Students live in the home of a local Spanish-speaking family and practice new language skills daily while gaining insight into the daily lives and experiences of their Guatemalan host families. Additionally, homestays contribute directly to the community as CASAS guarantees that all homestay fees go directly to the host families.
CASAS has a network of families whose beliefs are consistent with that of SEMILLA’s mission and many have hosted students for many years.
Homestay families provide a private bedroom for each student. During the school week, students eat lunch on the SEMILLA campus, but breakfast and dinner are provided by the host family. During weekends, students eat all three meals with their host families.
Homestay Transportation To/From SEMILLA Campus
Homestay families teach their students the best routes to and from campus which may involve walking (if near SEMILLA) and/or bus. Students independently travel to and from SEMILLA once they learn these routes.
Homestay families are paid to wash students’ clothes; however, most families do not own washing machines. They use a pila (cement washbasin) which gets clothes very clean but also tends to wear them out more quickly. Students are advised to bring clothes that are not of delicate fabric.
Religion in the Homestay Experience
Host families for CASAS students share SEMILLA’s vision. In almost every host family, the church plays a central role. Often family members will attend church two or three nights a week in addition to Sunday mornings. Students are not expected to attend every church function that their host family members do, but it is strongly recommended that they plan to attend Sunday worship whenever with their host family on weekends. In Guatemala, Mennonites and many other evangelical (Protestant) Christians might have views about conduct and what a “good Christian” should or should not do that differ from a student’s experience in North America. It is important that students be culturally sensitive and respectful of differing views and understand that this is a significant piece of the CASAS educational experience in Guatemala.