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Guatemala Term

Program Description  • Spring Semesters

Guatemala Term is a cross-disciplinary program designed to provide students an opportunity to improve their ability to communicate in Spanish, to participate in the cultures of Guatemala, to develop an understanding of the connections between community ministry and community development, and integrate experiential learning with formal academic study.

  • Learn Spanish by studying one-on-one with a Guatemalan language instructor
  • Serve in a community-based ministry located in the nearby villages and Antigua
  • Live with a Guatemalan family
  • Immerse yourself in Guatemalan culture
  • Experience a life-changing semester

Courses (15 credits total)

Spanish Language Courses (course descriptions available online) 8 credits

Students study individually with a language instructor from Centro Lingüístico Maya, and receive credit for two of the following courses:

SPA 203        Intensive Intermediate Spanish I in Guatemala                   4 credits

SPA 204        Intensive Intermediate Spanish II in Guatemala                  4 credits

SPA 291        Ibero-American History in Guatemala                                  4 credits

SPA 300        Intro to Hispanic Literature                                                 4 credits

SPA 302U     Hispanic Cultures: Guatemalan Perspectives                         4 credits

SPA 308        Current Issues in Guatemala                                               4 credits

SPA 323        Advanced Spanish Communication in Guatemala                   4 credits

Sociocultural Studies Courses (all participants take the following two courses)

SPA481 Internship in Spanish or Internship in major department    4 credits

Students choosing an internship in their major department must make arrangements with their advisor and department. An off-campus, cross-cultural experience will expand Spanish communication knowledge and skills Students choose to work at a ministry site that offers hands-on experience in a field of interest. Students International staff members closely mentor students at each site, which are located in neighboring villages. A faculty member guides students in connecting their work at their sites with their understanding they are gaining about holistic ministry.

SCS330G     Sociology of Third World Economic Development       3 credits

Sociological study of how regional and worldwide political, economic, and social structures, along with broader historical events, impact local communities in Guatemala.  Exploration of holistic development in these communities, with special emphasis placed on those models that are participatory and culturally contextualized.  Case studies are drawn from Guatemala.  


Within an hour’s drive of the capital of Guatemala City lies the picturesque town of Antigua where Spanish colonial influence remains visible in baroque architecture, cobblestone streets, and Catholic cathedrals. This colorful town and its surrounding villages provide the setting for Guatemala Term.  Participants learn about the history and culture of Guatemala through interaction with host families, language teachers, missionaries, and from visits to historic sites and communities served through ministry.


Students have the opportunity to explore many regions in Guatemala through travel (included in program fee). 

Travel sites include:

Tikal  A famous Mayan archeological site in the jungle of northern Guatemala, Tikal was a major urban center of the Americas, behind only Mexico and Peru in influence in the third and fourth centuries. Giant pyramids and other structures remain for students to climb and explore.

Panajachel A unique town that provides a gateway to Lake Atitlán, a 12-mile mountain lake over 300 feet deep and surrounded by volcanoes, with many villages situated on its shores.

Pacific Coast  A short getaway to the coastal town of San José in Guatemala will introduce you to a new landscape and climate in Latin America.

Guatemala City  “Contrast” best describes this capital city.  History, modernity, poverty and wealth are just some of what one can expect to experience.


Students live and take meals with Guatemalan families throughout the semester.  The homestays (in Antigua and the rural village of Magdalena) provide an excellent opportunity to practice Spanish with native speakers and to experience life with Guatemalan families.

Partner Agencies

Students International (SI) hosts students for the semester. SI is a nonprofit, evangelical Christian mission organization that strives to serve the poor through long-term community development ministries.  SI intentionally provides students with opportunities for dynamic hands-on experiences that relate to their specific major and skills. Qualified Guatemalan and American staff members oversee the specific long-term projects and are involved in the community-oriented lifestyle of the organization. Each ministry site is structured to facilitate student engagement and provides an opportunity to be part of an ongoing ministry that will impact many for the Gospel.

Centro Lingüístico Maya (CLM) is a language school certified by the Guatemalan Ministries of Education and Tourism.  Located near downtown Antigua, CLM offers individualized instruction and optional weekly field trips to sites around Antigua, and other cultural activities.

Seminario Anabautista Latinoamericano (SEMILLA) in Guatemala City provides several days of orientation at the beginning of the semester as well as the opportunity for students to complete their coursework and process their experience at the end of the term.


The program begins with orientation at SEMILLA.  The semester is divided into 3- and 4-week blocks during which students work intensively at ministry sites or study Spanish at the language school.  Program concludes with debriefing and preparation for re-entry at SEMILLA.  Spring Break is the week before Easter (Semana Santa). 


• Completion of at least one year of college-level Spanish (through Introductory II) or the equivalent.

• Minimum sophomore standing

• Minimum 2.5 GPA

• See application for additional policies


The group will tentatively depart for Guatemala on January 28 and return on May 19. Guatemala Term does not conflict with on-campus interim at Bethel.


$21,710 for spring 2016, which is the equivalent of Bethel tuition, room (junior level), and the Royal meal plan. This includes tuition and fees, room, meals, four trips/excursions, and round-trip airfare (Minneapolis – Guatemala City). Financial aid applies (with the exception of work-study and Bethel performance scholarships, e.g. orchestra, forensics). Additional costs include passports, immunizations, independent travel, and personal spending.

Important dates

Applications include a $50 application fee. Students should hear of acceptance within 3 weeks. (A $250 confirmation deposit will be required 2 weeks after acceptance to hold the spot)

April 15              Initial application deadline (Applications will be reviewed and acceptance made on a rolling basis after this date.)

Oct 15               Final application deadline                                                

Nov 15              TENTATIVE DATE Study Abroad Orientation (mandatory for Bethel students) 

January            Final program payment due with spring 2016 bill

Jan 28              Tentative departure date

May 19             Tentative return date

Next steps/Contact Info

• Talk with your academic advisor – off-campus study should complement your field of study.

• Ask questions – contact International Studies (651.638.6492) or Laura Sánchez, Program Director (651.638.6092), for additional information.

• Learn more online:

Centro Lingüístico Mayahttp://clmaya.com/

- Students International: www.stint.com/

SEMILLA http://www.semilla.org.gt/

• Contact study abroad office for application, CC320A