This Internship is What you Make of It

By Phoebe Wraith

It’s crazy to think that I’ve already been in Tena for a month – and that I’ve only been here for a month. My time with Fundación Aliados has been, in a nutshell, varied and free-form. It certainly is what you make of it. I really didn’t have expectations coming in – except, of course, for the humidity, but one can never really prepare themselves for the kind of frizz that comes from being in a climate that is equal parts water vapor and oxygen. I’ve traveled quite a bit, but I’ve never stayed in one place for as long as I’ll be staying in Ecuador (three months). I wasn’t sure how that would play out, but it didn’t take long to start feeling at home in Tena. The people are absolutely lovely and so welcoming. Plus, we have our little intern family which has been one of my favorite parts of the whole experience.

I’m in charge of an array of marketing and design-related projects, from creating maps to mark out the producers with whom we’re partnering to working on website design and doing market research. I appreciate the variety and the autonomy I’ve been given to complete tasks, but it’s a tradeoff because while I know that I have a support system that will help me access the resources I need, it’s on me to figure out to follow through and deliver on the projects for which I take responsibility. It’s been a lot of figuring things out on the fly, but I like to think I’m rising to the occasion.

Now, since I have the air-time, I’ll share one of my favorite experiences thus far working with Aliados. This week we went to the community of 24 de Mayo which is home to Ally Guayusa, one of the biggest projects that we’re working on as an organization. Our job as interns was to go in and do interviews, take pictures and videos, and get a general sense of what the organization is all about in order to put together promotional materials for them. It was such a cool thing to be a part of – we took motorcycles in the rain to different chakras and interviewed the farmers working with Ally Guayusa, hiking in to get footage of them harvesting guayusa leaves and talking about what it means to them for Ally Guayusa to start exporting internationally. 

It honestly felt like I was working for National Geographic or something. And all of the farmers were so professional and fun to work with. They really got into selling the indigenous and authentic feel of the product, laughing as we moved around to find good lighting and even hamming it up a bit for the camera. Later on we were able to get feedback from the Ally Guayusa team on a few things we’ve already done for them – such a great opportunity to be directly partnering with the people and community we’re supporting mostly from afar. This is the kind of thing I came to Ecuador to do.