Rights & Resistance

Applications Closed

Applications Closed!


Rights & Resistance

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  • Dive into Guatemala’s tumultuous history while exploring the capital city on foot.
  • Go off the grid with a visit to the Rio Negro, home to the Maya Achi, the location of the controversial Chixoy Hydroelectric Dam and site of the infamous Rio Negro Massacres.
  • Explore the majestic Cuchumatanes mountain range on an epic three-day trek while hearing personal accounts of Guatemala’s civil war from the people most affected by it.
  • Learn how resistance can take on many forms while working on alternative agriculture projects on the shores of Lago Atitlan.

Program Dates

August 12 – 26
Applications Closed!

June 10 – 24
Applications Closed!

Fees + Community Contribution 

$1,715 + $190
$1,885 + $205

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Sample Itinerary

*This itinerary is based on our previous experience with the region. Programs change every year based on the needs of our partners. This should give you a sense of what our program may look like.

Orientation, Guatemala City

We will begin our adventure in Guatemala’s big and bustling capital of Guatemala City. Following arrivals at the La Aurora International Airport, we’ll get acclimatized to the sights, smells, sounds, and smiles of the region. We’ll explore the city’s historical centre on foot, visiting the National Palace where 10,000 peaceful protesters recently forced the resignation (and arrest) of the President. We’ll also connect with Paulo from the organization HIJOS (Children of the Disappeared) to tour some of Guatemala’s politically charged street art while learning about the lingering trauma of Guatemala’s 36-year armed conflict.

Living Resistance, Rio Negro

From Guatemala City, the team will journey north-east through Rabinal to the Rio Negro valley and flood plain for the Chixoy Dam. In the embattled community of Rio Negro, we’ll stay for four days listening, learning, and working alongside a courageous group of Maya Achi who have faced nearly 40 years of repression, culminating in the infamous Rio Negro Massacres of 1980-82 – still a living memory for many of the villagers.

Besides getting our hands dirty on a community-requested project, we’ll have the opportunity to hike to the community’s ceremonial altar and explore the beauty of the lower Cuchumatanes – the highest non-volcanic mountain range in all of Central America!

Trekking Through History, Nebaj to Todos Santos

From the Rio Negro we’ll journey northwest to the Ixil Triangle and, at its apex, the quiet town of Nebaj. After a little orientation in one of Guatemala’s most war-affected regions, we’ll set off on a challenging but rewarding three-day trek across the majestic Cuchumatanes mountain chain to Todos Santos. Passing war memorials and sacred Mayan sites, we will see the woven textile and agricultural economies unique to the area and commune with some of the region’s most embattled communities and resilient peoples.

A New Era of Activism, Xela

After our epic trek, we’ll have a long travel day on micros and chicken buses. To break things up, we’ll make a quick pit stop in the indigenous metropolis of Xela (pronounced Shay-la). Here we’ll see how activists are confronting continued challenges for local Mayan youth, starting with a visit with revolutionary-turned-reformer Willy at Café La RED KAT. He’ll treat us to a delicious meal and insightful chat about the “Guatemalan Dream” and how a change to the socio-economic order might be needed to bring about justice in Guatemala.

Growing Change, The Hub & Lago Atitlan

Finally, we will arrive on the mystical and enchanting shores of Lago Atitlan where we will stay at Operation Groundswell’s Hub. The Hub is the physical embodiment of OG’s culture, philosophy, and mission. It is a place where solidarity is cultivated in and between people and local partners through conversations and collaborative projects. Here in San Juan, you’ll engage with the local Maya Tz’utujil community while learning how resistance can take on many forms, from confronting challenges with food security to preserving the local language & culture.

On our last day we’ll gather for disorientation – a staple of every OG program where we kick back and reflect, discuss lessons learned, assess our impact, and prepare for the journey home.


Then on day 15, with hearts full of memories, we will return to Guatemala City where our group will say adios and adelante!

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What’s Included?

A comprehensive program itinerary and educational curriculum focused on the issues facing your specific region

Experienced and caring program leaders with you 24 hours a day

All lodging and accommodations throughout the program

Three local meals a day

All group tours, entrance fees, and excursions

All group transportation on the ground

Regular discussions and workshops to help you internalize and reflect on your experience

Support from OGHQ whenever you need it


This is not a vagabond’s adventure nor is it a five-star jetsetter’s cruise. We will be sleeping and eating as a team in hostels, homestays, and guesthouses that reflect a backpacker’s ethos. Grassroots travel and homestays will allow us to immerse in the local culture but living as Guatemalans do sometimes means living without some of the comforts to which we’re accustomed. Creepy crawlies are common while comfy beds can’t always be guaranteed – so come prepared! Be ready to share the wonderful simplicity of life in rural Guatemala.

Meet Our Regional Director

Christine Sanderson

Christine fell in love with Latin America’s cultures, landscapes, and language as a teenager living in Chile and couldn’t get enough. She continued her southern adventures working on an archeological dig in Peru and establishing a community library and youth music program in rural Nicaragua, before finally diving head first into the land of beans & corn tortillas (a.k.a. Guatemala).  Since then, she’s led two seasons of OG programs and after hiking in the highlands, experiencing fast-paced local transit, and becoming addicted to Guatemalan coffee, there’s no turning back!  She’s now living and working at the Hub full time as Guatemala’s Regional Director.  When she’s not in the office you can find her playing with the Hub dogs, Luna & Cappu, climbing another volcano, or out practicing her salsa moves.

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