Summer Interns

The Top Twelve Highlights from Intern Session 2

Summer Interns, what was your favorite moment from the first two weeks of your internship? 

1. Dinner at the Ney’s: Mackenzie, 20, University of Michigan

Dinner at the Ney’s house in Cedro Galan. Martha Ney is an incredible cook and it was fun bonding with all of the interns as well as the Ney siblings. After dinner, we walked home in the pouring rain and laughed the entire way. It felt amazing to be cooled off after a long, hot day. It is always great to spend time in the community.

2. Gym Class: Haley, 19, Washington College

Gym class is my absolute favorite. As a kid, gym was always my favorite part of the day. Being able to play games with the kids and watch them enjoy the class brings a smile to my face. After the first few classes, the kids started to remember my name and run up to me to say “Hi” at the beginning of class. The connection that I’ve made with the children in gym has driven my excitement for all of the programs and the next two weeks.


3. The First Day of Generation Class: Anaisy, 25, University of South Florida

The best part of my first two weeks in Nicaragua started on the very first day of my internship. The Generation class (a weekly class for students interested in medicine) was going over neurological disorders and how they related to their community. A fellow intern and I got to demonstrate the cranial nerves exam to the class and had the students practice each step in pairs. The students had so much energy and excitement to learn, which made it so much fun to work with them. Having this awesome experience so early on definitely set the tone for the remainder of our month in Nicaragua!

4. Generation Class, Part 2: Nicole, 22, University of South Florida

Teaching the kids in Generation class, especially in our last session on cardiac disease. As a medical student, I loved being able to educate and advise the younger students who want to become involved in the healthcare field. This session was particularly fun, as we got to teach practical cardiac exam skills to the class. We played the song Stayin’ Alive and got the entire class dancing while practicing chest compressions. It was amazing to see all of the students so excited and invested in what we were teaching.


5. Villa Guadalupe: Amalia, 22, Beloit College

Walking around Villa Guadalupe with the Program Directors as my guides. The PDs were able to educate me on the history of the community and introduce me to some of the residents. Being able to discuss the social, economic, and political issues that this disenfranchised community faces helped me to better understand Nicaragua and the goals of Manna Project.


6. Meeting with the Boss: Dalia, 29, University of South Florida

My first week went by like a whirlwind. I can say that, after the first day, I knew that Manna Project International was exactly the type of NGO I wanted to intern for. The amount of support Manna Project provides for individuals’ research is incredible. I came to Manna to pursue research in Intimate Partner Violence in rural communities with hopes to start a domestic violence prevention program. After meeting with the Country Director during the first week, without hesitation, she showed me her full support in my project; for that, I am very grateful!

7. OOBLECK!: Maeson, 21, Texas Christian University

One of my favorite memories was of making Oobleck in Camp JAM. This particular day in the program, we read Dr. Seuss’ Bartholomew and the Oobleck and surprised the kids by actually making the magical, liquid-solid substance from the story. The look on each of the kids’ faces as they felt the gooey Oobleck was priceless and it was the most laughs that I have shared with the kids thus far. Making Oobleck was a memorable activity from my own childhood so it was really special sharing the same experience with the kids here.


8. Little Moments in the Community: Maggie, 20, Loyola University Chicago

One of the highlights was talking with two English students between levels 1 and 4. We laughed about my fear of giant beetles and the grilled corn cob that one of the students had in her bag.  They also shared with me how a nacatamal, a traditional Nicaraguan dish, is made.  It was fun to hear them practice their English as well as help me with my Spanish.  One of my favorite things about Manna Project is the emphasis that they place on incredibly strong community relationships; moments such as that one really demonstrates the value of the relationships.


9. The Trip to Esteli: Rae, 20, Furman University

Nicaragua has been an interesting place to volunteer abroad, but thus far my favorite moment of these two weeks has been travelling to Esteli and Somoto Canyon for hikes and swims in the rapids. At first, I was not interested in going to Somoto Canyon because I don’t necessarily enjoy hiking, jumping off rocks, or swimming in rapids. The journey there sort of made me question the worth of the trip; having almost left some of the group at the bus station and riding in the back of a pickup truck to the site. Even though it was probably the most risky thing I have done, it was also the most exhilarating.


10. Homestay with Lorena: Savannah, 22, Belmont University

It was hard for me to choose a favorite moment from the past two weeks, but I finally settled on my homestay with a woman in our Cedro Galan community named Lorena. From the moment we arrived in Nicaragua, Lorena has been a comforting and kind presence. Last week I spent the night at her house with Rae and we had a wonderful time talking about different aspects of Nicaragua and getting to know her daily life. It was truly an eye-opening experience.

