Ceiba places the highest priority on your health, safety, and security while you are in Guatemala. We have taken conscientious steps to absolutely minimize risk and ensure that every Ceiba student has nothing but the most rewarding, valuable experience possible. Please feel free to contact us with any specific concerns or questions.
We have taken the following precautions in our commitment to your well-being:
Ceiba staff will lead extensive pre-departure and arrival orientations to prepare students for cultural differences and locally appropriate behaviors, considerations of daily life in a foreign country, and best practices of situational awareness. Orientations are an essential aspect of the Ceiba experience and are mandatory for all students.
All students will stay together in one house in the town of San Juan del Obispo. San Juan is a tranquil town on the edge of Antigua proper and offers a beautiful, relaxed environment on the side of (extinct) Volcan Agua. There will always be two trusted chaperones, one male and one female, who have undergone thorough background checks and have completed first aid courses, in the house at all times that students are present. There is also a House Manager who will look after the daily functions of the house. The house itself will have a complete alarm system and a privately-contracted security patrol will regularly pass the house every night.
Ceiba retains a current list of bilingual doctors who can respond to emergencies any time of day; house staff will also have basic first aid training. All Ceiba staff has complete knowledge of Antigua and is familiar with local clinics and pharmacies for more everyday concerns. Also, Guatemala has a number of world-class hospitals less than an hour away and also an esteemed local hospital, Hermano Pedro, in Antigua.
Students will be transported in a Ceiba-owned van by a certified, licensed, knowledgeable driver. All transportation to and from project sites will be provided and students will never have to rely on public transportation. Like Ceiba’s Guatemalan Director, Scott Garrison, Ceiba’s driver will also be on-call 24-hours-a-day to respond to any emergencies. Further, longer weekend excursions will either be in the Ceiba van or organized with a local, trusted tour operator with regular drivers. Ceiba staff will accompany students on all excursions outside of Antigua.
Cell Phones and Communication
Every student will be provided with a cell phone that is part of the Ceiba family plan. Students will be able to reach a number of Ceiba staff 24-hours-a-day for free – parents will also have the phone numbers of Ceiba staff in case of emergency at home. Credit can also be added to the phones in order to stay in contact with friends in Guatemala and family in the US. There will be stable internet access in the house and access to Skype for longer international calls. Laptops will be available anytime they are not in use for academic purposes.
There will be free time on the weekends to hang out in Antigua itself. As a former teacher at the international school here, Scott has maintained excellent relationships with many of the students from the school. Every Ceiba student will be introduced to these students and can always look to them for advice, suggestions, or just plain company while here. The students from the school are mainly from international families but were either born in Antigua or have lived here for most of their lives. This ‘buddy system’ lets Ceiba students know that they have support among their peers and allows for greater cross-cultural learning.
In our effort to ensure a productive, healthy, and safe experience for all Ceiba students, we continually review work and housing situations, collaborate closely on project development with our partner organizations and local communities, and have developed plans for responding to emergencies.