Environmental Education Internship: Chiapas, Mexico

Program Overview

Tzimol is a small sugarcane producing town in the southern border of Mexico. Tsomanotik (Tso) is an eco-agricultural centre for just and sustainable community development, and implements projects for youth and community solidarity. Tso is located at Tzimol and exists in harmony with nature, promoting social responsibility through alternative natural construction techniques, appropriate technology, and organic agriculture. Their vision is for solidarity and a more just society; where marginalized groups in Chiapas are heard and play an active role in the community development process. Tso also encourages a high amount of cross-cultural collaboration.

Several communities in Chiapas face scarce access to water, and waste water treatment facilities are not readily accessible, impacting health outcomes in these communities. For over four years Tso has been doing research in waste management and sanitation with the goal of increasing the quality of life in rural parts of Mexico while mitigating the environmental impact of human activities through sustainable development and alternative technologies. Tsomanotik’s demonstration centre showcases eco-agricultural techniques as well as a variety of alternative energy and appropriate technology prototypes such as dry toilets, grey water systems, and highly efficient wood stoves.

A current priority with Tso is sustainability education with schools in nearby communities. Often this work involves improving demonstration projects on site and working on moving these projects out into the community. As an organization, Tsomanotik is quite young and is quite open to different forms of deep engagement. This means interns will need to be flexible and adaptable, it also translates into an innovative way of doing things.

Current Tsomanotik interns will be focused on environmental education with middle school aged children (grades 6-8). They will facilitate environmental workshops on site at Tsomanotik to help strengthen Tso’s new relationship with the middle school in Chiapas. A background of at least intermediate level Spanish is necessary for this placement. Interns will also be involved in awareness-building work with the River Committee.

This placement will require a high degree of initiative and problem-solving – you will be given the vision but will need to work closely with Tso staff to figure out how to work toward that vision, with very few resources. This will involve building effective relationships within the communities, developing a plan in collaboration with Tso staff, and developing strategies for these projects.

The aim of these partnerships is to provide assistance to Tso while learning about environmental education, social change, and community development in Mexico. This will also develop understanding of the role of community spaces in providing necessary resources to various community demographics, understanding the complex issues surrounding poverty and community development, and to appreciate the social, economic, and cultural factors relevant to implementing policy.


You will stay at the Tsomanotik eco-agricultural centre, in very basic hostel-like accommodation with bunk beds in shared rooms. The project location is about 30 minutes from the town of Comitan in the Chiapas state of Mexico.

Eligibility Criteria

Open to all UBC students from any faculty with an interest in conservation and/or youth education. A background of at least intermediate level Spanish is necessary for this placement.

Program Dates

Date Activity
Jan – early May Orientation and pre-departure learning sessions (all successful applicants will be expected to be in attendance at all sessions)
Jun – Aug 2017 12 weeks of fieldwork in an International Service Learning placement
Sep 2017 Re-entry debrief
Oct 2017 Public engagement event on campus

**Please note these dates may be adjusted but will be confirmed prior to offer.

Program Costs

The costs below are per student and are yet to be fully determined, but will be within the following ranges.

Location Program Fee
Mexico $3,700 – $4,000*