W20 Guatemala – Rights & Resistance



Trip Destination


Approximate Price

1849 +/- ($500 BWR grant applied)

Trip Date




Application Deadline


Cost Information

Cost for Domestic Students: $500-$1000 (includes IFS + BWR Course)
Cost for International Students: $1000 (includes IFS + BWR Course)
Cost for Students Not Willing to Take the BWR Course: ~$5000 (Full amount of IFS)

Program Information

This opportunity is available to all Niagara College students and alumni within 6 months of graduation. Please note that part-time students are not eligible for the Be World Ready Grant.

This program is considered highly intense due to the fast-pace, hands-on fieldwork, and hiking combined with the variable terrain and subtropical climate. A moderate to high level of physical fitness is suggested to participate in this program.

Physical Intensity



Steps to Apply

W20 Guatemala – Rights & Resistance

Be World Ready’s Rights & Resistance program takes students on an immersive journey through Guatemala where they will be challenged to think about peace and reconciliation, law and order, human rights, resistance, and the struggle for justice. We’ll travel from the streets of Guatemala’s capital where thousands of peaceful protesters forced the resignation (and arrest) of the country’s President to more remote corners of Alta and Baja Verapaz where previously war-torn communities are working to reclaim their rights and rebuild their livelihoods. We’ll play in the field with ambitious youth, hike with courageous land defenders, talk shop with local officials, and break bread with determined human rights activists. We’ll examine the enduring effects of colonialism, racism, poverty and inequality and see how communities across Guatemala are responding in their pursuit for justice.

Travel Visa + Immigration Documentation:

Students are responsible for researching and applying for any required visa(s) on their own; Be World Ready is not able to apply for any travel visa(s) on your behalf. Be World Ready will provide you with supporting documentation as needed to apply for a Visa once the deadline to register has passed. All international students will need to ensure that their Study Permits and Student Visas are not expired before the date of return from the international experience, to ensure that there are no challenges upon reentry to Canada. Travel restrictions and requirements for entry to Canada may change at any time. All travellers are responsible for remaining up to date with any restrictions and requirements for travel and re-entry to Canada leading up to and throughout their International Field Study. Niagara College Canada will assume no responsibility for any changes to governing body travel restrictions, required documentation for travel or any refused entry as a result of change. Travellers are encouraged to review the Government of Canada Website for the latest restrictions and requirements for entry to Canada, as well as to check entry requirements to their destination country as a Canadian citizen.

Day 1 – 3|Guatemala City

February 22 – 24, 2020

We will begin our adventure in Guatemala’s big and bustling capital of Guatemala City. Following arrivals at the La Aurora International Airport, we’ll get acclimatized to the sights, smells, sounds, and smiles of the region. We’ll explore the city’s historical centre on foot, visiting the National Palace where thousands of peaceful protesters recently forced the resignation (and arrest) of the President. We’ll also connect with the Human rights Commission and join Paulo from the organization HIJOS (Children of the Disappeared) to tour some of Guatemala’s politically charged street art while learning about the enduring trauma of Guatemala’s 36-year armed conflict and its implications for the country.

  • Local & Climate: Guatemala City is BIG. think 4 million people and growing. It’s got a slightly gritty vibe and streets are pretty chaotic. At 1500m above sea level, so while it can be warm to hot during the day, evenings can get cool and chilly.  It will also be RAINY SEASON, so be sure to pack a rain jacket and waterproof cover for your pack.
  • Activities:
    • Day 1 will be the first full exposure to both Guatemala and OG’s educational travel style: So, as part of orientation, we’ll facilitate a number of ice breakers, team building games and conversations about Guatemala, and how we want to perform as a group of backpacktivists.
    • On day 2, we’ll continue orientation and begin to talk more about Guatemala’s history and search for justice with a visit to the FAFG where we’ll learn get a glimpse into how forensic anthropologists are exhuming victims from the internal conflict and promoting healing. 
  • Learning: Students will be learning about Guatemala’s struggle for justice and ongoing fights for human rights. Visits to places like the “Casa de La Memoria” (House of Memory) and the FAFG along with the street art and posters will provide an  intro into Guatemala’s 36-year armed conflict and process towards to peace and reconciliation.
    Students will also be exposed to OG’s playful and experiential learning style: we’ll have lots of discussion, group games and reflections to help spur that learning and orient students to Guatemala.
  • Accommodations: Quetzalroo is located in Zone 10. It’s a pretty standard family-run backpackers hostel with bunkbeds and shared dorm rooms. Marcos is the manager and has a big personality. He offers a lot of local knowledge and if asked can guide a badass bicycle tour of the city.  The hostel also has a rooftop where we’ll do some of our morning briefings and evening reflections.
  • Transportation: We’ll take taxis or a private micro (kinda like a club van) from the airport. Then we’ll mostly be exploring by taxi and by walking (or maybe biking) in the city.
  • Food: Lots of beans, corn tortillas, eggs and chicken!  We’ll be delving into these local staples right away.
  • Physicality: Aside from the optional bike tour of the city, we won’t be doing any hiking or crazy adventure activities on Day 1 or 2 but we will be walking around the downtown quite a bit and days will be full of other types of  activities and engagements.
Day 3 – 5| Pacux, Rabinal

