived there. I traveled to India and China in the past, saw all the touristy places but didn't experience as much of their culture as I would like to. Volunteering in Guatemala was exactly what I was looking for: interaction with locals and living just like one of them.
Maximo Nivel offered placement in an orphanage. I wanted to make my time useful while being there, and practice Spanish. Was able to do both. I originally found the program through GVN - Global Volunteer Network.
Beautiful romantic town of Antigua. I wasnt really sure what to expect. I saw pictures of Guatemala City, and wasn't too impressed. Antigua is hour and half away from the airport, and it is one of the most beautiful small cities I have ever been to. Leaving was very hard.
Interaction with kids in their environment. Just every day was an amazing experience, working on new projects, getting to know their backgrounds, family stories. Honestly, all the kids have a special place in my heart, and I miss them daily.
Helpful with anything I needed. First, I was afraid the language barrier might be an issue, but not at all. They were all very appreciative to get any help they could, we really grew close. I am still in touch with all of them on Facebook. We basically grew to be friends over the period of three weeks working together. I have nothing but respect for them. Taking care of over 70 kids daily is fun, but not easy.
Probably wish I could stay longer. And worked harder at learning Spanish. Other than that, wouldn't change a thing.
Not waking daily at 6 a.m. would be great :) Also, wish I had more time to travel through Guatemala, and see more.
Waking up at 6 a.m., having breakfast with family, going to work with kids till noon, coming back on bus, having Spanish classes 2 p.m. till 4 p.m., going to gym and interacting with locals, dinner with family at 8 p.m...no time to waste! Fun!
Weekend trip to Lake Atitlan was breathtaking, in love with that place. Had a great group of volunteers to share the experience with. Hiking, sightseeing, shopping, and eating local food....more fun than expected!!! Also, hiking the volcano was quite an experience. Guatemala has a beautiful nature. Great place for hikers.
Any day working with kids there would be a memorable experience. Probably celebrating Valentines day together. I brought in a big cake, and we all spent the day playing, hugging, and laughing.
Family style; interaction with family. My host was very gracious, and eager to practice her english. We would have coffee every morning together, and talk about life and her family. Both her sons studied to be doctors, very impressive. Just a great family all around.
Not really, I’m used to traveling to different places and find a way of communicating with anyone. I also traveled to Central and South America before my trip, so I knew what to expect. What took me by surprise was how beautiful the town I was in (Antigua) was, and how fulfilling working with kids is.
Just more peaceful and appreciative. Looking for an orphanage in Atlanta to volunteer at. It was definitely an eye opening experience, and I would like to continue experiencing more through volunteering.
Not soon, but probably again in the future. My next trip will be aid mission to Vietnam in September. Already super excited . Hope it will be half as amazing experience as Guatemala was!!!!