I'm delighted to host a Guest Post by Phiroza Marker, co-founder of Spanish Marks, on a unique Spanish school and the wonderful country of Guatemala.
Search for Guatemala on any travel website and it would be hard to see anything other than a country whose beauty is undeniable. Soaring volcanoes, forested mountains and ancient Mayan ruins speckle the landscape of this Central American country. Towns, such as Antigua, are filled with architecture reflecting the country’s colonial past when it was conquered by the Spanish in the 16th century. Travellers can go back even further in time and visit ancient Mayan ruins in places such as Tikal.
One of our favourite places is Laguna Lachuá. After a 4km walk deep in lush rainforest you will find a lake that no words or pictures can truly justify. Completely disconnected from the rest of the word, you can soak up the tranquillity of nature. Swimming is allowed in certain parts; although I wouldn't advise you to go too far out as crocodiles also reside there! The lake itself is crystal clear and you can either watch the marine life or sit and relax by the side listening to nature sing it's song. This blend of natural beauty and rich history makes Guatemala one of the most enchanting countries in Central America.
Guatemala is also home to our Spanish school, Spanish Marks. Based in Quetzaltenango, a city renowned for the quality of its Spanish teachers, the school provides both one-to-one and group Spanish tuition. Teaching is done through online classrooms which allows students from all over the world to connect with our experienced native-Spanish speaking teachers. Students can see and speak to our teachers online, and there are also on-screen blackboards. It offers a very flexible way of learning Spanish since you can connect from any location and at any time.
Spanish Marks wants to change the way language schools operate. The school is a social enterprise which gives back to the communities from where our teachers are based. Although Guatemala is a country of outstanding natural beauty, it is also one which is entrenched with social problems: from chronic malnutrition to widespread poverty. We therefore use part of the funds from our Spanish lessons to set up charitable projects. These have included fixing the roof of a Guatemalan charity which has meant there is now a place to train women to sew and sell their products. More about this project can be read here: http://www.spanishmarks.com/blog/42-tackling-malnutrition-in-guatemala
Recently we have also started working with Guatemalan primary and secondary schools to run monthly writing competitions and workshops which fosters talent among young Guatemalan school children.
Spanish Marks is constantly looking for ways to grow because the more lessons that are taken, the more community projects we can set up and fund. We are putting together exciting plans to launch professional work experience placements in Guatemala combined with pre-departure Spanish lessons. It would allow volunteers to work with charities in Guatemala in areas such as: teaching, medicine, IT and law.
We’ve seen that many work experience companies charge a huge amount to organise volunteer placements, and so we are wanting to take out any ‘middle-man’ fees. Our charges to organise the logistics of the placements (i.e. transport, accommodation, meals) would be cost-only. The pre-departure Spanish lessons would also allow volunteers to get a solid
So if you are thinking of learning Spanish, keep in mind our ethical-focussed school. Our teachers would love to meet you either online or in their beautiful home country of Guatemala!