February 24 – 26, 2020

From the capital, we’ll drive north into the region of Baja Verapaz and on to the city of Rabinal. There the edge of town, we’ll join ACHI in the “model village” of Pacux for a couple of days of hands-on learning. We’ll learn about the effects of conflict from a community of refugees who are working to reclaim their rights and rebuild their livelihoods. We’ll play games and roll up our sleeves with local youth who use outdoor education and agroecology to plant the seeds for a better future.

  • Accommodations: Family homestays in Pacux. Family homes are basic concrete structures with electricity and running water but may not have flush toilettes or paved floors. Bucket showers are the standard and there isn’t a lot of privacy. But families are very friendly and patient communicating across languages.
  • Physicality: REMOTE, long hike up to the community, boat ride, hot weather, project work will likely include construction
Day 5 – 7| Rio Negro

February 26 – 28, 2020

Next, we’ll set off in pick-up trucks before hiking the remaining 5km over rolling hills and down into the beautiful riverside community of Rio Negro. Here, we’ll stay for two days of listening, learning, and working alongside a courageous group of Maya Achi who have faced nearly 40 years of repression, culminating in the infamous Rio Negro Massacres of 1980-82. Besides getting our hands dirty, we’ll have the opportunity to fish with local community members, and hike to the community’s ceremonial altar while discussing the community’s pursuit of justice in the aftermath of the conflict.

  • Local & Climate: The Rio Negro is a small community of two dozen families spread out along two bays of the Rio Negro river. The community endured a series of massacres in the ‘70s-’80s during the civil war and is now only accessible by water or by foot. There is no cell service and only limited electricity. The climate is hot (25-30 degree days) and typically dry but heavy rains coming only during rainy season (May-Oct). Nights are slightly cooler with temperatures dropping to 15 degrees.
  • Partners and Projects: The community of Rio Negro is our partner. Project work, as always, is TBD, but we will likely be collaborating on some sort of construction or repair project in the community.
  • Activities: While we do some project work in Rio Negro, the main reason for our visit there is to stand in solidarity with the community. We will spend most of our time in and around the beautiful community center, hike up to a tragically historical site, and have a bonfire. This is a heavy visit, and can be quite emotional.
  • Learning: We will learn about the Rio Negro massacres, and we will hear Don Sebastian’s story of survival. We will learn what it means to stand in solidarity with a community. We will learn about how remoteness and access to resources affects people’s way of life and allows for those in power to commit human rights abuses in these locations.
  • Accommodations: Big shared room in the community center, mattresses on the floor.
  • Transportation: Pickup trucks, boats, walking
  • Food: Home cooked, basic chapin cuisine
  • Physicality: REMOTE, long hike up to the community, boat ride, hot weather, project work will likely include construction
Day 7 – 8| San Cristobal Verapaz

February 28 – 29, 2020

In the morning, we’ll say farewell and leave Rio Negro by boat, passing by the Chixoy Hydroelectric Dam, a massive feat of engineering that serves as gatekeeper for the community and was a catalyst for some of their most tragic confrontations with the military and police. Then it’s on to San Cristobal in Alto Verapaz we’re connect with our friends at the Community Education Center of Pokomchí (CECEP), and visit a museum highlighting the history and culture of the Pokomchí Maya. We’ll also have the option of breaking bread and staying with local families. On our long journey back south, we’ll make a quick pit stop in the indigenous metropolis of Xela (pronounced Shay-la). There, we’ll visit with local students, talk to local members of the Civil National Police (PNC), and a meet with revolutionary-turned-reformer Willy at Café La RED KAT for an delicious meal and insightful discussion on the challenge of bring about justice in modern day Guatemala.

