top of page
  • ACIC

Intern And Member Spotlight - Vanessa And Meagan, IMIF

Since 2002, ACIC has offered 48 internships in 15 countries through the International Youth Internship Program (IYIP) funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). These internships provide youth (age 19-30) with international development experience, skills, and knowledge to help better prepare them for future employment, while advancing Canadian development objectives. ACIC is proud to profile our member organizations as well as the interns participating in this year’s IYIP internship program funded by CIDA.

Today we would like to feature our Member, the Ivar Mendez International Foundation, and their interns, Vanessa Sykes and Meagan Hancock.

Vanessa Sykes is an intern with the Ivar Mendez International Foundation in La Paz, Bolivia. She grew up in PEI but currently lives in Santa Cruz, Boliva. She obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Hispanic Studies from Mt. Alison University, NB and a Masters in Latin American Studies from Universidad Nacional de San Martin in Argentina.

ACIC asked Vanessa a few questions so the world could get to know her a bit better.

What got you interested in international development work?

Probably my trip to Guatemala with Breaking the Silence Network through the Tatamagouche Centre.

What are you most excited about your international placement and why?

I’m excited to see the programs in action and to look closely at how they have been functioning over the past 5 years and see their impact and to see if changes and improvements can be made in the future!

What is your favourite quote?

"If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until you can hardly bear to look at it.

A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely." - Roald Dahl

If you had to describe the organization you are working with in one sentence, what would you say?

“When I grow up, I can be anything!”

You sure can, Vanessa! We look forward to hearing about your experience.

You can follow Vanessa’s progress through the IMF blog at

Meagan Hancock has called Halifax home for many years. She is a graduate of Dalhousie University with an Honours degree in International Development Studies and a Certificate in Spanish proficiency. Her honours thesis explored the role of hip-hop and self-expression among the new generation of Cuban youth. Here is what Meagan said!

What got you interested in international development work?

My interest in International Development results in part from my participation in a Canada World Youth exchange in 2008-2009 to Alberta/Bolivia, as well as my semester abroad to Cuba in 2011.

What are you working on with your host organization/institute here in Atlantic Canada? And overseas?

I will be working as a Monitoring and Evaluation intern while in Bolivia, compiling data with the dental program branch of the foundation. This information will be used to evaluate the work that has been done to date, and give future recommendation for expansion of the program to other areas of Bolivia.

What are you most excited about your international placement and why?

I am most excited to be working with the IMIF because it is important for me to work for an organization that represents my values. I have respected the work of Dr. Mendez for many years, not only in the medical field but also his humanitarian work and his work as a photographer. It is important for me to work with an NGO that has extensive knowledge of the region, and the work that I do in Bolivia will be used with long term goals in mind, another important aspect for me personally.

What is your favourite quote?

My favourite quote recently has been “Don’t believe everything you think” – Unknown. I think that sometimes your thoughts can lead you away from the truth; it is important to remind yourself to question and challenge your own ideas.

You can follow Meagan on twitter: @meaganhancock or @IMIFoundation

The Ivar Mendez Foundation

Dr. Ivar Mendez is a Professor of Neurosurgery, Anatomy and Neurobiology. “[He] is world-renown for his work in the area of brain repair, functional neurosurgery and robotics.”

The Ivar Mendez International Foundation (IMIF) strives to ensure Bolivia’s future prosperity by breaking down “the barriers that separate Bolivian children from the potential of what they can become.. [by providing] proper nutrition, shelter, health and education.” The IMIF’s programs include: Breakfast, Dental, Arts and One Laptop per Child.

In 2012, the IMIF produced a nutritional quinoa bar designed to boost breakfasts for children. To supplement the bar, IMIF produced a quinoa cookbook, which was a critical success. As well, Dr. Mendez has recently published his second book of Bolivia photography which acts a fundraiser for IMIF programs.

To learn more about IMIF, visit their website at:

Have an exciting and educational trip, Vanessa and Meagan! We look forward to following you on your adventure!

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page