Mexico Global Health Short Term Internship

Travel to the Caribbean and volunteer with children and young people by conducting educational workshops and support activities.


Program Information

Join us when you travel to the town of Playa del Carmen in Mexico and intern alongside our partner organisation, Integral Care Centre. You will help us contribute to addressing UN Sustainable Development Goal #3, Good Health and Well-Being. Volunteer with children and young people by conducting educational workshops and support activities. Discover the turquoise waters of Central America, ancient jungles and fascinating cenotes of the stunning Yucatan Peninsula in your free time.

United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals

Overview

Travel to Central America and to the lively resort town of Playa del Carmen situated right on the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea in Mexico to intern with children and young people by conducting educational workshops and support activities.

You will be working alongside one of our esteemed partners, The Integral Care Centre, assisting children and young people with personal hygiene demonstrations and educational learning activities.



Participating in this project, you will play a key role in helping to empower and educate children. Ranging from the delivery of basic to advanced education and teaching basic life skills. Consequently, this project covers a range of diverse and exciting activities.

All internships are geared at developing your leadership and role model skills, allowing you to develop a variety of key soft and hard skills that will put you a step ahead the rest of the pack. GVI have been running community development, education, and conservation projects since 1998 and our highly experienced field staff will help you gain and improve vital skill sets to improve your future job prospects.

If you do not speak Spanish, don’t worry! This programme provides you with an excellent opportunity to learn a new language and work with children at the same time. Please note, unless already fluent, you will be required to take 20 hours of Spanish lessons. If you opt for staying longer than 8 weeks, you have an option of doing an extra 80 or 120 hours of Spanish lessons, please speak to your Enrolment Manager for more information.

Highlights Include
Immerse yourself in a tropical paradise; experience a different and fascinating country, culture and way of life; support children; feel safe in the knowledge you will be making a serious and measurable impact in the community; live with participants from all over the world; participate in a range of different activities; immerse yourself in the Mexican culture; exploring the beaches, jungles and cenotes of the incredible Yucatan peninsula.

Program Details

Program Type:

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Life on the Internship

So what does life on the internship actually involve? See below for an idea of what to expect on a day to day basis…

Project Days
Your initial days on the project will be taken up with some basic training prior to carrying out any activities with the children. After your orientation, you’ll be spending your days with your dedicated mentor. Depending on the duration of your stay, you will be working five days a week, assisting the staff of Contando con un Amigo. This will mainly involve delivering health awareness classes and workshops. The rest of the day will be spent preparing the following day’s activities, preparing resources, taking Spanish lessons or enjoying a well-deserved break if all the above has been completed!

Typical daily tasks can include entertaining and playing with the children; preparing and cleaning the school; assisting local staff to prepare teaching material and resources and teaching basic education concepts to some of the children; assisting in support activities.

Working with children can be physically and emotionally demanding, however, it is very rewarding and the project achieves a good balance between a range of internship activities and downtime.

Free Time
Days off are free for you to explore and enjoy all the amazing sights that the Riviera Maya has to offer, such as visiting Tulum, Coba or Chichen Itza ruins, swimming in cenotes, or just relaxing on the white sands beaches of Playa del Carmen.

Field Conditions & Accommodation Upgrades
Your accommodation will be in a house or apartment, shared room and bathrooms with access to hot running water and electricity. If you would prefer to stay in private accommodation while on this project, this location does offer upgrades. Contact us for more information, or mention to your Enrolment Manager who will be able to assist you.

Project Details

The organization Contando con un Amigo was established in the town of Playa del Carmen with the hope of creating more opportunities for the local community. Their main purpose was to provide basic education to the children in the area, whose home situations sometimes made it difficult to attend regular schools.

The organization is run entirely by volunteers and a team of dedicated teachers. Classes are conducted in the morning, with the aim to teach basic skills and contribute to the educational development of the students. This is done to ease their integration into normal schools, or give opportunity for better jobs through their skills development. As a participant in this program you will play a key role Contando con un Amigo, who have very few staff to assist them.

*During holiday periods participants may do alternative activities such as lesson planning, preparing teaching resources, preparing workshops, creating training materials, assisting with holiday programs and/or assisting with the vet project.

How this project makes a difference

In past years people moved to the state of Quintana Roo in search of better living conditions. In 2010 alone, 143,899 Mexicans migrated from other states to Quintana Roo. 45% of these individuals are from the three states of Yucatan, Chiapas and Tabasco. Besides being nearby to each other geographically, those states also have from 50% to 77% of their population living in poverty.

In Quintana Roo, 7.7% of children do not attend primary school or receive early school education. This is for different reasons but predominantly the lack of sufficient income in families, and cultural ideas. GVI provides these communities with the necessary assistance and resources.

Playa del Carmen's short, mid, and long-term objectives

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualize their contribution to the UN SDGs.

Upon arrival to the base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.

Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfill our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

Learn about the long-term objectives you will be contributing to in Playa del Carmen


  1. Improve the quality of education at the Ludoteca, Contando con un Amigo

  2. Raise awareness on animal welfare

  3. Increase in-country capacity by providing training to local members of the community

  4. Minimize the environmental impact on the Playa base and projects, and raise awareness of environmental issues amongst volunteers and children in the projects

  5. Increase the quality of the resources at the ludoteca, escuelita, Contando con un Amigo, and Coco's

  6. Improve the volunteer's experience in the projects.

What's It like?

If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.

We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.

Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.

Our Ethics

Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.


Our 10 Ethical Commitments

 

Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects

We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.


 

Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.


 

Impact Reporting

We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.


 

Working Against Dependency

We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.


 

Responsible Exit Strategies

For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.


 

Clear Roles & Specialized Training

We aim to ensure that ever participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.


 

Respect for all

In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.


 

Local Ownership

We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conduct, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.


 

Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.


 

Child and Vulnerable adult policies

We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.


Continual Development

As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.


However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.


What's Included

  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Welcome meeting

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal items and toiletries
  • Police or background check
  • Visa costs (where necessary)

Exploration

Interning with GVI not only allows you to participate in programmes assisting disadvantaged communities or endangered ecosystems, but it also offers wonderful opportunities to travel in the local area in your downtime or further afield either before or after your programme. Many decide to travel after their internship, solidifying the lifetime friendships established during the internship.

Our long-term field staff are a great source of advice and are here to help you make the most of your time abroad. Our Yucatan field teams have helped us put together the following information on trips and travel options in Mexico!

Optional Side Trips
As a large and vibrant country, Mexico can seem daunting at first, but here are a few ideas to get you going in the Yucatan Peninsula on your weekends off:

In this region, you are spoilt for choice in the number of opportunities to explore a stunning underwater world. You could start with snorkelling with turtles of all sizes in Akumal bay, where they are protected and come to feed; dive or snorkel within the unique cenotes (the underwater river systems); dive Cozumel, where the wall dives along the island have been voted as part of the world’s best top ten diving locations; or, for a full weekend, try Isla Holbox, a small island off the north of the peninsula. It’s a beautiful, tranquil place, great for a quiet weekend away. Whale sharks (the world’s largest fish) migrate up near the island from June to September and snorkelling alongside them while they filter feed is a truly breathtaking experience!

Alternatively, if you are looking for a break from the water, make your way to Río Lagartos where flamingos flock and river crocodiles abound; visit Bacalar – known as the lake of seven colours due to the various shades of blue; or visit prime breeding areas for the hawksbill, loggerhead, leatherback, and green turtle (May to October).

Immerse yourself in the surviving Mayan culture of the area and visit remote and untouched Mayan archaeological sites, such as the famous and easily accessible sites of Tulum and Coba, or visit the beautiful and majestic Mayan ruins of Palenque in the Chiapas region. And finally, the colonial city of Mérida is the peninsula’s cultural capital and the local artisans of Izamal will be sure to offer you some souvenirs of your trip.

Further Travel Opportunities
If you want to travel throughout the rest of Mexico either before or after your time with us, there is more than your fair share of interesting places that are well worth a visit. Take a trip to the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve and experience lowland tropical forests and have an opportunity to try and seek out threatened species; the island of Espíritu Santo offers kayaking with whale sharks (seasonal) and sea lions; if you are keen to try surfing, Puerto Escondido is rated as one of the world’s best surfing spots.

Oaxaca is a beautiful city to visit on the Pacific Coast, a colonial city with some of the nation’s most magnificent architecture, also offering several archaeological sites including the Zapotec ruins, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Further south, San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, is definitely worth a visit. Colourful buildings, historical architecture, and impressive nearby ecological sites with fun activities will easily keep you entertained for days.

Neighbouring countries to the south, Guatemala and Belize offer something different yet again. In Belize, island hop all the way down the coast, stopping to dive the Blue Hole, another world-class dive site. Guatemala can be reached easily by bus and offers everything from the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Antigua, to volcanoes, the beautiful Lake Atitlan, adventure sports such as mountain biking, and the majestic Mayan ruins of Tikal.

If you do decide to spend time travelling through Central America, make sure to allow yourself time to take it all in, because this region will pull you in and not let go!

The Team

Daniela Pineda

Base Manager
Meet Daniela, our awesome base manager in Playa del Carmen. She is passionate about working with kids and being involved in education in Mexico, her home country. Daniela has a degree in psychology and obtained her Masters  in psychoanalysis, which facilitates her with the interaction with kids and volunteers.

Her volunteering journey started out when she joined GVI on our National Scholarship Program and now she has returned to the field to continue making a difference. Daniela worked as a therapist with adolescents with addictions and as a teacher of a special need school and being with other human beings is her speciality. She has travelled to many places abroad and she also used to be a professional dancer for a few years of her life to pay for some of her studies. "I trained in a circus, from acrobats to juggling, I wasn’t really good but the family you get to know there is amazing."

Olivia Rodriguez​

Community Officer
Meet Olivia, our fantastic community officer in Playa, Mexico. She was a volunteer in a Animal Shelter in San Antonio, Texas. She then started working  as a Intake Coordinator for the City.

She loves traveling, learning new things, being on the move and meeting new people. Her favourite part about working with GVI is helping others, making a difference in the world, meeting new people and the opportunity of traveling to another countries.

Friso Dekker

Science Officer
Meet Friso, our sensational science officer in Pez Maya, Mexico. He has backpacked through Australia for 6 months, travelled in South-East Asia for a total of about 3 months. He's spent 5 months on Curacao, Dutch Antilles, and 3 months in Indonesia (Sulawesi and Borneo) for research projects. He Lived and studied in New-Zealand for 6 months and spent another month as a volunteer in a resort in Nha Trang, Vietnam.

He has a Bachelor degree in Earth Sciences and Master degree Limnology & Oceanography at the University of Amsterdam. He is also a PADI Divemaster and thus member of PADI Pro’s.

What he loves the most about GVI is firstly, the people, who he works with at the moment and secondly, practically living on a beach and having an amazing coral reef right on his doorstep is pretty great!

Shayle Havemann

Director of Programs
Meet Shayle, our innovative and driven director for all our projects around the world. She has two honours degrees, one in Industrial and Organisational Psycology, and another in Developmental and Education Psycology. Shayle also has over 10 years experience in setting up, managing and evaluating environmental and community programs across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

She is well-practiced in facilitating meaningful and effective intercultural engagement and this makes her the perfect person for overseeing our operations in the multicultural country of South Africa.

When not attending meetings or planning her next endeavour, Shayle can be found spending time with her family or taking part in some or other exciting outdoors activity!

Kopa Mchasa

Community Field Staff
Meet Kopa, our Kenyan born Community Field Staff Member in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. This ambitious African studied Community Health and Development at the African Institute of Research and Development studies. It was GVI’s objectives and sustainable projects that first attracted him to join our team.

