Long Way Home (LWH)

Chimiyá, San Juan Comalapa | Guatemala

Guatemala-002 | Print This Position Description

This is a great placement for gaining experience in development work in rural Guatemala. Projects in Alternative Construction and Appropriate Technology, Environmental Education, Marketing and Grantwriting. Beginning-level Spanish helpful to facilitate daily living. Second year university-level Spanish required to lead education projects with local youth. Housing available on-site in a Volunteer House. Language instruction available for an additional cost.

About the Organization

Long Way Home’s mission as a 501(c)(3) is to use sustainable design and appropirate materials to construct self-sufficient schools that promote education, employment, and environmental stewardship.

Founded in 2004, Long Way Home (LWH) is a non-profit organization run by a small group of dedicated volunteers and staff. For our pilot project, Chuwi Tinamit, a local development organization, invited LWH to assist in building an educational recreation/ecological park. Our second project, started in January 2009, is the construction of a primary and vocational school for local youth. Since February 2005, LWH has hosted over 870 volunteers and university interns from over twenty countries who have all made lasting contributions.

Job Description

The park has a tree and plant nursery, organic gardens, soccer field, basketball court, playground, community kitchen, protected wooded area, nature trail and outdoor classroom. Long Way Home is looking for interns to maintain all existing projects. The primary focus at this time is the construction of a 17-building primary and vocational campus using alternative methods, including rammed-earth and trash bottle "bricks".

The Internship Program leverages in-kind labor from interested individuals from all over the world. Long Way Home has a great diversity of programming and needs, and therefore works with a wide array of students from various courses of study. Flexibility and an “expect the unexpected” attitude will improve the quality of your internship experience, as will your ability to work independently on projects that interest you. Note for anyone wanting to help with educational programming in the local schools: “Summer Vacation” in Guatemala starts in October and ends in January. Fall interns will have limited time to participate in school programs.

Long Way Home volunteers and student interns work in the following project areas:

Requirements: Ideal students will have an academic and/or professional background in elementary education, environmental education, environmental science or other related field. No beginning Spanish speakers.
Job Description: Environmental Education interns will design and implement programming for the elementary school, devising dynamic and interactive ways for the children to learn about environmental topics. Work also includes further developing the trash collection program within local schools.

Requirements: Ideal students will have an academic and/or professional background in engineering, carpentry, masonry, mechanics, architecture or other related field.
Job Description: Alternative Construction & Appropriate Technology interns will help construct a school using rammed earth, trashbottle, and other green building techniques. Interns may have the opportunity to help design and construct composting latrines and rainwater collection tanks. Expect lots of physical labor.

Requirements: Ideal students will have an academic and/or professional background in business administration, management, marketing or other related field.
Job Description: Marketing & Grantwriting interns will respond directly to the Director of Operations. They will be responsible for creating strategic plans for promoting LWH projects within the local community and promoting the LWH volunteer and internship program in the U.S. and other countries. They will also be responsible for creating and helping implement fundraising plans for the organization as well as researching and writing grants.

# of Positions per term

up to 6

Start Dates

Beginning of any academic term

Duration of Internship

10 weeks

Academic Background

Students majoring in one of the following areas: Agriculture, Forestry, Natural Resource Management, Botany, Environmental Science, Youth Development, Elementary Education, Engineering, Carpentry, Masonry, Mechanics, Architecture, Non-Profit Management, Community Development, International Studies, Resources Economics, etc.


Willingness to work hard to help others. Desire to work in a rural setting without modern day conveniences. Ability to live in rustic conditions and cook and clean on your own. Flexibility in job duties. Desire to learn about other cultures. Physical fitness (walking is the primary mode of transportation). Positive attitude. Ability to work independently.

Language Ability

Advanced Spanish language skills will enable you to work more closely with the local community and within the local schools. Less Spanish generally means more physical labor. Beginning Spanish speakers are welcome to participate in our construction projects and or any projects needing general labor, while interns wanting to work in educational programming must have the equivalent of completion of second year university level Spanish.

Note: Although the Mayan language of Kaq’chikel is the first language in many homes in Comalapa, the majority of Comalapa's population speaks Spanish. Private classes are available for interns in both Spanish and Kaq’chikel for around $7 per hour.

Other Requirements

Interns are required to submit a Long Way Home Volunteer Application in addition to the IE3 application: LWHvolunteerapplication.pdf, or fill it out online here.

Total costs vary depending on how long you plan to be abroad, where you will be living, your personal spending habits, and current exchange rates. The following estimates will give you a ballpark figure for this internship. Get help with the math from our handy Cost Calculator and currency converter.

IE3 Program Fee

The IE3 program fee is $3450 for the first term for both in-state and out-of-state students and $1000 for each additional term. This fee includes up to 12 credits per term, and is charged in lieu of tuition. Visit your University's IE3 page for details regarding campus administrative fees.

Estimated One-Time Expenses

Expense Type Price
Host Site Fees


International Travel $600-$700
Visa Fees $25-$50 (students will not have a VISA fee unless they stay more than 3 months)
Recommended Immunizations Recommended Immunizations:
Measles, Mumps, Rubella
Hepatitis A & B vaccines
Malaria (in some areas)

*See Additional Cost Information below.

Estimated Monthly Expenses

Expense Type Price/month
Housing $300+*
Food $75
Local Transportation $5-$10
Recreation $25
Personal Expenses $25


None. Be prepared to work hard for no pay. It’s for a good cause.

Additional Expense Information

Long Way Home has a simple volunteer house with space for 7 people. It is equipped with electricity, a flush toilet, and shared kitchen facilities. Housing in the volunteer house costs $75/week. Housing with a homestay family costs $85/week. It is also possible to stay in a hotel for $95/week. Budget $75/month for food, and $25/month for miscellaneous expenses. It is advisable that interns budget additional funds for weekend travel around the country as there is a lot to see and do.

Long Way Home collects an $80 application processing fee which will be billed through IE3 and due the same time your IE3 bill is due.

Video from BBC's World Challenge about Long Way Home:

Long Way Home YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/longwayhome100

Long Way Home Facebook Page

Long Way Home website

Long Way Home Volunteer Manual

Previous student reports:

IE3 Reflection Paper

Field Notes Postings: