If you haven’t yet, please go to our new website: www.kaluyalastudyabroad.com.
On with the story::::
My name is Kate Stice Stewart and I’m the president of Kalu Yala Independent Study Abroad and Entrepreneurial 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 student. 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 (Look at the comments and you’ll see 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 Kalu Yala 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 students were just that incredible.
That trip confirmed what I knew I’d been missing in my life. People who were passionate about their JOB. People who wanted to DO SOMETHING they LOVE throughout every waking moment. They knew they didn’t want a job that they had to “get through” until the weekend. They wanted to wake up and do something that they cared about. And most of the time, that they created from scratch for themselves.
These were people who knew they didn’t know everything. People who cared to learn about what they didn’t know, and were happy to listen to other people explain it. People who admitted to mistakes, swam in rivers, moved mountains with conversations, and understood that no one “in charge” had all the answers either… And didn’t expect them to.
Leaving my husband and dog back in Atlanta (they will come visit!), I’ve joined the Kalu Yala family for one reason- it is the best place in the world to live and work because I can chase MY dreams with others who are chasing THEIR dreams. Every single day!
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 student here will ever have the displeasure of saying. Our students DO SOMETHING, and it’s based around WHAT THEY LOVE.
I realize that the line between the Kalu Yala land development company and Kalu Yala Independent Study Abroad and Entrepreneurial Internships company may look a bit hazy. This is no surprise, since in just two years the student company has sprouted into something of its own- literally.
I want to take a minute to explain what Kalu Yala Independent Study Abroad and Entrepreneurial Internships is- and what we see as our purpose.
1) Why do we exist?
Kalu Yala Independent Study Abroad and Entrepreneurial 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 Independent Study Abroad and Entrepreneurial Internships was assembled by the Kalu Yala land development company to bring students and young professionals from around the world to Panama. Kalu Yala Independent Study Abroad and Entrepreneurial Internships is financially self perpetuated, ergo; the students are required to pay for the program in order to participate. This tuition covers the costs Kalu Yala Independent Study Abroad and Entrepreneurial Internships from housing and Meal Plan to Director salaries and vehicles. Duties of the student vary from student to student 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 student’s interests.
As a whole, the town of Kalu Yala is still operating in its beginning stages- nothing has been built yet. The land development company was established in 2008; however, the student branch began in Summer 2010 and has only been operating in the future home of Kalu Yala since Summer 2011. Kalu Yala Independent Study Abroad and Entrepreneurial Internships is its own company, operating closely yet independently from the land development company.
2) What do we do?
Kalu Yala Independent Study Abroad and Entrepreneurial 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) actively pursuing. (AKA the 3 P’s of Panama)
Kalu Yalans are passionate about what they’re doing so they are positive and actively pursuing their goals.
I hope that this simple explanation gives you a better picture of what we’re here to do– Kalu Yala Independent Study Abroad and Entrepreneurial Internships 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 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: [email protected]. I’d love to hear from you 🙂
Regards from Panama,
Please visit www.kaluyalastudyabroad.com for more information.