Alumni Spotlight: Merecia Lewis


Merecia was born and raised in Texas, and has a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics. She loves to salsa dance, and travel the world. She currently lives in Guatemala, and teaches ESL to children in a small village in the mountains.

Why did you pick this program?

I chose to do my TEFL course with Maximo Nivel because I had participated in their volunteer program in Costa Rica three years prior, and I loved it. The people were great, I made life-long friends, everything was well organized, and I always felt safe and well cared for, which is vital when traveling to foreign countries. I chose Antigua, Guatemala because I had never been, and after looking into the location, I couldn't wait to dive into the culture.

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

I tell them to go for it, and don't look back. I tell them if they can think it up, they can make it happen. And above all else, I tell them that traveling is the single most life-changing thing I have done, and continue to do. I grow and change immensely every time I experience a new place and culture, and it is worth it just for that, but also for so much more.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

I would say that keeping an open mind is the best thing you can do for yourself. Try everything once, and decide for yourself. Take in everything, and let it affect you. Change can be scary, but it's usually awesome too.

What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?

I think my favorite story about my time abroad would be from my first trip ever, when I was 15. I had traveled abroad for the first time, and coming from such a small town, it rocked my world. Everything was new and exciting, but I was often scared to go outside of my comfort zone. I had the opportunity to rappel 100 feet down the side of a castle in Wales, and I was excited to do it, until I was harnessed and ready to go at the top. Fear took over, and I wanted to just walk away so badly, but the woman helping me was so kind and patient, and her words got through to me. Finally, the fact that I would look back and probably wish I had just done it, if I didn't, became more important than the fear I was experiencing right then. I rappelled all the way to the ground, and cried the whole time, but to this day that moment helps me overcome other fears in my life. Working through the fear will always be better than letting it hold you back.

Where's one place you have been that you would recommend to other travelers?

I would have to say Bocas del Toro, Panama. I think this place surprised more than any other I have visited thus far. It is so beautiful, secluded, and peaceful, I never wanted to leave. Definitely hit up Red Frog Beach, you won't be sorry!