We love questions and are always happy to provide the answers. Here are the questions most people have before signing up:
Do I need to speak Spanish? Absolutely not. You will be immersed in the language and develop your proficiency while you are in-country. Depending upon the program, you will carry different numbers of Spanish class hours. Knowing Spanish up front is not a prerequisite for success by any means. Social Impact teams are strategically organized to leverage the language skills of more Spanish-proficient interns. Additionally, your team will be accompanied throughout your work activities by bilingual SEC staff who will support the translation needs of the group.
What are the prerequisites for program applicants? Below we have provided guidelines for general applicant qualifications. In addition to this information, please visit the specific program page that you are interested in to learn more about the suggested applicant qualifications for that program.
For all program participants a history of achievement is important. As well, given the nature of the program, an applicant’s personal qualities play a large role in determining whether or not he/she is accepted.
Participants will be living and working in challenging environments and as such the “intangibles” are fundamental to participant success.
Participants in all Social Entrepreneur Corps programs should:
Recognize that they are going to have a profound impact but are not going to “change the world in a day”
Possess a positive outlook on the prospects for assisting local people to solve local problems
Be hard-working, open-minded, open-hearted, collaborative and teamwork-oriented individuals
Be individuals who take initiative and are resourceful self-starters
Take their work and responsibilities very seriously but not take themselves too seriously
Be very desirous of learning about development, relief and social entrepreneurship
Be willing and able to live for a time in a challenging developing country environment
Be willing and desirous of “getting your hands dirty”
What’s covered in country? In short, everything is covered except for the cost of your flight. Our team will meet you at the airport when you arrive in-country and take care of all of the costs along the way. Optionally, you can bring a little bit of money to spend on souvenirs and treats. However, all you need to bring is an open mind, open heart and a sense of adventure and passion.
Can impact really be achieved in a short time? Yes. You will work with a local team who understands needs and priorities. You will help design social innovations and work on short-term consulting projects leaving frameworks for success for local leaders. The SEC team has deep, award-winning experience and expertise in this work and has been working in Latin America for over 15 years. See our 2018 Impact Report here and our partner organizations we consult with here.
What types of projects will I be working on? You’ll have a chance to work on several projects as you immerse yourself in local communities:
A social innovation project where you'll gauge and prototype the implementation of a social innovation technology (water filter, vision technology, energy solution, etc.) or a new model (youth empowerment program, environmental solution, education program).
An organizational consulting project where you'll provide strategic & tactical advice to a local organization, education/health organization and/or local social enterprise and consult on everything from marketing to performance evaluation to program design.
Do you have a partnership with my university? We have partnerships with several universities across the United States. Consult this page to see if your university is already connected with us. Remember though - you can participate in SEC regardless of if we are directly linked with your school!
Can you tell me a bit about safety and security? Social Entrepreneur Corps places the highest priority on health and security issues. To date, Social Entrepreneur Corps has been fortunate in that no participants have suffered from any notable health or security problems. Social Entrepreneur Corps maintains leadership in the field with participants to oversee security and health issues continuously. These leaders live and work in the communities in which we run programs and as such have deep knowledge regarding their regions. Additionally, all participants are equipped with a cell phone upon arrival in country, check in with the proper authorities and are provided with the training and information necessary to appropriately minimize health and security risks. Leadership is available on a 24 hour basis and has a full database of health facilities, police stations and other emergency contacts. Social Entrepreneur Corps also maintains strong relationships with the Peace Corps and can leverage their network should the situation require it.
What will my accommodations be like? Participants stay in two different types of accommodations: home stays with local families and hotels/hostels. All homestay families have previous experience with foreigners and have been trained and certified by Social Entrepreneur Corps. All hotels/hostels are secure and in safe areas.
How do you select the home stay families? Home stay families are selected through a network of trust in the communities where we work. All homestay families complete a thorough training led by Social Entrepreneur Corps. As such, these families understand the needs of the participants and specific expectations of Social Entrepreneur Corps for hosting our interns. The homestay is an essential step in helping participants gain an understanding of how local people live and work. It is also an invaluable way to improve on classroom Spanish. The vast majority of Social Entrepreneur Corps participants end up forming great friendships during this process.
The basic criteria for Social Entrepreneur Corps homestay certification are as follows:
The house is maintained in a clean and orderly state.
