We sat down with Southern Utah University student, Matthew Robinson, to quiz him on his experience as a Youth Development & Education intern with us in Peru! Find out what motivated him to take the plunge, his top takeaways from the experience and what advice he has for other interns!
Hi Matthew! Thanks for sharing your internship experience with us! What made you want to join this program?
I’m currently studying at Southern Utah University in the US. I have an Associate of Science in General Studies and am now halfway through my Bachelors in English Education, minoring in Spanish. Throughout college I discovered a love for teaching and, more recently, of languages. I am working to become a high school English teacher, and work with students whose second language is English. For me, participating in an internship abroad was a way to fulfill some professional and personal aspirations I’ve had for a long time.
What excited you the most about interning in Peru?
I was so incredibly excited to travel to a country that spoke a language I loved. Traveling overseas to a Spanish speaking country like Peru, was going to allow me to work with a variety of students with their English language skills, while also improving my own Spanish language abilities. This kind of opportunity just wasn’t available to me back home and being a part of something outside of what I’m used to is something that has enchanted and called to me for many years.
I couldn’t wait to develop the teaching skills I had learnt in the classroom, and to teach and work with students in such a unique setting! I was eager to bring my experiences and abilities to the classroom, to try different things, and to learn from others. There really are no words that can totally encapsulate how much the program and the opportunity would mean to me!
Please describe your internship role for us - what tasks were you involved in and what did you learn?
I was an intern at an afterschool program in Cusco, which aimed to protect vulnerable children in the community. The children were aged between 6 and 12 years old and I was tasked with creating a fun, enjoyable and safe environment for them to learn and develop. This included homework support, playing games, developing education programs and practicing English.
This internship taught me patience. Children don’t always have the longest attention span, and each has a story to tell. I learnt classroom management skills in real time, outside my own classroom, and studies. I was forced to speak up for myself, put myself out there, and understand the needs and wants of the students. I believe being thrown in the deep is the only way I will accomplish what I need to accomplish to reach my goals!
What kind of activities did you get involved with during your free time?
Me and my classmates would spend our spare time sightseeing in and around Cusco. I went to Rainbow Mountain, Machu Picchu, the rainforest in South Eastern Peru, parts of Bolivia and Ecuador. I tried to explore as much as I could during my weekends.
People often want to know more about the internship accommodation. What was it like staying with a local host family in Cusco?
Staying with a host family was really really cool! Those in the house included my host mum, her mother, and two children. We would spend time together doing cultural celebrations. I’m glad I stayed with a host family over a hostel or sharehouse, it was so much more homely and enjoyable getting to know one another, and getting more immersed into Spanish culture. My Spanish skills skyrocketed because it was all that was spoken at home. Being pushed to speak Spanish at my placement and at home made a massive difference to my fluency and confidence levels. I can’t recommend this enough to others.
What were your highlights of this intern abroad experience?
I will always remember how new everything felt. This internship allowed me to explore a country, culture, language, and way of life outside my own. I’ll always treasure my relationship with my supervisor and all the amazing interns I met. I have developed a greater love of the Spanish language and associated cultures, which I want to continue to explore. Through such exploration I intend to lay a foundation for both professional and personal enrichment, as I wish to make travel and interactions with various others a part of my life.
Do you have any advice for future interns considering a similar experience?
I recommend working on your Spanish prior to commencing your internship. Be vulnerable with your transition to another lifestyle. The more open you are and more accepting you are of yourself and your journey, the better it will be. Enjoy it, be as present as you can because time will go by fast!
Ready to start planning your own internship abroad? Here’s how to started!
Our step-by-step guide on how it works provides you with more information on how to get started. The process is user friendly - just submit your application to get the ball rolling. It doesn’t cost anything to apply and won’t take more than 5 minutes. However, your formal expression of interest provides the foundation for us to help you take the next steps.