Professional and well organized are the words I would use to describe Buena Onda, and Scott Garrison’s support for a 26-day college student experiential learning trip to Guatemala.
I began working with Scott approximately 6 months prior to making the trip to Guatemala with 10 American college students. The purpose of our trip was a combination of public service and Spanish language immersion. I learned about Buena Onda and Scott through a source I began working with the previous year as I developed the plan for the student trip to Guatemala.
I am a full time professor at Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Mass Maritime is 4 year public college in the Massachusetts state college system. Prior to managing the student trip to Guatemala, I supervised a student experiential learning trip to Haiti for ten years. Unfortunately our university was forced to end the program in Haiti because of security concerns.
Throughout my time working with Scott, he was well informed, patient and cooperative. He responded to all my inquiries and questions quickly and he offered well thought out guidance and advice. Prior to working with Scott, I had already completed 2 lengthy “scouting” trips to Guatemala so I had a decent idea of what I wanted to accomplish with students and where I wanted to go. Scott was more than willing to work with my ideas and he helped me to shape what I wanted to do into something that worked incredibly well for the students.
- Buena Onda’s prices were fair, and everything that was promised was delivered on time and as promised.
- Scott treated me like a partner. While he clearly knew Guatemala much better than I did, he was willing to listen to my ideas and goals and he worked with me to achieve them, offering well placed ideas, suggestions and guidance.
- Scott is well connected with numerous public service resources in and around Antigua. He coordinated three incredible service projects for my students that were safe, well supported and that helped me achieve the outcomes I was looking for with this program.
- Buena Onda staff were all professional, spoke impeccable English and were wonderful resources for my students while they were working at their service locations.
- Scott met our team at the airport in Guatemala City and coordinated all local transportation in Guatemala, City and to and from Antigua. The transportation services were modern, clean and reasonably priced.
- Scott coordinated student meals (breakfast and lunch) at a local Tienda in town located just steps from the Purpose Hostel where my students were staying. This enabled students to begin their cultural immersion at the very start of the day, and to practice their language skills while ensuring they had a hearty breakfast and lunch each day. The students truly loved this aspect of the trip.
- Scott also worked with me to set up “fun” weekend activities for the students including a weekend overnight volcano hike. Regretfully we missed out of the Lake Attilan weekend because of a booking mistake made by the hostel there. We plan to include both Lake Attilan and the overnight volcano hike on our next visit.
Recommendation: Buena Onda and Scott have my highest recommendation as an organization that is ready to assist and guide any group that is considering a public service type trip to the Antigua, Guatemala area. Scott is professional, well respected and kind. He will listen to your ideas and he will work to create a program that is safe, well organized and considerate of the participants, staff and the people you will be working with. In addition to Haiti and Guatemala, I have been leading trips to developing countries for more than 2 decades. Buena Onda and Scott are a rare and valuable find.