Guatemala: Fair Trade and Indigenous Rights

 Learn about Fair Trade and Indigenous Rights

The Program

Go deep inside the original Banana Republic where a lush fertile land conceals bitter fruit: coffee and malnutrition grow side-by-side. Travel with 10 other students, a UTM Faculty, a UTM staff member and our partners from Operations Groundswell


  • Explore Guatemala’s incredible landscape while learning how to brew social justice; 

  • Taste cacao straight from the pod and sample coffee in the field in which it was grown;

  • Collaborate on community-requested development initiatives and share in the lives of farmers, cooperatives, and reformers to uncover how coffee and livelihoods connect from seed to shelf;

  • Climb active volcanos and dip in natural hot springs;

  • Reflect on the links between coffee and solidarity, tourism and social justice.


  • Dates: April 23 to April 30, 2017
  • Estimated Cost: $2650

Important Dates

Participants must be available on the dates specified below for the pre departure and post-departure sessions as a requirement of participation in this experience. Plus, participation in the pre departure sessions and reflection after the experience will get the experience recognized on the Co-Curricular Record!

Date Description
Monday, September 26 to Monday, October 17 Application Period
Thursday, November 24 from 10 am to 11 am Pre Departure Orientation: Creating Connections
Thursday, March 16 from 11 to 12 pm Pre Departure Session: A World of Opportunity
Wednesday, March 15 from 10 to 12 pm or Wednesday, April 5 from 1 to 3 pm in DV3130CC Safety Abroad Mandatory Session at UTM (students can also participate in sessions offered at St George) 
Saturday, April 1 approximately 9 to 12 pm Pre Departure Session: Experiential Day
Sunday, April 23 to Sunday, April 30 Travel Dates
Saturday, May 13 approximately 9 to 12 pm Post Trip Session: The good, the bad and the travel bug


Our partners at Operations Groundswell will lead you through a truly immersive 8 day experience filled with planned daily excursions, educational programming and opportunities to interact with the local community.

Day 1-3

Location: Antigua

Description: We begin in our journey in Antigua. The group will acclimatize to the region while exploring the coffee chain from seed to shelf with De La Gente, a sustainable agricultural cooperative based in San Miguel Escobar. We will join founding members Filiberto and Timoteo on the slopes of Volcán Agua, where we will learn to pick, process, and roast our coffee.

Days 3-5

Location: Xela

Description: In the ladino and indigenous metropolis of Xela, our group will talk Fair Trade with Cafe Consciencia and join revolutionary-turned-reformer Willie at Cafe Red to chat about the challenges of integrating into the new socioeconomic order. But no visit to the highlands is complete without a night of salsa dancing or a dip in volcanic hot springs!

Day 5-7

Location: Santa Anita La Union

Description: After a traditional Mayan dinner and dance with Xela-based partner Escuela La Paz, our group will journey north-west through the Guatemalan Highlands to the community of Santa Anita, where we will work with a coffee cooperative founded by former civil war combatants. We will stay in local homes, share meals, exchange stories, and build solidarity. We will also collaborate on the construction of the community’s new beneficio (or mill) where their coffee will be washed, depulped, fermented, dried, and sorted.

Day 7-9

Location: The Hub, San Juan La Laguna

Description: We will conclude our adventure at Operation Groundswell’s place-based operations centre, or Hub, located on the shores of beautiful Lago Atitlan. We will rest our tired legs and weary minds and reflect back on our incredible journey. We will discuss lessons learned, assess our impact, and prepare for the trip home.

Day 9 

Finally on day 9, with hearts full of memories, we will return to Guatemala City where our group will say a fond farewell!

Applications for this experience are closed. Check back with us in September.

 “I started this journey thinking of it as just another school trip that would give me little break from the everyday hectic Toronto life. But, the streets, the villages and most importantly the people of Guatemala changed my entire experience”