What is the Rios Fund internship program? This program will begin with the placement of our first interns in 2015. While there are many different avenues to contribute, providing English language tutoring is among the most accessible and important. Another important initiative is the development of the Jungle Trail and Boquerón Cañon inner tube float. The intern will act as an intermediary between foreign tourists and the Q’eqchi Maya people. This initiative can be summarized by the overarching objective - to provide travelers with a safe, fun and inspirational experience hiking the jungle trail and floating through the Boquerón Cañon. Additional help will be needed in meal preparation, sustainable agriculture, reforestation and the development of other micro-enterprise initiatives.
What can I expect of the living conditions? Our bungalows are comfortable but rustic. There is no electricity in the village. Solar panels provide limited power at our school and lodge and we have cool water showers and flush toilets in shared bathrooms. There are no private bathrooms at this time. Potable water is piped in from a nearby spring and is also filtered to further ensure safety.
How do I apply for an internship? Develop your resume and send a cover letter that is appropriate to an internship with the Rios Fund, Guatemala. Include letters of recommendation and contact numbers for personal and professional references. Be advised that anybody selected for an internship must undergo a background check.
Do I need to speak Spanish? Although some Spanish would be very helpful, it does not preclude one from an internship. For example, if your skill base and motivation can help move any of our initiatives forward, then we can find a place for you. Interns should strongly consider taking at least a two-week Spanish language immersion experience with one of our teacher trainees. These courses are offered at a the very affordable rate of $2 an hour for one private Spanish language instruction. Keep in mind that your teacher is learning to teach Spanish and does not have years of teaching experience.
What are the work hours? Interns are expected to be on site four days per week and do not have set work hours. Expect to work an average of eight hours per day.
Who is my supervisor? There is a chain of command to get the job done or address issues. Juan Tacaj Xol, our general manager, is your first contact and your immediate supervisor. Your next step in the chain of command is the education director at Ak’ Tenamit, then the President of the Board of Directors, and finally, Paul Heesaker (founder of the Rios Fund) in the United States.
Will this internship help me get a job? Imagine an employer reading about your experience with the Rios Fund. This internship requires motivation, self-reliance, problem solving, working with people of a different culture and adaptability to changing circumstances, all of which are invaluable skills for any employer.
Is Guatemala a dangerous place and will I be safe? Precautions must be taken in Guatemala, just as anywhere else. Some parts of Guatemala City and other isolated areas of the country are not safe for travelers. The Izabal region of Guatemala is among the safest places in the country and the people of Secacacar welcome volunteers. After all, without volunteers and the money they pay for room and board, there is no sustainable funding source for the Education Center. You will find the local people to be honest, hard-working and open hearted. Treat them as equals and with respect and you will be embraced as a friend. Ask the local people about safe travel on area roads or trails and they will inform you of any potential safety concerns.
How do I become an eco-volunteer? Email Paul Heesaker and send your phone number. He can discuss eco-volunteering with you in much more detail than is possible on this website.
What qualifications do I need to have? If you speak English, you already have the qualifications to assist English language learners. We also need help preparing meals for other volunteers or interns, reforestation, ecotourism development, organic gardening or just about anything else that allows you to follow your passion and also aligns with our mission.
Is there a requirement to work a specific number of hours each week? No, but a minimum of two hours per day and four days a week should play into your choice to become an eco-volunteer.
Is there a discount for long-term eco-volunteers? Yes - we can discuss discounts of up to 20 percent for long-term stays of one month or more, especially for couples residing in the same bungalow.