Culture Quests

Guatemala

Central America
Capital: Guatemala
Languages: Spanish, Amerindian languages
Useful links: Kids Culture Corner: Guatemala | CIA World Factbook

The following information is generalized and compiled from questions posed to the agents and interviewers in Guatemala. Although au pairs from this country may or may not have had these experiences/beliefs, Au Pair in America wishes to share this general information with our families.

Au Pairs in General

  • The idea of being an au pair is becoming common in Guatemala.
  • Applicants from Guatemala are motivated by the love of children and the opportunity to learn a new language and culture in a safe, legal setting.
  • Applicants do not have difficulty affording the program fees.
  • Young people in Guatemala have the freedom of their family to socialize and date.
  • Curfews are common.
  • Young women are accustomed to sharing in household chores.
  • Nudity is not prevalent in this conservative society.
  • Guatemalans are hardworking, disciplined and friendly.

Child Care Practices

  • Common discipline techniques include loss of privileges and time outs, entertainment time restriction (i.e. TV, internet), and playtime restriction. If necessary, a dialogue with parents or in-house authority figure will be initiated.
  • Physical discipline is not common in Guatemala.
  • Applicants obtain childcare experience through formal schooling, babysitting and day care centers.
  • Usually the mother is responsible for the majority of the childcare responsibilities.
  • It is common for both parents to work and be away from home during the day.

Driving Skills

  • The minimum driving age is age 16. Most applicants obtain their driving license at age 18.
  • A driving license is not difficult to obtain, but it is costly.
  • It takes approximately one week to obtain a license in Guatemala.
  • In order to obtain a driving license in Guatemala:
    • Vision test
    • Theoretical written test
    • Practical test
    • Fees
  • The International driving permit is available.
  • Approximately 50% of applicants take formal driving lessons.
  • Applicants practice driving using their parents’ car; once they have started working they will save money with the intention of buying a car.
  • Most cars have manual transmissions.

English Language Skills

  • English is not a compulsory subject in Guatemala.
  • Schools that offer classes focus on both oral and written skills.

Education

  • Approximately 45% of young women continue their studies at university.
  • Others pursue employment or get married.
  • The academic year in Guatemala starts in January and ends in November.
  • The educational opportunities of the Au Pair in America program are of vital importance as these opportunities will further applicants’ chances to improve their education skills and get better jobs in the future.

Health

  • The most common inoculations are Polio, whooping cough, tetanus, cholera, hepatitis (B), TB, chicken pox.
  • Most young women are inoculated and tested for TB (Tuberculosis).
  • Guatemala has a free health service; IGSS, Instituto Guatemalteco de Seguridad Social.
  • Most young women visit the dentist on a regular basis.
  • “Eating disorders” are not common, but do occur.

Diet

  • Most young people in Guatemala eat meat.
  • Vegetarianism is not common.
  • A staple in the Guatemalan diet is a thick corn tortilla. Guatemalan dishes also include beans, meat and chicken.

Religion

  • The most common religions in Guatemala are Catholic and Protestant.
  • Most young people in Guatemala practice their religion regularly.

Telephone & Internet

  • Most homes have a telephone and a computer with access to the Internet.
  • Family members may be able to take a message in English from a potential host family.

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