While many people remember the tragic earthquake that shook Haiti in 2010, not much else is generally known among the global community about this key Caribbean country. Haiti was the very first country in Latin America to gain independence from European colonization, and over the two centuries since it has developed a fascinating autonomous cultural history. Intern abroad in Haiti to learn all about this country’s rich legacy and modern prospects, while gaining invaluable global work experience in a variety of different fields.
With a population of over 10 million citizens, Haiti is the third-most populous country in the Caribbean region. It’s borders encompass the western half of the island of Hispaniola, the eastern half being occupied by the Dominican Republic. Haiti has a tropical climate and its beautiful beach coastlines are complemented by a mountainous interior landscape.
As the country’s capital and largest city, Port-au-Prince is generally the most popular destination where to intern abroad in Haiti. Port-au-Prince has been an important port city in the Caribbean for many centuries, and today the greater metropolitan area is thought to be home to nearly half of Haiti’s population. The 2010 earthquake was hugely catastrophic to Port-au-Prince, and the city is still very much rebuilding from the wreckage.
For those who would like to intern abroad in Haiti away from the big city, other smaller destinations around the countryside such as Jacmel, Petit Goave, and Croix de Bouquets are all additionally popular options. Croix de Bouquets is a small city just eight miles outside of Port-au-Prince, while Jacmel and Petit Goave are modern cities stemming from some of the oldest settlements in the country. Because of its beautiful French colonial architecture, Jacmel has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Internships in Haiti
Haiti has the lowest Human Development Index in the Americas, and the 2010 earthquake created a whole new array of infrastructural development challenges to overcome. As such most internships abroad in Haiti are devoted towards development efforts in areas such as education, medicine, and social work. Many NGOs work hand-in-hand with local Haitian organizations to maximize the efficacy of ongoing humanitarian projects in these areas.
You can also intern abroad in Haiti within other fields such as finance, international relations, and sustainable development. Development is a two-pronged effort, and workers can help both by means of on the ground and behind the scenes work. Other areas where you can intern abroad in Haiti include agriculture, health sciences, and the arts.
While English-speaking internships abroad in Haiti are available, the two most popularly spoken languages in the country are French and Haitian Creole. French is spoken fluently by less than half the population, but it is still the most commonly used language in most business and education settings. It is generally possible to intern abroad in Haiti for as short as just a few months or as long as six months, depending on the intern’s desires and availability.
Salaries & Costs
While most internships abroad in Haiti are unpaid, you will often be compensated for your work efforts by other means such as housing, meals, and transportation. The good news is that most costs of living in Haiti are generally very affordable for international interns, so on the ground expenses need not be a huge concern. The local currency is the Haitian Gourde, which exchanges at roughly 60 HTG to $1.
Accommodation & Visas
Homestays or group housing situations are generally the most popular forms of accommodation while you intern abroad in Haiti. In some instances you can also secure your own apartment, although housing is still somewhat scarce in many regions since the earthquake. You can expect to be made comfortable wherever you end up living, but remember that certain luxuries such as hot water, air conditioning, and internet connectivity will not always be available.
Interns from most countries around the world will be allowed to enter Haiti and stay for up to three months before having to worry about obtaining a visa. The situation may become complicated if you are receiving a salary for your internship abroad in Haiti, so talk to your host employer about what visa you may need to obtain in this case. You can also check out our Haitian Embassy Directory for more information in the meantime.
Benefits & Challenges
Learn the History. Haiti has one of the most fascinating histories of the Caribbean region. It was the first Latin American nation to declare independence in the 20th century, manifesting from the only successful slave revolution in the Americas.
Re-Build. Haiti will be reconstructing from the devastation of the 2010 earthquake on many fronts for years to come. Help by joining the effort while you intern abroad in Haiti.
Push Your Boundaries. Even before the earthquake, Haiti was one of the poorest countries in the Americas. Living here will be a greatly humbling experience, one that may redefine what you previously thought of as “wealth.”