Central America Semester
Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Roatan
Community. Service. Connection
Possibilities seem more possible to me and my life feels like my own to lead. I never thought I would travel in Latin America and now I want to go to every country within it. This is not a phase in my life, Carpe has truly changed who I am, allowed me to encounter my essence and live more fully and truthfully.
Every day of my life is is better now that I am looking through the lenses of a nomad.
We were taught to live in the present, and to enjoy every minute of it. This applies to every aspect of my life and I could not be more appreciative of learning this at a young age and i would do it again if I had the chance.
Most importantly ~ I thank this program for such a strong dose of emotional strengthening. It has really taken hold in our daughter and I am feeling that I want to do all that I can to support this emerged growth.
I am writing to you to express my appreciation for the positive impact this Carpe Diem Trip had on Amelia's life. When she arrived last night, she exclaimed "Mom, you've got to tell everyone about Carpe Diem, it was so amazing."
I can't say how impressed I am with the program, the leadership, the vision and the goals. Not only did she get what she wanted out of the program - a greater sense of independence, some purpose and direction, a better sense of self - but she came home so inspired and passionate about life, the world, and travel!
Widen your horizon with Carpe Diem Education’s Central America Semester—designed for those who are fascinated by the diverse traditions of this beautiful, tropical region. Our itinerary combines cross-cultural exploration with Spanish language study, outdoor adventure, service-learning, and downtime for contemplation—and throughout, the opportunity to experience and learn about new ways of living.
Your journey begins with an in-country orientation where you’ll learn more about the program, your group, and all the adventures to come. At each stop along the way, you’ll immerse yourself in the Spanish language while interacting with local communities, learning about richly diverse cultures and histories, and building meaningful relationships with welcoming host families, partner organizations, and your fellow group members.
Throughout your travels, you’ll supplement your studies in sustainability and environmental conservation through service-learning projects such as sea turtle conservation, organic farming, or helping with community development projects. Midway through the semester, you’ll have a reflective retreat at Lake Atitlan in the Guatemalan highlands, where you’ll learn new ways to relax and recharge as you prepare for the next leg of your journey.
Practice independent travel-skills that will serve you well in the future – and even obtain your scuba-diving certification – over the course of this three-month adventure. Discovering new ideas about yourself and the world around you, you’ll learn new, life-enriching perspectives through experiential education, community and intercultural exchange.
- The first three days of your semester will be spent in a comfy backpacker retreat. You’ll learn more about the program, your fellow group mates, as well as strategies for staying safe and healthy while traveling. You’ll also set intentions for the semester ahead.
Quetzaltenango is Guatemala’s second largest city, and with that comes many of the big-city amenities, although Xela (as it’s known locally) also has one of the largest Mayan populations and incredibly unique culture. You’ll live with a host family, spend the morning with a private Spanish tutor, and spend the afternoons participating in cultural activities and volunteering.
Spend a week in the rural coffee growing regions of Guatemala, outside of Quetzaltenango. Our groups study at a school managed by a collective of teachers, and which uses their profits to support groups and projects working toward solutions for Guatemala’s social and economic problems. Here, the group will live all together but have meals with local families, while studying Spanish and participating in community projects and activities
Matagalpa is a small town in the Nicaraguan highlands, well-known for the coffee grown in the surrounding areas. Here, you’ll live with host families, and spend half the day studying Spanish in small groups and the other half in various cultural exchange activities.
San Juan la Concepcion, Nicaragua
In San Juan, our groups live together at the community study center, and, in addition to language study, will volunteer with various projects in the local town. This is an opportunity to experience small town life in a beautiful setting.
STUDIES IN SUSTAINABILITY
- Spend 1-2 weeks learning about sustainable living, natural building, and organic agriculture. You’ll live and work on an organic farm and, in addition to helping with farm chores, you’ll participate in local cultural and craft activities.
COMMUNITY BASED VOLUNTEERING
- Partnering with a local NGO, the group will work on sustainable development projects in a small coastal community in Southwest Nicaragua. Past projects here have included: working at local schools building solar ovens, helping with beach clean-ups, painting, tree planting, and English teaching. Activities vary according to the needs of the community at the time of our visit. In addition to volunteer work, you’ll have the opportunity to surf some of the best waves in Nicaragua.
STUDENT DIRECTED TRAVEL
- A unique opportunity for the group to work together to design, plan, budget, and implement their own itinerary. Traveling together, the group will arrange transportation, accommodation, and activities – what will the group decide?
- Spend a week living in a rural Mayan village, working during the days on projects commissioned by the local community and participating in cultural exchange activities. The intention of this week is to immerse yourself in a new way of living and experience what life is like in a community where many people still speak the indigenous Mayan dialect. Be prepared to be challenged by rustic homestays, but also be ready for smiles, laughter, and learning.
- Spend a week volunteering with an environmental organization on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. You will work at night, alongside Costa Rican scientists, to patrol the beach for sea turtles that come ashore to lay eggs. You might help to tag and take measurements of the turtles, to move eggs to protected nesting areas, or monitor nests as baby turtles hatch. Days are spent sleeping, working around the base camp, and enjoying the beach.
Hiking in the Guatemalan highlands surrounding Lake Atitlan, the group will spend 3 days exploring natural areas and visiting local communities, where many people still speak traditional Mayan dialects. The final morning is spent watching the sunrise over Lake Atitlan – one of the largest calderas in the world, and surrounded by dormant volcanoes.
Fly to the Bay Islands off the coast of Honduras for a week of rest, relaxation, and some of the best SCUBA diving in the world. You will live in a guest house near the beach and take a course leading to PADI Basic Open Water SCUBA certification. Higher levels of certification are available for those with previous dive experience. When not diving, you will have time for reflecting on and celebrating the successes of the semester.
- Spend time on the shores of Lake Atitlan, learning about yoga and meditation, exploring local communities, and reflecting goals and accomplishments and on the trip thus far.
Accepting Applications For:
SPRING 2017 February 15 – May 10*
FALL 2017 September 13 – December 6*
SPRING 2018 February 14 – May 9*
*Dates may fluctuate depending on flight times and availability.
Not sure what to do after your semester? Check out our Latitudes program to do a focused volunteer placement for your second semester! CLICK HERE
A maximum of 12 Students & 2 Overseas Educators
Ages 17 and Up
COLLEGE CREDIT & FINANCIAL AID
Earn up to 18 credits through our partnership with Portland State University.
Learn more on our College Credit page.
Carpe Diem students can access Financial Aid.
Learn more on our Financial Aid page.
Program tuition includes all food, accommodations, scheduled program activities, and international travel insurance for the duration of the program. International airfare and spending money are extra. International airfare estimated at $1400 – $1600.