Staff Spotlight: Shantall Cerda

Volunteer Coordinator Nicaragua


What is your favorite travel memory?

My favorite memory is when I climbed the San Cristobal volcano, the highest in Nicaragua.

It was not the first time I had climbed a volcano so I assumed that it wouldn't be difficult. However, when I was in the foothills of the volcano, I realized that trusting only on physical condition was not enough.

I woke up at 4 in the morning. To get to the top takes two and a half hours. The difficulty of the ascent is the drastic change of the path. The higher you are, the sandier the ground. It forces you to walk slower and it is easy to fall.

After the first hour, I was exhausted and thought “what am I doing here?”. However, the fatigue and the scratches were worth the effort, because it was the first time I had seen such a beautiful landscape.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

I think my favorite thing to hear from students is that they have found a second family during their time abroad, with which they felt confident and could be themselves.

Some students create such a close bond that even after the end of the program, they keep in touch with the family and hope to return to see them one day.

It is also amazing to see the excitement of the volunteers in exploring the nature of the country, there are so many beautiful natural landscapes in Nicaragua - from volcanos, rivers, and lagoons, to nature reserves and beaches.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

If I were to participate in an INLEX/CA program, it would be one related to childcare.

I would like to have the opportunity to work with children and help them gain as much knowledge as they can. Children are our future and I believe that by providing love, stimulation, and positive role models, we can help to shape the adult that child will become. I would be happy if I could make a real difference to a child’s life.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

The INLEX/CA programs are unique, because volunteers have the opportunity to interact directly with the reality of the country. When living with a host family and being able to be part of projects that are concerned with the welfare of the community, the volunteer knows what the true culture, customs and lifestyle are that cannot be found in tourist sites.

The INLEX/CA team does its best to give every volunteer an experience that has a real impact on their life and own world view.

This makes me proud, because we can see great changes in the volunteers, how they mature and become more independent, and many feel motivated to keep on discovering the diversity of cultures and languages.