I was constantly looking for internships abroad in all kinds of sites. My dad knew about this and he sent me links of internships that could be interesting (hint: he wanted me to stay in the Netherlands so he sent me links of internships that were “coincidently” were all somewhere in the Netherlands.
Anyways several of those links were from internship ads posted on One world. I went through them and one of the first things I checked was where they were based. As soon as I saw they were based in the NL I immediately moved to the next. I did not think of a specific country as long as the internship seemed worth it. (I still think that working experience in the Netherlands is vital but at the moment I considered a new international experience to be a better learning opportunity). I thought of the potential it had to teach me much more and not only in the working field.
I did this for a while until I found one offering a position in the Philippines with an organization called Smokey Tours. The first requirement of the checklist passed but now there was an issue. The ad was in Dutch and I do not speak Dutch fluently (still don't). The first thought that crossed my mind was that perhaps they were looking for an intern that was able to speak Dutch. But then again, I assumed that English would be much more handy in the Philippines. I decided to send an email in English with my CV explaining my situation.
A few weeks later I received a call from JoHo in the Netherlands (partner of Smokey Tours here in the Philippines) for an interview.
After several calls and interviews I received the green light from the NL, I had an interview with Juliette, who could eventually become my coach/boss at Smokey Tours in Manila. We had a Skype interview and after a few days I was informed the position was mine.
In the beginning I was slightly scared as it was essentially a leap of faith. Living in a new country, at the other side of the world and starting my first real job experience. It could have all gone wrong.
It never really crossed my mind to go to a place like The Philippines. Yes, I had heard the country being mentioned and I knew it was somewhere in Asia but that was about it.
Before I left the Netherlands I started my research, not only on the Philippines but also on Smokey Tours. The more I read the more curious I became.
Before I knew I was in the Philippines. The roughest time was the start; getting used to the humid climate, public transportation and a of course a new culture. Although I have to admit that being raised in Honduras and speaking Spanish resulted being quite handy while living in Manila.
Smokey Tours is an organization that offers a "different" type of tours. For instance their signature tour shows visitors one of the biggest slums in Tondo, Manila. During my stay I promoted Smokey Tours, to make both locals and foreigners aware that these tours exist and that the end goal is righteous. A local NGO located in Tondo is the beneficiary of the profit made with the Smokey Mountain Tour.
However, even after a 5 month internship with Smokey Tours in Manila, I try to keep an objective view of slum tourism and what repercussions this can bring to the community involved. In the particular case of the Smokey Mountain Tour, I know from experience that the majority of the Filipinos from the area actually enjoy having visitors in their community. This does not apply to every single person but I would dare to say that most of them know that Smokey Tours has a noble goal.
During my internship I was basically the general manager of Smokey Tours. I took care of the bookings, had regular meetings with the tour leaders, wrote a Business plan among many other tasks relating to organization and promotion for Smokey Tours.
Now I can safely say I do not regret my decision; in the past five months I have met wonderful people and learned innumerable things!