The Kalu Yala Blog
September 18, 2012by Kate Stewart
Posted In: Our Global Community
My name is Kate Stice Stewart and I’m the president of Kalu Yala Internships.
I studied abroad in Switzerland in 2006, graduated college in 2008, traveled the world for six months on my own, did a three-month internship and got a great job. Almost 2 years later I realized that job wasn’t going anywhere so I quit in time to attend the inaugural Summer 2010 Kalu Yala Internship as an intern. Arriving home, I got another “great” job that had me in a cubicle for 8 hours a day. During this time I married a wonderful man, got cozy in our own home and adopted a dog. But something was still missing- and I was reading about it online every day at www.kaluyala.com (not kidding- look at the comments and I account for about 75% of them!)
This past July, I came down to visit my brother, Jimmy, who is the CEO of the Kalu Yala land development company. On Day 2 of my eight day trip, we headed out to the Valley for what was supposed to be one night. The next morning, when Jimmy had to pack up and leave for the city, I told him just to leave me and I’d find my own way to the airport. Kalu Yala, though nothing more than a few open-air structures, and the Summer 2012 Interns were just that incredible.
That trip confirmed what I knew I’d been missing in my life. Â Leaving my husband and dog back in Atlanta (they will come visit!), I’ve joined the Kalu Yala team for one reason- it is the best place in the world to live and work.
I sincerely believe this with all my heart and head. Kalu Yala is the one place where anyone with a dream can try to chase it. We give students the opportunity to create their own projects- based around their interests and the community’s potential needs- and see it through to fruition. We have awesome, young directors who are more zealous about life and their subjects than any professor I had in school. We sincerely believe in get-your-hands-dirty trial-and-error learning. We don’t own a copy machine. We fetch our own coffee.
Personally, I had a three-month internship with a small PR firm- and you know what I did for 3 months? Data entry and data clean-up. Day in and day out. That is something NO Kalu Yala Intern will ever have the displeasure of saying. Our interns DO SOMETHING, and it’s based around WHAT THEY LOVE.
I realize that the line between the Kalu Yala land development company and the internship company may look a bit hazy. This is no surprise, since in just two years the internship company has sprouted into something of its own- literally.
I want to take a minute to explain what Kalu Yala Internships is- and what we see as our purpose.
1) Why do we exist?
Kalu Yala Internships exist to create a community before the Kalu Yala community. The culture that is forming now will be the lasting legacy directly affecting the place Kalu Yala will be.
Kalu Yala Internships was assembled by the Kalu Yala land development company to bring students and young professionals from around the world to Panama. The internship branch is financially self perpetuated, ergo; the interns are required to pay for the program in order to participate.Â Duties of the intern vary from intern to intern based on their semester project that they determine with the aid of their Director. It can range from creating business proposals, to working with the local community, to mapping trails, to developing a farming system and beyond, all dependent on the intern’s interests.
As a whole, Kalu Yala is still operating in its beginning stages. The land development company was established in 2008; however, the internship branch began in Summer 2010 and has only been operating in the future home of Kalu Yala since Summer 2011. Kalu Yala Internships is its own company, operating closely yet independently from the land development company.
2) What do we do?
Kalu Yala Internships brings students and young professionals to Panama to participate in or design a semester project that could eventually impact the town of Kalu Yala. We are creating the community before the community, a culture that will last forever.
3) How do we behave?
Kalu Yalans are (1) passionate (2) positive (3) dedicated.
Because Kalu Yalans are passionate about what theyâre doing they are positive and dedicated to accomplishing their program and personal goals. (Kalu Yalans are not negative, arrogant buzzkills.)
I hope that this simple explanation gives you a better picture of what we’re here to do– Â the internship company is here to focus on YOU and give YOU the opportunity to make an impact on the future community. This place means so much to me- and so many others who have come through the internship program. It’s truly the most unique program of its kind and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
If you have any questions, feel free to send them my way: firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you
Regards from Panama,