project mexico summer intern

Project Mexico Gap Year Internship

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Project Mexico is happy to announce its first formal year-long internship program.

The program will be held in Eagle River, Alaska and begins September 15, 2019 and will conclude in August 2020 in Mexico. Interns will go to Mexico in early May to prepare for the summer home building season.

The program will be done in conjunction with OCMC and Saint John Orthodox Cathedral, which will provide a loving, supportive church community for the interns during their stay in Alaska. OCMC missionaries Michael and Jennifer Saur are bringing their immersive missionary experience from Project Mexico to Alaska to help set up and run the program.

Learning service development will include work at the Downtown Hope Center in Anchorage in addition to other social service agencies in Anchorage, Eagle River, and Wasilla. Work with the OCA Diocese of Alaska will be done as well as it becomes available.

There will also be opportunities for Alaskan adventures (i.e. snowboarding, skiing, hiking,etc).

Tuition for the program is $15,000. This covers the entire year and includes travel costs, rent, and a living stipend.

Space is limited, so apply immediately!

To Apply:

Contact program overseer Fr. Matthew Howell FrMatthew@ProjectMexico.org.  

 

Love Your Neighbor by Anna Cunningham

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Home building season is upon us and we started our first week with a training build to teach our summer interns the ins-and-outs of the construction. Because this is the first build of the season, we chose the family with the most immediate needs. In this case our “family" was an elderly woman, her dogs, hens, and plants. 

She makes cookies and sells them in the market for money. All of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren live in southern Mexico and do not have the funds to visit her very often if at all. Because of this, she relies on help from friends in the community and refers to her dogs as her, “familia.” She has limited mobility in her knees and recently had surgery to regain movement in the fingers in her left hand.

She was living in a quaint apartment in Rosarito for years, but the landlord decided that he didn’t want to rent out that unit anymore and told her she had to leave by mid-April. Through the glory of God she had a lot of support from friends in the community who saw her through this difficult time. A friend she works with in the market told us about her situation, so we decided to build our first house of the season for her. Another friend owned property near where we were building the new house and let her stay there during the 45 day transition. Someone else has been looking after the dogs.

Her friends constructed temporary housing near the new home out of left-over wood, boards, and bricks. Tarps were stretched over the top to create a roof. The space was well-constructed, and she was able to adjust her routine to acclimate to it. But each time we went to see her there was a new leak in the tarp roof. 

The land she bought is in a beautiful, peaceful area out in the hills on the outskirts of town. The owner of the land gave her 200 cinder blocks to use as she wished. Similarly, when we arrived on the first day there was a water tap conveniently located near the build site. She told us that a neighbor had put it in the night before so that we would have water during the build. She also prepared the land by hiring out a man with a machine, as many families do, striking a deal with him to exchange a chicken for his work.

Her community stepped up and helped her every step of the way above and beyond the services we provide. Project Mexico arrived with the gifts we are able to offer, built the house, and secured her living space. Project Mexico survives and thrives by blessings from God in the form of donations, interns willing to give their summers building homes, volunteers who work with us, and the local community that has welcomed us since 1988. 

“Let a friend be with you on every occasion, and let brethren be useful in necessities, for they are begotten for this reason.” (Proverbs 17:19, Orthodox Study Bible)

Glory to God for help from friends! 

2019 Summer Internships Open!

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Introducing 3 exciting new internship roles for Summer 2019!

 

Anyone who has been involved in a home building trip with Project Mexico knows that our faithful and hardworking interns are at the heart of everything we do. Interns from across the nation dedicate their entire summer to living in basic conditions in Mexico. They work diligently alongside our home building coordinator to facilitate 600+ volunteers to build homes for impoverished families in Mexico.

 

They become part of daily life on the ranch, helping maintain and prepare all that is needed for the arrival of volunteer groups. Not least of all, they become family to the boys of St. Innocent Orphanage. Our internships can be a milestone of spiritual growth and maturation. For many it has been both a transformational and life-defining experience.

 

If construction isn’t your thing but you desire to serve with us next Summer, then we have some great news for you! In addition to our homebuilding intern positions, we have expanded our program to include the following new positions:

 

Group Facilitator (must have youth leadership experience): Your main responsibility will be to mentor, supervise and facilitate the other interns, conducting debrief and processing groups, provide one to one guidance, assisting in coordination of intern activities and trips and facilitate volunteer group discussions.  Seminary, teaching, youth work, camp staff experience would be very helpful. This position may suit school teachers or seminarian students/graduates.

 

Media Intern: Your main responsibility will be to document through photographs, video and writing: the volunteer groups, home builds, families, events and activities of the boys of St. Innocent Orphanage. You will also be responsible for hospitality of Volunteers both on the build site and ranch.  Depending on your skill you will be assigned to a media role and work with Project Mexico’s marketing team. You will also work in other areas as needed.

 

Medical Intern:  If you have medical training, such as first aid, CPR, EMT, Nursing, please indicate the experience, any certifications, experience, or training you have.  We hope to have several trained individuals on staff each summer.

 

The positions above may overlap depending on a volunteer’s skills and experience and the number of suitable candidates who apply.