  • Local & Climate: San Cristobal is a small city as is the capital of the Maya Achi cultural territory. We’ll be staying close to the centre of town where much of the city’s life plays out with street food, music and vendors doing their thing from morning till night. At an altitude of ?, temperatures are a little cooler here (20-25 degree days and 8-15 degree nights) but the sun is strong.
  • Activities: 
    • Disorientation – On the afternoon of day 8 we’ll celebrate disorientation, a staple of all OG programs. This is a chance to kickback relax and reflect in a beautiful setting where we’ll re-live memories of the program, recap the lessons that we’ve learned, discuss how to stay connected, and collaborate on projects in the future.
  • Partners and Projects: We will meet the larger team at CECEP. Although we will not be doing any more service work, we can explore the cultural museum and talk to Sucely and her colleagues about their work and efforts to protect the Maya Achi language and territory.
  • Accommodations: We’ll be staying in a local family-run hotel. Think basic double or triple occupancy rooms with private or shared bathrooms. There is generally (but not always) hot water, electricity and if we’re lucky, WIFI.
  • Transportation: We’ll take a boat from the Rio Negro to the Chixoy Dam. A Massive hydroelectric project where we’ll ride in the backs of pick-up trucks to San Cristobal (1.5hrs). In San Cristobal everything is walkable.  On Day 8, we’ll take a shuttle back to Guatemala City (3.5hrs) to meet our outgoing flights.
  • Round Trip Airfare
  • All Accommodation
  • Meals
  • Travel Insurance
  • In Country Transportation
  • Community Outreach
  • Hikes & Activities
The Be World Ready program at Niagara College prepares you for global success through education, exchange, and international experience. This program offers you the opportunity to experience culturally diverse learning environments, understand different perspectives and connect practical skills with a global mindset to help you launch your career.
An international field study is a 7 – 10 day experience that incorporates both vocational and cultural elements, while visiting some of the world’s most famous sights! Many of our international field studies are customized for specific Schools and programs at Niagara College, allowing students to apply the skills learned in the classroom in a real-world setting. All international field studies depart during the Niagara College break weeks to ensure that students do not miss any classes.
All international field studies will include roundtrip airfare (where applicable), accommodations, travel insurance, entrance fees as outlined in the itinerary, and some meals as outlined in the itinerary. A detailed list of inclusions and exclusions will be viewable on the posted webpage for any international field study on our website. Participants can expect to purchase some meals on their own and will need to bring spending money for any souvenirs, extra excursions, incidentals or items of a personal nature.

No. All aspects noted as included in the overall cost of the selected international field study are mandatory with no exceptions made. Our international field studies are built using group pricing and it is important that we do not deviate from the inclusions as it could negatively impact our ability to offer fair pricing to all participants.

In addition to affecting group pricing, these are our Niagara College International Field Study policies, and we cannot deviate from them, as they are part of our risk mitigation and management.

No. Students are not able to book their own flight in any way or alter the flights confirmed by Be World Ready. The round-trip flights as confirmed by Be World Ready are part of the package pricing, and the group is to travel to and from the destination country together.

These are our Niagara College International Field Study policies, and we cannot deviate from them, as they are part of our risk mitigation and management.

Each international field study destination has different accommodation providers or themes. Accommodation types that are used may include a combination of dorm-style rooms, homestays, tourist class hotels, or occasionally hostels. We strive to ensure we use centrally located accommodation when in city centres, allowing our participants to explore their surroundings more easily. Private accommodation is not guaranteed.

Rooms will vary in style on each trip; however, they are commonly twin share (2 people to a room with separate beds where possible). Single rooms may be available for an additional room fee provided adequate notice is given to Be World Ready staff. We strive to ensure you have comfortable, affordable accommodations anywhere you travel.

