Over Christmas break, six NIU students joined four other students from a variety of universities and traveled to Bucerias, Nayarit, Mexico, for the Human Connections Winter Externship. For many of us, it was our first time in Mexico. We spent just two short weeks in Bucerias and found ourselves falling in love with the delicious food, the wondrous ocean, and of course the beautiful people.
I heard Elly’s story of founding Human Connections at a CAUSE event at NIU and knew that I needed to see what she was up to in person. I was inspired to see what Human Connections, not even a year old yet, is doing in Bucerias.
The first week we visited many other non-profits in the area, which are doing some awesome things! Fundacion ATD is connecting a community by creating a school out of recycled two liter bottles packed with sand. EntreAmigos is an environmentally friendly community center that, among many other things, provides scholarships for students to go to school. The college-aged students are equipped with opportunities to explore their entrepreneurial skills in a small business setting such as, running a coffee shop or making beautiful cards.
The second week the interns teamed up to consult with micro-entrepreneurs and Mary Graham and I conducted a nutrition needs assessment with the local people. On our last Thursday, the artisans we had been working with displayed their craft at the Art Walk for the first time. This internship provided us with an opportunity to share our skills and resources in collaboration with the people in this community. I am excited to see how Human Connections will evolve in Bucerias, especially with the possibility of nutrition workshops and community gardens in the future.
I am very thankful for the scholarships available for NIU students that made this experience possible. I highly recommend interning with Human Connections. It is beyond a basic internship where you go to work and leave at the end of the day. You will certainly feel connected with the people in Bucerias and be touched by all of their wonderful life stories. It was such a great opportunity with truly amazing people. I can not wait to go back!