We are now accepting applications, please submit your applications before November 30th, 2018.

Update Me!

Fill in your contact info and download HomeBuilding 2019 Internship Application Form.

Striving for Good By John Touloupis

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I pulled out a greasy old aluminum pan and kicked on the stove. Searching the fridge, I finally found my eggs. I tossed a little bit of butter into the pan along with two slices of white bread. For the past two months, whenever I wanted a little alone time in Mexico, I cooked a small breakfast for myself. I found peace and harmony in the kitchen amidst the morning chaos as my nine roommates ran around brushing their teeth, checking tools for the worksite, and looking for missing work boots.

However, I wasn’t in the 800-square-foot intern house in Mexico cooking up my favorite breakfast meal, but rather back in my sweet home state of Alabama. There were no early morning shouts for keys to cars or people asking to borrow a pair of socks. Only silence and the sound of eggs frying in the pan.

I thought going home would be easy. I was wrong.

While I missed my family and friends dearly, I found comfort in my life in Mexico.

I got to go to church twice a day, a rarity for a college student like me. I spent time getting schooled in soccer by the boys on the ranch. A local man befriended me and helped show me the ways of construction, culture, and life in Mexico.

I saw poverty I’ve never seen before. People living in shacks made of scraps of plywood and garage doors. People living in holes on the side of the highway. Children with special needs peddling chocolate bars in the streets.

In the midst of all of this though, I saw some of the purest happiness I’ve ever seen in my life. I’ll never forget the excitement on a four-year-old’s face as we finished painting his new red house.

Words cannot do justice.

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Each and every week when we started leveling the rocky terrain to pour a concrete pad we gave families hope. As I learned during my time in Mexico, we were not simply building homes, but building futures.

The houses we built for people like a loving grandmother, hard-working factory employees, or a mother trying to build a better for her four children were going to be more than a home to them. Not only did their new house allow them to stop paying rent on other's property, they now had a safe, secure place to protect them from weather, diseases, and intruders. Finally, the families had somewhere to build the rest of their lives.

I’ll never forget the joy a tough, young construction worker shared with me as we put the finishing touches on his roof one day. Through a crooked smile and soft tears in his eyes, he exclaimed how much he loved his new big house (Project Mexico houses are 13 feet by 26 feet).

Every single week, no matter the family, I saw tears of joy. They were tears of relief, comfort, and peace. While we served the families, they would serve us, cooking meals as an offer of thanks for our work.

It took seeing with my own eyes to learn happiness doesn’t come with material things. Since returning home, I have been living in a totally different world. But just because I’m home doesn’t mean my mission is over. I’m still learning the importance of our Orthodox faith to navigate these worlds.

While I’m not building houses anymore I know I’m going to take the importance of service and humble leadership I learned in Mexico and apply them to my life in the United States. I know just because I’m in a different world now doesn’t mean I have to change my lifestyle. The world is a pretty messed up place.

As Orthodox Christians, we should all strive to do just a little bit of good.

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Opportunities for volunteering are now available

Five Essential Items for Mission Work Abroad by John Touloupis

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The Essentials

After a beautiful month of building homes in Tijuana, Mexico, my fellow interns and I have compiled an essential packing list of must-haves for your trip. 

We’ve been able to learn from first-hand experience and compiled what we believe to be the top five most important items to bring for your trip. 

While not 100% essential, we think it’s good to bring the following:

  • Sunglasses (preferably cheap ones, not your favorites)
  • Sunscreen and Aloe (especially if you burn easily)
  • Chapstick/Lip Balm
  • Basic toiletries (you would be amazed by how many people forget soap)
  • Chacos or Birkenstocks, a solid pair of shoes or work boots for build days
  • Donations for the boys of St Innocent 

 

Below are the Top Five essentials for your Mission work in Mexico!

Number 5: A Solid Hat

The sun in Baja can be especially brutal during long days on work sites. A good hat that covers your face and/or neck definitely helps keep the sun off of your face so you can maintain your energy levels throughout the day.

 

Number 4: Your Favorite Water Bottle

Like I said I said previously, it gets REALLY hot. Staying hydrated throughout your time on site and on the Ranch is absolutely crucial!

 

Number 3: Small Bills (No currency larger than $10) 

During your trip, we may visit the city of Rosarito for lunch or dinner at the local taco shop, or for cool treats at an ice cream parlor. Most vendors don’t accept big bills, so having a couple of smaller bills in your pocket is always a smart idea.

Pro tip: If you can exchange dollars for pesos find the best rate with a simple google search and bring some! 

Number 2: Snacks

After a long day of hard work, it’s good to have some of your favorite snacks back at the ranch. And even though the food on the Ranch is delicious, if you know you are the type of person who likes to snack late at night then definitely bring some.

Your fellow Interns will certainly be grateful if you remember to bring enough to share!

Number 1: Warm Clothes/Sweats

Yes! You read that right.

Surprisingly, the temperature drops into the 50s and sometimes as low as the 40s during the night. Also, the Ranch gets a cool breeze from the Pacific every now and then. Definitely have enough layers so you feel comfortable at night hanging and when it’s time to sleep. 

All of us interns hope this list helps and we can’t wait to see you!