This ten-week internship offers up to four Haverford and Bryn Mawr College students an experiential learning program in which they work part-time at the Casa de los Amigos, a Quaker Center for Peace and International Understanding in Mexico City, and part-time with another social justice organization in Mexico City. Summer 2015 will be the ninth year of the program. In 2007, the Casa established a formal relationship with the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship (CPGC) at Haverford College. Interns live in the Casa with the rest of the Casa volunteers, staff and guests. They are immersed in Casa life and work while they are here.
Founded in 1956 by the Quaker community in Mexico, the Casa is a non-profit peace organization, a community center, a social justice-oriented guesthouse, the Meetinghouse for Mexico City Friends Meeting (Quakers), and a home. The practice of sincere hospitality, rooted in recognizing the human dignity of each person, is at the core of the work and the community at Casa de los Amigos.
Summer interns dedicate themselves to the Casa and the Casa community. They work about 20 – 25 hours per week at the Casa, and an equal amount with a partner organization.
The Casa has relationships with many organizations that work in human rights, peace and social justice, children’s and women’s issues, economic justice, environmental concerns, and more. Casa staff coordinates with each Haverford intern to pair them up with a partner organization, provides accompaniment and serves as a point of contact to communicate with the partner organization and help solve problems that may come up. The experience of the interns at the partner organizations is a service-learning opportunity. Each of these organizations will provide a meaningful opportunity for interns to participate in their organization, learn about Mexico, Mexican civil society and the work of that organization. (See below for descriptions of the partner organizations). There is also availability for one intern each summer to work full-time in the Casa instead of dividing their time between the Casa and a partner organization.
THE HOSPITALITY PROGRAM
The Hospitality Program is the core of the Casa and the volunteer experience. The Casa’s Hospitality work is rooted in the Quaker testimonies of Equality, Simplicity and Community. People at the Casa live their values. They strive to respect the dignity of each person who comes through the door. The center of the Casa’s Hospitality Program is its Quaker guesthouse. At the Casa a diverse group of guests and volunteers create and nourish a unique and organic community in a social justice-oriented environment. The Hospitality Program seeks to support Mexican civil society and all those who work for peace and justice in Mexico and the world. This work includes a wide range of activities and services that are built on the foundation of the guesthouse. These include many events that are open to the public, a community space with a library, and a space for social justice organizations to meet. The Casa is a place of fun and fellowship, service and learning, refuge and action.
In the Hospitality Program the work of the interns is the sincere practice of hospitality and the daily creation of a friendly environment. Interns, much like Casa volunteers, work regular shifts in the Casa’s reception. This includes receiving and attending to guests and visitors, giving tours of the Casa, acting as the first face of the organization, performing general reception duties such as answering the phone and the door, taking reservations, and in general carrying out the set of tasks necessary to keep the house running! While working in the reception, interns interact with a wide range of people from many backgrounds and of all age groups, including refugees and migrants, students and teachers, travelers and artists, volunteers and activists and many others.
The Hospitality work extends far beyond the Casa reception. Interns work with volunteers to organize activities such as film nights, presentations and discussions, and other special events. They participate in regular meetings to reflect on, plan, and collectively make decisions regarding this work. Some interns make breakfast each morning for the Casa community. Like volunteers, interns also take the initiative to care for and keep up their house; this may involve maintenance, cleaning, gardening, painting, running errands great and small or working with the Environmental Concerns Committee.
THE PEACE PROGRAMS
Our Peace Programs are rooted in our community space and Hospitality Program, and are inspired by the same values and concerns as our Hospitality work. Casa staff and volunteers run the programs, which combine direct action, self and community education, and work in solidarity with other members of the Mexican civil society. Working with the director, the peace programs coordinator, and other Casa volunteers, interns learn about these issues and support the work of these programs.
The Migration Program:
• supports the work of Mexican civil society partners to promote the rights of migrants and refugees in Mexico,
• educates the Casa’s community about the roots and realities of migration and the right to asylum,
• houses migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in the Casa through our “Hospedaje Solidario” Program
• cultivates and strengthens relationships with the Casa and the wider pro-migrant community, and
• supports Casa TOCHAN, a middle-term shelter in the western part of Mexico City that receives migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and victims of crime. Opened in June 2012, TOCHAN is one of a limited number of migrant shelters in Mexico City. The Casa is one of four organizations that help to support and coordinate the work of Casa TOCHAN.
Interns will also have the opportunity to:
• work with our “Hospedaje Solidario,” program through accompaniment, orientation and general support,
• attend and participate in migration-related events and activities in Mexico City,
• participate in educational and consciousness-raising work in the Casa community (including ourselves) regarding the realities and roots of migration by organizing events, activities and information.
