Travelling to another country offers adventure for those willing to get out of their comfort zones. The experience of travel itself is educational. For teens looking to make a difference in our world today, a service vacation offers a unique opportunity to help others in a completely different culture from our own. Working long hours each day serving people in need is not a typical vacation, it’s not relaxing, but certainly can be fun. We are more than just a Guatemalan travel agency with every individual who joins us to do a service trip over a vacation. Guatemalan Humanitarian Tours (GHT) provides the right balance of service, a cultural adventure, and personal growth that may surprise you.
How does a service vacation teach self-reliance qualities? Self-reliant people know how to take care of their own needs. For some, this skill is easy, but for others, self-reliance can be challenging to obtain. A service vacation with GHT teaches self-reliance to both its participants and to those individuals served. GHT helps the teens who travel with the program and residents of Guatemala understand ways to take care of their own needs. GHT’s mission to teach valuable life lessons to everyone involved is the main thing that sets GHT apart from any traditional Guatemalan travel agency.
Two main parties benefit from GHT. The teens who travel to Guatemala and serve will learn self-reliance by preparing for the departure day, taking care of their day-to-day emotional and physical needs while in Guatemala, and helping people from a different culture than their own. The other parties who benefit greatly from GHT are the families that live in Guatemala. These families are given an education from GHT that helps them learn how to take care of themselves, each other, and be more confident in their daily lives.
Self-reliance may be a surprising outcome for a teen who travels with GHT. With technology in the hands of youth today, it’s rare they get an experience to talk with people they don’t know, especially adults. Also, youth today are kept so busy with school and other activities that it’s easy to be caught up with their own lives and not anybody else. Traveling with GHT requires teens to figure out how to pay for their service trip which may require them to ask family members, friends, others in the community for donations. Asking for donations will then require the teen to explain why they want to do such a service trip. Then, that conversation will likely include the teen describing what type of service they will be doing in Guatemala. This conversation is a great experience for a teen to talk with people. In addition, the teen will need to obtain a passport, figure out what clothing to pack, give up full access to their cell phone while in Guatemala, and learn patience with themselves and others while doing the work they are in Guatemala to do.
The New York Times says that humanitarian tours “help expand children’s horizons, boost their empathy and make children a difference in their communities.” GHT focuses on connecting teens and locals in Guatemala. Teens who travel with GHT will work hard to serve people in the community. They will find themselves working in several ways. Whether it is working in an orphanage, helping teach a class in school, food preparation, delivering clothing or other items, or installing stoves and water filtration systems, Teens will have the opportunity to learn more about self-reliance.
Once in Guatemala, teens have the chance to connect with people who have different lives than they do. Unlike traditional Guatemalan travel agencies, GHT encourages kids to interact with locals from Guatemala and understand their lives. This connection is an integral part of GHT as it connects the teens with families who have very little, but even with the small amount they have, they can be happy.
Overall, traveling to Guatemala with GHT is a valuable experience that builds confidence. This trip offers different values than what you can get with a typical Guatemalan travel agency, with GHT, kids are learning they can do hard things. This experience will open their eyes to opportunities to serve here at home and ultimately in their future endeavors. It is a learning experience any parent would want for their child.
Another reason GHT is not a standard Guatemalan travel agency is how GHT interacts with families in Guatemala. At its core, GHT is designed to show Guatemalan families how to be self-reliant with each interaction.
For example, this year, GHT started a preschool that collects donations to cover the costs of nutrition and education for the children that attend. A parent who wants their child to participate in this preschool must commit to volunteering in some capacity. Over 40 volunteers work in the preschool every week. This commitment helps guide families towards better self-reliance as they work hard for their children.
The school also requires the parents to attend classes on managing money, taking care of themselves physically and emotionally, and teaching them how to read. These classes help families in Guatemala learn what skills they need for a chance to have better opportunities. These skills also teach the parents that they don’t need to rely on others for help; instead, they can depend on themselves to make their lives better.
GHT strives to improve local families’ quality of life, rather than simply providing handouts and expecting that will be enough. Instead, GHT builds confidence in parents and children so they understand just how capable they are of making their lives better.
Whether you are a teen participant traveling to Guatemala to serve the people who live there or a parent who volunteers in the preschool that your child attends, GHT will help you learn more about taking the initiative and learning life skills to build future confidence. Teens who participate in service trips have said, “Other than a love for travel, this experience gave me more confidence in myself and my leadership skills.” Traveling to Guatemala on a service trip with GHT is an excellent choice for anyone that wants to help their teens learn more about serving those around them. Self-reliance is an essential part of the values that GHT teaches, and the experience of serving others or serving your community can build confidence that participants can use for the rest of their lives.