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Center for Engagement and Community Development

Engagement Incentive Grant Awardee Linda Yarrow

Education Abroad in Guatemala

Assistant professor of food, nutrition, dietetics and health (FNDH), Dr. Linda Yarrow, is working to create a new year-round service learning study abroad program to Guatemala for students at Kansas State University. The goal of the program is to provides junior and senior-level students in public health nutrition, dietetics, athletic-training, sensory analysis and pre-health majors the opportunity to apply their academic knowledge and skills to help the indigenous Mayan people improve their quality of life. The program will send a cohort of students about every eight weeks to spend anywhere from 4-16 weeks participating in service learning

and cultural activities in the Lake Atitlan region of the country.

Currently the FNDH Department faculty has established partnerships in Guatemala, as well as domestically, to help build a foundation for the program. Upon arriving in Guatemala, students will have the opportunity to work with several of the program’s partners to cultivate skills while making a positive difference in the lives of the indigenous Mayans.

One of the program’s partners, Mayan Families, is a non-profit organization that focuses on facilitating sustainable development programs for impoverished communities in the Lake Atitlan region. They have preschool programs, a medical clinic, and diabetes programs for students in elementary school all the way to high school.

In addition, Dr. Francisco Mendez is a local physician in the village of San Pedro, who focuses specifically on public and reproductive health.“Our students will have the opportunity to work in the clinic with him,” said Yarrow. “He’s also building a hospital with some other physicians, so students will possibility to work there once it is completed.”

Jabel Tinamit, a Spanish language school in the region, is another partner of the program. They promote reading, math and computer skills. “Jabel Tinamit works more with the junior high and high school students,” said Yarrow. “They are wanting our students to work with them on computer skills, resume building, interview skills and writing skills.”

K-State students will have the opportunity to work with all of the partners or just one depending on their skill set and interests.

The university has also fostered a partnership with SHARE, a non-profit NGO, who has connections all over Guatemala. Their mission is to inspire people to improve their quality of life through the development of skills and sustainable use of their resources. “There are a lot of other organizations out there that are not in the region we are at,” said Yarrow. “SHARE is going to serve as the middle man for getting our students connected with those organizations to get some other unique experiences during their time abroad.”

Currently, the FNDH Department is working to find a local resident of the Lake Atitlan region to serve as the on-site Program Manager, who will assist students during their stay. The FNDH Department is hoping to send their first group of students to Guatemala in September 2018.