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MAXIMO NIVEL participants MAXIMO NIVEL participants

International Internships—Costa Rica | Guatemala | Peru

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    5

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Special education student teaching

I was placed at Marian Baker School in Costa Rica for a special education student teaching internship. Although the placement did not provide cultural immersion because it was an English speaking school, it was still a very positive experience. My entire time in Costa Rica was amazing, and I would recommend it to anyone. I hope that Maximo Nivel can build stronger relationships with local special education schools to provide students the opportunity to fully understand special education in other countries.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    8

Friendly Experience

I love the program. The staff members are helpful in every way possible making my transition comfortable and successful. I received one on one Spanish class and it was great. I like the fact that there is a final presentation. It was a bit challenging, but this way I got to share with the Maximo audience about how great the placement was, explain my work, and elaborate future ideas in how to help the school where I completed my internship.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    9

Excellent internship experience in the social services sector (Cusco, Peru)

Some highlights if you do not want to read the extended version:
- Very tailored placement
- Great supervision from Maximo - I had biweekly check-in meetings
- Having one Spanish teacher during my three-month internship
- Still had time to do weekend trips to other places near Cusco :)

I completed a three-month internship in Cusco, Peru (Sept-Dec 2015) with a U.S.-based non-profit organization seeking to address issues of poverty and gender inequality through girls'/women's empowerment. Although it wasn't a Peruvian organization, all of its programs took place in Cusco and program beneficiaries were all Cusquenan. As a result, my experience was more of a hybrid of American Peruvian cultures and practices (which was an excellent mix for me since I am from the U.S. and interested in international development). I went into this program with the goal of killing three birds with one stone: gain Spanish language fluency, obtain international development/social work experience, and travel. I can happily report that I've met all three goals.

Because I graduated with my Master's in Social Work and have also had several years of professional experience prior to the trip, I was very specific with the type of placement I was looking for and had specific goals that I wanted to reach. I made sure that I communicated those clearly to Maximo. Maximo did an excellent job tailoring the placement to benefit all stake holders. It was exactly the type of work that I wanted to do and both Maximo and NGO staff provided consistent and helpful supervision. The complimentary hour/day Spanish classes were also a great resource that I leveraged quite liberally.

My time was split between direct service work (teaching & running groups with program participants) and program development. My day-to-day varied, but usually included things like researching relevant material, lesson planning for groups, engaging in my own strategic brainstorming sessions, having skype meetings with the director (who was in the U.S. half the time I was there) to prioritize tasks/develop existing or potential new programs, creating material required to advance/improve programs or donor base, and meeting with the local coordinator to learn about the details of existing services, to update her on the condition of the program participants, and to learn more about the context in which I was working in. I also had a ton of opportunities to get involved beyond my technical scope of work that weren't mandatory, but extremely helpful in building my understanding of the Peruvian context (ie: regular hang-outs with the program participants, home visits, community outreach), all of which allowed me to be more effective in my work.

Overall, I loved my experience in Peru and highly recommend the program. Based on my personal experiences, here are a few recommendations, especially for first-timers volunteering/interning/working abroad:

- Be proactive - can't stress this enough; it is true what you put in is what you get out of it
- Don't expect an immediate grand welcome and acceptance from the locals just because you're a foreigner
- Humility goes a long way (aka spend time learning about the local context before jumping into coaching, giving advice, etc.)
- If you are involved in more coaching/teaching/consultancy type work, go in with the mind set of teaching one how to fish rather than giving the person the fish - all about sustainability!
- Never hesitate to reach out to Maximo staff. They are very helpful and resourceful :)
- Leverage your Spanish teacher as a resource
- Make it your experience & be creative!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

An Internship with Máximo Nivel is Definitely Worth it

I chose to intern in San José, Costa Rica for 8 weeks during my summer break, and the experience was incredibly worth the cost. I was placed at a small micro-credit lending organization that makes loans to low-income women all over the country. I cannot emphasize enough how welcoming and helpful my coworkers were. From day one they made me feel like an important part of their team and allowed me to take part in their projects and day-to-day business. Having to speak Spanish 8 hours a day in a business setting, improved my command of the language and more importantly, gave me the confidence to speak in groups and under pressure. I even had the opportunity to visit some of the clients, ask them questions, develop business plans, and handle their products. It was truly a worthwhile learning experience that boosted my resume in a big way.

Máximo Nivel did a great job placing me in a home near the office, and within walking distance of my internship. San José has so much to see and do that I was never bored on the weekends, even if I didn't travel to one of the amazing beaches or cloud forests that are never more than a few hours away. One of the reasons I chose to intern through Máximo is because it was the only program I found that did not include excursions in the price. They work with a travel agency to give you those options, and offer plenty of cultural activities, but I was glad to find a program that did not include all those extra costs.

