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My Internship with Back2Back Ministries, Mexico

Rory Deken with locals in Mexico.
Rory Deken is a senior Spanish major with a minor in Latin American Studies. He will be graduating this Spring 2012. Here is his story about his internship experience in Cancún, Mexico.

"I had the pleasure to intern in Cancun, Mexico during the summer of 2011 and earn International Studies internship credit as well. I learned of the Cancun internship through my church when I participated in a one-week internship in Monterrey, Mexico linked to our fundraising efforts for Mexican children. I applied for the eight-week Cancun internship and was accepted to join the trip. Once accepted, I contacted International Studies to request credit for my upcoming work experience.

Back2Back Ministries runs temporary assistance houses for children in distressed situations. Some are orphans. Others are entangled in complex custody disputes between their parents. Some are from homes where it is not safe. Back2Back works in direct cooperation with the children's services agencies of the Mexican government and brings the talents, efforts and financial support of American congregations to the service of those in need.

Back2Back volunteers and interns typically serve in supervisory roles on such varied projects as construction (I served as a liaison between independent building contractors and government agencies), staging of entertainment and social events and leadership of trips and excursions. Our most important mission is to run safe homes for the children. I worked at four different homes in Cancun.

My Spanish language skills were valuable in that I was able to mediate between the other participants on the trip, who mainly spoke only English, and the local people with whom we worked and served. My knowledge of Latin America gained at OSU was also very valuable. There were many aspects of Mexican culture, society, politics and economics that I was aware of that greatly aided my ability to "navigate" for our group while we were there. Such an immersion experience also greatly increased my own knowledge and understanding of Mexican culture and society. It was a valuable and inspiring experience!

Friday evenings were our "time off." I was amazed by the number of street festivals, outdoor stage plays, concerts, street musicians and comedy acts. Kids would be driving around in little battery- powered cars, adding a boisterous edge to the scene.

There is an incredible amount of social interaction in the poor communities. Everyone knows each other, and everyone is willing to provide help and assistance to those in greatest need. These are very warm and relational people. The human care and kindness I saw had the most impact upon me of all that I experienced there. I am now motivated and inspired to return to Mexico. I see human need in many areas that needs to be addressed. I want to create my own ministry or outreach program to contribute in the many ways I saw in my work with Back2Back Ministries.

I highly recommend to anyone wishing to pursue a career linked to a particular country or world region to be sure to spend time there and become immersed with people and culture "on the street." I have been much enriched by my experiences in Cancun and Monterrey."