Yucatan pyramid
Yucatan, Mexico

Leadership & Service in Youth Development

Summer '25 Applications Open

Leadership

Dates

-

3 weeks

Application Deadline

Enroll Now

Request Information

Dates

-

3 weeks

Application Deadline

Enroll Now

Request Information

Program Overview
Collaborate with an NGO that provides assistance to children with cancer and their families. 

Dive into the inner workings of a local non-governmental organization (NGO) in Mérida, in the Yucatán peninsula. Childhood cancer is the top cause of death of children between the ages of 5 and 14. The NGO's mission is to enhance the lives of young, disadvantaged cancer patients and improve their chances of recovery. Assist in meaningful tasks that support this mission and witness the transformative impact on the entire community.  

Gain valuable, hands-on experience in key staff roles. Delve into the day-to-day operations, exploring broader facets of social policy, fundraising, and health initiatives. Living with a host family, you'll be fully immersed in local traditions to better understand your service.  

The scenic Yucatán is home to dazzling beaches, Mayan ruins, and colorful towns. Marvel at awesome architectural achievements, swim in cenotes, and explore the mangroves of El Corchito. Known for its food, dance, history, and tropical forests, Mérida is an incredible place to work with a mission-driven NGO and discover the skills you need to pursue social work. 

The Take-Aways

Real-World Experience

Join a local NGO to support children and their families through social work initiatives. Come home with a greater understanding of your leadership style and societal issues in Mexico. Be prepared to take action in your own community. 

Credentials for Your Future 

Topics for your college essays; experience to inform your future career; a Service Reflection Presentation documenting how you investigated needs, resources, and perspectives during your service; and a record of your service-learning hours. 

Life Skills and New Friendships 

Return with greater self-confidence, independence, and improved leadership skills. Enjoy a broader worldview and diverse friendships from across the U.S. 

50

Hours of Service-Learning

3

Weeks of Community Engagement

1

Life-Changing Experience

The Destination
  • scenic shot
  • city shot
  • city shot

The Destination

Welcome to Mérida, a small city known for its Spanish colonial architecture and archeological treasures. 

Mérida, the capital of the state of Yucatán, is one of safest cities in the American continent, recognized as the Best Small City by Condé Nast Traveller, the American Capital of Culture by UNESCO, and one of the ten best cities to travel to by Forbes and Lonely Planet. A student-friendly city buzzing with cultural activity, Mérida also has 15 highly-ranked universities. 

Out for a stroll, sample regional foods like marquesita (a hard crepe filled with cheese or chocolate) or a champola (fruit ice-cream with milk), listen to local street musicians, and hang out in the zocalo or its numerous plazas full of shady trees and gazebos. Appreciate the different customs and social mores of Mexico’s largest indigenously-populated city!

Yucatán is known for its Mayan cultural heritage and accessibility to amazing pyramids. It also boasts unique geology and biodiversity, like the Chicxulub crater, 30 minutes from Mérida, formed by the impact of a large asteroid that fell to earth 66 million years ago, causing the fifth great extinction—including the dinosaurs!

Cultural Awareness

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

Daily Life

Monday–Friday  

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 

Weekends  

  • Overnight or day excursions to top sites   
  • Quality time with friends and your host family

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

Housing

Carefully-screened Homestay

24/7 Support

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

Program Blogs

From CIEE

Saying goodbye to AMANC

By Doug LeBert at CIEE

On Thursday our team organized a party to say goodbye to our AMANC family after our time together; it sure was not an easy task, but it turned out to... keep reading

From CIEE

Another busy week

By Doug LeBert at CIEE

Wow, I can’t believe our time here is coming to an end! We have been nonstop busy since we returned from last weekend’s trip! We have spent almost every single... keep reading

From CIEE

Our weekend trip!

By Doug LeBert at CIEE

Written by our group member, Maddie Schatz.

Activities

Sample Activities

High school students looking at ancient pyramid in the Yucatan

Just imagine all the fun you’ll have!

  • 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.
  • 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!

Eligibility

Eligibility

  • Participants must be 14 years old and above.
  • Program open to all current high school students: Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors.  
  • For scholarship eligibility requirements, please check our Scholarship page

For more information, refer to the detailed Program Essential Eligibility Criteria.

Dates & Fees

Dates & Fees

Application Fee

$25 

Program scholarships and tuition include iNext Travel Insurance, but do not cover the cost of flights. Find additional details about what’s included with your tuition.   

More questions? Find answers, get application support, sign up for virtual presentations, or contact us

Program

Application Due

Start Date

End Date

Costs

Program Summer Session I 2025 3 weeks Start Date End Date
Program Summer Session II 2025 3 weeks Start Date End Date

What's Included

Interactive Classes

Housing

3 Meals/Day

(Dietary Needs Accommodated)

All Ground Transportation

(Once In-country)

Optional Flight Chaperone

(Flight Cost Not Included)

Pre-departure Advice and Orientation

Access to Local Phone and WIFI

All Cultural Activities and Excursions

Comprehensive Medical and Travel Protection

24/7 Emergency On-site Support

Our Staff

Our Staff

Karla Zarco

Center Director

Karla is the Center Director of CIEE in Yucatán, and she brings to CIEE more than 20 years of experience working in the international education field.

Ready to change your life?

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