La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua

 La Mariposa Spanish School in Nicaragua

  • Per person per week (7 nights):       $80

  • Price includes:
    • Homestay with a local family
    • 3 meals per day
    • Organized and supported Internship

Intern Position

  • At any one time, the Mariposa can place up to 4 interns. The work is essentially based at the Mariposa but with a great deal of outreach work in the communities of La Concha and San Juan. The work of each intern has three main components - project development, volunteer and homestay support and management and helping with the marketing of the Mariposa to the general public and to its particular clientele. This involves mostly helping to keep the blog, facebook etc up to date and contributing to the website as and when necessary.

  • The Mariposa works with a very varied range of different projects in the community - we do not set out to impose our ideas of what might help, but rather follow up requests for help from the community itself as and when we have available resources. Each intern is expected to take an interest in a particular project area (it is not possible to work with them all though on arriving at the Mariposa each intern will be able to familiarize her/himself with all of the projects). We currently have 4 main areas of project work - work with schools and children, the sports projects, the organic farm and garden projects and new project areas -for example we would like to expand into working alongside Los Pipitos which is an organization working with disabled children and young people and to expand our work in the area of arts and crafts. Animal care is a further area of possible development. Project development entails - liaising with all of the involved people, suggesting ideas for the future, supporting current work etc. It also requires trying to find donations, both material and in cash.

  • Volunteer support begins usually with emailing potential volunteers. We use a simple form to ascertain their interests, level of Spanish etc and then suggest possible placement with one of our projects. Each volunteer has to be allocated a specific worker to work alongside. The intern is then responsible for introducing the volunteer to the placement and their allocated worker and then checking periodically that all is going well. Occasionally some trouble shooting needs to be done! Interns are also responsible for identifying new homestay families when necessary and supporting existing ones. This work is mostly in English.

  • Sometimes you may also be asked to help out with showing new students around the Mariposa or guiding some of the afternoon/day trips. And, if you feel confident enough, to contribute to our weekly discussion sessions.

  • The Mariposa also requires an intern to help with hotel management. This would include some staff management (though interns are not expected to undertake conflict resolution!), some basic budgeting, assisting with bringing in supplies etc. As we are an eco hotel, the responsibilities of the intern will also cover ensuring that we are acting in as eco-friendly a way as possible, developing more eco-friendly schemes and implementing them. Very important is communication with both staff and guests about the importance of each individuals actions e.g. in respect of water conservation - this would involve both informal communication and designing and delivering training sessions.

  • What the intern gets out of his/her placement obviously depends to some extent on the placement - but it depends even more on how open you are to learning. Your Spanish will undoubtedly improve; you can learn a great deal about working and living in a "Third World" situation. As well as learning about project management you can also learn about development issues generally (some previous interns have opted to do their own pieces of research whilst here). The hotel management role offers not only the basic experience but an opportunity to learn about really putting principles of management of eco-tourism into practice.

  • For newcomers to Nicaragua we recommend starting your time here with a week or two joining in with the Mariposa programme of afternoon and weekend activities in order to familiarize yourself with Nicaragua, its history and culture and with the immediate surroundings of La Concha.

  • In keeping with the Mariposa principle of maximizing local employment opportunities, we do not use interns to replace local workers. All of the workers at the Mariposa (except for Paulette and the interns) are local people.

  • Interns live in homestays with local families (all known to the Mariposa).

  • Weekly de-briefing sessions are held within the Mariposa, in English, so you can share the problems and the upside of your placement, reflecting on learning aspects. You work alongside Paulette and so consultation is nearly always available. You are also expected to work in a team with the other interns.

  • Office accommodation is not standard - we have a space on the terrace where interns can work on their computer - the surroundings are stunning if a little noisy at times.

  • We need a minimum commitment of 6 months.

What we ask from you:
  • Above all, an ability to reflect on how things work - or don't work - here in Nicaragua (the second poorest country in the Western hemisphere) and why that might be the case. At times this demands a degree of self reflection as well as the easier task of observing and judging Nicaraguans! Some demonstrable understanding of development issues is very important.

  • Good health is essential and an attitude that goes with the flow is invaluable.

  • An understanding that although we try and ensure that your internship runs as smoothly as possible - from both your point of view and ours - we cannot offer guarantees. Plans often have to be changed in Nicaragua for all kinds of reasons. Please note we reserve the right to terminate an internship and we understand that if the Mariposa is not at all to your liking, you may wish to leave early. In general though it takes about a month to feel familiar with the Mariposa and its work so an internship of less than 6 months is not recommended.

  • An intermediate level of Spanish is essential. If you need to brush up you can pay for classes at the beginning of your internship (this works out at a total of $40 per week for 20 hours of classes). The Mariposa is an excellent Spanish school and we can orient your classes to the needs of your internship.

  • All internships require that you have your own internationally valid insurance covering illness, accident, theft, etc and have a liability disclaimer.

  • We pay expenses for travel etc in connection with your work.

  • Please send us one character reference if you want to work with the projects with small children.

  • You need to bring your own laptop if possible and basic computer skills are essential.

  • For more detailed information, write to Paulette at

Testimonial - Alex McPhee

After completing a B.A. in development studies from McGill University in Canada, I began pursuing opportunities to attain professional experience. The search brought me to La Mariposa, where I embarked on an internship for 6 months in June 2010. The breadth of experience I would hope to gain is what appealed to me the most about La Mariposa, and in the end the internship lived up to this expectation. I worked alongside other interns on variety of community projects, but excelled and enjoyed the most managing the educational projects the school supports. In additional, I contributed significantly to La Mariposa`s communications, allowing me to attain the job I have now, and also gained experience in hotel management, from activity planning to guest relations. Moreover, being responsible for the burgeoning volunteer & homestay scheme put my organizational and interpersonal skills to the test.

My greatest achievement was the extent to which my Spanish improved (largely without classes) - when I arrived I described my level as intermediate-advanced, and upon leaving I was proudly able to write fluently on my CV. Last, but certainly not least, I learned a great deal from Paulette about Nicaragua, development issues, and what it takes to manage a non-profit business. My final testament to how much I gained from La Mariposa is that I extended my internship for an additional 6 months, finally saying goodbye in July 2011. Of course the tranquility of San Juan de la Concha, a rural setting yet close enough to major cities and attractions, and the kindness of the local people also contributed to my staying on at La Mariposa. To Paulette, the staff and future Mariposa interns, I wish you all the best of luck!!

Testimonial - Clare Sheridan

If you are looking for an easy coffee-delivering, paper-filing, no-brainer internship with little responsibility and even less career counseling, I would advise against interning with Paulette at La Mariposa. My six months as La Mariposa's first intern were some of the most challenging and rewarding months of my life to date. Every day I was involved directly in local community affairs, representing the Spanish school in government meetings, financial planning, development projects, and volunteer placement. I was also encouraged to relate back, through discussions with Paulette and weekly sessions with Mariposa extranjero students, about my experiences and how they fit in the large scale of international development. Paulette greatly encourages personal initiative and responsibility, and she spent a great deal of time supporting my internship with almost daily feedback.

All in all, my internship was not an easy experience. But we grow and learn the most when we are pushed out of our comfort zones, when our ideas and very ways of life are challenged. I recommend interning at La Mariposa if you are ready to see the world from a truly unique perspective, and gain some very practical life and career skills, in an incredible locale with some amazing individuals.

La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua Statnekov Internet Consulting