My Spanish classes were excellent and extremely helpful. I had never had a one-on-one class with a native speaker, and going 5 days a week forced me to constantly improve. Máximo Nivel gave me enough freedom to explore the city and country without feeling like I was being babysat, but they offer plenty of support and help to those who maybe feel a bit less comfortable abroad. Overall, I would definitely recommend the internship program to anyone who wants to get international work experience and improve their Spanish in one of the most beautiful countries on earth. The entire staff was very helpful and friendly and I was completely satisfied with my time in Costa Rica.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    9

Internship in Costa Rica

I participated in a micro-business internship with Maximo in San Jose, Costa Rica. I had such a wonderful experience and would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to experience working life in a different culture. The program staff is always available and willing to help. They were very flexible and welcoming and I appreciated it a lot. My placement was good and I would say that the experience is definitely what you make of it. If you want to take on a larger role at your work place or experience more linguistic immersion, you should be proactive and communicate that to the team and they'll do their very best to make it happen. I got great immersion both in my workplace and in my homestay. However, even if you don't want that the range of options is available.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    10

La Escuela de Dulce Nombre

I had the privilege of working in an Elementary School, Dulce Nombre, during my time in Costa Rica. I helped in a few first grade and sixth grade classrooms. I was able to teach English to the students, while simultaneously furthering my Spanish skills. The students and staff members were so welcoming, and I'm so grateful for the experience. This internship was extremely beneficial and I know that the skills I gained will benefit me in my future career.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Medical Internship

Maximo Nivel is THE place to build great relationships, learn through volunteering, and explore a unique culture. I am a medical student and this past summer I took part in a 6-week medical internship through Maximo Nivel in Cusco, Peru.

The medical internship consisted of assisting doctors, nurses, and staff members in a small clinic that provided General Medicine, OB/GYN, and Pediatric services. The duties from day-to-day varied, but included weighing and measuring heights of young children, assisting nurses in delivering medical supplies throughout the community, organizational support for the doctors and nurses, and opportunities to observe medical practice in a low-resource setting.

While taking part in the internship, myself and another volunteer lived with a host family that consisted of some of the most caring and supportive people I've ever met. We watched the Peruvian soccer team on tv, celebrated birthdays, and shared meals together nearly every night. Living with the host family allowed for exponential growth in learning about the daily lives of the local people, sharing amongst different cultures, and ability to speak Spanish more effectively.

Lastly, the leadership and staff at Maximo Nivel's main building provided unbelievable support and compassion throughout the internship. Everyone who works for the organization, from the Cleaning Staff to the Director to the Tutors, all are incredibly welcoming people. I felt both empowered and challenged while taking Spanish lessons, and even learned some of the local dances.

All in all, you can't beat the opportunity of volunteering with Maximo Nivel! Do it!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    6

  • Health and Safety

    8

  • Social Life

    7

Education Internship in Peru

I spent my summer not only being immersed in the Peruvian culture but finding myself. The people that I worked with were an incredible team of teachers who go above and beyond daily for every student. I had the pleasure of staying with an absolutely amazing family who took me in and cared for me. My summer in Peru was nothing other than life changing.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Social Life

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Internship Placement

    10

An Invaluable Experience

I did the medical internship in Cusco, Peru through Maximo Nivel and it was, without trying to sound cheesy/cliche, life-changing and unbelievably rewarding. I loved my placement and got to experience the medical needs of a culture/community completely different from my own. Cusco has such a beautiful, distinct history, and I feel like I was able to immerse myself and experience life there on multiple levels. I could not have asked for more as far as housing - my host mom became like an actual mother to me and even now, months after returning, we still keep in touch. My Spanish tutor was phenomenal, the director of the medical internship was enthusiastic to share his experiences and discuss any topic I liked, and the classes at Maximo Nivel (salsa, cooking, etc) allowed me to make lasting friendships with people from throughout the world. The team at Maximo Nivel was attentive and thorough, and they were always there to help me with anything I needed and provide me with support. I cannot thank everyone from Maximo Nivel enough for playing an integral role in an experience which has helped me to grow and realize my passion. If you are considering this program, I highly urge you to give it a shot - you will never regret it.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    8

Special Education Intern

As a special education intern, I had the opportunity to work in a special education school called Don Jose de San Martin a couple of miles outside of central Cusco. I worked primarily in the first grade classroom. This experience was extremely rewarding as I was able to form very strong relationships with not only the students, but also with many of the teachers. I helped plan and teach lessons to the class and helped supervise the students. I also had the opportunity of partaking in school festivities, such as holiday celebrations. Working as an intern could sometimes be very challenging given the severity of some of the children's disabilities and special needs. However, it was an amazing experience to be able to work with the students and help them learn and grow as individuals despite the challenges I faced along the way. The school community is extremely welcoming and working at the school leaves afternoons free to explore the amazing and beautiful city of Cusco. I truly felt like I became a part of the school community and had an experience I will never forget.

Overall Rating

7/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    6

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    6

Hospitality and tourism internship

Overall, the experience was a good one and I would recommend Maximo Nivel to others who are interested in participating in a program abroad. The work experience I gained was meaningful and beneficial to my career goals. The hours of the job made it somewhat difficult to go out and meet people during the day, but I very much enjoyed the social aspect at the job itself. My Spanish improved a lot with some study and immersion, but I will say that I was forced to switch teachers one week into the program and my second teacher was not nearly as good as the first. I think I could have done more had I had Nery the entire time. The homestay was a somewhat neutral experience. I felt safe, accommodated, and was well fed, but the relationship aspect was disappointing. I felt more like a guest in a hotel than a member of the family. To future Participants, be active in creating a relationship with your family. I did so and was able to feel more a part of the family after a couple weeks. I just wish I could have had that the whole time.