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Antigua, Guatemala

Program Description

Join program directors on April 14 from 7-8pm for a virtual info session. Open to all interested students and parents.

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This 10-day summer program in Guatemala will provide incoming first-year students with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn about themselves and the tools to navigate their first year of college at JMU. This will be accomplished in a unique venue where they will also get to know a cohort of their incoming classmates and learn about Guatemalan culture, history, and language while enjoying much of what this beautiful land has to offer.

This course will focus on knowing and understanding ourselves better and using that understanding to plan for a successful transition to new experiences—particularly the transition to college at JMU. Specific information about JMU resources and tools will be shared with students, and they will also develop individualized strategies and goals for their success in college. Students will take various day trips/overnight trips to observe an active volcano, experience a homestay in a thriving local village on the hillsides of Lake Atitlan, spend a day on the black-sand beaches of the Pacific, and many workshops focusing on local commerce and food production. Through these activities, students will consider their location/position in a multicultural society, while learning to be responsible world travelers who are aware of the impact of tourism on local communities and people. Classroom activities and daily structured reflection and discussion will provide a way for all participants to discover, articulate, and digest their experiences as they also interact with each other’s posts, demonstrating how our own lives and experiences are shaped through interaction with others. This course is taught via a combination of facilitated course activities (led by JMU faculty) guest workshops (led by local Guatemalan people), course outings and site visits (led by local tour guides), and daily reflection/discussion (led by JMU faculty).

Follow the program on Instagram.

Location Description

The majority of this program will be centered in the city of Antigua in the Central Highlands of Guatemala. Antigua, a city of approximately 49,000 inhabitants, was once the capital of the Chaplaincy of Guatemala, before a series of earthquakes forced the capital to move to a safer location in 1776. The city is flanked by several volcanoes, offering visitors the opportunity to scale an inactive volcano in order to view nearby eruptions from above the clouds, or under a night sky. The charming colonial city has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, as a modern of model efforts to preserve the city’s baroque architecture. Situated close to the Guatemalan capital, Antigua is considered to be calmer and safer with many opportunities for tourism and day trips to nearby destinations, offering visits to coffee and bamboo plantations, chocolate-makers, black-sand Pacific beaches, Lake Atitlan, and many historical sites. Antigua is a common destination for learning the Spanish language through immersion, due to many language schools in the area. Language institutes and tourism are the primary industries of the area. Many cuisines are represented in Antigua, including Mediterranean, Italian, Asian, American, and traditional Guatemalan eateries. Must have a valid passport. Students are strongly encouraged to apply for expedited processing. Roundtrip airfare is NOT included in the program fee. Students will travel independently to Antiqua, Guatemala where they will meet the program directors. More details will be shared upon acceptance.


Ritter Clevenger | | Dean of Students Office

Matthew Hunsberger | | Dean of Students Office

Hollie Hall | | Dean of Students Office


Accommodations will be provided for students. Primary Location: Earth Lodge - boutique eco-hotel featuring private tree houses, cabins, and geodesic domes located in the tropical mountains of Guatemala, just 15 minutes outside of Antigua.

Two nights will be in San Juan La Laguna on Lake Atitlan partnering with local residents in a homestay style. Optional one-night guided camping tour on Acatenango Volcano (inactive) with views of Fuego Volcano (active).

All meals will be provided as part of the program fees. Approximately 10 meals will be provided via excursions, experiences, and or homestay. For all other meals students will be allocated a daily meal stipend for meals not included with experiences totaling approximately 20.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.5

Open to deposit-paid incoming first-years and transfer students enrolling fall 2024.

This program travels to central america where spanish is the primary language. While it is not required, conversational spanish is helpful.

Application Process

This list serves as an application preview. To apply, students will need to complete the following:

  • Study Abroad Online Application ($40 fee)
  • Short Essay 
  • Unofficial High School Transcript
  • Letter of Recommendation

Further details and instructions about these application requirements will be available upon log-in.

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


UNST 190: New Dukes Abroad: Navigating New Experiences, Antigua Guatemala

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.


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