Why Take This Course?
Humanitarian Leadership is a capstone course in our Leadership Program. In this course, students participate in an expedition to a foreign country––often, a very poor foreign country––where they bump up against some of the most alarming and compelling human needs that exist in the world today. They may visit orphanages or hospitals, see the hungry and the hurt, and/or engage in humanitarian projects such as building wells or cisterns, or simple stoves upon which locals can cook their food.
The purpose of this course is not to solve the world’s problems, or even the problems of an individual person or group of people. Instead, the purpose is to give students the opportunity to see the world’s problems up close and personal; to provide students with enhanced context for their own lives; to help students appreciate just how badly their own unique leadership is needed in the world; and to inspire students to make a difference. Students will be motivated to apply the principles they have learned in our Leadership Program to improve the lives of other people in our world.
Previous to the expedition, students engage in readings, colloquia, and presentations that help them prepare physically, mentally, and emotionally for the international experience.
The expedition changes each year and students should not expect the expedition of a given year to be identical, or even similar, to the expedition of a previous year. Students earn 0.5 credit for completing the course.
Summer, 2018 Expedition to Guatemala
Guatemala has the highest malnutrition rate in the Americas, and 4th highest in the world. Many die of malnutrition each year. Countless others suffer daily from having too little to eat.
This summer will be held June 2nd – 10th. During this trip we will take a small group of youth to personally witness the challenges in Guatemala, and to begin making a small difference for them. We will be in the rural mountains above Laguna Atitlan helping the local indigenous people become more self reliant by teaching them how to grow their own food and improve their tragic living conditions. This year only, parents and siblings of students are also welcome to join us. Children must be at least 10 years old. Students between the ages of 10 and 13 at the time of the expedition must be accompanied by a parent.
We will all meet in Guatemala City and then drive through the scenic mountains to stay in Panajachel, on the shores of one of the most magical lakes in the world. We will spend the first few days serving the local indigenous people with the Mayan Eco Homestead organization. We will also take a couple of days to explore the local area and even hike a nearby volcano!
This is a life-changing opportunity to be involved in international humanitarian leadership. It’s your chance to make a positive difference in the world, shoulder to shoulder with other Burgers and mentors. This expedition is the first of its kind, and students who participate this year get to be on the cutting edge of the adventure, and to help create the culture that is likely to follow in future expeditions. Picture the culture and vibe at Elevation, but in Central America on a humanitarian expedition, and you’ll see what we’re going for! Cost: $2500 (does not include airfare) per participant. We are unable to offer volume discounts for families with multiple travelers attending.
Here’s a short video in which Mr. Denning describes the adventure, and shares stories about people he met and life-changing experiences he had on a similar trip to Guatemala.
Early Enrollment Deadline: First payment of 25% of tuition is due by Monday, May 1st, and is non-refundable. We need to arrange lodging and logistics well in advance.
Who will be there to pick up my child in Guatemala City?
I will be in Guatemala city to meet each student when they arrive and drop them off when they depart. If a student needs to arrive a day early, I will be there, but the student is responsible for the cost of the hotel and food.
Is Guatemala safe?
Despite what critics say, Guatemala is generally a very safe place, especially the way we are going to experience it. I lived there with all my small children for a year and a half. We never once felt threatened. Guatemalans are very loving people. I have close friends from the US who are living there now with their young families. It really is a special place.
Do participants need to be vaccinated?
Vaccinations are at the discretion of each family. I did not get any for my family when we went.
Are participants likely to get sick?
In eighteen months living there, I got sick a few times with diarrhea and occasional vomiting; it’s pretty common when traveling to developing countries. But we will be extremely cautious with this group to make sure they are eating and drinking very clean food and water.
Will participants have access to health care professionals?
Yes, there are very good hospitals and competent doctors in Guatemala.
I’ll continue to update this list as I receive further questions. Email me with additional questions! Greg[at]williamsburged[dot]org
Texts and Materials Students Must Purchase
Leaving Microsoft to Change The World
Unselfish: Love Thy Neighbor As Thy Selfie
- Recommended Grade: 11th (Junior), 12th (Senior)
- Prerequisites: None - Students should complete two credits of high school leadership before taking this course. Exceptions granted on a case-by-case basis. Priority is given to students who have completed two leadership credits.
- Versions & Estimated Weekly Hours: N/A
- Format: Class sessions are live, and the expedition is in-person
- Credits: 0.5