A Day in the Life of Abner, EARTH Intern

Three interns from EARTH University in Costa Rica recently completed their internships with us. Before they returned to EARTH, we asked them to reflect on their internship experience. Today, we're featuring Abner Antonio de Jesús Mendoza Cota (from Guatemala) who interned with us in Panama. Click here to read about these incredible interns AND the phenomenal work they produced.

What is the first thing you ate or drank this morning?
I drank a glass of water (which I do everyday). After that I had a big bowl of cereal with milk, two slices of bread with blackberry jelly, and another glass of water.

What was the first thing you said this morning?
The first thing I said this was “good morning” to a lady that passed by me right before I got on the bus to work.

What is the first word that comes to mind when you hear “Sustainable Harvest International”?
The first word that comes to mind is “development.” The result of all Sustainable Harvest International’s work and activity in the communities is based on this one word. Development also encompasses how Sustainable Harvest International integrates agricultural, environmental, economic, and social aspects into all of its programming.

Abner inspecting a garden in Veraguas

Who was the first staff person you met?
I met Ricardo Romero (Program Impact Officer) during my Skype initial interview for the internship. Afterward, I met him in person when he visited EARTH University to talk about the internship. As for Sustainable Harvest International-Panama, the first person I met was Ediberto Trujillo (Field Trainer) during an activity in the community of Las Delicias, together with a group from Engineers Without Borders.

How do your first impressions of Sustainable Harvest International compare to your current impressions?
Because I was interested in doing an internship in forestry, I was hoping Sustainable Harvest International’s work would focus mainly in this field. However, once I started working with Sustainable Harvest International in Panama I realized that the work was very different from what I had expected.

This wasn’t a negative thing for me, however. Sustainable Harvest International’s work is about forestry but it’s more complex than just that. It involves agricultural, social, and economic development components. I am impressed with the work of the organization because it exposed me to real life situations—situations that not everyone has experience with but that are important to understand.

Abner verifying data in Calle Larga

Abner verifying data in Calle Larga

What has been your favorite aspect of your internship?
The best part has been getting to know and spend time with the staff and participant families. This is really important to me because each person is unique. It was only after realizing just how unique each individual is that I understood how important it is to use different approaches when working with each different family. Learning about this will help me to work more efficiently with families in the future and to avoid conflicts.

Tell us about some of the farmers you have met so far.
Don Abraham Sánchez lives in Tranquilla. He stands out to me because he is so dedicated to his work—he doesn’t just take care of his land, he diversifies and improves it. The nursery he produced with his field trainer produces food for his family. In addition, he sells some of the seedlings. Don Abraham is also just very kind, attentive, and welcoming. In fact, he and his wife are known for how often they say, “Como no” (“Yes, of course!”).

Doña María González (wife of Abraham Sánchez) - photo by Ediberto Trujillo

Doña Amanda Meneses has an exemplary garden. Her integrated production system includes pigs, fish, poultry, and even a nursery where she can sell some plants. She and her husband are developing some parts of their small farm to showcase to a growing number of visitors who want to learn.

What have you learned during your internship?
I’ve learned how to address and present myself to a group of people. I’ve gained experience in problem solving. I’ll pass on Sustainable Harvest International’s agricultural methodologies and practices. If I continue working with rural communities, I’ll use low cost infrastructure technologies I learned about (such as chicken coops, wood-conserving stoves, latrines, etc.).

Anything else you would like to add?
Thanks for this great opportunity. I’ve grown professionally and personally. I’m much more aware of real world challenges and how to face them.

Abner and the staff of Sustainable Harvest International Panama