Volunteer Name: Kelly Misiti
Project Location: Xela, Guatemala
Program Dates: From July 5th to August 3rd 2014
Volunteered at: Orphanage
1- How was the local ABV Coordinator and the support provided in-country?
Petra and Juan Mario were fantastic! From the moment of arrival until departure everything was made easy by them, as well as they were always available for anything you may need.
2- What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
How much I fell in love with this city. As a seasoned traveler I´ve tended to stick with other travelers when abroad and only experience parts of the culture. But the locals and especially my host family are so welcoming I found myself completely immersed at all times in an amazing way. I can´t wait to return to Xela.
3- What was most difficult to experience?
The most difficult thing for me was timing. There´s so much to do and experience at all times and only having a month made it difficult. However I will cherish all of the amazing experiences I did get to have and it´s an excuse to return to experience the rest!
4- Any tips for future volunteers… (clothing, travel, personal items, donations)
Go with the flow. Seriously. Guatemalan culture is much more relaxed and slower, so when plans take a little longer to formulate or your project is a little different than you expected, don´t sweat it, you´re in Guatemala! Go take a walk to the park, or check out the cemetery, maybe you just have a chat with your host mom, regardless, you´re going to love it.
5.1-Other things volunteers should know:
a. Try to carry tissue paper or toilet paper with you. Most places have it but it´s better to be safe than sorry.
b. Check out King&Queen Tuesday night for trivia, or La Parranda for salsa on Wednesday. Trust me, you´ll enjoy it.
c. Don´t eat the hotdogs on the street corner of Central Park. The tacos are good, but seriously, stay away from those hotdogs.
d. Try to leave the city if you have time, Lake Atitlan is amazing and Antigua is most definitely worth checking out on the weekends.
6- Personal Paragraph (ABV Program Testimonial):
ABV is a wonderful and helpful program. Whether it be in country or back in the States they were always easy to contact and approachable. The programs are wonderful as well. I loved the orphanage and got to experience a wonderful transition within it, which was as unexpected as it was, turned out to be a wonderful experience in itself.
7- How would you describe your accommodation, meals, security (e: host family, on-site, shared)
My host family was possibly the greatest part of my entire trip. Sandra and Sergio are the most amazing people I have ever met (not to mention Sandra´s cooking is the best). I will cherish the friendships I made with their sons and daughter-in-law as well as the amazing times I had with them. I never have felt more at home than when I was sitting in the kitchen drinking coffee and just passing time with them.
8- What was your favorite memory of this trip?
So many to choose from. Lake Atitlan, climbing Santa Maria, but I think the best was all time spent with my host mother and brother. They truly made this experience so much better than the already amazing time that it was.
9- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling?
I worked with Sarah, and she was great. Any questions I had beforehand she answered promptly and efficiently.
10 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?
Of course! Shoot me an email anytime with any questions and you never know, maybe I´ll be back down here if you do!