The Casa’s Economic Justice Program works to:
• promote and strengthen economic alternatives in Mexico, especially economies of solidarity (economía solidaria),
• maintain a point of sale for the products of “Flor de Mazahua,” an indigenous women’s sewing cooperative and Tozepan Pankizaske, a cooperative of small producers in Puebla,
• participate in a network of local producers and activists, the Red Tlaloc
Interns will have opportunities to:
• work with and visit the local cooperatives,
• help run the point of sale,
• attend meetings of the Red Tlaloc,
• participate in and organize events and activities for the Casa community regarding the realities and roots of poverty and various local efforts to create alternative economies
The work and witness of the Casa, like all Quaker organizations, is rooted in the Quaker testimonies (values) of Peace, Simplicity, Integrity, Community, and Equality. These are the pillars of Casa life and provide a context for our work, reflection, interactions and decisions. The Casa Programs, house, and community are living examples of these testimonies, or values, in action.
These are universal values not at all limited to Quakers. Summer interns must be committed to these values, but it is not necessary to be Quaker or to profess a belief in any religion to be a Casa volunteer. Interns do need to be comfortable representing a Quaker organization.
LIVING IN COMMUNITY AT THE CASA
Interns and Casa volunteers live together in community. This is different from just sharing space, as in a college dormitory or an apartment or house. Living in community involves new ways of treating issues like food, cleaning, house tasks, decision-making and resolving problems. We live and work together in the same place. This requires a strong and supportive community, sustained by active effort and participation on the part of members. We hold weekly house meetings, make group decisions, reflect on our work, confront issues and work out differences together. Keeping our community healthy, cohesive and empowered is as important as the rest of the work in the Casa. By creating a strong community in the Casa we are mirroring the kind of world in which we would like to live.
DAILY LIFE IN THE CASA
From a guest’s point of view, there is breakfast every morning, which is a great time to meet and chat with others that you haven’t had a chance to talk to in the guest lounge or kitchen. The Quaker Meeting for Worship is on Sunday morning, followed in the evening by the Sunday potluck. There is a yoga class on Tuesday, an afternoon of gardening on Thursday, and there may be a documentary film, discussion or presentation on Thursday evening. Friday evening is the English discussion group, followed by dinner out. Throughout the week, the George Fox Library is available for reading and quiet study. There also may be other groups at the Casa who are using the house meeting spaces. Finally there are other special events like seasonal parties, open houses, fundraising events, and more.
For a full-time volunteer, the week looks different. For example, he might work a morning shift on Monday morning (8:00 – 12:30), and then cook for the volunteer dinner that evening. On Tuesday, he makes breakfast in the morning, followed by a Migration Program meeting, and then the second reception shift (12:30 – 5:00). On Wednesday he runs a few Casa errands downtown before he works the afternoon shift during which you are able to get some Migration program reading done (it’s a slow shift). After that he has a bi-monthly
check-in meeting with the volunteer coordinator. On Thursday he works another shift, then sets up and runs a documentary film followed by a presentation with a speaker and a discussion. Friday he’s got free! Saturday he goes to visit Casa TOCHAN and drop off a clothing donation. When he gets home he turns the compost and then goes to the market. On Sunday he cooks up something good for the potluck.
A summer intern might start the week by making breakfast in the morning. Then she works the second shift in reception before the volunteer dinner that night. Tuesday she works all day at her other organization, and comes home to watch the film selection for the monthly “Cinemoneda” series. On Wednesday morning she takes the recycling down to the r
ecycling center, watches the reception for 15 minutes while the volunteer on shift gives a tour of the house to a pair of visitors, and with a guest, cleans out one of the guest refrigerator. Wednesday afternoon she attends a meeting of the Red Tlaloc with two other Casa volunteers, a network of organizations involved in economic solidarity, and then heads back to the Casa to attend the Economic Justice Program meeting and give a report-back. On Thursday and half of Friday she works at her other organization. That night she attends the English discussion group. On Saturday she works the morning shift and then has to help several guests; one who needs information about buying a plane ticket and one who needs to find a homeopathic doctor. In the afternoon, she stops by a talk about violence toward Central American migrants in Mexico in the historic center. When she gets home she sees that the guest kitchen is a mess and asks those chatting in the lounge to clean up their dishes, then she sees that a bulb is out in the third floor hallway and she changes it. On Sunday she has the day off: she goes to the Meeting for Worship, checks out a museum (free on Sundays) and comes home for the potluck.
CASA DE LOS AMIGOS-CPGC PARTNER ORGANIZATIONS
The CASA-CPCG Internship partner organizations are some of the Casa’s closest allies. Below are the partner organizations for Summer 2015. The activities of the summer interns at each organization will be very different, but all should be understood as service-learning opportunities. Each of these groups will provide a meaningful opportunity for interns to participate in their organization, learn about Mexico, Mexican civil society and the work of that organization. Described below as well is a potential opportunity for one summer intern to work full time at Casa de los Amigos.
BARRIO ACTIVO, A.C.
Barrio Activo works with marginalized youth in their community center, in schools and in public street events. “Barrio” was founded to offer local youth an alternative to gangs and violence in the home communities of the founders in Colonia La Pastora, a poor section of Mexico City north of the Casa.
Intern activities will vary at Barrio Activo. Volunteers will help with events and activities at the community center, planning and holding public street events (“Caravanas”), helping supervise summer courses with focuses in sports, art, music, civics, and more. Casa-CPGC interns have also led their own workshops on urban dance, sexual health, and learning English. Barrio works with children, teens and young adults. In July, Barrio Activo hosts a one-month summer course. During this time, interns work almost full time with Barrio Activo.