11. The Dust Monsters: Patrick, 21, University of South Florida

As redundant as this might sound, it is difficult for me to pick my single favorite moment that really stuck during these first two weeks. I will have to go with my two best friends, the dust monsters. These little tykes join us for Camp JAM and come visit during morning clinic hours when I work. Since they are dirty every time that I see them (hence the name) I assume that even when we are not spending time together, they continue their exploits in having adventures. Playing with them is fun and easy and their camaraderie towards each other is exemplary. Always putting a smile on my face, some of my fondest moments in Nica so far have been with the fun-loving, good-time-having, dirty-shirted dust monsters.


12. Home is Where You’re Welcomed: Lucas, 23, University of Wisconsin

During my first English 5 class, one conversation served as a reminder of the kindness, empathy, and generosity of the people I have met in Nicaragua. One student asked me about my home in the States. We spoke about my hobbies, favorite restaurants, friends, and family; then I asked him about his family, passions, job, and home here in Nicaragua. He explained that he was thrilled to have me in Nicaragua and that I am always welcome in his home. I have come to realize and appreciate that, despite our differences, Nicaragua and the people I have met will always be considered a second home; everyone in the community genuinely cares about one another’s well being and passions.


The Internship: Part 1

Last week at MPI Nicaragua, 12 interns arrived at the Manna House—eager, excited, sweaty, and slightly nervous to see what the future would hold. Would their Spanish be sufficient to ensure survival? Would their digestive systems be a match for endless days of gallo pinto? Our fearless hosts, Mike and Heidi, presented our interns with a challenge: to dive into three or four programs in which they could fully immerse themselves to make the most seismic impact during their short stint on site.

The festivities began with the interns adjusting to their new surroundings with the help of "Cards Against Humanity," a fierce cookoff of Nicaraguan traditional cuisine, and Mike and Heidi’s infamous “quiz” (a.k.a scavenger hunt). Interns Kyle and Zach stealthily attempted to elicit answers from reluctant PDs while others delved into Nicaraguan geography and history to complete the quiz (for future reference—the map lies: there are only 19 volcanoes, as opposed to the popular answer of 40).

Meanwhile, the interns checked out each of the 14 programs centered around holistic community development. We each grew increasingly interested about the jewelry cooperative, the clinic, and Child Sponsorship—we couldn’t help but wonder: would program selections prove to be a major point of contention during the official intern program assignment ceremony on Friday?

In the midst of the weekly programs, the interns found themselves bonding with community members in Cedro Galan and laying the foundations for potential future homestays. Nevertheless, the decision ceremony approached, and curiosity loomed as everyone anxiously anticipated the selection process.

In the end, decisions were made somewhat painlessly, as each intern accepted their new responsibilities with excitement followed by a long-awaited celebration at Pops Ice Cream store (10 out of 10 recommend). Ultimately, Week 1 proved to be a success. The now well-acquainted interns headed off to a relaxing weekend getaway in Granada and Laguna de Apoyo (see Zach’s sunburn for details).

The beautiful sunset from Granada.

The beautiful sunset from Granada.

What will this next week hold as interns assimilate to their new programs and responsibilities? Stay tuned to The Internship to find out.


Meet the Interns!

Claire Butler a.k.a. “Chicky” — 19, University of Michigan

  • Loves chicken and impersonating Mike
  • Has yet to become sick of rice






Rachel Scoratow — 21, University of Richmond

  • Hip hop junkie
  • Tinder fanatic
  • Chronic ankle-sprainer







Kyle Witt — 20, Vanderbilt University

  • Robert Pattinson look-alike
  • Known to be 52% introverted






Amrit Bhinder — 24, UPenn alumni and future digital strategist

  • Drake aficionado
  • Deathly afraid of spiders
  • Came to become “rugged”






Zach Ripberger — 18, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

  • Local celeb due to striking blond hair
  • Forgot sunscreen (has a sunburn the shape of Arkansas on his back)
  • Resident interpretive dancer







Mackenzie Battle — 20, University of Michigan

  • Knows the words to every song
  • Enjoys treading water
  • Can fit 20 grapes in mouth at one time







Esther — 23, USF alumni

  • Has worked every job imaginable
  • Talent: provides humorous side commentary

Savannah Weeks — 22, Belmont University alumni

  • Sings like an angel
  • Loves Beyonce

Maggie Thompson — 20, Loyola University Chicago

  • Runs marathons for fun
  • Can faint on command
  • Knows all the words to “American Pie”






Amanda – Occupational Therapy Student at GVSU

  • Ex-gymnast
  • Salsa dancing enthusiast





Elhaam –23, University of South Florida Medical Student

  • Resident med student and fashionista
  • Contour/makeup specialist









Allie Love — 20, Vanderbilt University

  • Friends with someone in every state except Montana
  • Killed a fly and then felt bad
  • Peaked in middle school when was featured on Dancing with the Stars