Interested in volunteering with Common Hope in Guatemala? Maria is the one you want to talk to! As the Volunteer Coordinator, Maria organizes all of the short-term volunteer activities. She works closely with the rest of the Hospitality Team to ensure that all of our volunteers have a rewarding and engaging experience. Read on to learn a little more about Maria and what she enjoys most about working for Common Hope.

Name: Maria Jose Mendoza
Position: Volunteer Coordinator
Time with CH: 6 months
Favorite Spanish phrase
(and its meaning in English):
 Que chilero! (That is so cool!)
Favorite Guatemalan food: Enchiladas

1. How did you come to volunteer at Common Hope? 
Right after college I came down to Guatemala for six months to visit family, travel, and learn Kaqchikel. I returned home knowing that I wanted to return sometime in the near future. Specifically, I had the desire to return and work with a non-profit focusing in community development. I was really excited to come across the Volunteer Coordinator position with Common Hope. After doing a bit of research, I felt that it would be an excellent experience to work with an organization that believes education is a means through which positive change can be stimulated in Guatemala. Seeing the impact receiving an education has made in my life, I could not pass on the opportunity to work with Common Hope.

2. What have you enjoyed most about working for Common Hope? 
Since day one, everyone has been very welcoming and helpful in the transition into the organization. I believe everyone here is motivated and genuinely dedicated to the work that they do, which I feel helps to create a great sense of community and ultimately, helps create effective change in the lives of the people we serve.

3. What is a new skill you have learned through living in Guatemala? 
I am still trying to learn how to whistle and wish to be good at it. Especially a good skill to have when riding crowded chicken buses

4. Has anything happened during your time here that will make your life different? 
Going out on social work visits has allowed me to go into the homes of affiliated families. Every family has a story to tell and it is encouraging to see first-handedly the impact Common Hope has made in their lives. I have also come to admire the work that the social workers do, as they are an important functioning component of the organization. These experiences have definitely deepened my interest in the field of social work.

5. What are your hopes for 2015?
Professionally, I hope to further develop our short-term volunteer program. I also hope to create strong communication between my peers and myself. In addition, I hope to travel around Guatemala and other parts of Central America. I also hope to be able to continue studying Kaqchikel.

Maria (middle) with fellow long-term volunteers Katie (left) and Heather (right).