Morgan Rahe ’21 explores Mayan culture and career path through Merida internship

Economics and finance and international studies double major Morgan Rahe ’21 (Alexandria, Kentucky) recently participated in an internship with a nonprofit in Mérida, Mexico, called Múul Meyaj, which means “working together” in Mayan.

Múul Meyaj works with artisans in over 200 Mayan communities in the rural areas of the Yucatán state, helping artisans create a unique brand for their products and selling them in their store located in Mérida. The organizations gives 70 percent of the proceeds from the product back to the artisan.

Prior to this experience, Rahe studied abroad in Europe in high school and during CentreTerm her sophomore year at Centre College, so she was interested in having a different cultural opportunity. She said the internship in Mérida was the perfect match for her, and after taking five semesters of Spanish, she knew she would be capable of being successful in the program.

“I was a public relations and marketing intern for Múul Meyaj, and the biggest project I was assisting the team with was a marketing strategy for a book they are creating filled with biographies of some of the artisans they work with,” Rahe said. “After I learned about the plans for creating the book, we began to visit artisans in communities and learn about the products they make.

“Before working with Múul Meyaj, I did not know the extent of the products that were made by the artisans and the many varieties that they came in,” she continued. “Some artisans work in the ‘milpa’—cornfield—and implement modern farming techniques, which I learned is a very detailed process with science behind the seed types and seed conservation. Other artisans we visited practiced traditional medicine, some harvested honey from native Melipona bees, others created candles out of beeswax and some made traditional clothing. It did not take long for me to realize that this is not only the life-long work for these artisans but also a learning process to express of the deep-rooted culture that exists in these communities.”

Rahe said this internship helped her narrow down the type of career she would like to pursue, as nonprofit work is something in which she’s always been interested. She also enjoyed learning about branding for the individual artisans and the company, and now says she is interested in looking deeper into brand development and management careers.

“Being a student at Centre is definitely academically challenging and really shows you what you are capable of doing, even if it seems impossible in the moment. I feel the same way about my experience in Mérida,” she added. “Although it feels like the language barrier or cultural differences were so difficult to navigate in the beginning of the trip, looking back on the month I spent there, I am proud of everything I was able to accomplish. I think because Centre sets such high expectations for their students, it was much easier for me to persevere through any struggles I experienced in Mexico. I am much more confident in my capabilities after being a Centre student.

“I highly recommend this program to anyone, no matter what you are majoring in,” Rahe concluded. “The amount of personal growth I’ve experienced within just one month was incredible and something for which I will always be thankful.”

by Kerry Steinhofer
February 24, 2020