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Students spend eight weeks* in-country, starting with a 3-day orientation in or near Quito before heading to their host/partner community for seven weeks. During the community stay, interns work 30 hours per week, which can be done during 4 or 5-day workweeks, depending on their project. The other days are flex time when students can relax, work on personal projects, or travel independently. During the community stay, students will also have one program excursion that includes a four-day stay outside of the host/partner community.

Students live in homestays and can become involved in various community activities. They work in interdisciplinary groups with other student-interns to maximize the reach and impact of our projects. In addition to professional experience, interns learn knowledge and skills in community organizing, intercultural communication, and conflict transformation. Each year, community projects work on different issues, but our themes tend to focus on education, Indigenous/epistemic justice, women’s empowerment, environmental justice, food security, social entrepreneurship, leadership, and community development. 


Mushullakta is a small Indigenous community of the Kichwa peoples located in the upper Amazon of the Napo province. The entrance to the community is on the road between the cities of Archidona and Coca, approximately four hours from Quito. Twenty families live in and around the center of the community while another 40 families live spread out in the forest, often accessible only by hours of walking.

Interns will live and work in the center of the community where there is a small elementary school.


Older children and youth must look outside of the community for middle and high school options. Some choose to go to Papanko, the community up the road, for secondary school, but the quality of education is very poor and transportation to and from the school is unreliable.


Most families send their children to the cities of Archidona or Tena where they stay Monday to Friday for classes and return home to Mushullakta on the weekends. Once students leave Mushullakta for high school, the move often becomes permanent, meaning very few young people choose to come back to Mushullakta after graduating.


Because of this situation, Mushullakta founded the Forest School in partnership with Humans for Abundance, an ecosystem restoration program that recently merged with Pachaysana. The school has created its own multilingual curriculum that is based on ancestral knowledge, conservation practices and sustainable living. It combines homeschooling with virtual instruction with most classes taught in the native language, Kichwa.


All internships for Summer 2024 will relate to the development of the Forest School.

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Applicants should know that...

  • Mushullakta is an isolated and rustic community.

  • Students can travel by bus to the nearby cities of Archidona and Tena in approximately 2.5 to 3 hours.

  • There is a health clinic about 30 minutes away in case it is needed.

  • While the community has running water, electricity, and internet, living conditions are basic.

  • The wood-plank homes are simple, yet comfortable. Each intern has their own bedroom and shares the family bathroom.

  • Breakfast and dinner are provided in the host families and lunches are enjoyed together with other members of the community in the communal dining area.

  • The community can accommodate most diets, including vegetarianism, veganism, gluten-free, dairy-free and others.

  • The center of town is small, and all host family homes are within a few minutes of walking distance from the others, meaning that all interns will be able to easily meet up with others.

  • Each intern is responsible for hand-washing their own clothes.   

Language Requirements:


The native language of Mushullakta is Kichwa, but most inhabitants also speak Spanish, and we recommend that interns come with an intermediate level of Spanish. For students with primary levels, we ask that they inquire before applying, as we may have certain projects for primary level speakers.


Guidance & accompaniment:


Pachaysana provides regular guidance and accompaniment throughout the program. It begins with two to three virtual pre-departure orientation sessions done via Zoom. Upon arrival in Ecuador, Pachaysana leads an on-site orientation that covers important sessions on health, safety, interculturality, community/host family life, and more.


Throughout the community-based component of the internship in Mushullakta, Pachaysana will have a staff member on site to provide guidance and assist in the case of an emergency.


Pachaysana will also pick up students on their arrival day, lead the scheduled program excursion in the middle of the internship period, and assure that students arrive safely to the airport on their last day. 

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No visas are required for citizens of most countries; however, for non-U.S. citizens, please contact us to see if you will need a visa to intern in Ecuador.



Students accepted into the program will choose between three primary areas of focus for their internships. We ask each applicant to select a primary area of focus and a secondary. Interns will likely spend 60 to 80% of their time on the primary area and 20 to 40% on the secondary area.

Alternative Education:

Interns in this area will work with the students and parent-teachers of the Forest School. The work includes co-designing/co-facilitating non-formal and formal education activities for the school’s summer programming, assisting with the design and organization of the upcoming school year’s planning, assisting with improvements to the school’s physical spaces, and assisting parent-teachers with food preparation for the school children. Non-formal and formal education activities will be designed according to intern’s areas of interest and experience and may include English teaching, math or Spanish tutoring, art, theatre, dance, craft-making, carpentry, cooking, team-building games, physical education, among others. ​

Reforestation and Regenerative Agriculture:

Interns in this area will work with the community’s ecosystem restoration group on planting trees, collecting seeds, upkeeping the nursery, tending community gardens, assisting with family farms, raising small animals like chickens, soil preparation, composting, harvesting crops such as organic fruits and coffee, among other tasks. It may also include tasks in entrepreneurial activities like assisting the group in developing their agricultural products for sale outside of the community. Part of our work will be documenting the reforestation and sustainable agriculture projects for their impact on environmental justice.

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Interns in this area will work with the Forest School and the ecosystem restoration group to collect and tell community stories. The stories will take on different forms, but mostly in digital form so that the community can use them to promote and raise awareness/funds for their ongoing projects. Students will be asked to study Storytelling for Social Change theory and methods and bring them to their work, Storytelling techniques will likely include photo journaling, short documentary videos, short creative videos, among others.


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Pachaysana interns are students from all walks of life and all academic disciplines.


They are people who are looking for more than professional experience and a resume-builder. Rather, they believe in the power of community, they want to contribute to sustainable social change, and they want to challenge their own preconceived notions of what social justice means.

The program strives to provide experiences that contribute to a decolonizing movement in which interns and local community members unlearn the systemic injustices that dominate our development and education systems.


The program is not easy, but if when you read this, you feel inspired and can hear a song of hope, then we encourage you to apply.  

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Total Cost:  $6,795

Cost Breakdown

$4,095 - Internship program fees. Includes full room/board (3 meals per day), program orientation, all official program travel, one program excursion, basic project materials, and Pachaysana guidance/accompaniment.  

$2,700 - Direct community investment into Mushullakta’s community-based projects.

Why a direct community investment?

We understand that the price tag for our internship program can be high for many prospective applicants; however, Pachaysana must take the necessary steps to assure that we are not involved in voluntourism or outside-in development practices. When internships include direct financial investment into community projects, we go further in protecting the interests of our community partners. In other words, the funds support the work that interns are involved in. 


We encourage students to seek funding in and outside of their colleges/universities. Many higher education institutions have available funds to assist students with the costs. In addition to grants and scholarships available through study abroad/away or international programs offices, you may find funds through community engagement offices, centers that focus on Indigenous Education, Peace and Social Justice, Development Studies, and others, or via university-sponsored research programs (we can help you frame your work as Participatory Action Research).


Outside of the university, some students have found money via organizations/institutions in their local communities, such as churches or goodwill organizations like Rotary.

Not Included Fees:

International Airfare, Health/Medical Insurance, personal expenses, any costs associated with personal travel outside of the community, cell phone/data fees.


Due Date: March 1, 2024

While you can apply up to March 1, we recommend getting your applications in as early as possible, preferably by Jan 15.

Application Process:

 We hope to make this application as simple as possible. There are three steps you need to complete:

  1. Fill out the linked Word Doc and email it to us at with the other required documentation (see inside the application)

  2. Write a brief statement or make a short video that shares why you want to participate in the program.

  3. Participate in an online interview two to three weeks after submitting your application

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