I interned with Asociacion Pop Wuj for 10 weeks during the summer of 2013 to complete the internship requirement for my graduate school program. I found the experience deeply rewarding on multiple levels, particularly regarding the opportunity to work directly in communities surrounding the beautiful city of Xela (Quetzaltenango), Guatemala.
While I could write pages worth of information about what sets this organization and its internship program apart from the pack, I will focus on two things: Bang for your buck, and breadth of experience.
First, this internship experience was extremely cheap when compared to other international internship programs. I paid only $25 per week for the internship fee (which was split between Pop Wuj and its affiliate 'mother organization', Entremundos - both local to Guatemala, a HUGE positive in terms of impact on the local culture and economy). In addition to that, I paid an extraordinarily low price of $45 per week for a homestay, which included three meals per day seven days a week, and was also one of the highlights of my stay, as it helped to fully immerse me in the local culture and get plenty of practice speaking Spanish. All in all, including the plane ticket (which was roughly $500), I spent roughly $1,500 over 10 weeks, an incredible value for any cash-strapped college student in need (or want) of international experience.
Even more important than the low price tag, this internship experience provided an incredible breadth of experience and exposure to an array of profoundly impactful projects and initiatives. Where one day I may be building a safe stove, another would find me lending a hand at the medical clinic, distributing scholarships to local families to allow their children to stay in school, playing games or helping with homework at the Family Support Center, or trudging into the mountains to help plant trees.
One final note: Any internship or volunteer experience abroad (or locally for that matter) boils down to building relationships, and that is something that I truly took away from this experience. While I don't often talk to most of the people I met at Pop Wuj and in the surrounding areas, there are some memories that I will never forget, and they begin and end with the amazing people I got to know in my time there. For that reason and countless others, I hope and plan to return.