Kopa joined GVI in 2012 as a valued staff member in Kenya. Here he put his skills and knowledge to work and managed to upgrade a new health project to a standing one. Kopa, or Doctor as his friends call him, also worked with PSI (Population Services International) for 15 months and with the Kenyan Ministry of Public Health for 4 years.

Kopa is crazy about Zanzibar’s golden beaches and apparently he is quite the multitasker - he can make sounds from his mouth and whistle at the same time! Living in Mexico, he is having the time of his life, meeting different people with different cultures from all parts of the world!

Kerry Passingham

Dive Officer
Meet Kerry, our IDC Staff Instructor in Pez Maya, Mexico! Kerry's diving adventure began in 2008 in Coffs Harbour, Australia, where she managed a hostel with an onsite dive shop. After attempting a 9-5 lifestyle, Kerry decided the ocean was calling and joined our Divemaster Internship in Mexico. She completed her work placement at XTC, which led onto her completing her Instructor Development Course as well!

Kerry went on to use her qualifications to work as an instructor at a PADI Career Development Centre in Vietnam, where she progressed to an IDC Staff Instructor whilst managing two of their dive centres.

Since leaving GVI it was always Kerry's aim to return as a staff member and we are thrilled to have her back! "I am excited to see many new Divemasters and Instructors as a result of these internships and see them on the road towards an exciting and rewarding career path."

James Clark

Base Manager
Meet James, a certified Dive master, EFR Instructor and a graduate in Environmental Science. James is our base manager and a very skilled boat driver, teacher and maintenance guy at our Marine conservation program in Pez Maya, Mexico!

Before joining GVI James worked with various NGO’s around the World and has even lived in Madagascar! “It’s such a massive country! There’s so much to do and see and the biodiversity on land and in the ocean is incredible!”

What’s James’s favourite aspect of his job? “The point when volunteers have been here for a few weeks and start to remember the names of things in the sea, seeing that extra bit of excitement when they see something and can name it – that’s when I know I’m doing my job right.” The most interesting discovery up to date was when he found an anchor which they have lost a few months previously, with a fairly large octopus attached underneath.

Random fact about our James, he can sing All The Countries of The World by the Animaniacs! Make sure you request a rendition when you visit our Pez Maya hub!

Alejandro Vazquez

Logistics Coordinator
Meet Alejandro, our logistics coordinator in Playa del Carmen. He started out with GVI as one of our National Scholarship Program participants in 2007. With a degree in Tourism Management and a passionate commitment to improving our world, we just had to keep him!

Alejandro’s favourite aspect of his job? Our Partners. “The opportunity to partner with organisations that share our goal to make the world better is amazing, also seeing the way volunteers connect with the children and the huge effect they have on their development, even over a short period of time. They’re a great resource for the children’s education.”

When he’s not working, Alejandro likes to explore the local area, visiting the Mayan ruins and national parks, or relaxing at the beach.

Lluvia Soto

Country Director
Meet Lluvia, our Country Director for Mexico. With a history in environmental education, she initially joined GVI as a participant in our National Scholarship Programme, and we just couldn’t let her go!

Lluvia is a qualified Dive Master and Biologist, who she spent 3 years working as field staff and base manager in Pez Maya.

Her favourite experience since she joined GVI? Diving with dolphins. ”We were on our way to a dive site when a pod of dolphins came along and started jumping in and out of the water alongside the boat. They stayed with us for the entyre dive, getting really close and were looking at us. It was of course, my best dive ever!”

What does Lluvia think volunteers contribute to the projects? “The work that the volunteers do is extremely important; if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t be able to run the projects. The different activities they do like collecting data on the reef, delivering environmental education lessons, helping out running the toy libraries, all help our partners to achieve their goals.”

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Parent Info

‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Herritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.

We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.

Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’

Parent Info Pack

Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:

Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office.
Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy.
Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page.
Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.

live base updates

Follow GVI Volunteer-In-Playa-Del-Carmen's Facebook page for live updates straight from the field. Get an idea of the types of projects you might be involved in, meet our staff and participants, experience life on this GVI base, hear about free time activities, and learn about the local culture and environment.
 
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