May 31, 2012

Interning with ADE

An internship with ADE is truly a once in a lifetime experience. Like any other internship, interning with ADE affords an opportunity to experience a possible future career choice. Interning with ADE is so much more than that, though.

Unlike other internship opportunities you may have considered, interning with ADE provides you with an option to live in an entirely different country and experience different ways of life. In fact, all of ADE’s interns are placed with a host family that lives in the local area. Whether or not speaking the native language may be an issue for you, this truly does open up windows of opportunity to play, learn and stretch your horizons. Additionally, an internship with ADE means joining the staff community. A community with bonds that go beyond the professional, ADE staff members also meet once in a while just to hang out and have fun. So would an internship with ADE be more of a vacation for you than a work opportunity? Maybe.

Of course, an internship with ADE will come with its challenges, as well. You will be expected to put forth your best effort in all that you do and to be a part of a team. Also, you may be asked to assist teaching English for weekly night classes. These requirements are hardly asking too much though, as you will be able to create an internship that is tailor-made specifically for you. Whether your interest lies in Community Development, Business Marketing or Photography, ADE is likely to have a place for you. So bring your skill set, your passions and have a great time while contributing to local communities. 

Written by Emily Onorato (pictured above in the middle)

May 23, 2012


Blackberries can be a pain. They are covered in thorns, making the fruit hard to get to, and also require a good amount of tender loving care. However, the rewards of a good crop are well worth the cost. That is why ADE is working on harvesting the potential of blackberries in order to benefit the communities in which it operates.

Thanks to a generous donation from the Fabio Baudrit Moreno Experimental Agriculture Station in Fraijanes, ADE was able to begin planting a variety of hybrid blackberry. Due to the altitude and climate in the Vara Blanca locale, wild blackberries of approximately five different varieties thrive very well here. Additionally, the strain of blackberry, which ADE is now working with, has been proven to grow and produce exceedingly well in these climates. To date, working with the blackberry crop has required much planting and re-planting (as some seedlings die from overexposure or are excavated by armadillos). Also, the plants have required weeding, pruning of dead stems and leaves and cutting off of buds, flowers and new fruits (to give more energy back to the plant). The future rewards, however, will be truly worth the efforts.

Currently, ADE is working with community members in Vara Blanca, San Rafael and La Legua to start a blackberry cooperative. The initial plan for this organization will be to sell the raw fruit in the communities and then eventually sell in mass to canning companies so that the harvest can be produced into jams. Eventually, ADE may also oversee the initiation of a canning operation to accompany the blackberry cooperative so that canned product may be produced in-house. Beginning stages of this plan are well under way, and we’re excited to see what may happen next.

May 9, 2012

Your Money or Your Life...

When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life;
now that I am old I know that it is.
Oscar Wilde

Most people believe that money is one of the most important things, if not the most important thing, in life. Wars are fought and elections are won or lost over money and how it is used. Marriage relationships are formed and broken over money. Many people spend their lives pursuing it and it has ruined many lives. There is no doubt that money is a very powerful force in the world, yet for most people it is also a very personal and private matter. Most of us who are Christians even view our money as an issue between us and God.

The Bible mentions money more frequently than it mentions salvation and, in the book of Acts, we see an approach to money among the first followers of Jesus that is quite different than today’s norm.

Acts 4:32-35
"All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. 34 There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need."

For now the staff members of ADE have chosen to live with what is commonly referred to as a “common purse.” We follow this example, found in Acts, of sharing everything. Any money that is earned is put into a common account and each person’s, or family’s, needs are provided out of this common account or “purse.” None of the ADE staff receives a salary or regular support for the work that we do, rather we all work together on various projects (i.e. running a high school, teaching English and Spanish classes, hosting groups, hosting interns, creating websites, etc.). When income is received from any of these projects, it is shared with the whole group. Some of us share housing, we share two cars, various tools, and even meals at times.

As you can imagine, this leads to some blessings and some challenges (often the two are intertwined). When everything is shared, a sense of community is developed in which each person is valued for who they are rather than what they do or how much money they make. This also means that, if one is comfortable, everyone is comfortable and if one is hungry, everyone is hungry. We share in each other’s joys and struggles and every person’s needs are provided. We also are able to encourage one another in our faith as we pray and wonder where the next week’s or month’s budget will come from. There is a higher level of accountability for each person and family and how they spend their money. Although one person handles the general finances, everyone can see how money is being spent, resulting in more transparency. Sharing housing, tools and vehicles also saves a good deal of money.
There are always frustrations that come with the common purse as well. It is difficult to go to work every day and not have the security of bringing home a paycheck. It can be frustrating to keep track of every expenditure and every receipt. People have different ideas of how money should be saved or spent, which can lead to conflict. It can be difficult to trust in the other members of the team to help bring in money. It can be frustrating not to have full control over how one spends money and to not be able to spend money on occasional luxuries. However, all of these difficulties are outweighed by the benefits. One learns how to depend on God and on fellow workers, how to view all things as belonging to God, how to have self-discipline, how to have good spending habits, how to work with others, how to resolve disagreements, how to be generous and how to share, how to be content with what one has, how to live simply, and how to consider others better than oneself.

This way of life seems very foreign to most of us, but much can be learned from it. God has blessed the staff members of ADE in many ways and has continually provided our daily bread in incredible, and often unexpected, ways as we have endeavored to work together in this manner.