Students will be given the opportunity to meet their fellow travellers before the deadline to submit their roommate requests. Be World Ready does their best to accommodate rooming requests, but please note that final rooming arrangements are subject to room occupancy requirements and availability. A rooming list will be created by Be World Ready staff and shared with our accommodation providers before your departure. All participants will be emailed and will have the opportunity to identify their preferred roommate(s). While we will make every effort to ensure all preferences are met, we cannot guarantee it.

As long as they are current full-time Niagara College students and meet the program eligibility requirements. Unfortunately, we are not able to accept any persons to participate in any of our international field studies that are not current full-time students at Niagara College.

In addition to regular communications shared with participants leading up to the departure of their international field study of choice, Be World Ready requires students to attend the Be World Ready course, which includes but is not limited to, online trainings and pre-departure training sessions. During the pre-departure training sessions, students will be presented with the overall expectations of the trip as well as in-depth details concerning their itinerary.

During their time abroad, students will be able to communicate with their trip leads directly, 24/7, with any questions or concerns.

All participants are required to hold a passport that is valid for a minimum of 6 months beyond any expected date of return to participate in any opportunity involving outbound travel.

You are responsible for researching and applying for any required visa(s) on your own. Be World Ready is unable to tell you what visa you require and how to apply. Be World Ready will provide you with supporting documentation as needed to apply for a Visa. While Be World Ready is not able to advise or guide you in a heightened level of detail through any particular visa process, you may consider hiring a travel visa service to assist you with the visa application process, such as CIBT visas. Please note that Be World Ready and Niagara College do not endorse any third-party vendors, nor have any influence or control over any outcomes or services rendered. We cannot apply for a visa on behalf of any participant.

All international students will need to ensure that their Study Permits and Student Visas are not expired before the date of return from the international experience, to ensure that there are no challenges with reentry to Canada.

Yes, while it is great to have a Nexus card, all participants must hold a passport that is valid for a minimum of 6 months beyond any expected date of return in order to participate in any opportunity outside of Canada.
Depending on your destination country, we encourage you to book an appointment with a travel health professional regarding any additional vaccinations and medications you may need. It is strongly encouraged that you book an appointment with the Campus Nurse to go over this information. To do so, please visit the medical office to book an appointment at your respective campus.
Be World Ready takes the safety of our staff and students very seriously and has a rigorous risk management assessment when creating all opportunities. Be World Ready staff monitor destination country risk levels as communicated by the Government of Canada. Your safety is the most important aspect of this trip. Be World Ready and Niagara College take all possible precautions to ensure you have a safe, enjoyable experience while travelling abroad.
Students who sign up during the active promotional period for the international field study will be presented with a payment schedule to follow. At time of registration, students will be only required to pay the full non-refundable deposit that is disclosed at time of registration. Students who are permitted to sign up late will be expected to catch up on any payments missed according to the payment schedule advertised. In some instances, there may only be one payment due date.
Complete the eligibility quiz linked on the webpage of the International Field Study you’re interested in to find out if you meet eligibility requirements.
No. Students will not directly receive grant money as the full value of the grant has already been applied to the final payment to offset the total cost of the learning experience abroad. For students who do not complete all grant requirements by established deadlines (including the time of submission), the full grant amount may be charged directly to their student account. Details on grant requirements will be shared with you as part of the mandatory Be World Ready (SOCL 1128 or IDPL 9103) course, which all students participating in a Be World Ready International Field Study must enroll in and successfully complete to receive funding.
Students are only permitted to travel on an IFS to their home country if the IFS is program specific. IFS’ that are open to students from all programs do not permit students to travel if the destination is their home country. The purpose of the grant funding is to help students gain global competencies that they would not otherwise be exposed to, and as such, travelling to destinations they’ve previously lived in does not support this goal.
Students have the potential to travel and receive funding through Be World Ready up to 2 times; students can travel once on either an International Field Study, Summer Institute, or Semester Exchange, and they can potentially travel again for a Work Abroad opportunity (if eligibility requirements are met – please note that if more applications are received than work abroad grants available, priority will be given to those who have never travelled on any type of Be World Ready experience before). So, if you’re wanting to travel on an International Field Study, note that participation on an IFS is permitted only for students who have not yet experienced a Be World Ready IFS, Summer Institute, or Semester Exchange since beginning their studies at Niagara College.


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