University of Oregon

Caring for People with Disabilities in Merida

Program Overview

For Mexico's most vulnerable, especially children with disabilities, life remains a challenge. A lack of oversight and funding means many poor children and people with disabilities do not receive adequate care.

The caregiving projects support local organizations that provide disabled young adults and children emotional, educational and social support.

Program Description:

  • Work four (4) to six (6) hours a day in a center for people with disabilities:
    • most are young adults, but there are children as well;
    • young adults mostly come from poor backgrounds and some do not have a family;
    • they depend on the center for therapy and stimulation, as well as for leading lives that are as normal as possible.
  • Interns partake in a range of daily activities which may include:
    • handicrafts
    • reading
    • sports
    • interns may also have the opportunity to lead fun and educational workshops (example topics: culture, history, theater).
  • As needed, interns also help the local staff on activities like feeding, cleaning up, and fundraising for the center.


  • Eager to contribute.
  • Approach experience with a caring, humble, proactive and respectful attitude.
  • Have the emotional intelligence and maturity to relate to people with disabilities.
  • Bring new energy and ideas and provide positive stimulation through different activities.
  • Be flexible, open and able to think on your feet.


  • It is each intern's role to fit in with their project and not the other way around. Being able to adapt, adjust and fit in is challenging, but also what makes an international internship so special.

This internship is self-directed. Participants must be able to work independently and contribute wherever the need arises, even if it means being involved in activities you were not expecting to work in.

This service learning internship opportunity is made possible through a partnership with UBELONG, the world's leading social organization for high-impact volunteering and learning opportunities abroad. UBELONG's mission is to bring people together across borders to share their humanity and take action for positive change.

Internship Details

Students must intern for a minimum of 30 hours per week, for a total of at least 240 hours for an 8-week internship.  This will earn 8 internship credits.

In addition to 8 internship credits, students will enroll in a 1-4 credit Intercultural Communication online course.  This course is designed to provide ongoing support to students who do internships abroad.  Students will observe, explore and investigate the core cultural values in their host country during the service learning internship, conduct comparison in the differences between their host and home country, and develop critical thinking skills and culture learning strategies. Some of the topics discussed in this course include: attitudes toward time, space, age, gender and authority, different views on self/others, conflict styles and culture shock. 

A weekly assignment for the online course includes: reading assignments, group discussions and/or a weekly journal.  The number of enrolled credits will determine the course workload.  It will begin one week before your internship begins and end one week after completion.

Eligible applicants will be considered automatically for a Global Oregon Internship Fellowship of up to $1,000 in funding.

Housing Description

The Intern House is part of a lively hostel located in the city center near cafes, shops and grocery stores. Staff is available 24/7 at the house to assist interns with any needs. Interns generally share a room with one to three other interns.

Additional Requirements

Prior to arrival, participants must provide a police background check.

Dates and Deadlines

TermYearDeadlineArrival DateDeparture Date

Priority Discounts

If your program has a Priority Deadline, complete all pre-decision application materials by this date to receive a $100 credit toward your program fee. Please note, students participating in multiple summer programs are only eligible to receive the $100 credit once.

Note: this $100 discount does not apply to priority deadlines for SIT programs.

Course Equivalencies

Actual credit awarded is determined by the relevant department at your university in consultation with the study abroad office. Check with your study abroad advisor for more information.

UO students, please refer to the UO Course Equivalency Process and the UO Office of the Registrar Course Equivalency Database.