There is a private room for the participant with the minimum of a bed, a dresser, and a light, flooring, a window, and a lock on the door.
There must be a bathroom with a door.
The house has a sturdy door to the outside with a lock.
The family creates a kind, safe, and welcoming, and supportive living environment.
The family agrees to provide three meals a day, a constant supply of bottled or filtered, safe drinking water, and the participant should be offered to have their laundry done weekly.
The host mother completes training on safe food handling and preparation, water sanitation and keeping clean and healthy homes. Furthermore, they learn how to provide language, emotional and cultural support for participants. This training consists of the following key elements:
Emergency Plan and 24-Hour Communication Chain – Who to call and what to do in an emergency.
Expectations and standards of hygiene and security of the house, and in particular, the room where the participant is living (i.e. each student’s room needs to have its own door with functioning lock and key).
Specific best practices for keeping a participant healthy and safe (i.e. food preparation and curfew).
Suggestions to help bridge the communication gap and language barrier.
A formal contract in which families agree to provide the participant with the services required. All families must undergo continuous training on an annual basis and receive positive participant/leadership evaluations as a requirement for renewing the contract.
The family understands the importance of disinfecting fruits and vegetables and preparing food hygienically.
The family understands the responsibilities and challenges that come with hosting a foreigner, and is willing, capable, and excited to do so.
Will I get sick from eating the food or drinking the water? The water that flows out of faucets is generally not safe to drink. Purified water is readily accessible. Participants have to be careful when choosing restaurants, but upon arrival all participants take part in an orientation session explaining all of the do's and don’ts of eating and drinking while in country.
What clothes and other personal belongings should I bring with me? Once a candidate has confirmed their participation in any one of the programs he/she will receive a packet that includes reading materials as well as a list of recommended items to pack.
Do I need to bring a phone? No. We provide participants with a local phone. You can use this to call locally or call internationally and calls are fairly inexpensive. There are no charges for incoming calls so we would encourage your parents and others who may want to contact you to buy a few phone cards. Additionally or alternatively, while you may not have continuous access to Internet, it is generally ubiquitous and cheap so you will be able to use it as a means of communication as well.
Do I need to bring a computer? Computers will be necessary for a significant portion of your project work in-country. If you choose to bring a personal computer, you assume responsibility for its security. If you choose not to bring a computer, you will be able to collaborate with other members of your Social Impact team that have them to meet the needs of your project.
Can I visit other locations while I am in the country? Options and permissions to travel on your free days vary depending based upon country, field site and program. More information will be provided after your participation is confirmed.
How will participants travel while in country? While traveling from site to site, participants travel in private shuttle buses or secure local transportation. While working in a site, participants use public transportation, which generally consists of buses and taxis. Participants will be required to walk while participating in certain field activities and will have the opportunity to hike while on days off. If you are concerned about the amount of walking to be included (if you suffer from asthma for example), please contact us.
What visas are required? There are no visas required for U.S. passport holders. Upon passing through customs, participants will get a stamp in their passport which is valid for a 90-day stay. After 90 days the person must renew their visa in the capital or leave the country and re-enter. If you are not a U.S. passport holder, please consult with the local embassy of your destination country or contact Social Entrepreneur Corps.
Do I need travel health insurance? We do require that you have travel health insurance. Please purchase this before leaving. There are many plans and they are very inexpensive. Here is one option that we use. You can find many other companies and plans through a simple internet search.
What vaccinations are necessary? There are no vaccinations required by Social Entrepreneur Corps unless otherwise stated in pre-departure communication by SEC staff. However, we recommend visiting your doctor with ample time before departure to determine if any vaccinations or medications are recommended as each individual has a different medical and vaccination history.
What will happen if I get sick during my program? Given the change in environment, minor illness is common for program participants and typically consists of an upset stomach and mild traveler’s diarrhea. These illnesses are easily treatable. All Social Entrepreneur Corps staff members are trained in what steps to take if someone falls ill or has an emergency. We have identified a trusted medical center in each program site. The appropriate steps will be taken to ensure that any participants that fall sick will be well cared for.
Can Social Entrepreneur Corps accommodate special needs? All special needs should be communicated to staff before arrival so that in-country staff can address them appropriately. If you would like to consult on your specific needs before applying, please contact us.
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