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Kalu Yala

Kalu Yala is a sustainable community that will be built in the mountains about 45 minutes outside Panama City, Panama. Kalu Yala is founded on the core tenants of culture, new urbanism architecture, organic food, wellness, recreation, education, preservation, and conservation of the natural environment. The internship program allows students and young professionals to come to Panama and gain cultural exposure, work experience, and knowledge in order to create a project that will ultimately help shape this sustainable community.  We plan to break ground in May of this year which will bring many opportunities for students to work with experts in various fields.


In 2013 we have a lot to be grateful for as we plan to break ground on a 42,000 square foot post-and-beam eco-resort which will host an off-the-grid event for 500 of the world's thought leaders this fall. (You read that right!) Once constructed, half the venue will be dedicated to the intern program, giving our students a true home at Kalu Yala. 


Internships take place in 3 venues: creating the town's foundation in Kalu Yala; creating relationships in the neighboring town of San Miguel; and working on business logistics in Panama City. Since Summer 2010, Kalu Yala has had interns from 39 states, 13 countries and 92 universities.



  • Agriculture and Animal Science
  • Biology 
  • Business Development and Entrepreneurship
  • Community Outreach
  • Construction Management 
  • Education
  • Outdoor Recreation
  • For those focused on architecture, we have an extremely selective 5-person program starting with George Moreno and Partners. This is one of the top architecture firms in Panama, and our lead architect in partnership Moule and Polyzoides. Students accepted to this program will be working on actual projects, creating models to be critiqued by experts in the field.

Kalu Yala Internships promotes a "garage entrepreneurship" model, allowing interns to create independent studies and projects that they themselves propose and are then mentored and held accountable for delivering by their directors and/or work on more traditional director-led group projects which are determined by their director.


Examples of Spring 2013 Projects:

  • Agriculture and Animal Science: Designing and building a 2-acre permaculture farm based on local and modern farming methods, so far including plantain-tree grove, medicinal plant bed, herb garden, hardwood test-plot, and a 30-hen chicken coop.
  • Business: Creation of design briefs and space planning for Kalu Yala's first development project, including market research and financial analysis.
  • Biology: Design and implementation of first water system to BaseCamp with study of aquatic life, GIS mapping of hardwoods on Kalu Yala property and multiple field studies on specific flora and fauna in Kalu Yala
  • Community Outreach: Social Metrics study through personal interviews to find strength, creativity, and resiliency in the neighboring town of San Miguel to be able to best support existing assets in individuals and the community to assist in town development
  • Construction Management: Set to begin Summer 2013, this program will work closely with Max Cooper, our construction site manager, to design, implement, and enforce protocols for building in Kalu Yala
  • Education: Empowering the people of San Miguel through personalized English classes, while forming relationships within the school and community through educational workshops and events, including a community art mural and a study of local labor culture
  • Outdoor Recreation: Design and construction of low ropes course, trails and recreation fields while working closely with Jungle Adventures, the first eco-tour project at Kalu Yala

Benefits to Interns:

  • Ability to design and/or participate in a program catered to your own personal interests and goals
  • Freedom to test your abilities by pursuing trial and error in a real world environment, while being supported by professionals
  • Meet other passionate, like-minded, young people from a wide variety of vocations and backgrounds in an international setting

Benefits to Kalu Yala:

  • Provide research and development capabilities unavailable to any other real estate developer, as no developer we're aware of invites people study whatever they chose and figure out how it can be applied to the building of a town 
  • Create public oversight and assurance through their unpaid status leading to bottom-up pressure on Kalu Yala management, employees and consultants
  • Generate awareness throughout our local community and their home communities

Benefits to Both:

  • Collaborate to build a new sustainable community the rest of world can then have the chance to replicate

Upcoming semester dates:

  • Summer: May 20th- August 2nd
  • Fall: September 2nd- November 15th (Early Admission Deadline: July 1st)

Students can apply online by filling in the application form here, or visit for more information.