» Frequently Asked Questions
Why pay to volunteer/intern?
For many students, the idea of paying to intern/volunteer seems out of the question. You want to go abroad and practice your skills, but why do you have to pay?
Finding an internship or volunteer position in Nicaragua can be very difficult. While many organizations need help, they do not have the staff, resources, or experience needed to provide the support that a volunteer or intern often needs.
We have formal agreements with over 50 organizations that accept interns/volunteers. We have professional relationships with these organizations and know how they operate and their needs. We match your skills and interests with the needs of these organizations.
We provide continuous monitoring and evaluation to guarantee a positive experience for both the intern/volunteer and the host organization. By paying for your internship/volunteer position, you ensure that you will have a safe, rewarding, and mutually beneficial experience. We also provide other logistical support including orientation information, lodging/housing placement, airport pick-up and drop off, security information, and 24-hour assistance.
We work to ensure academically enriching experiences. We provide interns with readings and organize lectures and cultural activities. All interns must keep a journal of their experiences and submit a final report of their internship experience.
Viva Nicaragua! is more than a placement organization. Viva Nicaragua! was founded by individuals working in Nicaragua who saw volunteer/intern placement as a sustainable way to provide funding and professional support for existing projects and organizations.
We channel your fees into valid and needed development projects.
Visit our blog to learn more about Viva Nicaragua! projects.
Visit Facebook at www.facebook.com/vivanica
For more information on the values of paying for placement services, see http://www.transitionsabroad.com/publications/magazine/0007/advisor.shtml
Is Academic Credit Available?
Many universities will grant academic credit for independent study projects and internships. Students should consult with their academic advisors to determine whether or not their home university will grant credit for the program.
Viva Nicaragua! will assist by providing Internship Program students and their advisors with the following:
- A detailed program description
- A learning contract signed by the Viva Nicaragua! Coordinator, the intern, and collaborating institution. The contract includes the responsibilities
of all parties, the project objectives, the internship schedule, a time-line for project completion, any required assignments such as a journal or written report, and methods of evaluation. The contract will be sent to the intern’s advisor for approval.
- Viva Nicaragua! staff will conduct mid-term and final evaluations of the intern's accomplishments. Evaluations will be sent to the intern’s advisor for review.
- Any other information requested by the intern’s home university.
How does Viva Nicaragua! support the organizations that host volunteers
- In addition to the valuable work that interns and volunteers contribute to collaborating organizations, we provide monetary and material donations to each organization that receives interns and volunteers.
- We assist with fund raising for social projects, participate in communityactivities, and organize activities for youth, women, children, and disabled adults. We also conduct research on many social justice topics including gender and labor rights.
Why intern with Viva Nicaragua?
- The validity and continuity of the projects where we place interns is a priority. We evaluate all projects before placement. We place interns in projects where they are needed – where their skills can contribute to the efforts of organizations. Most importantly, our support continues after the internship ends– both through economic and material donations, continued research and project monitoring, and the continuation of projects by future interns or even Viva! staff.
- A meaningful internship experience is also a priority. We work to guarantee that you have a positive experience – from pre-arrival orientation material, to careful internship placement, to continuous monitoring, supervision, and evaluation
- Academic rigor is important. We meet regularly with interns to reflect on what they are learning. Lectures and readings reinforce practical work. Final reports allow interns to analyze their overall experience.
- Your well being is important to us. We have staff available 24-hours a day to meet any need –from accompanying you to a clinic, to finding materials for your project, to making travel plans.
- We offer more internship options in more geographic areas – both rural and urban.
- We arrange your family stay or other accommodations.
- We have a doctor on call for any medical need.
- We pick you up from the airport and take you to your homestay.
- We channel placement fees towards supporting existing and new development projects. A portion of the placement fee is donated to the host organization to support the intern’s.
- Our staff has long standing professional relationships with many of the organizations that host interns. We know the staff, we understand how the organizations work, and know what they need and how they can utilize interns.
What happens if I have a problem with my internship?
Viva Nicaragua! monitors interns throughout their internship. If a problem arises that
cannot be resolved, we will work with the intern to find another suitable internship.
Is Nicaragua safe?
Despite high levels of poverty, Nicaragua is one of the safest Central American countries. Of course, as with anywhere, visitors should take certain precautions including not walking alone at night or carrying many valuables on the street. Viva Nicaragua! staff provides complete safety and security information and 24-hour assistance in the event of any problem.
While Nicaragua has had a turbulent past, the country today is very pacific. The newly re-elected Sandinista government is focusing more on poverty alleviation through market mechanisms and not the perceived “radical” measures of the 1980’s which provoked US opposition.
What health problems should I be concerned about?
Participants should consult the CDC website for current health updates (www.cdc.org) and vaccination information. All travelers should make sure that their tetnus, diphtheria, measles, mumps, rubella, and polio vaccinations are up to date.
Is airfare included?
No - You are responsible for your own airfare. We recommend www.travelocity.com or www.studentuniverse.com.
Is housing included in the price of the program?
Yes - You will have your own room with a Nicaraguan family. Also, 3 meals per day an laundry service are included.
When can I start?
We place year round – you can start at any time. Application deadlines are 60 days prior to your desired start date.
How much should I budget for living expenses per month, above and beyond what is included in the program fee?
$300 per month is enough to travel a bit and have some fun nights out. However, with all of your meals included, and if you can limit your extra spending, you can get by on much less.
Is there a Viva Nicaragua! contact in Nicaragua?
Yes – Our offices are located in Granada Nicaragua and we have staff members available 24-hours a day to help you with anything you may need. Our Program Coordinator, Carrie, will visit you at least once a week at your internship site.
Do I need a cell phone?
We highly recommend that all interns have a cell phone with them during their stay in Nicaragua. While most phones can be converted to the local cell phone company, phones can also be purchased for under $20.
Should I bring my laptop?
For many projects, you will need a computer and many organizations do not have the resources to provide computers or internet access for their staff. Many interns find it convenient to have their own laptop with them. However, t is not a requirement and interns should be aware that there is a risk of theft or damage from power outages, rain, and humidity.
Can Viva Nicaragua! assist with research projects?
Absolutely! We have contacts in many areas and are able to assist with both methodological and logistical aspects of pre- and post- grad research projects.
I am still incredulous at the amount of assistance she gave me with my projects – especially with my research. Interviews with lawyers, judges, police, professors, journalists were and amazing and I would be very surprised to hear of another program anywhere that gives that much support to independent research projects. Carrie’s familiarity with the community and knowledge of social justice issues were key in making my research possible. – Anjali Mohan, 2008
Please feel free to contact us to request a brochure or for more information about any one of our programs.
Questions? Contact us!
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