Yucatan, Mexico

Leadership & Service in Youth Development

Summer '23 applications open!
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Information for term Leadership & Service in Youth Development

Application deadline, and cost information.

Extended Deadline

May 2, 2023

Program Deadlines and Pricing Info

  • Deadline: May 2, 2023
  • Dates: Jun 18 – Jul 8, 2023 (3 weeks)

Extended Deadline

June 2, 2023

Program Deadlines and Pricing Info

  • Deadline: June 2, 2023
  • Dates: Jul 9 – 29, 2023 (3 weeks)


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Learn the ropes of successful local Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) operation as you discover how supporting disadvantaged children can lift an entire community. For three weeks, you’ll brighten the way for some special youngsters as you build valuable social work skills. 
The scenic Yucatán is home to dazzling beaches, awe inspiring Mayan ruins, and the cosmopolitan city of Mérida. It’s an incredible place to work with a well-established NGO dedicated to supporting disadvantaged youth. Get a firsthand look at the various key staff roles and skill sets required to make an NGO hum smoothly as you pitch in with different aspects of day-to-day operations. 
Support and play with children as they learn critical life skills, from effective communication to self-care to sportsmanship. It all adds up to valuable experience you can transfer to any community or professional role you pursue. 
On a typical day, you’ll wake up and enjoy breakfast at your homestay, then head to your daily workshop to learn about social policy, fundraising, health initiatives, and more! Partake in activities with youngsters your NGO benefits and advance your special project. Each week features special cultural highlights – you might learn traditional Yucatán dance or explore Mérida’s historical center – so there’s never a dull moment! 
Weekends are for fun and adventure, not hard to find in a nation known for its beaches, history, and tropical forests. Yucatan has wonders everywhere. Marvel at awesome architectural achievements left by the ancient Mayans. Swim with incredible views inside a cenote—an underground freshwater lake. Visit a preserve for pink flamingos and explore the mangroves at the ecological reserve El Corchito.  

The Take-Aways


    Gain experience working alongside NGO leaders committed to supporting youth mentorship and social work initiatives. Find rewards in supporting children to adolescents and their families while learning project-planning skills and tools to help other service organizations.


    After just 3 weeks away, you'll build self-confidence, gain a broader world view, improve your interpersonal communication skills and make lifelong friends from all across the U.S.


    Topics for your college essays, experience to inform your future career, a Certificate of 50 hours of Service Learning.





Location & Culture

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In the heart of the Yucatán peninsula, Mérida is a small city known for its Spanish colonial architecture and archeological treasures.

Yucatán is known not only for its Mayan cultural heritage, Spanish colonial architecture and accessibility to some of the most amazing pyramids in the Americas, but it also boasts unique geology and biodiversity. You can swim in cenotes (underground freshwater lakes), and learn about the Chicxulub crater, which Merida sits in the middle of, formed by the impact of a large asteroid that fell to earth 66 million years ago, causing the fifth great extinction – including the dinosaurs!

Merida is also a lovely city to just stroll around in, sampling exotic regional foods like marquesita (a hard crepe filled with cheese or chocolate) or a champola (ice-cream made with coconut milk), or listening to local street musicians and hanging out in the zocalo or its numerous plazas full of shady trees and gazebos. You can practice your Spanish with friendly locals and homestays, and in so doing, learn to appreciate the different customs and social mores of Mexico’s largest indigenously-populated city. All of this will help you in your work with the children’s healthcare project as you immerse yourself and come to appreciate this unique society that has its own way of doing things.

You will be living in a beautiful city, Merida, that was ranked the second safest city in the American continent in 2020, the Best Small City by Condé Nast Traveller, acknowledged as the American Capital of Culture by Unesco, and recognized as one of the ten  best cities to travel to by Forbes and Lonely Planet. Mérida also has 16 highly-ranked universities and research universities. Besides these achievements, Mérida is also a student-friendly city buzzing with cafés and cultural activity.

CIEE wants all our students to feel welcomed, supported, and empowered to succeed while studying abroad. Local CIEE staff have provided details about conditions and cultural attitudes that students with specific identities might encounter in Yucatán.

Daily Life

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Daily Life


Each day offers a balance between interactive instruction, service-learning, and cultural activities with time on your own, too.  

  • Breakfast at your homestay 
  • Hands-on learning with local instructors and NGO workers 
  • Lunch with your fellow Global Navigators  
  • Out and about for a Cultural Activity  
  • Time to write individual reflections on your service and for holding group debriefs  
  • Dinner at your homestay 


  • Overnight or day excursions to top sites   
  • Quality time with friends  

Check out the blog posts to discover more about daily life and excursions on program.  


    Carefully-screened Homestay

  • 24/7 SUPPORT

    1 Program Leader for every 12 students and support from local staff

Program Blogs

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Program Blogs


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Activities & Excursions

Sample Activities

  • Enjoy the brightly colored colonial buildings along Paseo Montejo, the tree-lined street known as Mérida’s “Champs Elysees”.
  • Learn about the ancient art and history of the Yucatan at the Mayan World Museum. You’ll be well prepped for group excursions to archaeological sites!
  • Tour the Music Palace and city art galleries.
  •  Take a trip boat at El corchito, a natural reserve where you’ll immerse yourselves into the mangroves.Shop for exotic fruits and tasty snacks at the bountiful  Lucas De Galvéz marketplace.

Sample Overnight Excursions

  • Explore the ruins of Chichén Itzá – one of the most famous pre-Columbian cities built by the Maya. Nearby, discover amazing geological formations like the sacred Sacamucuy cenote (swimming hole) and then swim in its crystal-clear waters. 
  • Visit beautiful Valladolid, known as “The Sultan of the East.” It’s designated as a Pueblo Mágico and it’s Yucatan’s third largest city.  

​​Please note this list of activities is based on past programs and subject to change at CIEE's discretion to both adapt to local circumstances and participant feedback. Our goal when revising itineraries is always to enhance your experience. Every activity is designed to provide you with a deep immersion in your topic, local culture and sights. Get ready for maximum fun!

Dates & Fees

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Dates & Fees


Application Due

Start Date

End Date


Summer Session I 2023 3 weeks May 2, 2023 Jun 18, 2023 Jul 8, 2023


Summer Session II 2023 3 weeks Jun 2, 2023 Jul 9, 2023 Jul 29, 2023


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Ready to change your life?