Barrio Activo is a fantastic opportunity for interns interested in working with youth of all ages, who are ready to be active and enthusiastic, and who are interested in getting to know a marginalized community of Mexico City. Barrio Activo interns should be outgoing people who can respond well to changes in plans.
TOCHAN: NUESTRA CASA
Meaning “Our Home” in Nahuatl, Casa Tochan is one of Mexico City’s newest shelters for refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants. The house holds up to 15 people who, through agreements with the Mexico City government and non-profit organizations, can stay for free while they get settled in the city.
Casa de los Amigos has played an integral part in the founding of this house, working with partner organizations Sin Fronteras, Casa Refugiados, and the Comité de Solidaridad y Derechos Humanos Monseñor Romero.
The house is located in the western part of the city (Metro-accessible). Interns will participate in the daily life of Tochan, helping to attend to guests. There will be opportunities to organize activities and participate in the decision-making meetings. This is a great opportunity to someone who is outgoing, flexible, and passionate about the rights of migrants and refugees.
Fondo MARIA (New for 2015!)
Fondo MARIA (Mujeres, Aborto, Reproducción, Información, Acompañamiento) is a program created by Red Balance that provides financial, psychological, and logistical support to women who need abortions. Abortion is legal in Mexico City—however, access to abortion is severely restricted or even illegal in many Mexican states. The first of its kind, Fondo MARIA helps women travel to Mexico City by assuming the costs, including transportation and lodging, and providing information so that all women have access to a safe abortion regardless of economic or social background.
CASA DE LOS AMIGOS, A.C.
Casa de los Amigos has a dynamic and exciting volunteer program in which international volunteers commit between 9 months and a year of working and living in the Casa. There is an opportunity for one Casa-CPGC intern to fully incorporate into the work of our volunteer team.
A CPGC intern will become immersed in all aspects of Casa work and life, gaining an in-depth knowledge within an historic organization. Like full-time volunteers, the intern would divide her time between the Hospitality programs, the Peace Programs, and other Casa projects.
This opportunity is perfect for a student passionate about migration and economic justice or with a deep interest in hospitality and community-living. It is also ideal for an intern considering the possibility of applying to be a full-time Casa volunteer after graduation.
Casa volunteers and interns, like Casa guests and visitors, are a diverse group of people with a variety of skills, experiences and interests. All interns, however, share some specific abilities and qualities required to work and thrive in this environment.
They have a sincere interest in peace and social justice, including issues around migration and economic solidarity, and a commitment to the values contained in the Quaker testimonies. They come here prepared to work hard on social justice issues, and to learn about those issues.
Summer interns must speak fluent or near-fluent Spanish and be at least 18 years old. They must commit to refrain from drinking, smoking and using illegal drugs inside the Casa.
Summer interns genuinely enjoy working with and meeting lots of people. They are sincerely interested in connecting with and participating in the house community. While here, interns’ commitment to the Casa and their partner organization are their first priorities.
Living and working in community in the same, shared place with the same people can be very challenging. Casa volunteers and interns have to be conscientious about the ways that their actions (even the small ones) can have an effect on everyone else in the community. They are willing to work patiently with each other to maintain productive relationships and work out problems and differences.
Interns work independently and in teams. Because much of their work is self-supervised, they are responsible and take initiative to carry out the work of the organization and care for the house as their own. They are flexible and ready to problem-solve new situations every day.
Interns are eager to learn new things, have a sense of humor, enthusiastic, and hopeful.
SOME BENEFITS OF THE SUMMER INTERNSHIP PROGRAM!
Being an intern at the Casa can be demanding, challenging work, and interns, unlike full-time volunteers, have to balance their Casa work with that of another organization. But the work is also deeply rewarding and seriously fun. Few other organizations bring volunteers and interns into direct contact with as many different social actors, organizations, and diverse communities as the Casa de los Amigos. Interns have the opportunity to attend a range of social justice events and activities while representing a half-century old Quaker organization in the Mexican capital. In this work they are exposed to the layout of civil society and social movements in Mexico City and in Mexico. They gain and further develop skills as activists and project organizers. Interns also learn valuable community-living skills. In addition, the Casa strives to create an atmosphere where volunteers and interns are able to practice living in a way in which their actions are consistent with their beliefs. All of this work takes place in a celebratory and supportive community, full of food and fun and conversation, in which, like volunteers, our summer interns fall in love with Mexico City and make lifelong friends.
Summer interns have access to:
1. Kitchen facilities (shared with other volunteers, guests & staff).
2. Use of washing machine.
3. Use of the volunteer and intern work office.
4. Wireless internet and access to a computer.
5. Use of a telephone for local calls.
6. Monthly shared food fund for basic staples (rice, beans, oil, salt, etc).
7. Use of the Casa space and facilities.
8. Free breakfast Monday – Saturday.
For more information or to answer any questions, please write to us at:
Casa de los Amigos, A.C.
Revised Jan 2015