Frequently Asked Questions

When and how do I pay?

Tuition payments must be made before arrival, while internet and textbook charges are paid upon arrival. CASAS accepts cash and personal cheques.

EXCEPTION: Students receiving credit from Bethel College, Bluffton College, Conrad Grebel University, Eastern Mennonite University, Fresno Pacific University, Goshen College, and Messiah College will pay via their own institutions.

How do I keep in touch with family and friends back home?

The Guatemalan postal system has recently been revamped. Mail arrives fairly regularly, usually within two weeks or so of having been sent from the U.S. From here to the U.S. or Canada, it is often a bit slower. Packages from the U.S. generally take a few weeks and can be expensive to get out of customs, even if the contents are of minimal value. It is best not to mail money in any form.

Occasionally, you will be able to send mail with people traveling directly to the U.S., so students might want to bring a few U.S. stamps. You can buy Guatemalan stamps from the CASAS-SEMILLA receptionist. Mail goes out from and is delivered to CASAS two days a week. There is also a post office within walking distance of the CASAS campus.

Our mailing address is:
Apartado 11, Periferico
Ciudad de Guatemala, GUATEMALA

International telephone cards purchased in the U.S. (such as AT&T or Sprint) do NOT work in Guatemala. You can, however, buy phone cards here at CASAS that will allow you to call home at a very reasonable rate. We also supply a CASAS cell phone that you may use for these calls home. One card costs about $5.00 and gives you 30-35 minutes of calling time to North America. CASAS also has a fax machine available for student use. Friends and family may also call you here at CASAS/SEMILLA on weekdays from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM, CST, at (011) 502 – 2485-7620.

We encourage you NOT to use your host family’s phone, if they have one, even to call your fellow students in the city. The Guatemalan telephone system makes a charge every time someone uses the phone, whether it is for a local call, a collect call or a calling card call.

Visitors wishing to check email from a web-based personal account (i.e. Hotmail) may use the computer lab at CASAS-SEMILLA. The cost of doing so is 5 quetzales (roughly 75 cents) per half hour, or $5.00 US for one week’s unlimited access. There are also several internet cafes in a shopping center near the CASAS campus, in other shopping centers around the city and often near students’ homes.
However, given the goals of the CASAS experience and the need to temporarily “loosen ties” with the North American culture and amenities, we caution visitors against overusing e-mail and the internet and thus limiting their learning opportunities.

What is the CASAS campus like?

In 2001, CASAS moved into a much larger facility with SEMILLA, the Latin American Anabaptist Seminary of which CASAS is the department for North American education. CASAS students and staff share lunch and snack times as well as bi-monthly chapels with the SEMILLA faculty, staff and administration.

The building includes the Casa Emaus guesthouse, a lounge area with a sink, stove and refrigerator where mid-morning breaks are held, Spanish classrooms, larger meeting rooms for CASAS lectures or for chapels, offices for SEMILLA and CASAS faculty, staff and administration, and a kitchen/dining area. There is a Spanish/English library with significant holdings in the areas of theology, anthropology and Latin American and Anabaptist history.

Upon arrival, each CASAS student will be assigned a small locker with a padlock and key in the CASAS/SEMILLA building. This is where you should plan to keep your passport, plane ticket and extra money. You can use this space to hold your books and other items as well.

There is a laundry area that is intended mainly for use by Casa Emaus staff and guests, but it is available to students if needed. Each load costs $1 U.S. and you must bring your own soap. There is no dryer, so clothing must be line-dried.

What will my religious experience be like?

Most, but not all, of the host families for CASAS students are Mennonite. In almost every host family, Mennonite or not, the church plays an important and central role. Often family members will attend church two or three nights a week in addition to Sunday mornings. You will not be expected to attend every church function that your host family members do, but it is strongly recommended that you plan to go at least for Sunday worship whenever you are with your host family for the weekend.

In Guatemala, Mennonites and many other evangelical (Protestant) Christians might have certain views about conduct and what a “good Christian” should or should not do that may differ from what North American students are used to. For example, in Mennonite families, it is considered a sin to drink alcohol or dance. Please try to be culturally sensitive and to remember that people who hold views different from yours are not “ignorant” on that account. Part of your educational experience with CASAS is to try and understand why people in other parts of the world live and believe differently from North Americans.