(Adapted from About Our Institution: Federation EIL – Collective Histories, edited by Alvino Fantini.)
“They come to change the world, but in the end change themselves.”
INLEX/CA Director, Carlos Colombi
INLEX/CA ((Integrated Learning Experiences/Central America) joined the Experiment family as an associate member representing Guatemala at the 2010 General Assembly in Chile; and they have been participating in Federation’s Volunteers for International Partnership (VIP) program since its inception in 2005.
INLEX/CA was founded in 2004 by two former Peace Corps staff members with over fifty years of combined experience in third world country development. Co-founders, Carlos Colombi and Julio Ramírez, set out to implement programs that would help Guatemala and Central America grow and develop.
Their breadth of experience taught them that there was always a benefit derived when projects and volunteers were properly matched. They knew that volunteers provided new and different perspectives as well as extra help to projects which in turn helped generate new ideas and momentum in the projects.
They also knew that matching volunteers‘ skills with the appropriate project was key. This was where INLEX/CA began making an impact: Volunteers were placed in projects where they could make the maximum impact and accelerate progress. Not only did this approach help the project reach its goals faster but it also shaped how the volunteer grew as a an individual.
“It was always interesting to see who the volunteers were when they began their service, and how they changed as a result of their service.” says Director Carlos Colombi. “They come to change the world, but in the end change themselves.”
As the years went by, not only did INLEX/CA volunteers grow, but so did the communities and projects. “Some volunteers made a huge impact in their communities in ways that we never could have anticipated. By the end of their service, most volunteers left a legacy of progress and knowledge that was admired,” says Carlos.
That legacy was sometimes a direct and visible result, but most of the time it was something more profound. The volunteers left knowledge, skills, and a mindset that often had a great impact upon the local people. Their engagement often sparked a wave of change and progress.
“At the end of the day, the volunteers will leave, and even our organization may not always be there, but when the people in the local communities and in the projects assimilate new ways to better their life, our job there will have been done,” says Carlos.
What started as small organization, led by two Peace Corps staff members, has now expanded (and continues to expand) in Guatemala, Costa Rica, and more recently, Nicaragua.
“EIL partners have not only nourished our growth with their participants but they have provided us with great support and long lasting friendships. They have worked together with us as a true team,” says Carlos. “We never imagined that in only a few years we would make so much out of so little.”
About Director Carlos Colombi, EIL Guatemala: A native of Argentina, Carlos is co-founder and director of INLEX/CA. He holds a MA in Intercultural Management from the School for International Training. He worked in Peace Corps training for 28 years in seven Latin American countries as a technical trainer, master trainer, and director at various centers. His expertise is in cross-cultural training; group management; intercultural exchange; human resource management; and training design, implementation, and evaluation.